Day: June 1, 2021

Pets, Places, & Things, Urban Garden

This Month In the Garden

By Backyard Gardener This Month In the Garden is proud to be affiliated with the Old Town Crier and look forward to providing you readers with valuable gardening information. Since 1996, Backyard Gardener has been providing gardening tips, season-by-season, and how-to-grow information for almost every type of gardening you can imagine. Whether you are interested in flowers, plants, trees, organic gardening, vegetable gardening, garden fountains, rocks… we have it all, and more. We have everything you need to learn, explore, and improve your gardening. We also provide every product imaginable to assist you in creating your beautiful home garden surroundings. June Garden Tips: Replace mulch and aerate soil in permanent potted gardens. Remove spent flowers from spring annuals to stretch the blooming season. Plant fall-blooming perennials now. Prune once-blooming roses after they’ve flowered this month. Trim back vines (spring-blooming clematis and wisteria) after they bloom. Begin feeding vegetable plants as they start to flower. Continue to spray peach and apple trees to control fungal diseases. Plant balled-and-burlapped and container shrubs and trees. Lightly prune tips of blackberries and pinch flowers off young grapevines to form and train growth of new canes. Set out seedlings of warm-weather vegetables and annuals. Sow seeds of heat-loving vegetables (squash, pumpkins, melons) directly into the ground. Continue to fertilize roses and treat with fungicide as needed. Pinch off flower buds to promote leafier basil plants. Fertilize vegetable plants as they begin to bloom. Take cuttings from your favorite shrubs when the branch wood hardens slightly. Set out seedlings of late-summer flowering annuals. Add a layer of mulch (2-3 inches) around newly planted trees and shrubs. Cut back and thin out diseased or spindly branches of spring-flowering shrubs. Fill flower garden gaps with larger sizes of summer-blooming annuals. Log on to and tell them…

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

The Blue Lagoon

By Scott Dicken The Blue Lagoon With the recent announcement that from April 6, 2021, all travelers – regardless of origin – are again welcome to visit Iceland (subject to conditions – see for more information), now seems like the perfect time to discuss the country’s most famous attraction, the Blue Lagoon! The turquoise geothermally heated 37-39°C (99–102 °F) swimming waters of Iceland’s man-made Blue Lagoon are a modern-day international phenomenon and Iceland’s #1 tourist attraction. Without exception, not a day goes by (even during COVID) without my Instagram feed showing scantily clad, perfectly preened individuals meditatively staring into the pool’s otherworldly blue waters as though unaware their picture is being taken (belying the fact that they’ve been setting up the photo for the last 20 minutes). It wasn’t always like this. I remember visiting the Blue Lagoon in the 90’s and other than some fairly basic shower facilities the site was ‘under-developed’ and ‘under-visited’. My untoned body, bereft of the beneficial effects of natural sunlight (the curse of the red head), didn’t seem out of place. I could wallow in peace and solitude, enjoying the warm (and occasionally boiling) turquoise waters. So, on a relatively recent trip to Iceland, nearly twenty years after my first foray onto the tiny island with a mere 300,000 inhabitants, I was intrigued to revisit the Blue Lagoon and see how its Instagram infamy had affected its authenticity. Crowd Control I’d heard that the Lagoon gets busy these days – I mean crazy busy. Resulting from a potent mixture of laziness and demanding work schedule, my wife and I had deferred buying Blue Lagoon entry tickets until the week before our visit. It was January with average temperatures just below freezing – so surely we’d have no problem (or so we thought). Wrong….

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Pets, Places, & Things, Road Trip

Re-Discovering St. Mary’s County, MD

By Bob Tagert Re-Discovering St. Mary’s County, MD Now that the pandemic is winding down, folks are beginning to get out of the house, roll the windows down and hit the road. We have been writing road trip articles for 34 years and after this last year’s confinement, it is time to revisit some of our favorite destinations. This month we returned to Maryland’s history capital, St. Mary’s County. St. Mary’s County is the southernmost county in Maryland. The county is actually a peninsula bordered on the northeast by the Patuxent River, the east by the Chesapeake Bay, the southwest by the Potomac River and the west by the Wicomico River. As you might guess, the county is noted for its’ water attractions whether it be boating, crabbing, fishing or just spending a lazy day hanging by the water. St. Mary’s County was named after the Virgin Mary. The first landing of English settlers was March 25, 1634 at St. Clements Island. The island was too small to support the growing town so they settled on land nearby and established St. Mary’s City the first Maryland Colony and the first capitol of the Colony of Maryland. St. Mary’s College is also located near the historic St. Mary’s City. Traveling the back roads of St. Mary’s is a real treat. It is truly a trip back in time. There are thriving Amish and Mennonite communities and chances are good that you will encounter a horse and buggy sharing the road as they commute about the county. Loveville is a town known for its Old Order Mennonite community, who have farmer’s market/produce auctions as well as craft shops and an annual quilt auction. Tobacco, once a major crop in Maryland, is no longer grown but you will see vacant tobacco barns that…

