Saturday, April 30, 2016

Madeline and Adrianna Ready for the Fair

Madeline (right) and her Spanish friend ready for the Feira.
My daughter-in-law posted this photo of my grandgirl, Madeline, and her BFF, Adrianna, getting ready for a festival in their new flamenco dresses. From the time they are tiny, Spanish girls have these lovely festival dresses in bright colors with lots of frills and they do all the girly things accompanying dress-up to the absolute hilt.

Maddie and Adrianna.
They have the shoes, the jewelry, the makeup, the hairdo, the flowers and bows and they look fantastic. Little girls playing big girls is big everywhere, but in Spain, it is an art form.

Madeline is vacationing in Jerez with Adrianna's family on the west coast of Spain near the American military base there. A couple of weeks ago, they visited the same spot and went boating.

I met the lovely Adrianna when I was there late last summer and she's a sweet, bright young beauty who speaks English as well as anyone you know. She and Maddie live a couple of blocks from each other and I believe Adrianna is a classmate of Maddie's at the English School in Cordoba.

My contribution to all this has been trips with Madeline to Goodwill in Roanoke where Maddie and my friend Leah (among others) tried on fancy party clothes, including shoes. Maddie loved it and never asked that I buy anything. Trying it on was enough for her at the time.

You will note, by the way, that they both know how to pose. Seems to be inbred.

Here is my daughter-in-law Kara's note:

"My girl was invited, by one of her best friends, to Jerez for their Fería--like the county fair but a much bigger deal. I'm quite jealous because the Fería in Jerez is supposed to be gorgeous.

"We had to get a new traditional flamenco dress this year because the other one just does not fit. While I helped her pick it out, and she tried it on, seeing it all together with the shoes and accessories is a different thing. Thankfully our friend, Montse, sent us pictures. Here she is in all her pink glory. What beautiful girls, inside and out."


"Smokey Joe" Solid If You're Old Enough

Mill Mountain Theatre's version of "Smokey Joe's Cafe" is spot-on if you're looking for a musical featuring tunes that are 50-65 years old and judging from last night's near sellout crowd, there are a lot of codgers willing to give it a shot.

This is a musical revue featuring 41 songs that are heavy on the early 1950s and early 1960s. It is an adept cast of nine competent singers and dancers, each of whom brings special skills that lend themselves to these period pieces. Casting was appropriate for this one.

The energy is high, when you look at what's going on stage. Not so much with the audience which, as you might expect, was pretty passive given what was happening in front of it.

The music mix is heavy on the Coasters ("Poison Ivy," among others) and Drifters ("On Broadway," etc.), Elivs (complete with blue suede shoes on "Jailhouse Rock"), novelty songs ("Charlie Brown," "Little Egypt," "Yakety Yak," etc.), a number of drippy teen love ballads ("I Who Have Nothing"), a couple of torch songs and even a gospel tune that rocks. "Pearl's a Singer," sung by Desiree Dillon (who has considerable upside) and "D.W. Washburn," sung by Morris Crosby and the company, stood out among some fresh moments.

The cast is veteran, professional and generally comes with a New York accent. As Showtimers' recent "Rent" demonstrated, it's probably an inspired idea to go outside the Valley for signing talent in a big show.

Artistic Director Ginger Poole, who is always above the crowd, and Director/Choreographer Peppy Biddy (love the name) put it all together for a pleasant evening. Unless you're too young to know what the heck's going on. Ask, for example, a 30-something (or a 40-something, or maybe even a 50-something) to explain these lyrics from the Coasters' "Searchin'": "Well, Sherlock Holmes, Sam Spade got nothin', child, on me. Sergeant Friday, Charlie Chan and Boston Blackie." Who, pray tell, is Boston Blackie? You need to be my age to explain that one.

Friday, April 29, 2016

A Tale of Cell Calls and Pizza Delivery (at the Cove)

Cathy returns a call from the middle of Carvin's Cove.
I've seen a lot of stuff in the many times I've put my kayak into Carvin's Cove in Roanoke, but there were two new views today.

First, as Cathy Dick and I put our boats into the water, I watched a pizza delivery guy walking back toward me on the pier with his warming bag. He had just delivered a pizza (large, extra cheese) to a guy in a fishing boat. "It was a first for me, too," said the pizza guy.

