Day: June 1, 2023

Go Fish, Pets, Places, & Things

Oh Nooo, Not Another Tie!

By Steve Chaconas This has been the subject matter of my June column for over 10 years and it still holds true. Dude, don’t get Dad another tie! He might wear it…only when you’re in town or when you mention it. He really dreads having to tie one on for you! It’s Father’s Day, put a bit of thought into gifts for the guy who was always thinking of you! Show Dad he’s legendary. Nothing bugs dad if he’s using Thermacell’s E-series mosquito repeller.  A 20 foot bug and scent free zone works up to 9 hours on a single charge. Lightweight Thermacell EL55 is portable, and ambient dimple lights set the mood for evening entertainment without taking up a lot of space. Audio and LED alerts for protection and battery life. Within 15 minutes, Thermacell casts a safe and EPA reviewed effective barrier repelling mosquitoes that may transmit Encephalitis, West Nile Virus, and Zika Virus. People and pet friendly. If an American made Gerber knife or multi-tool isn’t enough, allow your imagination to custom design the perfect knife or multi-tool showing who dad really is. An extensive library of designs creates the perfect surprise Father’s Day gift! Gerber’s website allows colorful customization from the blade to the screws of original Gerbers for hunters, fishermen, or any outdoorsman. Founded in 1939 and based in Portland, Oregon, customized Gerber’s innovative knives and problem solving tools meet unique needs of specific activities with the most individualized gift. Don’t leave dad in the dark. Shedding light into his tackle box or under the hood, a reliable and durable working flashlight will come in handy. 5.11, known for supplying professionals with tactical gear, has the EDC PL 1AAA mini flashlight. This big light comes in a small package with a removable clip. Requiring only 1 AAA battery,…

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Arts & Entertainment, Last Word

The Importance of Children’s Literature

By Miriam R. Kramer Children’s literature is the early foundation for our imagination, understanding of others, and the way we approach the world. I can still remember my mother reading to me and thinking how badly I wanted to learn how to read myself. My father would say it was imperative to have an excellent vocabulary, and we would discuss interesting words. My grandmother, a teacher, taught me to read, and my grandfather, a historian, took me to the public library on a weekly basis every summer when I came to visit. I would enter endless wondrous worlds: ones that strongly echoed my own and others that were set in alternate universes but still rang true. So here are some recommendations to make children’s lives infinitely richer. I cannot list all my favorites in this amount of space, so I will suggest a few beloved old titles and some new ones that have crossed my path of late. For very young readers, Dr. Seuss is always a great place to start. Dr. Seuss’s ABC: An Amazing Alphabet Book is a delight, like most of his colorful, whimsical works. I cannot think of a better way to learn the alphabet. The Cat in the Hat starts children learning the joys, rhymes, and rhythms of poetry on a basic level. Dr. Seuss makes serious points in a charming, seemingly nonsensical way, whether he is talking about the spirit of Christmas in The Grinch Who Stole Christmas, or the importance of conserving the environment in The Lorax. He embodies Oscar Wilde’s quip: “Life is too important to be taken seriously.” An adorable, classic work for children from four to six is Arnold Lobel’s Caldecott Honor book, Frog and Toad Are Friends. The book presents an excellent friendship between very different personalities. Frog and…

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Arts & Entertainment, Gallery Beat

What Is Happening to the Great Jewel of the DMV Art Scene?

By F.Lennox Campello As I write this month’s column, I am in New York City at the Volta Art Fair during NYC’s week of art fairs.  I am typing this column in my cell phone because I have a thing about free hotel WiFi and security. Art fairs are tiring work… one must be on full alert, on your feet, and kibbitzing for hours to the thousands of potential collectors and art buyers. So why am I typing this column in my phone as I lay on my weird Scandinavian style bed, eight inches off the floor at the trendy and chic Selina Hotel in Chelsea? Because the city of Alexandria is slowly but surely screwing up, and tarnishing, and destroying the great jewel of the DMV art scene that once was the Torpedo Factory. I could try to explain what the kommissars at the helm of the office that now “runs” the Torpedo Factory are screwing up… but I thought that I’d let Cindy Packard Richmond, a well-known and highly talented and successful Torpedo Factory artist tell you in her own words: “I am voluntarily leaving the Torpedo Factory Art Center at the end of September. I am NOT retiring.  I have loved my time (17 years) at the Factory and being with the amazing artists and friends.  The TFAA is not what it once was. We had blind juries. Artists were free to develop and stay as long as they wished. Alexandria abruptly took away the artists’ autonomy.  Now, the jury is as far from ‘blind’ as possible. Everyone’s age and ethnicity is determined before the art is considered.  The most odious part of their process affects the current artists. They are not being judged as artists, but by studio space.  If a studio has three artists and…

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Dining Out, Wining & Dining

Via Roma!

