A Day for Religion and Spirituality

Fishermen on the dock at Carvins Cove. Their lines catch the rising sun.

Trees reflect off the rocks on the bottom.

My friend Susan and I have gone on something of a spiritual pilgrimage over the past 24 hours that has included Hindus, Buddhists and the Holy Church of Our Mother of Carvins Cove. For me, the Cove said it best.

Boats in the reflection. (Susan’s photo.)

We began with the Taste of India Festival downtown in Roanoke yesterday (see previous post), then got up this morning to visit the cove as the sun was coming up. THAT is the very definition of spirituality and religion in our world, we agreed.

We followed the Cove (where we shot copious photos) with a trip to a Buddhist temple in Roanoke, something I have never before done, but Susan has. It reminded me a great deal of an AA meeting (with which I am quite familiar), especially with this morning’s message of acceptance and embracing what live offers.

Quite an adventure, this.

(Margie, by the way, was working this weekend, for those wondering.)

This fisherman (shot by Susan) has the feel of a Winslow Homer painting.

Susan paddling.

Susan caught the light just right on this point.

Susan shows me where to shoot.

This web contained a lot of food for Mr. Spider.

This is about as serene as it gets on Carvin’s Cove.



The Taste and Feel of India in Roanoke

Beauty was everywhere.

Loved the jewelry.

A Taste of India was the flavor the month on Roanoke City Market today and the Indians who took part in it knew from spice and color. It was lovely and tasty.

The costumes–particularly those on the women and girls–were often spectacular, always colorful and head-turning. The food was delicious (I had a taste of my pal Susan’s plate, since I’d eaten lunch already).

Here is a little look at the festival.

The dance was colorful and exotic (and the music was LOUD).

Staying cool under a tent.

This pretty little girl had henna on her hand.

Gorgeous face, decorated.

This little sweetie made her parents proud.

Glamorous friends.

My friend Susan loved the food.

‘Maters and Blues on City Market

Kerry Hurley and me soaking up the sun.

Tim Belcher counting out tomatoes (for moi).

Ran into my buddies farmer Tim Belcher and blues man Kerry Hurley on the market and came home with some stories (from Kerry) and tomatoes (from Tim).

Kerry was recently traveling Spain, France and Italy and was full of tales and appreciation for European culture–which I simply adore. He even sang in a blues club in Paris, and likely brought the house down.

Kerry was packing up (he owns Rolling Meadow Farm) the day’s take and had some tomatoes that wouldn’t make until tomorrow and offered them to me. They’re in a large pot on the stove right now, simmering in basil.

My ‘mater take for the day.

Sorry It’s So Difficult To Comment, but …

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There’s much more, but let’s not get bored with this. The idea is to explain why it’s hard to comment and to apologize for that.


People on Monuments Were Real at One Time

Stonewall Jackson Junior High, Roanoke.

A new analysis shows that 191 American schools, teaching 129,000 kids are named after Confederate States of America soldiers or politicians. That’s down four schools since 1995, but is still significant. (Story here.)

One of those schools is Stonewall Jackson Middle School in Roanoke, named for the Southern general who lived in Lexington and taught at VMI as the war clouds gathered and the first shots were fired. Jackson was an odd duck: a strident fundamentalist Christian who illegally taught young slave children to read (the Bible) in classes. That was about to land him in jail as the Civil War began and he was called to arms.

Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church window honoring Jackson.

He is honored at Roanoke’s Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, which is predominantly African-American, with a stained glass window because of attitudes that flaunted Southern tradition and law.

I don’t like monuments to warriors  of any war because I believe they simply encourage war, but the story on some of the people so honored is sometimes toned in grays, as they are with the quirky Jackson, a tall man on a short horse (Little Sorrel, who is stuffed and on display at the VMI Museum these days) who made a ridiculous picture of a general, but who was often thought to be the South’s best strategist and leader. Certainly its most unusual.

(Photo: WSET TV, Lynchburg.)

Dog Poo and Mushrooms Downtown

My shoe is a size 10. The mushrooms, a size 14.

Found these large mushrooms outside the abandoned press room downtown at The Roanoke Times. They were fitted in comfortably, surrounded by a considerable sum of dog poop.

The mushrooms are no problem, though I suspect it would not be advisable to add them to a salad. The poop, however, is. As I bent over to shoot pictures of the ‘shrooms, a kindly man said, “Be careful where you step” and I replied, “Yeh, I’ve already smelled it.”

He allowed that those working and living downtown these days have the expectation of “stepping in something,” as he put it, and that ordinances don’t seem to make much difference. “I see dogs pooping and owners leaving it all the time,” he said. “I’ve seen one person get a ticket for it.”

