Alexandria Living Magazine - Nov./Dec. 2018

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The Golden Season in Alexandria



Selling Alexandria Sue and Allison Goodhart Trusted. Proven. Respected.

1210 Trinity Drive Alexandria, VA 22314

6212 Randall Court Alexandria, VA 22307

5 BD | 4.5 BA | $1,650,000

4 BD | 2.5 BA | $899,999

Please contact us for more information on our listings or to discuss how we can help you achieve your real estate goals.

Sue and Allison Goodhart Realtor ÂŽ VA / DC / MD 703.362.3221

2802 King Street Alexandria, VA 22302 Compass is a licensed real estate brokerage that abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Compass • November / December 2018 is licensed as Compass Real Estate in DC and as Compass in Virginia and Maryland. 106 N. Lee Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 | 703.277.2152


4 BD | 2 BA | $760,000

A historic community. A modern real estate firm. We’re proud to call Alexandria our newest home.

Compass is a licensed real estate brokerage that abides by Equal Housing Opportunity laws. Information is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is not guaranteed. All measurements and square footages are approximate. This is not intended to solicit property already listed. Compass is licensed as Compass Real Estate in DC and as Compass in Virginia and Maryland. 106 N. Lee Street, Alexandria, VA 22314 | 703.277.2152


RESIDENCE HAS A HISTORIC ADDRESS You’re invited to tour our first model townhome

Distinctive Waterfront Living • Old Town, Alexandria We just opened doors to The Delaney, our new townhome model and sales center at Robinson Landing. Spacious townhomes feature distinctive brick façades with large-paned windows and design details that echo the site’s history as an active waterfront district. Four contemporary open floorplans offer rooftop terraces, three to five bedrooms, and approximately 2,300 to 3,020 square feet of living space with elevator and river view, available per plan.

New Townhomes from $1.725M to $2.245M and Waterfront Condominiums from $1.5M to $5.75M Now open by appointment: call 703-263-8045 or visit

Features, finishes, and prices are subject to change without notice. EYA LLC, through its various development affiliates, builds homes in the Virginia, Maryland, and Washington, DC metropolitan area. References to “EYA” refer to EYA LLC. EYA Marketing LLC markets, advertises, and sells each EYA affiliated property as agent for the seller. Robinson Landing is being developed by RT South Associates LLC, RTS Homes Associates LLC, RTS Condo Associates LLC, and RT Parking Associates LLC, each responsible for certain specific components of the project (collectively the “Robinson Landing Development Entities”). The Robinson Landing Development Entities are each solely and exclusively responsible for its portion of the development of the Robinson Landing community. No representations regarding the development, construction or sale of any portion of the Robinson Landing community is made by EYA LLC or any EYA affiliate except the Robinson Landing Development Entities. Sales by EYA Marketing LLC, agent for RT South Associates LLC, RTS Homes Associates LL, and RTS Condo Associates LLC.



Calendar of Events


See events and activities that are coming to Alexandria.


Holiday Events





Get the inside scoop on some of Alexandria’s premier holiday events.

Maximize your fun, minimize your stress with holiday hosting tips from these Alexandria merchants.

Beyond “the pound” — how the Animal Welfare League takes care of some of our most beloved residents.

16 24

Enrichment A local music teacher’s advice on sticking with — and learning to love — playing the piano.


Health & Wellness


Take a spin on the ice! There are plenty of rinks in the area whether you’re looking for lessons, a hockey game or just a little seasonal fun.



Personal Finance


Out and About

Before you start spending willy nilly during the holidays, take stock of your finances.


Bird watchers flock to the shorelines, Dyke Marsh, Huntley Meadows Park and other prime sites to check on fall arrivals.


Hospitality Tips from Alexandria Airbnb “superhosts” on making your holiday guests feel right at home.


Q&A Alexandria resident Monte Durham of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta” talks about his path to becoming a bridal expert.



The Last Word Benjamin Fiore-Walker talks about life as Alexandria’s town crier.

November / December 2018 •




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32 Sand, Surf and Solitude Pack up friends and family and get away from it all for the holidays in the Outer Banks during the off season.

44 The Sandwich Generation The holiday season is an opportunity to gauge elder parents’ well being.


Jones Point Park in Alexandria | Photo by Chris Militzer

November / December 2018 •


A Letter from Our Founders PUBLISHER

Beth Lawton EDITOR

Mary Ann Barton MARKETING

Heidi Fielding Lora Jerakis Meredith Bonitt DESIGN

Jessie Leiber PHOTO EDITOR

Chris Militzer INTERN

Sarah Jenkins Alexandria Living Magazine is published six times per year by Alexandria Living, LLC © 2018. 106 N. Lee Street, Second Floor, Alexandria, VA 22314 Newsstand price: $4.95. To subscribe free for one year (limited-time offer), go to

CONTACT US or call (571) 232-1310.


Alexandria Living Magazine fully supports the local business community and offers several unique ways to partner with the publication. • Sponsored articles and multimedia content on the website, in our popular email newsletters and on social media. • Highlighted events in our events calendar, email newsletters and social media. • Sponsored real estate listings. • Brand awareness through online banner ads designed to boost your business. • Contests, sweepstakes and giveaways.

To learn more about how partnering with Alexandria Living Magazine can help build your business, contact us at or call (571) 232-1310.


Send news releases and story tips to


For marketing inquiries, contact


Thanksgiving will be here soon and we know that one thing we are thankful for this year is our readers. We’re grateful for the feedback you all have given us after we published our first issue of Alexandria Living Magazine in September. There are also several folks behind the scenes who have been extremely helpful in getting the magazine off the ground, and we’re tipping our hat to you all as well. There’s truly no better place to be during the holidays than Alexandria. Everywhere you look, you’ll see decorations and plenty of activity, whether it’s Santa waterskiing the Potomac, brightly lit boats cruising the waterfront twinkling with holiday lights, or bagpipers marching in kilts down King Street in the annual Scottish Christmas Walk. Be sure to check our events pages for all the scoop — you won’t want to miss a thing this holiday season! If you’re planning to host a holiday party or dinner, there’s no need to go it alone. Enjoy the festivities and get out of the kitchen! Check out some of what Alexandria’s food emporiums have to offer for the holidays and shortcuts for enjoying your own soirée, starting on Page 19. Hosting family and friends for a few days in your home? We have some helpful tips (Page 38) from Alexandria Airbnb “super hosts” who have garnered praise for their hospitality from hundreds of visitors from all over the world. For those of us who look at the holidays as a time to get away from it all, there’s nothing like a little R&R at the beach especially during the off season. We have the lowdown on all the doings in The Outer Banks at this time of year, starting on Page 33. Many of us will be meeting up with family during the holidays. You might notice a parent’s forgetfulness or problems cooking or driving. Although it’s a very difficult conversation to have — about the possibility of a move to a community that makes more sense or about in-home care — we all want what’s best

Beth Lawton, publisher, and Mary Ann Barton, editor. Photo by Matt Mendelsohn, taken at Virtue Feed & Grain.

for our loved ones. We talk to experts for an in-depth look at some steps to consider for aging parents, starting on Page 44. For those in another season of life who may be planning a wedding (or who are just interested in all things bridal), we chatted with Alexandria resident Monte Durham of TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta” as he prepared to chair the American Horticultural Society’s 25th anniversary gala. He’ll be hosting a special event at AHS in February! Read our Q&A on Page 40. Also don’t miss: Bird-watchers will want to be sure to read “Winter’s Watch” on Page 30 by writer Glenda Booth as she explores the fascinating world of “birding” during the winter season. If you’ve been to a parade or festival in Alexandria, you may have crossed paths with Benjamin Fiore-Walker, also known as the Old Town Crier. In this month’s “Last Word” we learn more about the man behind the voice, on Page 56. Please visit our website for an ever-changing look at what’s happening in Alexandria. Our next print issue will be out in January. See you next year! Mary Ann Barton and Beth Lawton Founders

SOCIALIZE WITH US  • November / December 2018




Meet Our Writers and Photographers





Isabelle Baldwin is a photographer and writer from western North Carolina, currently living in Washington, D.C. She received her BFA in Photography with a minor in Sustainability from Pratt Institute in Brooklyn, N.Y. She specializes in writing about visual arts as well as environmental, humanitarian and women’s issues, respectively. Her work has been published in the Catholic News Service, Aint-Bad Magazine and Oxford American. When she isn’t writing or photographing, she enjoys drinking an iced chai and cuddling with her dog, Luna.

Glenda Booth is a freelance writer who has lived in Northern Virginia for more than 40 years covering travel, history, people and conservation for local, state and national publications. Glenda has volunteered for Earthwatch in Botswana, Greece, France, Saskatchewan (Canada) and the Galapagos. She earned a bachelor’s at Longwood College and a master’s at the University of Virginia. A gardener, outdoors woman and lifelong learner, she lives in Fairfax County and is the mother of two grown sons.