About 15 minutes later as Cathy and I paddled toward a distant point on the lake, she stopped, said, "I think I need to take this" and proceeded to pull her cell from deep inside a dry bag on the bow of her boat. She talked for a couple of minutes, smiled and said, "Sorry." I knew she was. But, hey, it's the modern world and I am but a visitor. I don't think my phone will get a signal at the Cove, but I don't take it with me, so I can't say for sure.

Pizza dude getting ready to leave the lot.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

A Brief Journalism Respite at Lunch

You can see that the W&L journalism class is completely captivated by the old editor.
For the third or fourth straight year, I spent lunch at the Taubman Museum in Roanoke talking with Doug Cumming's Washington & Lee University journalism class about starting a magazine. As it is every year, the class was a delight and in spite of what the photo above might suggest, the group of young women (I was surprised there were no guys) was attentive, inquisitive and responsive.

We talked about the state of the industry (improving), the recent history (not so hot) and the future (in a gray area, but generally optimistic).

The kids hung around to see the Norman Rockwell exhibit at the Taubman, which, I am sure, was more entertaining than the editor. But the editor had a good time.

This is the group, Doug Cumming at the right drinking water.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

A Photographer and a Kayak: Made for Each Other

Susan's black and white shot of me is one of my all-time faves.
Almost since the day I met my friend Susan more than a year ago, I have been pestering her to go kayaking with me. She had never been before yesterday and I saw the word "Natural" emblazoned over her head in neon.

Susan is decked out and ready to paddle.
That, she is. She had the perfect stroke down to an art within minutes of getting on the water at Carvin's Cove and at one point about halfway through our excursion, she announced she wanted to try to break the Cove's human powered speed record and she proceeded to leave me in the spray.

Natural? Was Ted Williams a natural?

We have photography in common and I mentioned before we shoved off that it might be good if she brought along her little camera--in one of my dry bags--but, for heaven's sake not to try to shoot until she was perfectly comfortable in the boat. The breeze was high and the water relatively rough, which makes for a great ride if you're secure in your boat. I didn't want her turning sideways against the waves and capsizing.

Susan over my shoulder.
No fear. The natural in her picked up her camera after about 30 minutes into the run and proceeded to get some stunning photos, some of which you see here.

Susan studied photography in college and was an avid shooter until a few years ago. She has recently taken up photography again and I am deeply impressed with her work.

Photography for her is--as it should be--an adventure with every shot. It is a soulful, spiritual experience and when it is linked with the natural wonder of kayaking Carvin's Cove, photographer/paddlers almost grow angel wings.

Here is some of what we saw and what we shot yesterday.

Here's Susan, camera in hand, Tinker Mountain in the background.
I'm shooting the sunset; Susan's shooting me.
Reflecting and reflected: Susan pauses for a moment.
Working for the best angle. Susan gets more from her little camera than I get from my Leica.
Paddle girl heading into the choppy water.
Singing a paddling duet ("Saaaaai-ling ... I don't know where I'm going ..."
Island exploring.
The Natural knows her calling and celebrates it.
Susan's shot of the sun going down.
A contented paddler.

Monday, April 25, 2016

Large Breasts, Larger Brains

If bigger is smarter, this must be a genius.
Want a myth buster that could be called a bra buster, but I won't? Here you go:

"Research has been recently conducted on 1,200 women by Chicago sociologists who found that women with big busts average 10 IQ points higher than less well-endowed women."

That is from a fascinating story about the effect of large breasts on their owners, beginning in puberty where "my ta-tas skipped the training bra stage and slid right into an A cup size, to my mother’s horror." Where "I got my bra straps snapped in the halls of junior high school all the time." Where "I lost the ability to run like the wind. And I lost the innocence of an anonymous childhood too."

There are lots of "wheres" in this story and some revealing confessions. 

The bra size/intelligence study showed "that women with a cup size of D or larger scored an average of 10 points higher than women with size A or B cup size." One of the researchers said that a “theory is that the female hormone estrogen, responsible for breast development, may also play a role in intelligence.” Or not.

(Photo: www.buzzfeed.com)

Sunday, April 24, 2016

New Hike: Good Pix, One Mishap, Good Time

Cathy and I stopped at a bench along the pathway up the mountain.
Cathy shoots boaters.
As long as I have lived and hiked in this region, I had never--until today--climbed up the front side of the ridge to the right of the parking lot at Carvins Cove.

