Yearly Archives: 2018

Save, Don’t Pave, Our Gravel Roads

Feather Bed Bridge on an historic dirt road over Catoctin Creek

Feather Bed Bridge on an historic dirt road over Catoctin Creek

There is a growing effort to save Loudoun County’s old gravel roads from being paved.

By some accounts, Loudoun has more unpaved roads than any other County in the Commonwealth – about 250 miles – down from what some say was once 500 miles.

The County has, especially in the West, resisted attacks to develop and destroy the County’s pastoral setting; but, if something isn’t done, there will be fewer miles of unpaved roads.

Some walk or ride down Lovettsville’s Georges Mill, nearby Axline Road, Picnic Woods Road, or Ash George Road.

Over by Waterford, there’s the Clover Hill Road, and Downey Mill Road.

There are an array of roads south of Lincoln, Virginia.

In every direction near Middleburg, there are unpaved roads to discover worth a walk a run, a trot, or a ride.

Tim Jon, a columnist for the Blue Ridge Leader, has been cataloguing the beauty of the roads of Loudoun County for years.

The effort to save these roads has prompted a partnership by and between America’s Routes and the Mosby Heritage Area Association, hoping to underscore the hundreds of years of history and beauty and country peace that these roads represent. Continue reading

HERE COMES THE SUN – Solar Power

The home that Erin and Brian Palmer built with solar panels on the roof

The home that Erin and Brian Palmer built with solar panels on the roof

We’re not talking about Beatle George Harrison’s twangy tune, “Here comes the sun,” but the true power of the sun, even 93 million miles away, to warm our houses, cook our food, and keep our desktops humming on social media.

The simplest way to describe how solar does its work is that sunlight contains photons, packets of energy, that strike silicon cells, creating a flow of electrons and those electrons (traveling in one direction, a DC current) are harnessed in solar panels, later, usually “inverted,” so the current is AC, alternating, and then used in the domestic (and commercial) activities that are now mostly fossil fueled. Continue reading

Closing Comments on Malcolm Baldwin

Pamela and Malcolm Baldwin

Pamela and Malcolm Baldwin

Malcolm Baldwin last wrote to say “these are astoundingly disturbing times” and he had hoped to get together to talk about them, despite his annoying illness because, Malcolm said, “the head still works.”

By all accounts, until Malcolm wrote his last sentence in a draft op-ed on AR-1, on the day his life’s struggle ended, he was clear of mind and determined not to waste a minute of what was left of this mortal coil.

Seneca wrote that it’s not that life is so short, it is instead that so much of it is wasted.

Not a moment was wasted in Malcolm’s case.

Malcolm wrote Phyllis Randall, the County Chair, to say that “I’m doing fine with not being immortal.” Continue reading

The Threat to the Rural West

Convening the Rural Summit at Salamander Resort in Middleburg

Convening the Rural Summit at Salamander Resort in Middleburg

A Rural Summit was convened by the Chair of the Board of Supervisors, Phyllis Randall, last Friday at the Salamander Resort in Middleburg, reflecting a concern by many that the push by developers, favoring suburban gentrification of Western Loudoun, threatened to build thousands of residential units that will compromise, if not destroy, the natural treasure that is Western Rural Loudoun.

Lovettsville Vice-Mayor Jim McIntyre who attended the Summit said, “I think the biggest thing we have to communicate is the value of Loudoun’s Rural West.  We can’t emphasize that enough.”

Middleburg Mayor Bridge Littleton said, “It’s all about the Comprehensive Plan.  The Comprehensive Plan is ‘the’ document which will govern land use for all Loudouners for the next 20 or 40 years.  It’s just as important to Loudouners in the East as it is to the West.  If we continue unconstrained development, it means worse schools, higher taxes, more transportation, and we destroy the Western Loudoun … we all enjoy.” Continue reading

The War to End Wars – Veterans Day

Holly Holt (holding 3-week old Harlan Holt Norman)(can you find his ear), and Dad Andy Norman (holding 3 year old Henry Holt Norman)

Holly Holt (holding 3-week old Harlan Holt Norman)(can you find his ear), and Dad Andy Norman (holding 3 year old Henry Holt Norman)

Holly Holt said, “This was such a meaningful day for us and was actually quite a challenge to get the whole family out.”

“My dad would have been so proud to see his grand babies there for him and honoring all veterans.”

 

 

 

 

 

Continue reading

Sticks and Stones

“Work makes one free”  Not at Dachau!

“Work makes one free” Not at Dachau!

When I was a kid in the streets in the South Bronx, my parents, said, as my younger brother and I went out to play, that, “Sticks and stones will break your bones, but words will never hurt you.”

I learned as a child that’s not quite right.

Words really do matter.

There are anti-Semitic and racial and ethnic slurs, sexist remarks, that hurt terribly, and the act of the uncorrected utterance prompts others to mimic this brutal speech.