Sarah Jenkins is a George Mason University student from Richmond, Virginia currently studying Communication and Business. She started working for Alexandria Living Magazine this summer where her main role has been focused on writing and research. Sarah is very involved in George Mason University organizations and enjoys film, coffee, traveling, going out with her friends and tacos. Alexandria is the perfect place for Sarah to enjoy the growing arts scene and local restaurants.

Chris Militzer is a Virginia photographer whose work has been featured by USA Today, the United States Department of the Interior, Visit Virginia and Visit Alexandria. As a travel photographer, Militzer has shot album covers in New York and performances in Paris. As a consultant and photographer, he has aided brands in their social media outreach. Militzer has lived in Alexandria, Virginia for 20 years where he resides with his wife and two daughters.





Buz Nachlas enjoys photography whether he’s capturing the Red Rocks in the American Southwest or snapping an image of an iconic monument at dusk in the nation’s capital. He often visits Alexandria, where he snapped photos of a boxing gym and a yoga studio from our fitness story in our last issue. When he’s not taking photos, you might find him cycling on one of the Washington area’s bike trails. A native of Wisconsin, Buz makes his home in Ashburn, Virginia.

Lisa Rabasca Roepe is a former Gannet newspaper reporter and a full-time freelance journalist. Her work has been featured in Fast Company, Family Circle, OZY, Quartz, Men’s Journal, The Week, Atlantic’s CityLab, CoveyClub and Arlington Magazine. She writes about the culture of work, personal finance, technology, and beer and spirits. She lives in Arlington with her husband and daughter. You can follow her on Twitter at @lisarab.

Angela Swartz is a freelance reporter based in San Francisco. She previously covered education at the San Mateo Daily Journal and technology at the Silicon Valley Business Journal. Her Daily Journal work garnered awards from The California Teachers Association and Peninsula Press Club. She interned at The Washington Post, The Investigative Reporting Workshop, All Things Digital (now Recode), and The Palo Alto Daily Post. Her work also appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle and Palo Alto Weekly.

Pepper is a 1-year-old mix that Publisher Beth Lawton’s family adopted this summer from local rescue organization K-9 Lifesavers. Pepper came from South Carolina, where she was brought in as a stray. She now spends her days at doggie daycare, sleeping on the couch at home or in the Alexandria Living Magazine office at the dog-friendly ALX Community. She enjoys chasing chipmunks, squirrels, birds, cats, deer and tennis balls.

November / December 2018 •


Carlyle House Historic Park, 121 N. Fairfax St.


FALL 2018

Calendar of Events EVE N T K E Y

Arts Film Food & Dining Family-Friendly Live Music Nightlife Pet-Friendly Recreation & Outdoor

November The Art League’s Art on Tap Nov. 2 | 7-10 p.m. Local craft beers, original artwork and amazing food are all up for grabs at The Art League’s annual Art on Tap. Craft beers from local breweries have been paired with a work of art from an Art League instructor. Local restaurants have chosen a brew/ artwork coupling to serve as their muse to create the perfect artful hors d’oeuvre. Sample creative combinations while drinking from a take-home Art on Tap beer-tasting glass, and then vote for your favorite at the end of the event. You must be 21 or older to attend, and a valid form of ID is required for entry. The Art League, 105 North Union Street,


8 • November / December 2018


Horses & Hounds Nov. 3 | 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. Watch a simulated fox hunt, a cavalry demonstration and meet Nelson, a horse similar to Washington’s beloved warhorse. Events take place rain or shine. This event is included in the regular admission price for Mount Vernon. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,



Rock the Block Nov. 4 | 6-9 p.m. Eat at the top restaurants in Old Town and help rescue children through the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children. Each guest will receive a wristband at their reserved “starting restaurant” and enjoy unlimited food and drink at all participating restaurants, including Vermilion, Columbia Firehouse, Pizza Paradiso, Auggie’s Mussel House, various food trucks at Market Square, Mia’s Italian Kitchen, The Majestic, Urbano 116 and Virtue Feed & Grain. $125; $300 for VIP includes reception from 5-6:30 p.m. and after party 9-11 p.m. Various Locations,

Friends of Duncan Library Book Sale Nov. 7 – 11 | Times Vary Discover great books for sale for bargain prices, and support your local library! Duncan Library, 2501 Commonwealth Ave.,

Alexandria After-Work Concert Series

Soldier-Led Tours at Fort Ward Museum and Historic Park

Nov. 9 | 6-8 p.m.

Nov. 10 | 10 a.m., 2 p.m.

Stop on by for an after-work concert at the Murray-Dick-Fawcett House, to hear the sounds of Cold Chocolate, a groovy Americana band that fuses bluegrass, folk and rock to create a sound all their own. With tight three-part harmony and skillful musicianship, this trio from Boston has quickly gained recognition for their original songs and high-energy shows. The band has shared bills with Leftover Salmon and David Grisman, and regularly performs at venues and music festivals up and down the East Coast. Great music with a suggested donation for the musicians. No ticket required—show up and enjoy the music! Beer and wine for sale; light refreshments available as well.

Tours are presented by the City of Alexandria to honor Veterans Day at the park.

Murray-Dick-Fawcett House, 517 Prince St.

The General’s Tour - Robert E. Lee in Alexandria Nov. 10 | 10 a.m. A guided walking tour of Robert E. Lee sites in Alexandria’s historic Old Town will address the complicated legacy of the Confederate general’s life in Alexandria, his hometown from the age of 5. Tours will last approximately 90 minutes. Tickets are available from Eventbrite in advance for $10, or for $15 at the door. Tour space is limited, so the purchase of tickets in advance is recommended. Participants are encouraged to wear comfortable shoes and bring water. Free for members. Lee-Fendall House Museum & Garden, 614 Oronoco Street,



Fort Ward Museum & Historic Park, 4301 W. Braddock Road,


Mount Vernon Salutes Veterans Nov. 11 | 9 a.m. - 4 p.m. In honor of the nation’s veterans, all activeduty, former or retired military personnel are admitted free of charge. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,

Christmas on the Potomac Nov. 16 - Jan. 1 Gaylord National kicks off the holiday spirit with a Christmas Village (complete with Santa, Mrs. Claus, ice skating, gingerbread decorating and more); a 55-foot suspended Christmas tree; two million twinkling holiday lights and an indoor snowfall in its 19-story

Mendelssohn: Symphony No. 3 “Scottish” Nov. 4 | 4-5:30 p.m. In recognition of Leonard Bernstein’s 100th birthday, the Alexandria Symphony Orchestra will perform two pieces from his acclaimed musicals, including the Overture to West Side Story and Three Dances Episodes from On the Town. ASO performs the world premiere of Jessica Krash’s Cello Concerto, and then Felix Mendelssohn’s Symphony No. 3, “Scottish.” George Washington Masonic Memorial, 101 Callahan Drive,

November / December 2018 •



atrium. It also will include the holiday show stopper ICE! – a chilly, nine-degree walk-through event that brings Christmas alive via colorful carved ice sculptures. This year’s ICE! theme will showcase the true meaning of Christmas with its rendition of the Peanuts holiday story, A Charlie Brown Christmas by Charles Schulz. Tickets and holiday packages are available at or by calling (301) 965-4000. Gaylord National Resort & Convention Center, Oxon Hill,

Under the Same Roof – Enslaved and Free Servants Nov. 24 | 2 p.m.

Turkey Trot Nov. 22 | 9 a.m. Alexandria’s 43rd 5-mile Turkey Trot is the D.C. area’s premier Thanksgiving road race, presented by the DC Road Runners Club and the Del Ray Business Association. Register up until 8:30 a.m., 30 minutes before the race begins. Bring two non-perishable foods to the race to support ALIVE!, a nonprofit organization serving Alexandria residents in need.

This tour explores the Lee-Fendall House from the perspectives of the African Americans who lived and worked in the house as domestic servants, both before and after the Civil War. The tour will feature areas of the house not normally open to public view. Tickets are $8 in advance or $10 at the door. The tour is free for members of the Lee-Fendall House. Tour space is limited, so the purchase of tickets in advance is recommended. Lee-Fendall House, 614 Oronoco Street,

Race starts at George Washington Middle School,


Kids Krafts


Nov. 17, 2018 | 10 a.m. - 2 p.m. Children ages 5 to 8 will enjoy making take-home craft projects inspired by early firefighting history while visiting the historic firehouse. Friendship Firehouse Museum, 106 N. Alfred Street,

Alexandria Cider Festival Nov. 17, 2018 | 2-6 p.m. Enjoy a selection of ciders from more than 12 Virginia cideries. Ticket includes tastings, a souvenir glass, live music and fun fall activities. Food trucks will also be on-site. Additional tasting tickets and special tasting lectures available for purchase onsite. Dress for the weather—this event is outdoors! Admission: $45 For more information, call 703-746-4554 Lloyd House, 220 N. Washington Street,

Meet the Author: Shannon Messenger Friday, Nov. 20, 3018 | 6:30-8:30 p.m.