Today, my pal Cathy Dick showed me what I've been missing. And I have been missing a lot. This is a lovely trail with consistent elevation, leading to a ridge overlooking the compound. I'm familiar with the ridge because I hike up to it from the Hollins Greenway side.

Next time, I will park one car in the Carvins Cove lot and the other in the Hollins lot and walk the entire distance without having to circle back, limited by a single car.

This hike presented a lot of opportunities--even in the middle of the day--for good photographs and it presented yet another opportunity for me: one to watch my feet slide out from under me, my butt hit the ground and my new Leica go tumbling 50 yards down the mountainside. The Leica emerged unscathed, except for a missing lens cap (retail $45), but I came up with a dirty backside and a sprained finger that hurts like hell as I type this.

Cathy's favorite photo spot.
While I was lying there nursing my ego, Cathy--bless her--scrambled down the side of the mountain, retrieved the camera and brought it back up. Tough cameras are a favorite of mine.

Near the top of the ridge, Cathy said somebody had told her there was a good bit of sassafras along the trail and she was right. I pointed to a number of sprigs and we picked some. Tea tonight for both of us, I think.

Lovely outing on a fine new trail. Thank you, ma'am.

The Cove was gorgeous today.
A fisherman on the sparkling water.
Cathy hiking up a hill.
How do I love thee? Let me count the fish.
Cathy pauses to pose.
Trees as a frame.
Lie on your back, you see this.
Selfie on the ridge.
Harvesting sassafras.
The view halfway up the ridge.
Heaven: Hiking Virginia's woods.

A Hybrid Tomato Haul from a Neighbor

Tom Ryder and I picking over his heirloom tomatoes.
This is my take.
My Facebook pal Thomas Ryder responded to a cry from me for some good hybrid tomatoes this week with an offer of his home-growns for a buck a pot. That sounded just about perfect to me, so I drove over to his house in Roanoke's North Lakes today and picked out varieties I've never heard of.

They look great and Tom swears by them. He is a retired school teacher who loves to sit in his garage (where his plants and grow-lights live) and put seeds into containers while listening to the Salem Red Sox on the radio.

I'll be putting the tomatoes into the ground probably tomorrow and I'm eagerly awaiting some peppers and other plants when they're ready.
The grow light is getting these boys ready.
Trays of nearly-ready tomatoes in Tom's Garage.
(Top photo: Margie Herring, my sweetie.)

Clinton: Leave the Senators in the Senate

Virginia's two senators--Kaine and Warner, both conservatives--are reported to be among those Hillary Clinton is considering for her running mate. Elizabeth Warren, a liberal whom I would love to see as president, is also a consideration.

My advice: Do not name a Democratic senator of any variety. Democrats need to re-take the Senate if they are to have a clear path to appointing Supreme Court justices, and giving up a key seat for a job whose importance is questionable at best is folly.

Saturday, April 23, 2016

A Fine Spring Day on City Market

Two beauties: The J-611 steam engine and Margie.
Margie and I ran down to Roanoke City Market this lunchtime in order for me to pick up a cherry tree from Rolling Meadow Farms that I ordered a couple of weeks ago and ran into some fun stuff.

Beautiful cock's comb.
First, there was the J-611, the lovely old steam engine that was built in Roanoke in the late 1940s, making a couple of excursions to Greensboro today. It and we arrived on the Market at about the same time and I got to take some photos of it ... and of my Margie, who is just as pretty, but in a more overall appealing way to me.

Margie can't go to the Market without a visit to the Candy Store, where some of the most fascinating candies available are at home. I was especially enamored of the Colon Blow high fiber cereal. Not that I need its' medicinal effects. The flowers on the Market were unusually lovely--vivid colors--and even the bagels at On the Rise Bakery were especially aeromatic today.

Nice trip. Here is some of what it looked like.

Margie at the Cajun restaurant where we at lunch, The Quarter.
This photo, taken today, could have been taken in 1948.
Margie took home some of the candy from the Candy Store on her cell phone.
Margie and Pampa at The Quarter for lunch (small portions).
The classic bar at The Quarter.
I asked this lady if she was really a woman before allowing her to enter Mill Mountain Theatre's bathroom.
Market eggs look like this: healthy and tasty.
The J-611 through a C&W RR emblem.
This needs no explanation.
Market flowers were spectacular this morning.
And to top it all off, I had a good hair day.