Virginia Women’s Monument

During my visit to Richmond a couple weeks ago, I was able to attend the Groundbreaking for the Virginia Women’s Monument. I’d attended an event several months prior and learned about this amazing project, and immediately started doing my part (my very, very small part) in helping to get the word out about it.

In 2010, the General Assembly established the Virginia Women’s Monument Commission to “recommend an appropriate monument in Capitol Square to commemorate the contributions of the women of Virginia”.

“Voices from the Garden is the first monument of its kind in the nation recognizing the full range of women’s contributions.  Voices takes the form of an oval shaped garden that encompasses twelve bronze statues of significant women from different centuries, backgrounds, and areas of the state.  The statues will be surrounded by a glass panel, etched with names of other noteworthy Virginia women”.

It was a bright, beautiful December morning, and I was glad that I arrived early as the seats filled in quickly and it was soon standing room only.

  One of the attendees was Elizabeth Hobbs Keckley (1818 – 1907).  The actress (I wrote down her name, but regrettably I lost the slip of paper) portraying Elizabeth stayed in character during the ceremony and shared some of her story.

A slave who bought her freedom, Elizabeth became Mary Todd Lincoln’s seamstress and confidant during the White House years.

She established the Contraband Relief Association, which provided support for recently freed slaves and wounded soldiers, and she wrote a book called “Behind the Scenes in the Lincoln White House: Memoirs of an African-American Seamstress”.

Governor McAuliffe, long a champion of this project was present as was Nancy Rodrigues, Secretary of the Administration and a chief fundraiser for the project.

After the ceremony, many people picked up a shovel and took the opportunity to be captured in a photo.  Of course, I had to as well!

The inspirational woman on the right, in response to my comment about how I didn’t really break the ground said “oh yes you did.  We ALL did, and we still are”.

How right she is!

Fundraising still needs to be done.  Please follow this link if you’d like to contribute to the Virginia Women’s Monument.

Tamarack Trees

 I’ve been on the road alot lately, and had the chance to spend a short time on the campus of Willam and Mary Law School in Williamsburg.  While my friend did some research in the law library, I wandered around outside with my camera.  Of course.

The first thing I saw when I walked out of the door was this stunning sculpture of John Marshall and George Wythe.

And the front was as captivating as the back.

As I turned around, I was struck by the beauty of the campus.

It was early in December yet I still found what looked like spring.

Then I saw the Tamarack Trees off in the distance.  Their gorgeous needles were almost glowing.

Though the tamarack tree resembles other evergreens, it is actually a deciduous conifer, meaning that it sheds it’s needles every fall.

Research in the library was over so I took one last shot before getting back on the road.

4 Wheelin’ it to Barney’s Wall

Typically when my friend Karen organizes a hike, it is the walking in the woods and the view at the end that provides the memories.

Barney’s Wall provided that, for sure, but getting there was the adventure!  We all piled into my truck and hit the road for the trailhead.  And what a road it was!

What was initially a lovely ride through the trees,

turned into a challenge for my 4 Wheel Drive skills.

We made sure our seatbelts were locked in place and the windows up.

I took my time and drove carefully … until we saw these huge puddles.

I mean, what fun is a puddle if you can’t make a big splash?

What a fun mess!

After a bit of searching (see Karen’s post for the story) we found the trailhead.

And what a beautiful trail it was!

We’d not gone far when we learned that it was the 1st Day of Rifle Season.  You’d think that the sound of gunfire in the distance would have cued us in, but it was not until we saw hunters coming towards us that we realized the significance of the day.

We perservered and it was not long until we received our reward.

The drop off was severe and soon enough we were scrambling around on the ledge.

As always, we were thrilled with the view, and with the comraderie and friendship.

Sometimes the hike is long. Sometimes not so much.  No matter the length of the walk, the memories will last a lifetime.

Mini-Vacation: Atlanta and Maggie Valley

After the almost single minded focus on the November election with it’s exciting conclusion, it was time for a getaway.

First stop: Atlanta and a quick visit with Andrew and Jon.

And Tela and Wilson, too.

We attended the Virginia Tech / Georgia Tech football game (my team lost …) but we also enjoyed site seeing, a little shopping (a very little), and lots of good food and drink.  Surprisingly, I didn’t take many photos, but I was pretty happy with the few shots that I did take.

After leaving Georgia, I hit the road for Maggie Valley.  Set in the mountains of North Carolina, the town is situated near the Blue Ridge Parkway, and the Cherokee Indian Reservation.

We enjoyed visiting the Wheels Through Time motorcycle museum

and the Museum of the Cherokee Indian.

It was wonderful to have unplanned time to explore without a specific agenda,

and to enjoy the beauty of nature’s gifts.

Happiness!

Election Elation in Virginia!

Hello my friends!  What an exciting time it has been here in Virginia.