12th Annual Alexandria Film Festival Nov. 9-11 | Various times This year’s festival marks its 12th year featuring more than 50 ticketed and free films at AMC Hoffman Theater and Beatley Central Library. Alexandria producer and entrepreneur Joe Cantwell, who is also a past AFF award winner for his film “Ride The Divide,” has endowed the “Joe Cantwell Award for Excellence in Documentary Filmmaking.” Tickets range from $12 to $18. Dogs and babies (under 2) admitted free.

Hooray for Books! welcomes back author Shannon Messenger. She will present and sign her new book, Flashback. Hooray for Books!, 1555 King Street,

10 • November / December 2018

Various locations including AMC Hoffmann (206 Swamp Fox Road) and Beatley Central Library (5005 Duke St.),

Christmas with the Washingtons George and Martha Washington were well-known for their hospitality, and they frequently hosted Christmas celebrations at Mount Vernon with family and friends. The Washingtons encouraged their guests to make themselves at home and join the festivities; they even brought a camel to Mount Vernon to entertain their guests on Christmas Day in 1787. Today, Mount Vernon brings Christmas past to the present, and Mount Vernon members get the most out of the season’s offerings. From November 23 through December 31, Mount Vernon is immersed in holiday spirit. Visitors can greet Aladdin the camel, chat with costumed characters, and watch chocolate-making demonstrations every day. All Mount Vernon members enjoy free daily admission for a full year. Or, if you are expecting guests during the holidays, join the Colonnade Society and receive free admission for four adults and all children and grandchildren with each visit.

Learn more and sign up for membership at or present this ad at the ticket counter to claim your $20 new member discount. For questions, email Kara Hershorin, membership manager, at

The holiday season also brings an enticing calendar of special evening events. Join us for a festive evening tour during Mount Vernon by Candlelight, offered select weekend evenings. Inside the Mansion, Mount Vernon’s residents welcome you and share stories of past Christmases. After you tour the home, learn 18th-century dances in the Greenhouse. Listen to fireside caroling as you enjoy cookies and warm cider to conclude a truly magical evening. For another holiday experience, watch as stunning fireworks shoot off over the Potomac River during our Christmas Illuminations on December 14 and 15. In addition to free general admission, members receive exclusive access to pre-sale ticketing for our evening events, as well as discounts at the Mount Vernon Inn and Shops. Now is the best time to join Mount Vernon as a Member. November / December 2018 •



Museum Shop Sunday

Shawn Colvin

A Civil War Christmas in Camp

Nov. 25 | 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Nov. 29 | 7:30 p.m.

Dec. 8 | noon-4 p.m.

Stop by your favorite Alexandria museums and enjoy special activities and discounts at their museum shops. Give the gift of history to your friends and family. Participating museums include the Alexandria History Museum at The Lyceum, Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, Apothecary Museum, Friendship Firehouse, Alexandria Black History Museum, Fort Ward Museum and Alexandria Archaeology Museum. (Hours vary by site. See for more information on museum hours.)

Shawn Colvin is on tour in celebration of the 20th anniversary of the Grammy-winning A Few Small Repairs album. Tickets are $55.

Learn about Christmas traditions during the Civil War. See the decorated Officers’ Hut, a Victorian tree, fort tours and participate in activities.

The Birchmere Music Hall, 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue,

Fort Ward Museum & Historic Park, 4301 W. Braddock Road,


Carbon Leaf

Various Locations

Dec. 6, 2018 | 4 p.m.

Christmas Candlelight Tea Hear a variety of Christmas poems, both traditional and contemporary, as you relax over a unique holiday tea by candlelight at Green Spring Gardens. Tickets are $45.


Green Spring Gardens, 4603 Green Spring Road,

Dec. 13, Dec. 14 | 7:30 p.m. Carbon Leaf celebrates 25 years together with a new album, Gathering Vol. 1, and an extensive tour that includes Dec. 13 and 14 at The Birchmere. Carbon Leaf blends rock, folk, Celtic, bluegrass and Americana traditions into a high-energy style the group calls ether-electrified porch music. Tickets are $39.50. The Birchmere Music Hall, 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue,


Beaujolais Nouveau Day Celebration Nov. 15, 2018 | 7:30-10 p.m. PHOTO BY RACHEL HEGARTY

Old Town Farmers Market

Alexandria participates in the world’s largest wine party on Beaujolais Nouveau Day. Marked in France on the third Thursday in November, the earliest French law allows this year’s wine to be served. Various locations,

Every Saturday | 7 a.m. - noon Held each Saturday morning year-round, the farmers’ market is an event that has been at the Market Square plaza for more than 260 years. In fact, Old Town Farmers’ Market is the oldest farmers’ market in the country which has been held continuously at the same site. George Washington sent his produce from Mount Vernon to be sold at the Farmer’s Market. Today, the market offers residents of and visitors to Alexandria a way to reconnect to the past, while participating in an ongoing local and national tradition. During the peak season, there are more than 70 vendors offering fruits and vegetables, meat, poultry, cheeses, breads, pastries, fresh pasta, pickled vegetables, cut flowers, potted plants, soaps, fabric art, and paintings. Market Square, 301 King Street

12 • November / December 2018

Colonial Handbell Ringers Concert Dec. 16 | 2-3:30 p.m. The Colonial English Handbell Ringers perform clad in colonial attire, bringing a historic feel to this concert. Enjoy listening to this 5-octave set of nearly 80 handbells from the world-famous Whitechapel Bell Foundry in London. Lyceum, 201 S. Washington Street,

“Did You Know”


presented by your Parker Gray specialist ...

Then - USO PENDLETON STREET RECREATION CENTER During World War II, the United Service Organization (USO) operated centers where service members could enjoy entertainment and recreational activities. In 1942, a new USO center was built on Pendleton and North Patrick Street. The new center was opened to accommodate African Americans stationed at Fort Belvoir. After the war, the city operated the

Christine Sennott

community and recreation center for African Americans. The Pendleton Street Recreation Center was demolished in the 1970s after Charles Houston

Photographer Unknown

Recreation center was built.

O: C:

703-535-3610 703-785-8762

Now - CHARLES HOUSTON RECREATION CENTER Today, Charles Houston Recreation Center is located at 901 Wythe Street. Charles Houston offers boxing, swimming pool, fitness center, conference rooms, dance studio, senior center and gymnasium. A 12-month membership to the recreation center is $125 for residents and $250 for non-residents.

Leo Anzoleaga Vice President of Residential Lending

Reference: Alexandria Times- February 4, 2010: Out of the Attic “Pendleton Street Center” C: P: F:

Lennar “Leo” I. Anzoleaga (DC:MLO251882 MD:28992 VA:MLO-6813VA NMLS:251882) is an agent of Draper and Kramer Mortgage Corp. (NMLS:2551) an Illinois Residential Mortgage Licensee located at 1431 Opus Place, Suite 200, Downers Grove, IL 60515, 630-376-2100. DC: Mortgage Lender License No. MLB2551. MD: Licensed as a Mortgage Lender by the Commissioner of Financial Regulation No. 19525. VA: Licensed as a Mortgage Lender by the Virginia State Corporation Commission No. MC-5630; NMLS ID No. 2551 ( Copyright ©2018 Draper and Kramer Mortgage Corp. All Rights Reserved. Branch Location: 1775 Tysons Blvd., 5th Floor, Office 5162, Tysons, VA 22102.




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Dec. 18 & 19 | 7:30 p.m. Folk singer Judy Collins, whose hits include “Both Sides Now” and “Send In the Clowns” performs at The Birchmere Music Hall. Tickets are $59.50. The Birchmere Music Hall, 3701 Mount Vernon Avenue,

Hawks at Four Mile Run Nov. 18 | 10 a.m Join the Four Mile Run Conservatory Foundation for a November outing in Four Mile Run Park, as they look for migrating hawks and other wild residents of the natural areas of the park. Binoculars/ field guides optional, but a sense of wonder and curiosity, as well as warm outerwear, are essential! Meet at the Four Mile Run Farmers & Artisans Market.