Worse, not only is it false that the words will “never hurt you,” but that broken bones, injury and death, may come along with the words that we were wrongly told as youngsters could “never hurt you. “

We had “Charlottesville,” where one woman was killed and 19 injured while white supremacists marched through this once serene and collegial university town.

White supremacists, carrying lit torches, chanted, “Jews will not replace us.”

Jefferson wrote of equality in our revolutionary declaration of independence, and George Washington assured a Jewish Congregation that in America, religious tolerance would give way to religious freedom, and, drawing upon scripture, added, “Every one shall sit in safety under his own vine and fig tree, and there shall be none to make him afraid.” Continue reading

Symptoms of Discontent

OCTOBERFEST – PAST CHEER & BONHOMIE

OCTOBERFEST – PAST CHEER & BONHOMIE

Lovettsville, the Town of Love and community, is suffering the stress of the pull and push of a political climate that challenges the most stoic to retain composure and respect and dignity.

It’s a feeling and challenge experienced more widely than this old German-Irish settlement in Western Loudoun.  But there are lessons to learn from recent events.

In the last few weeks, first, one individual altered a business sign to insist on a Trumpian view of a Town Plaza.

After that, a woman shouted and cursed in a local restaurant, Andy’s, that a Guatemalan family visiting a friend and family member should show their passports, leave the country, there were obscenities, get the #%@& outa here, telling the family including a 7 year old, they should not speak in any language but English in this country.  The cell phone video has since been widely reported on local nbc tv, Buzzfeed and found its way onto other national news and social media outlets.

There have been various defenses for those offending individuals, corrective steps have been taken, fixing the sign, banning the cursing finger-pointing woman from Andy’s Restaurant, but these remedies only go so far, and they do not alter the offending incidents themselves, no matter how promptly these incidents were corrected by other responsible citizens. Continue reading

Lovettsville’s Year of the Woman

Kristen K. Swanson (left of center) convenes her Saturday organizing meeting

Kristen K. Swanson (left of center) convenes her Saturday organizing meeting

Many have said this is “the year of the woman.”

Lovettsville’s Kristen K. Swanson, a local artist, has believed that this would be “the year of the woman” ever since Donald Trump was chosen by the electoral college but lost the popular vote in 2016.

After all, the day after the Inauguration, Women marched on Washington in larger numbers than attended the Inauguration. Continue reading

“FOREST BATHING” – GOOD FOR YOU

Roads engulfed in

You owe yourself a walk in the woods, not only to observe the natural beauty but because it is good for your health.

First, there is the view.

There are roads in Western Loudoun and the Region engulfed in forest, on either side and above, like the imagined course of the famed night ride of sleepy hollow’s headless horseman.

These local roads course through nature’s living “tunnels” and, this time of the year, the leaves change and fall. Continue reading

PROTEST – THROW THE BUMS OUT!

Judge Kavanaugh Confirmation Protest on the Hill (Photo – J. Flannery)

Judge Kavanaugh Confirmation Protest on the Hill (Photo – J. Flannery)

The Honorable William O. Douglas went to Columbia Law School, taught at Yale, and found his way to the U.S. Supreme Court as an Associate Justice, courtesy of FDR.

He was a hero of mine.  I wanted to clerk for him but he said he only took on clerks from out west from whence he came. This is not to say I would have gotten the clerkship if he got his law clerks from New York, from his alma mater and the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals.

I wish Justice Douglas were alive today to write and speak to the nomination of Judge Brett Kavanaugh.  He would surely join former Associate Justice John Paul Stevens, a Nixon appointee, who objected to Kavanaugh, as unfit for service as an Associate Justice because, in large part, of Kavanaugh’s express partisan bias.

Douglas wrote “Points of Dissent” when I was young but still smart enough to get his meaning.

It was a discussion of the law and facts at the time, that is, in the 60s and early 70s.

It was about the right and scope of First Amendment “free speech” exertions.

Like then, to paraphrase Douglas’ article, we are suffering under “a climate of conformity” among the political class.  It is dominated by “a narrow spectrum of social and political opinion,” almost entirely autocratic and discriminatory. It is a toxic condition sustained by slander, scapegoats, and entirely anti-intellectual.  In effect, it pushes back individual rights and freedoms presumed to exist at law and in practice, but gravely endangered.  Wrong-headed know-nothing politicians are dismantling and compromising historic institutions of government including our courts that the founders established in 1787.

Some are amazed that this attack on Justice Kavanaugh has prompted dissent.  Really?  The day after Mr. Trump’s inauguration, women marched on Washington to protest Mr. Trump’s callous disrespect for women.  Mr. Trump could have chosen a nominee without Kavanaugh’s shortcomings but Trump cared more that this nominee might also protect him from the ongoing Mueller investigation. Continue reading