By the Gastronomes When we went to the summer drink menu unveiling at the Capital Wheel in National Harbor last month we ran into the former General Manager of Bond 45, Biagio Cepollaro. Over the years we had developed a nice relationship with Biagio and it was nice to catch up and talk about his own restaurant in Camp Springs, Maryland…Via Roma. After a brief conversation we decided that Via Roma was a good candidate for Dining Out. We were not disappointed. Via Roma opened on February 15th during a winter storm and the beginnings of worldwide Covid-19 epidemic in 2021. Biagio may laugh about it now, but what a beginning. The restaurant is part of a building complex and sits at the front as you drive into the complex. The restaurant is very open by way of one whole wall being glass with the middle section behind the bar opens up to the patio. If it were not for the depiction of the Italian buildings on the wall, I would have thought I was in a California style restaurant by all of the blonde wood including tables and chairs, however, with the Italian buildings on one wall, the open kitchen at the back of the dining area and the glass wall behind the bar, did indeed give the vibe of sitting in the piazza in Rome. We have many “pizza” restaurants in the area, but few Pinsa Romana, in fact Via Roma is the first and only certified Pinseria in the region. Biagio and his business partner Antonio Rusciano aka Topolino follow the original Pinsa Romana recipe respecting the traditional Pinsa making method making them #192 of the Orginale Pinsa Romaan Association in the world. The definition of Pinsa comes from the Latin word “Pinsere” which in Italian language…

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From the Bay to the Blue Ridge, National Harbor

The Summer of ‘23 is Fast Approaching…

By Lani Gering The Harbor slowly started gearing up for the season last month with the return of free fitness classes on the plaza, the movies on the Potomac and live entertainment on the streets. June brings back the Salute to Sunset concert series on Saturdays at 7 pm. These performances take place on the Plaza Stage and run through September 16th. New this season are the Stars & Stripes concerts that will take place in the amphitheater in Spirit Park. Spirit Park is the newest venue in the Harbor and is located right off of the entrance to the Harbor. You can’t miss it. These performances will take place on Wednesdays at 7 pm. Both of these series are comprised of bands representing the arms of the military the likes of the Navy – Commodores, Cruisers and Sea Chanters; the Army – Singing Sergeants, “Pershings Own” Country Roads and the 247th Army Band; the Air Force – Airmen of Note and Max Impact. I have listened to all of these groups at one time or another while living in the Harbor and they are all wayyy talented! These performances are definitely crowd pleasers! Concert goers are encouraged to grab food from one of National Harbor’s many restaurants and enjoy a picnic along with the music. Concerts are subject to weather conditions and may be cancelled for inclement weather. Visit for information on the Wednesday Stars & Stripes Concerts or for the Salute the Sunset Concert Series on Saturdays. Give me a Frozen Strawberry Lemonade The Flight Deck at the Capital Wheel rolled out their new summer beverages last month and they have some winners! Since they aren’t licensed to serve “distilled spirits”, they have to get creative with spiked seltzers and the like. They have partnered with Truly Hard Seltzer…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

A Dreamy Little Beach Resort on St. Barth – Les Ilets de la Plage

By Alexander Britell It’s just across the water from the people watching at Nikki Beach and the endless lunches at the Eden Rock; a short drive from the buzz of Gustavia and the scenes at Shellona and Bagatelle. But you might never know it was here. And that’s the way they like it. Hidden away on the other side of Remy de Haenen Airport in St. Barth is one of the island’s best-kept secrets: Les Ilets de la Plage, the boutique beach hotel that is also the island’s best value resort. Set on a vibrant stretch of St Jean sand, Les Ilets is home to just 11 villas, some one-bedroom bungalow-style cottages at the water’s edge, others hillside retreats perched among the palm trees. It’s a hotel that has one of the most devoted followings on the island, where the guests come back year after year, often staying several weeks, finding their home in the French Caribbean. The same devotees say it’s a portal to a St. Barth that doesn’t really exist, a throwback to the island’s roots as a quiet little fishing town. And they’re right: check in to Les Ilets and you’ll be stunned at the level of serenity, with the only aural interruption being a landing at the airport. But even that adds to the charm, the way only tiny prop planes landing on short runways can. If you haven’t been to St. Barth, it’s a wonderful way to get into the island; stay at Les Ilets and you’re immediately living on the island, heading to the Super U for your groceries and Bacchus for your rum and Nespresso; getting your daily croissants and baguettes at Choisy in Lorient. You’ll become immersed in the Les Ilets routine: morning strolls on the beach, afternoons with a book in your lounger or in…

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Business Profile

Exploring Our Capital the “See DC Today” Way

By Bob Tagert It is always nice when you run into a former Alexandrian and friend who has also started a successful business in the area. This time our friend Dean Goldsmith took his organizational and IT skills to Washington, D.C. and opened what we think is one of the best ways to tour the Nation’s Capital. Many of you can attest to the fact that the best way to tour any city is to have a local show you around. That is just what Goldsmith brings to the table with See DC Today. I understand this philosophy. I grew up here and I love showing the sights but also telling the stories about each of them and about the District of Columbia in general. This is what Dean and his team are experts at. Dean started his business in 2017, got his feet wet and made adjustments. Then Covid hit and, like many businesses, he suffered but made it through the pandemic a better company. See DC Today operates on the premise that the quality of the tour is what matters most. While they have the capability to provide a “bus” tour, they prefer to cater to families and small groups. Their vans can accommodate up to eleven individuals who want a more personalized and exclusive experience. See DC Today also has two luxury SUV’s for those who prefer a more upscale mode of transportation and a more intimate tour of our city. This option is popular with couples who are looking for a special experience the likes of marriage proposals, anniversaries and such. Private day and mid-day tours last approximately four hours and the night tours last about three hours. In my opinion, the night time is a great time to tour the city. It is beautiful at…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