First Night Alexandria Dec. 31 | All Day First Night Alexandria is a celebration of the New Year with a special focus on performing arts. This alternative to the traditional New Year’s Eve celebrations is family-friendly, enjoyable and affordable. A variety of venues from retail shops to office buildings, churches, hotels, restaurants and more become performance spaces for the evening. The night ends with a spectacular fireworks display at the end of King Street. Various locations,


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Bring your beloved four-legged best friend along for Yappy Hour, featuring pup-tinis and delicious doggie treats. While pooches mix and mingle to meet new furry friends in the outdoor courtyard, happy hour cocktail specials and dinner options are available for owners as well!

Beer Yoga at Port City Brewing Tuesdays | 7 p.m. Yoga and beer go together like… Well, relax with a gentle yoga class followed by a pint at Port City Brewing! There is a $20 registration fee that covers the class and a post-yoga pint. (Make sure you get your pint ticket when you check in.) Beer Yoga sells out frequently, so sign up in advance for the class on Port City Brewing’s website. Port City Brewing 3950 Wheeler Avenue,

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Fall Foliage The leaves here in Alexandria will hit their peak of color by the middle of November, according to forecasters. Temperature and moisture are the main factors in the type of fall colors we see. According to the U.S. Forest Service, “The amount and brilliance of the colors that develop in any particular autumn season are related to weather conditions that occur before and during the time the chlorophyll in the leaves is dwindling. Temperature and moisture are the main influences.” This year has been unusually wet. The Washington metro area hit its annual rainfall average of 39.74 inches by late August thanks to several unusually rainy weeks in May, July and August. This year also has been hot. While there were some cooler-than-normal days in June and July, the region had several more 90-degree days this summer than average. What happens in the last week of October and early November will ultimately determine how vibrant our fall leaves are this year. Some of the best places in the area to take fall foliage photos are along the Mount Vernon Trail between Belle Haven and Mount Vernon. Enjoy!


November / December 2018 •


48th Annual Scottish Christmas Walk

Home for the Holidays Celebrations in Alexandria


performances and the tree lighting. After the lighting, children may visit with Santa Claus on stage. Market Square, 301 King St.

48TH ANNUAL SCOTTISH CHRISTMAS WALK Dec. 1 | 11 a.m. See the 48th Campagna Center Scottish Christmas Walk Parade. Enjoy marching units filled with the tartans of Scottish Clans, the sound of Scottish bagpipes and drums, Scottish dancers,


reenactment groups, Scottie dogs, dignitaries, classic cars, Santa Claus and more. The parade begins at St. Asaph and Wolfe Streets and concludes at Market Square with a massed band concert.

Alexandria has been named one of “America’s Top Holiday Towns” by USA Today and a “Top 10 Christmas Town” by HGTV. Alexandria offers an authentic holiday experience with several events the whole family can enjoy! From visiting the Christmas Camel at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate to taking part in the Scottish Walk or touring some of Alexandria’s most beautiful decorated homes, there’s sure to be an event for everyone’s wish list.

CITY TREE LIGHTING Nov. 23 | 6-8 p.m. Join fellow residents at Market Square for the lighting of the Christmas tree. The event begins with a welcome by Alexandria’s Town Crier and remarks from the mayor, and includes

16 • November / December 2018

The parade will take place rain or shine. From St. Asaph & Wolfe streets to Market Square

HOLIDAY HOME TOURS Dec. 1 | 12:30-4 p.m. The Campagna Center presents the annual Holiday Home Tours. Explore Alexandria’s history and take advantage of a rare opportunity to stroll through some of Old Town’s most splendid homes decked out for the holidays by acclaimed interior designers and local florists. Proceeds benefit Campagna Center programs that serve more than 2,000 children and families daily in Alexandria. Home Tour tickets may be purchased/picked up at any Home Tour stop. Tickets are $40. Home Tour tickets will also be sold at The Campagna Center, 418 S. Washington Street, the week prior to the tour. Various locations,


Volunteer Alexandria Seeks Toys for Local Children There are many opportunities to make a difference and get involved in Alexandria this holiday season and throughout the year.

Christmas Illuminations at Mount Vernon PHOTO BY BUDDY SECOR

dance moves from costumed guides in the Greenhouse. George and Martha PHOTO BY R. KENNEDY FOR VISIT ALEXANDRIA

HOLIDAY BOAT AND PARADE OF LIGHTS Dec. 1 | 2-9 p.m. After the Scottish Christmas Walk, stick around for the 19th annual Holiday Boat and Parade of Lights. At 5:30 p.m. watch for dozens of twinkling boats along Alexandria’s harbor as they cruise the Potomac River at the historic waterfront. Enjoy festivities dockside and inside the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Torpedo Factory Art Center, 105 N Union St,

CHRISTMAS ILLUMINATIONS AT MOUNT VERNON Dec. 14, Dec. 15 | 5:30-8 p.m. Join Mount Vernon for an evening of familyfriendly fun and fireworks choreographed to holiday music, with fireworks beginning around 8 p.m. Take a stroll through the estate while being serenaded by local choirs, visit with reenactors from the First Virginia Regiment and learn 18th-century

Washington will also be on site to greet Mount Vernon’s holiday guests. Watch as colonial artisans demonstrate the 18th-century process of creating chocolate. Keep toasty by warming up by a bonfire, visiting the blacksmith shop, or enjoying some hot chocolate or cider. Additional food will be available for purchase. The Museum and Education Center will also be open from 5:30-9 p.m. George Washington’s Mount Vernon, 3200 Mount Vernon Memorial Highway,

A VICTORIAN CHRISTMAS Dec. 15 Experience a Victorian Christmas at the LeeFendall House. The house will be decorated for the season and there will be holiday crafts, photographs with Santa, seasonal treats, story time, an antique toy exhibit and more. The museum will not be open for regular tours. Lee-Fendall House, 614 Oronoco St.,

The Volunteer Alexandria Community Toy Drive is implemented in partnership with the Alexandria City’s Department of Community and Human Services and starts in November with the collection of toys, books, and games. Each year, thousands of items are collected, and this effort takes the generosity and collaboration of many community members, including businesses, schools, churches and individuals. Every year, 600 children in more than 300 families are served. Volunteer Alexandria encourages everyone age 6 and older to get involved.

How can you help? There are several ways to help make a difference.

Donate. Make a donation to help 100-plus volunteers sort, count, distribute toys over two days. You can donate securely through

Collect toys. Collect toys through a public collection receptacle or private collection (office or apartment building). Or, host a holiday party and collect toys and books. E-mail for more information.

Sponsor a family. E-mail for details about what specific families in the community need this holiday season.

Volunteer. Volunteer on Dec. 14 and Dec. 15 as an individual, with your family, friends or colleagues. Visit to sign up. For more information, contact Volunteer Alexandria Executive Director Marion Brunken at (703) 836-2176 or

November / December 2018 •


18 • November / December 2018


Holiday Entertaining Shortcuts BY MARY ANN BARTON

Nadine Brown, general manager of Society Fair in Alexandria, remembers the most interesting request she got last year from a customer during the holidays.

looking for an assist or searching for something extra special for holiday get-togethers. Hosting can be stressful, from making sure the house is clean and decorated to providing the right foods and beverages. Smart hosts don’t shy away from shortcuts — especially when they’re very high quality, unique, local and tasty.

“She wanted four duck wings — and we got them, just for her,” she said. The food emporium was able to make use of the rest of the ducks. “We make our own paté.”

If you’re hosting a party, “there is no need to stock a full bar when entertaining, especially for the holidays,” said Victoria Vergason, owner of The Hour Shop in Alexandria, which features vintage barware and glassware. “Serve a punch where guests can help themselves and/or serve pre-batched cocktails.”

Specialty food boutiques, butchers and bakeries around town often lend a helping hand to Alexandria hosts and hostesses

For your holiday brunch, “A nice alternative is to serve a sparkling wine bar, where guests can make their own sparkling cocktails by November / December 2018 •



adding simple ingredients to the sparkling wine, such as peaches for a Bellini, orange juice for a Mimosa, creme de cassis for a Kir Royal, or simply a sugar cube sprinkled with bitters for a Classic Champagne Cocktail,” she said. If you’re serving a crowd, finger foods that don’t require utensils can make eating while socializing easier. Use serving platters and napkins with a festive theme — they make for good conversation starters among guests. Other ways to enjoy your own holiday party, Vergason advised, without pulling your hair out, include: • Set the tone for your party with festive music before your guests arrive. That will ensure that everyone is in a good mood from the very start of the holiday party! • Always have plenty of ice on hand. • Do not forget non-alcoholic drinking options. • Most importantly, keep it simple and remember that the reason for the holiday party is to celebrate the season with friends and family.