A ton of hard work led to an incredible victory for progressives, and a wake up call for those who support the 45th President.  From the devastation of the election results one year ago to the empowering and inspiring Women’s March in January, and every day since, the year has been bewildering, with all of us waking each day to one distressing news story or tweet after another.  Now though?  We celebrate!

This past year has found me, and my friends, and political colleagues working hard towards that victory.  I was honored to have my home serve as a campaign staging site for several Get Out the Vote events, and loved hosting, and seeing the crowd respond to several political VIPs.

Then Lieutenant Governor, now Governor Elect Ralph Northam

Senior US Senator from Virginia Mark Warner and now Delegate Elect Chris Hurst

Junior US Senator from Virginia, and former Candidate for US Vice President, Tim Kaine

Senator Kaine obliged us by playing the harmonica with some of my friends (cellphone photo)

Former Candidate for Governer and former Congressman, Tom Periello surrounded by Radford University Students

As much as I loved seeing all these political VIPs, I adored spending time with the campaign team.  Their energy, passion, and work ethic were inpiring (and FUN!) to be around.

There was always someone coming or going, and there was a well worn path through the leaves on my driveway.

November 7th, Election Day, dawned with cloudy skies but the rain held off until the last hour that the polls were open.  Texts were coming in throughout the day with news of a much higher than normal voter turnout.  We gathered that evening in Blacksburg, hoping that Virginia would remain BLUE and our House of Delegates candidate would be soon be Delegate Elect.

The excitment in the room was palpable and the crowd grew as the clocked ticked later.  It was a multigenerational, inclusive, and diverse crowd, and the room was full of laughter, cheers, and chatter.

We watched the returns on the TV, laptop, and phone.

The word came in that not only had we swept the top ticket, our candidate Chris Hurst had beat the incumbent.

Jubilation is the best word to describe the mood in that room.

When Delegate Elect Chris Hurst walked in the cheers were almost deafening!

and the campaign team and campaign manager celebrated along with the crowd.

Virginia is standing tall! We RESISTED and we are so proud, and many women were elected to the House of Delegates, too!

I know that many of you are also thrilled with these results.  Whether from the United States or the global community, you have expressed dismay and frankly, have been appalled by the actions of many in this country, especially those in leadership positions. I wish you could have been there Election Night to share in the joy.

*******

After the Election, I took a mini- vacation to Atlanta, Georgia and Maggie Valley, NC and am anxious to share some photos soon!

Anatomy of a Bridge

** This is a scheduled post  from a ride one week ago. As you read, I am in full Get Out The Vote mode! **

Another Sunday Ride. Another Old Bridge.

Something is definitely right in my world when I get to ride the bike two weekends in a row.  The rides haven’t been long but during this busy time in my life, I’m thrilled just to be riding on our beautifully curvy Southwest Virginia roads.

We were also able to explore another old bridge.  With this one no longer in use, we were able to take our time checking it out.

I thought of Joe as I photographed all of the rust, and as we looked at the many parts of the bridge, I couldn’t help but wish that I knew more about civil engineering.

 

I also loved the contrast between the man made structure and the natural world.

Soon enough we were back on the bikes and enjoying the wind in our faces.

As always, we ended the ride with a cold craft beer and this time, a brick oven pizza.

It was the perfect way way to spend a Sunday afternoon.

Hiking Buffalo Mountain

Thank goodness for friends who encourage you to add fun to the calendar, and Karen, from The Unassuming Hiker makes sure that we do.

A couple years ago, Karen started a hiking club for women of all ages and hiking abilities, and while the group often ventures out during the week, Karen makes sure to plan a weekend hike several times yearly for those not retired.   In addition, she schedules the date for those hikes several weeks in advance so that we make sure to set aside the time.

“Buffalo Mountain is one of the most significant natural areas in Virginia.  The combination of high-elevation (3,971 feet), wind-exposed openings at the summit, and magnesium rich soils make it unlike any place else in the Commonwealth”.

Karen suggested that we arrive early knowing that it would not be long before the trail became crowded.  The image below is the parking area that morning.  By the time we left a few hours later, the place was packed with cars jockeying for position in what few parking spaces were available.

It was a gorgeous fall day and the hike to the summit, while up hill the entire way, was only a mile.   What an incredible view!

The 4 of us have hiked together before and the comraderie, the combination of silence and talk, and the excitement of being outdoors is a great fit.

Being on top of a mountain is exhilarating and I scrambled around the rocks like a child, at one point losing my lens cap over the ledge.

Beth sent me these images and I’m sharing them because they reveal the feeling of being on top of the world.

The shale and rock were beautiful and while this image doesn’t show it well, the flecks of color glittered in the sunshine.

Climate change has affected the color of the leaves this year, but the beauty remains.

All in all, a wonderful day on Buffalo Mountain.

Please visit Karen’s blog post about our day and read about the kind folks we met along the way.