Hiked around Mill Mountain today and wound up at the star, looking for a different way to photograph it. There isn’t one, but here’s one that’s not done very often: from behind (with a few from the front).
My Friday began with a very real exercise in hope for the future when I voted early on the first day I could in Virginia. I went to bed many hours later a basket of despair because our thread-thin wall of defense against authoritarian rule in Washington had died.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s sudden–though not completely unexpected–death threw many of us into a temporary depression, based on what we expect to happen to our country in the next few weeks. With a 6-3 majority of far right-wing extremists (five of the six white supremacists, including the only black member), Donald Trump and Attorney General William Barr should be able to do just about anything they want. And what they want is to own you.
So far, we have seen one Republican Senator–Lisa Murkowski–break from the certain confirmation of yet another Trump-appointed Supreme Court judge and I expect one or two more, but not enough to break Mitch McConnell’s grip on the jugular of our country. McConnell will ram through another extremist judge to the delight of about 35 percent of the electorate and permanent damage will result.
You can immediately write off a woman’s right to choose, voting rights, equal rights for minorities and women, Social Security and Medicare, the Postal Service, union protections and a litany of other democratic values that Trump’s cadre of authoritarian monarchists insist are not good for us.
We will be further isolated on a world stage where we are virtually alone now. COVID-19 will kill millions of us without so much as an “I object!” from Washington. Our very sick country could easily go into cardiac arrest.
Even if Joe Biden wins the presidency and Democrats win the Senate, which Barr/Trump will do everything in their intensified power to thwart, we will still have a Supreme Court–not to mention a majority of District Court judges–in the hands of the oligarchs, religious fanatics, racial extremists and isolationists.
Between now and Jan. 1, we can easily lose America. We are sitting on the precipice now and Trump/McConnell/Barr are pushing.
As expected, given the current state of the COVID-19 virus, Mill Mountain Theatre in Roanoke has canceled the remainder of its 2020 season.
Ginger Poole, producing artistic director of the region’s most significant professional live theater said, “This decision was not easy for us, but it was made out of genuine care for the wellness of our patrons, staff, artists, and students. A few months ago, we were optimistic that fall and winter were far enough away to safely proceed with our late 2020 programming. However, as Broadway announced that its stages would remain dark through the end of the year, we thoughtfully considered if and how we could safely continue.
“Our decision to cancel, along with every other decision we have made since March, has been informed by guidelines from the Commonwealth of Virginia, CDC, and from theater industry unions.”
The most significant theatrical casualty of the cancellation will be dropping the Christmas feature “Holiday Inn.”
Said Poole: “The COVID pandemic has impacted all of us, and we understand the gravity of the situation for our patrons, neighboring small businesses, students, staff, and everyone else who feels at home at Mill Mountain Theatre. We are offering options to ticket holders” the remainder of the season including:
- Roll the value of your remaining tickets or subscription to our 2021 season for future shows. Call the box office for more information.
- Donate the value of your tickets to the theatre by calling James Royalty at 540-342-5740.
- Request a refund for the canceled performance by calling the box office.
For the remainder of 2020, MMT will still be busy offering a free digital production of “Polkadots: The Cool Kids Musical”; conducting fall classes using a mix of virtual and safely controlled in-person formats; partnering with the Science Museum of Western Virginia and its new pod learning program, The Lab, to expand its offerings to local students with theater programs; offering a free Virtual Homecoming Concert on December 5; and continuing the Meet Me at Mill Mountain Podcast.
Along with a delightfully sizeable crowd and no MAGA hats, I drove down to Kimball Avenue in Roanoke today at about 11 a.m. and voted in the national, state and local elections.
It was easy and fast, 10 minutes or so. There were masks and social distancing in effect and strictly enforced. I felt safe. The Registrar has set up the office so that it is as safe as it can be and I appreciate that because I’m old and have diabetes, neither good for COVID.