MEATS, BREADS AND BEYOND FROM LOCAL SHOPS Brown often helps harried holiday hosts set an impressive spread, from heritage turkeys (the ancestors of today’s common turkey found in supermarkets) to a “pretty unique fruit and nut bread,” with apricots and raisins that makes a nice accompaniment to a cheese board. Meat is often at the center of a holiday meal. At the butcher shop Let’s Meat on the Avenue in Del Ray, butcher Taylor Hudnall said

20 • November / December 2018

the shop sells “an awful lot of sirloin roast, known these days as strip loin.” “Everybody in Alexandria turns into Charles Dickens during the holidays,” he said. The boneless strip loin is an “absolutely gorgeous” choice for a holiday party or dinner, he noted, that “ought to be right up there with standing rib. It looks like a woodcut from a Dickens novel.” Let’s Meat carries Allen Brothers turkeys, and a lot of people come by for their Kelly Bronze Turkey, “a fancy heritage breed, the Rolls Royce of turkeys at about $13 a pound,” Hudnall said. “Supposedly, that’s the turkey you’ll find on the Queen of England’s table.” The turkeys come with herbs and a free timer. “No one has ever not come back the next year for them,” he said. If you’re looking to make your holiday breakfast extra special, go for Nueske’s bacon — “it’s out of Wisconsin and is the best we’ve found,” Hudnall advised. A holiday meal or party wouldn’t be complete without something sweet. In addition to the ever-popular freshly baked pumpkin, pecan and apple pies available at Alexandria Pastry Shop at Bradlee shopping center, customers often add a cake to the mix. The Raspberry Marquis, a chocolate mousse cake with fresh fruit, is a stand out. The bakery, which is celebrating 30 years in business this year, offers traditional Buche de Noel, Stollen and gingerbread boys and girls as well as gingerbread houses are also available, said owner Tom Lally. “And we have a hardcore group of about two dozen people who come for mincemeat pie,” he said, noting that their recipe is made without meat.


Uniquely Alexandria Hostess Gifts for Food Lovers Never arrive empty handed at the holidays! From drinks to sweet treats and Alexandriacentric gifts, here are some great options to bring your hosts this season. Hub Peanuts at The Old Town Shop

The Old Town Shop is where you’ll find Hubs Peanuts. “That is the main reason locals come in here, is to buy the peanuts,” said Chris Ouellette, an employee at the store. “It’s a family-owned company. They grow, package and literally hand deliver their peanuts.” The company is based in Sedley, just southeast of Richmond. The peanuts come in several flavors including salted, “sweet heat” and “honey-kissed.” During the holidays, look for chocolate-covered peanuts. Crum’s Sauce is also popular at The Old Town Shop. The hot sauce company was founded in Alexandria, and sauces are available in several flavors and intensities. “All the guys come in like crazy,” Ouellette said. “They get their hair cut [at The Gentlemen’s Quarters, next door] and then grab it on their way out.”

OTX merchandise at The Old Town Shop

For non-sweets, pick up an OTX (Old Town Alexandria) branded item, and a wide variety of products and treats from local companies.

Alexandria is lucky to have some highly-rated sweets shops, as well. Blüprint Chocolatiers on King Street or Fleurir Chocolates on Jefferson Street are both highly recommended by long-time residents. In addition to chocolates, Kilwins has caramel apples, caramel corns, nutcracker sweets and nut brittles. For hosts who don’t love chocolate but love sweets, try Dolce & Bean in Del Ray, which has gummies in champagne and rose flavors, macarons and gourmet pastries. You can also pick up Popped! Republic treats at the Alexandria Visitor’s Center on King Street. The food truck’s retail store sells special popcorns, including Capitol Caramel, Mount Vernon Maple Glaze, Beltway Old Bay and more. Gifts boxes and samplers are available.

Blüprint Chocolatiers November / December 2018 •



Going Beyond ‘Animal Control’ in Alexandria BY GINA HARDTER, Animal Welfare League of Alexandria PHOTOS COURTESY OF THE ANIMAL WELFARE LEAGUE OF ALEXANDRIA

The dog catchers. The pound. Animal Control. These are names that have been used in the past to describe the entities who rounded up loose or vicious animals on the streets. These functions are still important but, in the City of Alexandria, Animal Services does so much more. The City of Alexandria contracts with the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria (AWLA), a nonprofit organization, to operate Animal Services. These officers are employees of the AWLA and have the powers of an animal control officer as outlined by the Code of Virginia, as well as the power to enforce the provisions of the articles under title 5, chapter 7 of the municipal code. In May 2018, Tammy Doran was appointed by the City of Alexandria City Council as Chief Animal Services Officer. Before her appointment to Chief, she had 15 years of animal control experience, including serving for three years as Sergeant in AWLA’s Animal Services Department and a combined seven years at the City of Richmond Animal Control and Richland County Animal Care and Control in South Carolina. Doran has handled multiple felony-level animal abuse and neglect cases, including several dog-fighting cases that led to convictions of the accused. Doran says she and her Animal Services Officers are not the “dog catchers.” Instead, they are investigators, educators, connectors, supporters and much more. They work closely with the residents of the City of Alexandria to improve the lives of animals and the people who live with and around them. “A lot of the job is educating people about the best ways to help animals, like the wildlife that inhabits their backyards,” says Doran. “The residents of Alexandria are often very concerned

22 • November / December 2018

about animals and want to ‘rescue’ them, but taking baby wildlife away from their area can often be the worst thing to do. We help residents learn that there are other actions they can take that are more effective.” For example, Animal Services Officers will show residents who find baby squirrels that their best chance of survival is to return them to where they were found, and will play a video of a baby squirrel crying from their phones. They can observe from a safe distance as the mother will come near to look for the baby, pick it up and carry it back to the nest. “It is always best for mom to take care of the baby. Rehabilitation by a human should be the last resort,” clarifies Doran. Other times, the Animal Services Officers perform the role of counselor to help a person through a difficult time. People facing the most serious crises, such as becoming homeless or coping with a serious illness, will often name the care of their pets as their main concern. In the case of a pet owner who has to be hospitalized but does not have anyone who can care for their pet, Animal Services will work closely with the individual and/ or their social worker to enroll them in the AWLA’s Crisis Pet Care Program. The AWLA will care for their pet, at no charge, for a period of time in order to reunite the pet when the owner has returned from the hospital. “If we can help them feel less worried about their animals so they can focus on the other issues, then hopefully we can provide them some comfort, which is a wonderful feeling,” Doran says. She relays that many people automatically assume that Animal Services just wants to take their animals, but that’s not the case. Just as the baby squirrel does best when it is reunited with his mother, pets often do the best when they can remain with their owners, and the AWLA and Animal Services are always looking for innovative ways to make that possible. If a pet owner

is struggling financially, Animal Services can offer extra bags of dog and cat food and other supplies and can connect residents with the free AniMeals program for more assistance. Animal Services Officers also help connect residents with AWLA’s spay/ neuter voucher program for low-income citizens or the AWLA’s free behavior hotline. A successful day for Animal Services is one in which they help a citizen to keep their pet at home. Some of the toughest calls the Animal Services team receives are those about the suspected abuse of animals. Statistics show that individuals capable of hurting animals are also at a higher risk of hurting humans. Animal Services coordinates closely with the Alexandria Police Department, the City Attorney’s Office and the Alexandria Commonwealth’s Attorney to investigate and address these cases. When evidence exists of abuse, seizure of all of the animals in the home can occur, along with criminal reports, evidence gathering and even criminal charges. Animal Services will also work with Child Protective Services if children live in the home. That said, Doran is careful to stress that not all suspected cases

Who You Gonna Call? Most animal emergencies, such as an injured animal or suspected animal abuse, should be reported to the Alexandria Police Dispatch line at 703-7464444, which is answered 24 hours a day; Animal Services will then be contacted by the Police as appropriate. For queries about lost/found pets or pet licensing, please call the Animal Welfare League directly at 703-746-4774.

are abuse or neglect: “It is a relief when we find that a barking dog is just howling because he is bored, not because he’s in pain.” The officers can educate the owner on ways to keep their dog’s mind engaged to mitigate barking, like puzzle treat toys that can last all day. “We don’t want to seize pets when they are in safe and loving homes,” Doran says. “If there’s another way we can help, we certainly want to try.” Doran looks forward to seeing her team’s role continue to expand in the community, working

The Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, which operates the Vola Lawson Animal Shelter on contract with the City of Alexandria, is an independent, local, 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. The AWLA is committed to ending animal homelessness, promoting animal welfare, and serving as an educational resource for the City of Alexandria community. More information is at

not only to protect citizens but also to connect with citizens to support people and animals of Alexandria. November / December 2018 •



Aspiring to Inspire Students BY ANGELA SWARTZ

It’s not uncommon to hear people say: “I played piano a little when I was a kid, but…” Alexandria musician Marilyn O’Leary wants to end this by inspiring more kids to commit to learning music and sticking with it.