Ordinances rely heavily on enforcement in order to be effective, as Donald Trump will strongly attest.

Where Are the Heartless Republicans?

Roanoke State Senator John Edwards, a Democrat, spoke.

Yesterday evening’s prayer vigil for those killed or injured in the Charlottesville riot Saturday presented a wonderful opportunity for Republican elected representatives in the Roanoke Valley to do a little image polishing. Just one, Republican State Senator David Suetterlein who recently replaced the laughable Ralph Smith, showed up and he said what he should have said.

I didn’t catch his appearance (though I was at the vigil photographing and talking to people), but my colleague Joe Dashiel of WDBJ7–one of the region’s best reporters, print or electronic–assured me Suetterlein was there and that his was a message of condolence and peace. Good for him.

WDBJ7’s Joe Dashiel working (right).

Not so good for Republican Representatives Bob Goodlatte of Roanoke and Morgan Griffith (who represents Southwest Virginia, but lives in Salem) and General Assembly Republicans Greg Habeeb and Chris Head. Sam Rasoul, who represents Roanoke as a Democrat (and a Muslim), was not there, but had a representative, clearly identified. He has a history of not only appearing at these events, but helping to organize them. Sen. Mark Warner had a representative at the vigil.

Republicans have been showing up at Republican events of late–and only those–fearing their own constituents because of the complete breakdown of our Congress. They will not show in mixed crowds, do not have town meetings, do not talk to groups of constituents they believe oppose their views.

It’s a damn shame that they won’t even pray with the rest of us when it is their constituents (the white nationals) who caused the need for the prayers in the first place.

A Little Something Missing in Roanoke’s Prayer Vigil

Press was up front in a nice crowd at the vigil.

The vigil in a few words.

Roanoke’s attempt to honor the victims of yesterday’s Charlottesville riots–including a young woman who died–was mostly a success, but it left me a bit cold with what it didn’t do.

The prayer vigil, which preceded a candlelight vigil downtown, was ostensibly meant to bring the various communities together after a day when white nationalists attempted to separate us into subgroups and then discriminate against all who weren’t white.

I will mention that I saw no Republican officials at the vigil. No Rep Bob Goodlatte, none of our General Assembly Republican reps, no Morgan Griffith. Republicans seem to be taking the other side: defending the indefensible. Joe Dashiel of WDBJ7 says State Senator David Suetterlein, a Republican from Botetourt, was there.

The prayer vigil concentrated heavily on race without much mention of religion (the white nationalists hate Jews and Muslims), immigrants, liberals, and  a whole litany of other people who are not conservative, white and bigoted.

A few Jews were evident.

I would have liked to have heard a prayer end in something besides, “… in Jesus name …” I would have liked to have heard a cross-section of Roanoke’s religions introduced and given the microphone if only to introduce themselves.

As it was, the preachers were Christians, the politicians were far too prominent and what we wound up with was a vigil of exclusion. I don’t find that acceptable, but I do appreciate the effort.

Mayor Sherman Lea offers a prayer.

Kids found something to do.

A theme of unity.

The crowd was large–about 500 or so–and peaceful.

Media was prominent.

My pal Joe Dashiel of WDBJ7.

The shirt says it all.

Brenda Hale (as usual) was loud and proud.

The kids are safe at this type of vigil. For now.

Mix and match. (Susan shot this.)

That’s my old pal historian John Kern with moi. (Susan shot this.)

Susan shot me with my bud Cara Modisett.

This is my favorite photo of the event. It was of the ending prayer. Susan shot it.

Murdered Woman ‘A Gentle Soul’

Heather Heyer

(NOTE: A crowd-funding page for Heather Heyer’s family is here.)

When a face is put to an anonymous victim of a killing, it becomes even more difficult to accept.

Thomas Ryder, a Facebook friend who spent a career in public education, knew Heather Heyer, the young woman who was murdered in Charlottesville yesterday, teaching with her mother some years ago. I asked him about her and he replied:

 “I taught with Heather’s mother, Susan, in Greene County. Heather was a young 9-year-old when I recall meeting her. She was a ‘school rat,’ along with her younger brother, my two kids, my niece and nephew, among others. [Those are] kids who hang around after school waiting for their parents to get done with work.
“My sister-in-law, who knew Heather better, said that she was a gentle soul who always was willing to stand up to injustice.”
Thomas added this: “Here’s what one of my former colleagues [Jennifer Chiaramonte] said about Heather: ‘I am not one to post anything political. [Heather was] a former student [of mine in] the 1990s. … This horrible event has two faces: that of hate and anger and that of a girl who decorated a tote bag for me and told me I was one of her favorite teachers. She is not a number or a nameless victim. I have been a passive citizen for too long. This will only grow if more of us don’t take a stand.'”