Fall Ridge and a Lot More

Susan studies the volcanic cave.

The foliage is turning slowly–and spectacularly in some cases today.

The name alone was enough to encourage the hike: Fall Ridge. That would translate roughly to waterfalls/ridges. And that’s what we got.

This was a spooky ghost shot. I’m the ghost reflection in the glass.

Susan and I went out to Montgomery County this morning to hike a new spot for us: the 3.7 mile double loop that features several waterfalls (none big), an ancient kiln, volcanic rock formations with plenty of cave-like entrances, a long ridge line, plenty of flora and fauna and not one high vista. Even without that overlook, it is a fine hike, one that holds interest and, I’m told, plenty of wildflowers in the spring.

We spent about 3.5 hours ambling, photographing, discussing and relaxing. Good hike, this one, and it’s close enough to our houses that it makes an easy drive on the weekend.

Here is some of what we found there.

Susan’s shot of the largest waterfalls.

There is plenty of color in and out of the water along the trail.

Susan takes in one of the small falls.

The kiln towers int he woods.

Susan’s shot of the early-fall light.

You gotta get low to get some of the good shots.

Cave entrance.

Nice shot of the aging hiker boy.

The light fairly danced off the forest floor.

Susan saw this as the back side of a guy taking a leak. Good likeness says one who knows.

Good light and shadow on the hillside.

Rosel Schewel: The Passing of a Giant

Rosel Schewel left an indelible mark.

Rosel Schewel, a woman I greatly admired for her humanity, her generosity, her intelligence, her kindness, her integrity and her courage, has died at 89.

She was the wife of my friend Elliot Schewel, one of the best state senators in Virginia’s history, for more than 65 years and I always felt Rosel had a huge influence on Elliot in the best way possible. They moved to Lynchburg in 1949 and began their life of giving and serving there.

Rosel was a woman of great warmth and quick humor. She was a battler for women’s rights all her adult life and worked for the education of all Virginians, often against towering odds. She was always good-humored and humane.

Even after well over half of a century of marriage, Elliot took great delight in his wife’s accomplishments, often saying with considerable conviction that “she has contributed far more than I” to the Commonwealth.

Elliot and I were part of a group in Lynchburg called Persiflage for several years. It was a collection of writers from the region who gathered for lunch in downtown Lynchburg. I tried for some time to get her involved, but her schedule simply wouldn’t allow it. She was always giving away her energy to a worthy cause.

Rosel Schewel made us all richer.

A memorial service is scheduled Monday, October 2, at 11 a.m. at Temple Agudath Sholom in Lynchburg.

The Kendigs Get Personal for Moi

Hollins’ Pareena Lawrence; Roanoke College’s Mike Maxey announce winners.

My pal Arnette Crocker (a former singer of note–so to speak) and me at the Kendigs.

A couple of old favorites of mine took home Perry F. Kendig Awards at Roanoke College last night: the late John Sailer and the Grandin Theatre Foundation.

The Kendigs are probably the top local awards for the arts in the Roanoke Valley (full disclosure of a sort: I have been presented two of them, including the 2009 Literary Award, which has been discontinued).

John Sailer, who died unexpectedly two years ago, was probably the best theater design guy in the history of our region–and maybe further afield, since he was nationally known. His wife, Rachael, is a noted actor, director and theater teacher and she accepted the award for him. I always loved to see what surprise he had in store for us with the plays he worked on.

Margie with actor Mary Jean Levin.

Another full disclosure (I’m full of them): I was on the first board of the Grandin Theatre Foundation, so I was especially delighted to see its director, Ian Fortier, pick up the award for the top arts organization. When Ian took over the daily operations of the theater about three years ago, it was on the verge of financial collapse. Today, it is healthy and being used in so many more ways than as an art movie theater. It has become a true arts community center and neighborhood anchor. Let me mention that the board of directors has had a lot to do with the turnaround, as well.

The award for business and individual support of the arts went to Joel and Judy Tenzer, who have been prominent in the arts for nearly 50 years.

Mike and Pareen: Presidents Two

The other nominees included one of my favorite people, Kathy Guy of Off the Rails Theatre (she mentioned that the two theater nominations were both “backstage people”); Roanoke Ballet Theatre; the Science Museum of Western Virginia; and Margaret Sue Turner Wright, an artist who teaches and works in City Market Building and has become something of a fixture there.

Presentations at the awards were made by new Hollins President Pareena Lawrence and Roanoke College President Mike Maxey in what I suspect is their first joint appearance. They looked truly comfortable together, which is a good sign because when these two education institutions work well together, the Valley benefits greatly.

Winners: Rachael Sailer (for John), Tenzers, Mike Maxey, Ian Fortier, Pareen Lawrence.

Symphony maestro David Wiley, director David Crane, Mill Mountain Theatre’s Ginger Poole.

Stylin’ at the Kendig Awards

Margie looking dazzling and Pampa looking rumpled.

Margie showed up at the Kendig awards last night looking like an Academy Award nominee and on her arm was a fat old man with a rumpled suit. He was wearing a McDonald’s manager ID pin (which you can’t see).

“Can’t you do better than that?” she was asked.

Here they are in FULL color. Pampa’s still rumpled. Get that boy an iron.

Interesting Political Poll Numbers in Virginia

Republican candidate for governor Ed Gillespie has picked up a few points on Democrat Ralph Northam in the past few weeks, making the race a four-point run at this moment, and I think I know why.

A new Roanoke College poll concludes that Confederate monument removal is a significant issue in the Commonwealth and Gillespie has the favored position in Virginia. A press release for the poll reports thusly:

62% see monuments as historical objects, 28 percent as racist symbols. 66% favor keeping statues honoring Confederate leaders such as Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson intact. 28 percent think they should be removed. In August, 5% thought removal was favorable. 76% think monuments should remain in place and 14% favor removal. 