First, she teaches hour-long classes to eight students at a time as opposed to the usual one-on-one teaching. This peer interaction bolsters learning, she said. Second, she sets up “peak performance moments” such as student shares and an end of the year showcase in June for students to show off their talents. At Piano Lab’s annual showcase this year, the students performed at a local church on the school’s eight pianos (The studio now has 16). O’Leary created an 88-key guide for students to measure their achievements, giving students a way to know where they are in their musical education, she said. There’s a sign off each time they master a skill.

Last year, she opened Piano Lab in the Fort Hunt neighborhood as part of this mission.

She provides a variety of activities for learning music since students learn differently, she said. These include writing music, listening to music, studying eras of music or playing games.

“Parents had taken a couple of years (of piano) and wish they stuck with it,” said O’Leary, 46. “They weren’t clear on the ingredients the kids need to actually become a musician. We really wanted to break that cycle.”

She likes students to know the options they’ll have by learning the new language, she said. It could be playing in a band, teaching, composing for movies, working as a recording engineer, playing for fun and more.

Often, piano students will quit early on because they lose motivation, she said. Irregular practice patterns, unbalanced skills and not learning to play in groups can also contribute to a lack of music literacy, she said.

Parents tell O’Leary their kids are going to the piano on their own a lot more often. She chalks this up to the accountability and pleasure of coming to class to contribute their part to the whole.

O’Leary, who is lead singer in D.C. sextet Chaise Lounge, created a multi-tier approach to teaching music. She wants the students – 130 in this year’s cohort – to link their study of music to experiences that matter to them.

24 • November / December 2018

O’Leary said she developed a strong music foundation growing up in Durham, North Carolina. She started music lessons there at age 5. Her teacher held students to high standards and built strong relationships, she said. The teacher helped her put songs on paper, which she submitted to her elementary school choir director.

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The songs ended up in school shows. “Having early opportunities that really mattered to me – where I felt recognized and successful – solidified my ID as a musician,” said O’Leary, who went on to study audio engineering and piano performance at American University. “I made the decision I was going to learn the language of music.” O’Leary ran the studio and taught classes on her own during its first year. This summer to hired two other teachers and has teens work as assistants in classes. A lot of endeavors have felt like “pushing a boulder uphill” for her, but not this one, she said. “Many elements have simply come together, putting me in the right situation at the right time,” she said. “For example, I am in the same boat as most of my clients (I have school-aged children in the Fort Hunt community), which gives me a good understanding of their needs and makes it easier to make decisions that work for them.” O’Leary learned from many talented musicians and observed different kinds of learners in her over 20 years of teaching music, she said. She finds she can write a lesson based on the inspiration of the week, be it composition, instrumentation, Blues or jazz. After more than a year in business, she has learned to treasure her clients, and advises other business owners “tune in and listen to your intuition for every next step.”

Landscape and Portrait Photography November / December 2018 •


Ice, Ice Baby Lace up your skates and get out there! BY MARY ANN BARTON

Winter doesn’t officially arrive until Dec. 21, but why wait? Jump-start the season with ice skating. There are plenty of options in the area for figure skating lessons, playing ice hockey and more. Whether you’re a pro or just taking those first tentative steps, grab your friends and take a twirl — here’s a look at several ice skating rinks and their offerings in the area. 26 • November / December 2018

Pentagon Row

FAIRFAX ICE ARENA 3779 Picket Road, Fairfax

You’ll find hockey, figure skating and skating camps and classes at Fairfax Ice Arena. The arena is available for parties and offers public skate times. For more information call (703) 323-1132 or visit

MEDSTAR CAPITALS ICEPLEX 627 N. Glebe Road, Arlington

The practice facility of the 2018 Stanley Cup Champion Washington Capitals in Arlington. Classes are available for all ages and all levels. The ice center also offers birthday parties. For more information call (571) 224-0555 or visit


disciplines including figure skating, speed skating and hockey


lessons led by one of the region’s most well-regarded coach-

2017 Belle View Boulevard, Alexandria

This indoor ice center where Olympic figure skater Ashley Wagner once trained offers group and private lessons in beginner and advanced ice-skating and hockey. Classes are offered in age groups 6-13 and 14 and older. The rink is also home to the Northern Virginia Adult Hockey League. For more information contact the rec center at (703) 768-3224 or visit


Pentagon Row is open from late October to mid-March and offers children’s ice-skating lessons for advanced and beginner skaters in two age groups, 3-6 and 7-15. The rink also offers ice hockey lessons for students on Saturday mornings as well as lessons for those ages 16 and older on Sunday mornings. The rink offers birthday parties and fundraisers (donating 50 percent of what your guests pay to your organization). For more information, contact the rink at (703) 418-6666 or visit


es, Katherine “Chérie” Farrington. Certified by the Professional Skaters Association as a Master Program Director, she is also certified as a Master Group instructor, Certified Moves instructor and Registered Choreographer. The St. James features two NHL regulation-sized ice rinks. For more information call (703) 239-6870 or visit


The largest outdoor rink in D.C. is open from mid-November to March. Choose from lots of rinkside restaurants for an after-skating meal. Check the website for information on skate classes, theme nights and discount passes. For more information call (202) 706-7666 or visit

THE WHARF ICE SKATING RINK 690 Water Street SW, Washington, DC

The Wharf offers waterside skating on Transit Pier across from The Anthem from December through February. Look

6805 Industrial Road, Springfield

This new mega-health and fitness complex in Springfield, which opened in September, offers group instruction in 11 skating

for lessons on Saturdays. For more information email or visit

We are Northern Virginia’s patient centered, comprehensive dental health center, offering a full range of dental, airway and sleep services for the whole family. At Dental Excellence Integrative Center, we love providing the absolute highest level of dentistry available to our patients. We utilize the latest technology in our equipment and provide the most up to date procedures to bring you the most comfortable experience possible.

We encourage you to contact us whenever you have an interest or concern about any of the dental procedures or services we offer. Contact our office at (703) 745-5496 or visit us online at:

Dr. Salatarsh Airway Improvement, TMJ & Sleep Center

Orthodontics & Ortho Alternatives

Cosmetic & Custom Smile Design Center Relaxation, Sedation, Anesthesia

General & Preventive Care

Implants, Dentures, Bridges & Gum Recession

Green, Holistic & Homeopathic Solutions For Baby & Children

November / December 2018 •


Dental Excellence Integrative Center • 3116 Mt Vernon Ave, Alexandria, VA 22305 • (703) 745-5496 •

How to Make a Financial Resolution That Sticks

The percentage of people who consider making financial resolutions has declined 16 percent since 2014 due to economic optimism, however, experts recommend that every American make a new financial resolution each year. Even if people don’t keep their resolutions for more than a month or two, resolutions are an effective way to combat financial troubles. In fact, 58 percent of those that made resolutions in 2017 say that they are in a better financial situation than they were before.


As 2019 approaches, here’s some advice from experts here in Alexandria on the best financial resolutions to make — and how to keep them!

A lot of people make resolutions for the New Year, and while a majority of the resolutions that people make revolve around health, a surprising number of them are financial in nature. One in every four Americans claimed that they would make finan-

It’s Never Too Soon To Begin Saving

Emily Harper, a financial planning associate with Monument Wealth Management recognizes that at different stages of life, there are different priorities to think about and commit to: New parents are going to have concerns that may not be shared by a 40-year-old and vice versa.

cial resolutions in 2017, according to research. The ninth annual New Year Financial Resolution Study by Fidelity Investments reported that 76 percent of Americans predicted that they would be better off financially in 2018 than they were in 2017. Their top economic concerns were unexpected expenses

Top 3 Financial Resolutions According to the New Year Financial Resolution Study by Fidelity Investments

and rising health care costs.


Save More (55% of those surveyed)

The study also revealed that the top three financial resolutions re-


Pay Down Debt (25% of those surveyed)


Spend Less (18% of those surveyed)

mained consistent with previous years: 55 percent of participants vowed to save more, 25 percent vowed to pay down debt, and 18 percent vowed to spend less.

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PERSONAL FINANCE The one financial resolution that Harper recommends is to create a policy for how much and where to save extra cash flow — especially for Millennials. She acknowledges that young professionals may be at a point in their career where they’re making enough money to pay the bills and find themselves wondering what exactly to do with the rest or spending it unwisely. The number of choices on how to save and what to prioritize can be daunting, which is why Harper advocates for using a Certified Financial Planner (CFP) to work on a project basis in order to evaluate cash flow. Having a general understanding of why you are saving and investing is the main key to success. “It is much less tempting to overspend if you have a savings plan in place with a clear direction,” she said. Retirement Planning Should Start Early

How to Keep a New Year’s Resolution Just one person in every 12 — that’s how many people will really keep their New Year’s resolutions long term, according to research from the University of Scranton. While many people start with the best of intentions, actually keeping those resolutions beyond January is difficult.