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Notes from the Publisher

Publishers Notes

By Bob Tagert Last year at his time the COVID-19 pandemic began to tighten its grip. Social distancing was in place and face masks were mandatory. Restaurant seating was drastically reduced and bars were closed. Marketing for tourism dried up and retail had to monitor the number of shoppers in the store. Our revenues dropped well over 60 percent as advertising dried up. We were indeed lucky to retain some of our core advertising that saw us through the rough times and we will forever be grateful to those businesses and individuals. Now, a year later, we are emerging from that abyss. Local destinations are once again looking for tourist dollars to help their struggling economies. Take note in this issue of our Road Trip to St. Mary’s County in Maryland. If you are looking for a drive to the mountains check out The Blue Ridge Whiskey and Wine Loop ad. We still have a way to go but the tide has finally turned. In this issue Sarah Becker takes a look at Juneteenth in A Bit of History. In Grapevine, Matt Fitzsimmons shows us how to mix wine with exercise and adventure. Miriam Kramer takes us into the mind of Adella Ajullar in “Mistress of the Art of Death” in The Last Word. Take Photos, Leave Footprints takes us to Iceland and The Blue Lagoon. In Open Space, Lori Welch Brown writes a letter to her late father for Father’s Day. On that note, Happy Father’s Day to all of the Dads that are out there. So far this year we have seen much improvement in the battle with the virus. Let’s hope that the numbers in VA and the surrounding areas keep dropping so the mandates can be lifted on the 15th and we can begin to put…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

Saying “Yes”: Two Stories in Honor of Adopt-a-Cat Month

By Cheryl Burns Saying “Yes”: Two Stories in Honor of Adopt-a-Cat Month It was 5 A.M. and my mother-in-law’s newly rescued cat, a still nameless 5 year-old, was crying. I can’t see much without my glasses, but I could make out little white paws sliding in and out underneath our closed door. That was the moment I knew: Not that day, but some day, I was getting a cat. The irony wasn’t lost on me, even at 5 A.M. My cardinal rule of dating had been “no men with pets.” I love animals. But the allergist had been very clear, and my body had often reiterated the wisdom of his stern warning against pets. I could never put someone in the position of having to choose between a loved person and a loved pet. I hit the jackpot when I fell in love with a man who was allergic too. We had fish and two (oddly amusing) aquatic frogs. But it was only a few months after our wedding that I knew. The cat outside the door would need a home one day, and it would be ours. I tend to follow rules, but — despite the pile of allergy medicines that followed — I have never regretted breaking that one. June is Adopt-a-Cat Month, and I can think of no better way to tell you about the joys of a feline family member than to tell you two very different adoption stories about two very different cats. Smoky Tiggs Burns enjoyed a few months with my mother-in-law before a long illness took Pat from us. Smoky spent every day of that last week visiting the hospice room with us, tucked quietly on a couch in the corner of the room and offering comfort whenever called upon. We had permission,…

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Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

June Pets of the Month

Adopt by appointment at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Virtual and in-person appointments are available at Beethoven and Mozart, Female, 15 Year Old, Red-Eared Sliders Why “Slider?” Beethoven and her best gal pal Mozart would be happy to show you! Describing the way they slide off of rocks and into the water, Red-Eared Sliders are beautiful pool-dwelling pets, and two are now available for adoption at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria. Mozart and Beethoven have lived together their entire lives and would like to continue doing so with their future family. They bask together, explore together and enjoy every minute of the day side by side. Are they the turtle best friends for you? Bonita, 11 Year Old, Female, Tortoiseshell Domestic Shorthair Hello! My name is Bonita and I am an 11-year-old Tortie looking for a quiet home with a nice family or person. I am a little shy when meeting new people, but warm up quickly. I am a very calm cat who simply enjoys the company of people once I get to know them. I would make a great work from home buddy — I am very quiet and don’t ask for much, except for occasional pets and scratches. I would make a great companion for someone with a quiet lifestyle. So if you are looking for a calm cat who will always be by your side, give me a try. I will be waiting! Bonita’s photo courtesy of Alison Lane Photography Chispin and Cookie, 10 and 12 Years Old, Female, Tan and White and Tricolor Hounds Hello there! My name is Chispin and I am an adorable ten year old hound mix who is searching for a new best friend. But I am not in this search alone — my best friend Cookie is with me…