The voting itself was a replica of voting on election day. I marked a ballot and scanned it into an electronic system so that we have both electronic and paper ballots for backup.
How did I vote: Oh, hell, you know that: Biden/Harris, Warner, Lea, White-Boyd and “yes” on both initiatives (gerrymandering and giving disabled veterans a tax break). I did not vote fully for Roanoke City Council because there was only one qualified candidate (Trish White-Boyd) running. The others leave a lot to be desired. Today, Roanoke City Council meets to select a new member to serve out the remaining term of Djuna Osborne, an excellent councilwoman who has decided that her family needs her at home during COVID, a decision that is easy to support.
A walk on the Tinker Creek Greenway in Vinton this morning (after escaping Roanoke City Market’s sparse use of face masks, even among the farmers) was fruitful. There was a lot going on with the foliage and it was quite pretty, especially with the rain falling lightly and almost constantly.
My pal Susan and I had met at the Market so I could score
some apples (they’re $1.29 a pound, compared to $2.69 a pound at Ikenberry Orchard in Botetourt County … and they’re just as good, if not better). I make butternut squash soup this time of the year and that requires tart, fresh apples. But City Market felt dangerous, like a Trump rally, so we left.
In Vinton, we went to the farmer’s market, which was lightly attended, but the farmer wore his mask and we felt much more protected, so we spent a good bit of money that Roanoke City Market could have had.
Here’s some of what we found in Vinton.
My good friend Susan hiked up Mill Mountain yesterday afternoon where she struck up a conversation with a photographer. One thing led to another and before she knew it, the sun was going down and she was pretty much stuck. So she called me.
When I got to the top of the mountain, I noticed the star was red/white/blue, which is rare. It was honoring the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on the U.S. and I felt compelled to get some photos. Here are what Susan and I shot.
She was quiet, efficient, neat, and she finished the entire project in less than half a day. Eve-lynn sang the entire time with a lovely voice. Reminded me of my mom when she was working at home.
Eve, a graduate of Community High School in downtown Roanoke (a school that caters to artistic and musical teens) wants to build her own house out as far as she can in the woods and mountains of Virginia. She’s learning the trade working with my old friend Roni Sutton, who highly recommended her for my job.
We ran into an initial problem–of my making–when I guessed at the color of the deck and bought what I thought was a match at a big box store. As it turns out, I like the contrast, so we stuck with it and Eve-lynn made it work by painting with such accuracy.
Eve-lynn, by the way, is the spelling of the British pronunciation of Evelyn. I like Eve-lynn. She should go far, fast. I sent her home with a bonus and some tomatoes from my garden.
My good buddy Lindsay McKinnon and and I celebrated September today by hiking the Hollins Trail (from Hollins to Carvins Cove near Roanoke, over the Tinker Mountain hump) and they putting our kayaks in the water and paddling into a stiff wind.
It was exhilarating and fun with one of my favorite people, as well as bats, birds, a turtle, Mr. Smiley and various other creatures. A glorious day ’twas.
I awoke this morning weighing two pounds more than I ought to, so I determined to take that off by early afternoon. Today, that meant a hike up Hay Rock on the Appalachian Trail. Mission accomplished: down two pounds when I got home.
Hay Rock is a climb up Tinker Mountain from Daleville (just outside Roanoke) and it is about a 3.7 mile walk one way and a lot more if you want to continue on the Appalachian Trail.
Apparently, the old trail has come under some disrepair and a new one has been forged–though I didn’t know it on the way up. I fought through a lot of spider webs and high weeds in stretches that should have been beaten trail. I was getting nervous about ticks.
About 3/4 of the way up to the view of the Roanoke Valley, I got light-headed and because I was by myself, I opted for the better part of valor and turned around without reaching the top. Still, I got a brisk two hours of hiking and dropped the pounds.
And, of course, I saw–and photographed–some pretty nature. Here is what it looked like.