Ask any financial advisor when you should begin planning for retirement and they’re likely to give you the same answer: It’s never too early.

Once you’ve decided on a resolution or two, what’s the best way to actually keep it?

Whether you are a single parent or part of a large family, saving for retirement is a necessary investment.

AUTOMATE. For financial resolutions, the best single move you can make is to automate the process. Instead of manually moving $100 to a savings account with every paycheck, set up an automatic transfer through your bank or credit union’s online bill pay service. Or, if your employer does direct deposit of your paycheck, ask them to divert part of it into a different account that you won’t touch. There are also apps and certain credit cards that round up every purchase you make to the next dollar, putting the change into a separate savings account.

Greg Sullivan, CEO/President of SBSB, Sullivan, Bruyette, Speros, and Blayney, LLC recommends starting to save as early as possible, and seeking professional advice and guidance by the time you’re in your 40s. By that stage of life, you have likely accumulated assets but may not have a cohesive plan in place that connects your long-term goals, such as retirement and college tuition for your children, with your short-term goals, such as paying off student loans. In Sullivan’s book, “Retirement Fail”, he examines the many reasons why adults fail post-work life. In order to avoid these financial pitfalls, he recommends finding a professional financial advisor attuned to your needs who will help you objectively look at your goals and concerns in order to create a concrete plan for the future. Resolutions Should Be Realistic and Achievable

Financial experts say that resolutions, like goals, are best accomplished when they are specific. Shannon Rowan, Senior Vice President and Director of Trust and Wealth Management Services at Burke and Herbert Bank agrees with that sentiment.

ATTITUDE. No matter what the resolution is, sheer willpower won’t get you too far when it comes to staying on track. What can help is having an attitude of gratitude and developing positive relationships related to the resolution. For many, it helps to have a “resolution buddy” who can help keep you accountable, no matter what your goal.

HABIT. A University of Chicago study says it also helps to make your resolution a habit first — and doing whatever it takes to kick start the development of that habit.

REWARDS. For some people, building rewards into the development of habits can help. In addition, plan to give yourself bigger rewards after hitting certain specific milestones.

Rowan said resolutions oriented toward improving finances generally swap long-term gains for short-term sacrifices — similar to those that focus on dieting and exercise. “We know it’s good for us but we only reap the benefits – such as better health – over time.”

VISUALS. For those who are crafty or visual,

People often fail to follow through with their resolutions because they have made them too big or too broad. Much like health resolutions, vague objectives like, “I will eat better” are not as effective as affirming that you “will lose 10 pounds by March 1.” Statements such as “I resolve to save more” don’t place as much gravity on change as statements like, “I will start an automatic savings plan of $500 per month beginning March 1st.”

creating a Dream Board or Vision Board can also help keep up motivation. Seeing photos and progress charts of what you want and including visual representations of what you’ve accomplished so far can keep momentum going. Even changing the background photo on your mobile device to one that motivates you and reminds you of the long-term goal can provide a nudge in the right direction.

To be successful, be specific and have a plan in mind with clear results that you want to accomplish. November / December 2018 •


Winter’s Watch BY GLENDA C. BOOTH

Come fall, a black and white drama plays out in Northern Virginia’s avian world. Slate-colored, white-breasted northern juncos return from points north — little sparrows that flit about the ground, forage under bird feeders and flash bright, white tail feathers in flight.


Black and white patterns appear on area waters, too. Striking

“Of the more than 650 species of North American breeding birds, more than half are migratory,” reports Cornell University’s All About Birds website. Generally, birds migrate to find food in places where they can survive, cold, windy days and nights.

black and white bufflehead ducks bob in the water and then whoosh! they’re gone, diving for aquatic invertebrates, crustaceans and mollusks. Twelve seconds later, they’re up again. Nearby, another duck-like bird, the male hooded merganser sports a black and white “head fan” and dives for a meal. “There are thousands upon thousands of waterfowl on the Potomac River in the fall,” says Larry Meade, president of the Northern Virginia Bird Club. Bird watchers rush to shorelines, Dyke Marsh, Huntley Meadows Park and other prime sites to check on fall arrivals. Birds are very mobile. “Even humans with their many vehicles of locomotion do not equal some birds in mobility,” say U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service experts in Circular 16. Many Northern Virginians join the over 45 million Americans who watch birds and the 45 to 60 million who feed them.

30 • November / December 2018

When days get shorter and cooler, many birds pass through Northern Virginia en route to their wintering grounds. Some birds winter here and return north in the spring. These birds travel on what ornithologists call the Atlantic flyway, a flight path that generally follows the Atlantic Coast of North America and the Appalachian Mountains. Some birds have extraordinary journeys from northern Canada to South America and back.

SHOULD YOU FEED BIRDS? Advocates argue that bird feeding brings people closer to nature, advances scientific understanding and fosters a conservation ethic. Bird watchers delight in birds’ feather patterns, shapes, sizes, food preferences, behavior and calls and in the spring, mating and parenting. One example: In winter, birders might see a drab olive goldfinch transform into its lemon, yellow breeding plumage as spring approaches. Some argue that feeders make birds easy targets for free-roaming cats and other predators and that birds visiting feeders might fly into windows. Others contend that most birds survive just fine on their own and that feeders can spread diseases.


Bird-Feeding Resources The National Audubon Society

The National Wildlife Federation

Cornell Lab of Ornithology BirdNoteWinterFeeding.pdf


Birds from L to R: White throated sparrow (Zonotrichia albicollis); Female hooded merganser and young (Lophodytes cucullatus); House finch (Haemorhouse mexicanus) and rose-breasted grosbeak (Pheucticus ludovivianus)

Most experts maintain that outdoor feeders supplement birds’ natural food sources. Cornell University scientists say that birds with full access to feeders consume three-quarters of their diet elsewhere.


paying attention to how we are (or are not) taking care of our landscapes, water, air and overall environment. Because bird migration and breeding patterns are indicators of the effects of climate change and other environmental problems, what birders see is important.”

Bird feeders can range from a wooden slab to elaborate stations, and bird food can include suet cakes, peanut butter and various seeds. A diverse food mix attracts different birds. A red-bellied woodpecker, for example, might frequent a seed-filled suet cake. A tufted titmouse would likely eat seeds from a conical feeder.


Every species has a preferred food. On the Fairfax County Park Authority’s website, Suzanne Holland advises, “Insect eaters gravitate toward protein substitutes such as black oil sunflower seed and suet (beef fat). Suet, available at the meat counter at grocery stores, is less attractive to crows and squirrels when it has no added seed. Cardinals dote on safflower seed and finches flock to niger thistle seed in tube feeders.”

Audubon Society of Northern Virginia

Birds also need water for drinking and bathing so birders recommend regularly-cleaned, outdoor basins. Planting native plants with which birds co-evolved is a favored approach of many bird enthusiasts. Audubon’s Audubon-atHome and the National Wildlife Federation’s Backyard Habitat programs encourage minimal grass and impervious surfaces and gardens that provide nectar, seeds, nuts, fruits, berries, foliage, pollen and insects native to an area. Native habitats also provide shelter, protective cover and staging and nesting sites. The free Guide to Native Plants of Northern Virginia offers guidance at

WHY CARE? Watching birds brings hours of amazement, bird watchers say. “Birds are endlessly fascinating,” notes Alexandrian Dixie Sommers who has birded all over the world. “Their variety, behavior, migration and ability to fly, swim and dive are all amazing.” She also sees a larger purpose. “Paying attention to birds means

Several local organizations sponsor bird walks throughout the year, even in the winter months. Small groups get together to spot birds, swap information and develop friendships, too. Here are a few to check out:

Friends of Dyke Marsh Friends of Huntley Meadows Park Northern Virginia Bird Club

Where to Buy Bird Food Locally For expert advice locally, stop by one of Alexandria’s bird-focused retail outlets, which offer a wide variety of foods, feeders, guidebooks, binoculars and more. One Good Tern 1710 Fern Street, Alexandria, 22302 Wild Bird Center 3216 Duke Street, Alexandria, 22314 1255 Dillingham Square, Lakeridge, 22192 In addition, most pet supply stores, grocery stores and hardware stores carry bird food and feeders, but may not offer as much expertise specifically about winter wild bird feeding. November / December 2018 •



The Outer Banks

Get in the holiday spirit beachside in North Carolina BY MARY ANN BARTON

32 • November / December 2018


Many local residents spend part of their summer vacation at the Outer Banks, but you can really unplug during the holidays by heading south to enjoy the solitude and sea breezes during the off season as well. The Outer Banks — a 200-mile strip of barrier islands off the coast of North Carolina — has more than just beaches. Explore American history and learn about the lost colony on Roanoke Island, England’s first settlement in the area. Visit the Wright Brothers Memorial, where Wilbur and Orville Wright spent years experimenting with flight. Can’t-miss restaurants, wild horses and fun shopping can round-out a perfect winter vacation. With spacious beachside homes, hotels, resorts and condos big enough for all your family and friends, there’s plenty of room to spread holiday cheer at discounted rates. Here are a few options to consider if you decide to head south during the holiday season. Despite Hurricane Florence’s hit on North Carolina in early September, most businesses on the Outer Banks were not harmed. Still, it’s always a good idea to call ahead and check websites before heading out.