44% blamed slavery for the Civil War, and state’s rights got 36% of the response.

I was surprised most by the result in the polls showing 57% of Virginians favoring free community college tuition, while 52% want state tax reductions. (Have cake, eat it, too?) Also surprising to me: 55% think drug use should be treated as a health problem rather than a crime, 30%. 67% think we should deal with non-violent felons in ways other than incarceration.

Video Shines Bright Light on Roanoke’s Ad History

“Shine: The Legacy of Roanoke’s Advertising Men and Women” is a new video that is a remarkable piece of local history from adman Todd Marcum and videographer Dave Perry. You can download it for free or pay Todd $10 and get a DVD.

Todd Marcum

Todd, co-founder of Access, says, “It was my idea originally, Dave did the bulk of the video work. I mainly did them to distribute them through the Virginia Room [at he Roanoke library and branch] libraries.”

The project “took about four years from idea to reality. Most of the archive footage is from Tommy Holcomb or Ben Giavaudin.”

It was a delight to watch the hour and 17 minute video if for no other reason than to identify people I’ve known for years, but the history involved is engaging and enlightening.

It was fun to hear, for example, Bob Kinsey of Kinsey Sign Company talk about the Roanoke Star, which he built in about 1950, working for his dad’s (Roy Kinsey) company. “It’s just a tacky neon star,” he says matter-of-factly, giving that impish smile. I interviewed Bob some years ago and found him to be a bright, innovative and funny man, like so many of the ad people featured here.

They are smart and creative and, frankly, their respect for women professionals has been cutting edge for a hell of a lot longer than most industries have demonstrated. I remember talking to one of the very bright and appreciated women a

Dave Perry

few years ago, shortly after she returned from New York, where she received a national advertising award.

“I was sitting across the table from these New York agency people,” she said, “and they wanted to know about Roanoke, thinking it was some hick backwater and not knowing why I was there. After I went up to pick up my award, I put it in the middle of our table so they had to see it every time they spoke to me.”

I think that pride in being is evident with every frame (obsolete term, I understand, but you get the idea) of this video. It’s one you should take the time to review. Just click on the colored title in the first paragraph and it’s yours for free. I know you like free, even though it has nothing to do with the purpose of advertising.


Stamens Aren’t Here, But High Prices Are

Pumpkins coming in at Ikenberry.

Took a quick drive out to Ikenberry Orchard in Botetourt County today to check on the apple situation and noted that the stamens are nearly a month away. Stamens are my faves and once a year, usually the third week of October, they are at their peak and I use them to flavor my butternut squash, which will make you cry. It is otherworldly, but it must have the stamens.

Margie tried out the rocking chairs on the front porch at Ikenberry.

What we found were a lot of overpriced apples ($19 a half peck, about $1.25 per apple), some truly nice ugly golden delicious apples (ugly is good in apples); reasonably priced country ham for seasoning; incredibly appealing fruit-infused balsamic vinegar (again, unbelievably expensive) and lots of nice-looking overpriced fall stuff.

It’s always fun to run out to Ikenberry, if for no other reason than to see just how expensive everything is. It is the Black Dog Salvage of fresh food.

A Sweet Day in New Castle

Tow plane landing at the New Castle glider port.

Margie found a spot to pose like a teenager at the glider port. Ain’t she cute?

Margie and I drove out to New Castle yesterday in order to try out a restaurant that looked truly out of its mind good on its website. I discovered that not everything we see on the ‘net is Gospel.

The Pine Top Restaurant, an unimposing little building about two miles outside New Castle proper showed an inviting buffet on its home page, one that promised a load of goodies (especially all kinds of barbecue) that looked scrumptious.

When we got to the Pine Top, the only items in the buffet case were a few cakes (I’m diabetic, so they didn’t count). I asked about the buffet and the waitress said, well, the buffet isn’t every day, but on Thursday, there’s bbq and on Sunday there’s fried chicken and other after church stuff. So we ordered from the menu.

Another tow plane. I like these single wing dudes.

Margie, of course, went for burger (which she said was good) and fries (equally good) and got grilled chicken (tasted microwaved), green beans (overcooked by about a week), potato salad (faaaaaar too sweet) and a flat commercial roll. Bland.

That stop was a failure, but we drove up Virginia 42 to the New Castle overlook and saw the pretty little town outlined against a lovely sky, dotted with gliders being pulled. There were about four and I wondered about it.

Margie learned kudzu has lovely flowers.

We went back down to New Castle, stopped at the General Store and a woman there said there’d been a week-long glider competition, ending later Saturday. The store is an odd duck, featuring a lot of truly healthy foods, books ranging from The Communist Manifesto to a book by Trump and all kinds of Civil War books and paraphernalia. Odd combo, but the proprietor assured she was selling to local taste. (I wondered who bought the Manifesto; I bought Kahlil Gibran’s The Prophet, my dad’s favorite book).

On the way out of town, we drove up Glider Drive and found the little hidden glider port, which is grass, and watched the truly cool tow planes land. We didn’t wait around for the gliders because I suspect they had plans to be aloft for a while.

Lovely little adventure, though.

Glider competitors with their glider carriers.

As the Sun Rises …

My arrival at church this morning was a smidge later than I’d hoped (about 8:30) and the sun was mostly up already, so I paddled quickly out to the middle of the big room and started shooting pictures.

Frankly, I didn’t think I’d shot anything worth saving, but you be the judge. Here are some of the keepers.