Dads are the Best Gift

By Lori Welch Brown My father passed in 2020, and I’d give anything to have him back if for one minute. To hear him say, “Hey—got a little more of that ice cream over there?” When prompted about how he enjoyed his dinner, you might get a response such as, “It’s something to eat.” Or even the occasional, “Hey, Lori. Can you help me with my shoes?”, before I had a sip of coffee to which I’d remind him my rule of “No feet before I eat,” and we’d laugh. He was wheelchair bound the last few years of his life, and it was hard on all of us, but mostly him. Dad lived with us for eight months prior to COVID, until his safety became an issue, and we had to make the difficult decision that he needed more care than we could provide at home. There were a lot of highs and lows during that time with us. I was so happy to wake up and have coffee with my Dad. We hadn’t spent quality time alone together in ions. I loved watching Judge Judy in the afternoons with him—our ritual. There were days, however, that I couldn’t wait to get out of the house, away from him and everyone else. Two days a week an aide came to assist Dad with his personal grooming, and on those days, I was out the door headed to the gym the second her tires hit the driveway. One night when I was helping him get into bed, tears started rolling down his cheeks. My heart sank. It had been a hard day. A really hard day for both of us. I kissed the top of his head, assured him I loved him, and that tomorrow would be a better day….

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Beauty & Health, From the Trainer

Keep That Fitball Out!

By Ryan Unverzagt Last month we covered the FitBall Crossover Crunch so since you already have the fitball on hand, this month’s exercise is the FitBall Pushup. There are two ways to start. The first way is to lie over top of the ball face down and walk out on your hands to the desired start position. The second way is to place the hands on the floor with one leg on top of the ball, and then bring the other leg up after establishing balance. Figure 1 shows the start position. I have the ball under the shins and my hands are slightly wider than shoulder width. The next step is to perform pushups while maintaining balance and control. Key points of the FitBall pushup include: -Do not let the hips drop toward the floor because this can cause unwanted stress to the low back. -A wide hand placement will provide more stability. Narrow placement will be harder. -Slow and controlled descent and ascent will be more challenging than a faster pace. -Ball placement will also alter difficulty level. Closer to the hips is easier and closer to the feet is harder, especially when the ball is under the toes (weight on the balls of the feet). For an advanced move, you can also roll the ball toward the hands by tucking the knees to the chest and lifting the hips upward. Perform this move in between pushups when your arms are extended. About the Author: Unverzagt holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Wellness Management from Black Hills State University. He is a certified Strength & Conditioning Specialist through the National Strength & Conditioning Association and a Registered Diagnostic Cardiac Sonographer through the American Registry for Diagnostic Medical Sonography.

Arts & Entertainment, Events

Celebrate the Summer of 2023 with Outdoor Festivals, Pub Crawls, Artistic Events and More!

3rd Old Town Arts & Crafts Fair   10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Admission: Free Waterfront Park 1A Prince Street Volunteer Alexandria presents the Old Town Arts & Crafts Fair at Waterfront Park. The fair features local and regional artists and crafters who showcase their pieces across various mediums, including pottery, stationery, fabrics, paintings, jewelry, photography and more. 4th Taste of Del Ray   1 to 3 p.m. Admission: $25 per adult and $10 for children under 12; $60 for VIP tickets Mount Vernon Recreation Center fields 2701 Commonwealth Avenue Named one of Virginia’s top food festivals by Virginia Living Magazine readers, Taste of Del Ray showcases the diversity of cuisine and creativity of chefs in Alexandria’s Del Ray neighborhood. Ticket holders will enjoy tastes from top Del Ray restaurants and can cast their votes for the People’s Choice Award. The outdoor event will take place at the Mount Vernon Recreation Center fields. A limited number of VIP tickets will be sold for $60, offering foodies a noon entry into the festival and a wine tasting. Only 500 general admission and 100 VIP tickets will be sold. 15th Art Night in Old Town   5 to 7:30 p.m. Admission: Free Various locations throughout Old Town Alexandria, VA 22314 On the third Thursday of each month, discover an art gallery and/or cultural arts organization offering an evening of fine art and studio crafts. Come to Old Town for an evening of art and stay for dinner at a nearby restaurants More information on participating art galleries and restaurants can be found at   16th & 17th Portside in Old Town Summer Festival sponsored by Ting   6 to 9 p.m. – Friday 1 to 9 p.m. – Saturday Admission: Free Waterfront Park 1A Prince Street Kick off summer with the return of the Portside…

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