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Personality Profile

Split Personalities – Returning to the Bar Post Pandemic

By Bob Tagert Split Personalities – Returning to the Bar Post Pandemic This time last year we were knee deep in the COVID-19 pandemic. Restaurants were working at twenty-five percent capacity, the bars were shut down and retail shops were limited to a few customers at a time. Now, a year later, the restaurants are at near capacity, and the bars are alive again with customers bellying up to their favorite bar for an adult beverage and to renew friendships. As I returned to my favorite watering hole this week it became clear that this was not the same place I left a year ago. Sure, there were some of the old gang there, but some were missing and I wonder if they will ever return. Much has changed in the last 12 months. Some have moved away, some have reassessed their behavior while others have discovered different options. True that this was the first day that the bars were open for “normal” seating so maybe it was like the first day of school and everyone rushed to the playground in hopes of regaining what has been missing this past year. In my case, the bar was filled with folks that I had not seen in a while. I got one of the last two seats at the bar. As I began to renew acquaintances I realized there was also a number of new people eager to get the bartenders attention. The etiquette of this particular establishment had been ingrained in us all over the years. There was no raising the hand and waving for the attention of the bartender. They see you as soon as you walk in. These are lessons I learned long ago. The next evening when I returned to the same bar the place wasn’t two…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Happy Father’s Day, Dad!

By Lori Welch Brown Happy Father’s Day, Dad! Dear Dad, This is gonna be a tough one—our first Father’s Day without you.  That was hard to even type without crying.  I hate this so much.  I hate not talking to you every day.  I hate not being able to call you or hold your hand.  I hate not hearing you laugh.  Life is not the same without you.  I knew it wouldn’t be. I was always afraid of the day you wouldn’t be here, and now here we are.  Guess I’ve always been a “Daddy’s Girl”.  You were my role model for all the men who would come into my life. From early on, you taught me how a man should treat a woman.  “Don’t ever let a man raise his hand or his voice to you,” was my first lesson on dating.  You were so protective of me, and rightfully so.  I was your one and only baby girl.  You fiercely watched over all four of us in your role as our guardian and protector. You wore so many hats—educator, driver, breadwinner, coach, referee, disciplinarian, negotiator and mediator.  Many of life’s important lessons were handed down from you.  You taught us how to swim, drive a car, change a tire, file income taxes, bait a hook, show respect, be kind and generous.  “Even when you have a little, you still have something to give,” were words you lived by. You were my hero.  The go-to man for oil changes, weird noises, leaky faucets, sibling argument disputes, overdrawn checking accounts, etc.  If dad couldn’t fix it, it couldn’t be fixed.  Oh—and you made the best pancakes on the planet.  Every Sunday going as far back as I can remember, I woke up to the smell of pancakes and bacon on…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

YAHOO! The Gaylord Will Open July 1st

YAHOO! The Gaylord Will Open July 1st When I got the word from our friends at the Gaylord that the National Harbor location was finally opening back up after the year-long shut down due to the pandemic, I literally did a happy dance! The Harbor hasn’t been the same with the Resort being completely shut down. It is a “go to” place for locals as well as the many conventioneers that cross through their doors every year. Even though the facility was shut down, there was a bevy of activity inside while they renovated the rooms and added new attractions – to the tune of around 6 Million dollars as a matter of fact.  Thanks to our friends in charge of the PR for the resort, the following info gives you a sneak peek into what it to come: “Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center is once again ready to welcome guests to the Potomac River waterfront at National Harbor. Following $64 million in guest room renovations, the resort is prepared to open its doors and welcome visitors with totally re-designed guestrooms, Marriott International’s “Commitment to Clean” protocols, family-fun activities, river view yoga, a pop-up rooftop lounge and more.  Guest reservations are now being accepted for overnight stays beginning July 1st. All of Gaylord National Resort’s 1,996 guest rooms and suites have been fully renovated, offering a luxurious space for rest and relaxation. With décor inspired by the peaceful hues of blue found in the numerous bodies of water throughout the region, Gaylord National is perfectly positioned for a quick escape or one-of-a-kind vacation.   Summer celebrations start at the top with Replay at Pose Rooftop Lounge, an 80’s themed pop-up bar offering picture-perfect, over-the-top milkshakes like the boozy PB&J, and a snazzy collection of cocktails including a raspberry rose’ float. The…

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