Ocean. As you check in, it’ll remind you of a favorite family beach house, with some modern touches. Sanderling offers southern hospitality and luxurious amenities in a relaxed, tranquil setting — including an outdoor hot tub and a heated indoor pool. Recently, Sanderling completed a multi-phase renovation with all new guest rooms, fresh culinary leadership, reinvigorated food and beverage programs and enhanced adventure offerings to showcase the region’s natural beauty. Rates start at $129 per night in the low season (compared to $399 per night in the high season).

Castle on Silver Lake B&B on Ocracoke Island. If you venture south and decide to spend the night on Ocracoke Island, plan a stay at the Castle on Silver Lake B&B, which offers beautiful views of the harbor, a delicious breakfast (try the spinach and cheese omelet) amid cozy surroundings. We loved the cedar wood paneling, free snacks and bottled water and friendly atmosphere. Bicycles are available, first-come, first serve. The inn is open throughout November and closes in mid-December before reopening in the spring.

Renting a house or condo. There are numerous companies including Village Realty, Sun Realty, Beach Realty NC and Resort Realty Group that handle rentals big and small throughout the Outer

Sanderling Resort in Duck. Located near the northernmost tip of

Banks. You may also check Airbnb, VRBO and similar websites for

the Outer Banks in Duck, the Sanderling Resort is situated on 16 acres with dramatic views of the Currituck Sound and the Atlantic

that can be more than 50 percent lower than summer prices.

home rentals. Many homes and condos offer off-season pricing

November / December 2018 •



TO DO Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center: The National Park Service recently reopened the Wright Brothers National Memorial Visitor Center in Kill Devil Hills after undergoing a nearly $6 million renovation. Since the winter of 2016, the National Historic Landmark was closed to preserve and restore its architecturally significant features and to rehabilitate its mechanical and electrical systems. While the visitor center has been under renovation, staff were busy managing a separate project to install all new interactive exhibits. The exhibits reveal an intimate look at Wilbur and Orville Wright In addition to all new exhibits, a 16-screen video wall featuring images of the brothers, Wright flying machines, inspirational quotes and images of flight.

Christmas Mouse: Get in the holiday spirit with some beachy holiday ornaments and decorations at the Christmas Mouse in Nags Head. The two-story, 8,000-square foot store is sure to have a memorable Outer Banks ornament that you’ll want to hang on your tree every year. For even more holiday decor ideas, check out The Christmas Shop and General Store in nearby Manteo. and

WinterLights at Elizabethan Gardens: Stroll along garden paths and discover the joy of the season with holiday lights, sights and sounds transforming The Elizabethan Gardens in Manteo into an illuminated winter wonderland. See the radiant glow of the gardens, traditional holiday décor and displays. Festive trees grace the Gatehouse and Reception Hall and a crackling open-air fire warms the Great Lawn.

Ocracoke Island: Drive your car onto the free hourlong ferry ride

34 • November / December 2018

in Hatteras that will take you to Ocracoke Island, where many of the tourists and locals get around on foot, bicycle or in rented golf carts. Step out of your car to take in the water views. The drive to the middle of town is about 13 miles from the ferry. Visit the 1823 Ocracoke lighthouse, the second-oldest operating lighthouse in the nation.

Corolla Outback Adventures: located at 1150 Ocean Trail next to the Corolla Post Office, hop into the back of a four-wheel for an adventure zooming along the coastline to go check out the wild horses and birds on the beach. It’s a great way to learn about the history and local lore. Be sure to bring your camera!

Sailing: We rented a catamaran from Nor’Banks Sailing & Water Sports, 1314 Duck Road in Duck, and enjoyed the breezes and warm water on Currituck Sound. Afterward, you can relax in their hammock or grab a bite to eat at the restaurant on their upper deck that looks out on the sound.

Jockey’s Ridge State Park: For the best sunset-watching, visit Jockey’s Ridge State Park. You’ll want to wear something comfortable to climb the giant sand dune where you can fly a kite while waiting for the spectacular sunset.

DINING Black Pelican, 3848 N. Virginia Dare Trail, Kitty Hawk. Black Pelican is a longtime laidback eatery housed in a former lifesaving station from 1874. Try the fresh catch of the day ala Oscar (asparagus, crabmeat and hollandaise). Ask to be seated in the older part of the restaurant.


The Life Saving Station Restaurant, Sanderling Resort, Duck, NC

Bluewater Grill & Raw Bar, 2000 Sailfish Dr., Manteo. We can’t say

Mulligan’s Grille in Historic Cottage Row, 4005 S. Croatan Hwy.,

enough about how delicious the fresh fish was at this eatery; sit by the window for a view of the yachts down below. Top-notch service.

Nags Head. Mulligan’s offers a varied menu including some

Kimball’s Kitchen, The Sanderling Resort. Ask for a seat by the win-

SMacNally’s Bar & Grill, Ocracoke. For a waterfront experience,

dow to catch sunset views of the sound. This upscale choice offers an award-winning wine list and a sophisticated take on seasonal menus.

The Life Saving Station 1461 Duck Road, The Sanderling Resort. We loved the Miso Shrimp Burger at lunch and the Sanderling Benedict which includes crab cakes, for breakfast.

awesome burgers. Be sure to try the cucumber salad!

check out the popular waterside SMacNally’s Bar & Grill where you can wash down some calamari at the lively bar while watching the fishing boats come in with their catch.

Sunset Grille, 1264 Duck Road, Duck. Sunset Grille offers outdoor dining with tiki torches overlooking the Currituck Sound, a perfect spot for sunset-watching.

Miller’s Waterfront Restaurant, 6916 S. Croatan Hwy, Nags Head.

Steamers, 1 Ocean Blvd., Southern Shores. Popular with tourists

Miller’s offers outdoor dining, perfect for sunset watching. Grab a hat if it’s a breezy night and you want to sit outside.

seasonal menu. The fish tacos are a big hit. Outdoor dining is

as well as year-round residents, this eatery offers a top-notch available. November / December 2018 •



Portside in Old Town waterfront programming launches

with nautical songs and hands-on maritime and navigation activities.

The new Portside in Old Town programming series launched in October at Alexandria’s waterfront with free-to-the-public themed weekend happenings in history, art, music and fitness activities for families and for adults, plus additional pop-up experiences and events. Portside in the Fall Portside in Old Town Festival kicked off the celebration of the new park with visiting tall ship Godspeed, a waterfront beer garden from Port City Brewing Company, a pop-up Pizzeria Paradiso, Portside History activities, live music, art, fitness and more.

On November 8 the Alexandria Film Festival showcases short films in a special outdoor screening in the park. Then, on November 10, our country’s veterans will be honored with Portside History activities commemorating the 100th anniversary of WWI. plus festivities of Alexandria Seaport Day on October 20. The Portside History series, presented by the Office of Historic Alexandria, explores Alexandria’s waterfront history with hands-on activities and pop-up displays from Historic Alexandria Museums each Saturday through November 17 and returning in the spring. November 3 features the Ship’s Company Chanteymen

Continuing this fall are additional weekends of the beer garden, with bites from Chadwicks and Mia’s Italian Kitchen

36 • November / December 2018

Learn more at


King Street Corridor Initiative Increases Alexandria’s Competitiveness Portside in Old Town programming is part of the King Street

• Alexandria Restaurant Partners

programming, and marketing, spearheaded by the City of

• Carr Hospitality

Corridor Initiative, a partnership focusing on beautification,

Alexandria and Visit Alexandria. Private funders support the programming and marketing components of the initiative. City of Alexandria Partners

• TTR Sotheby’s International Realty

Community Contributors

• Department of Project Implementation


• Department of Recreation, Parks & Cultural Activities

• The Tall Ship Providence Foundation

• Office of Historic Alexandria • Department of Transportation & Environmental Services

Tourism Partners

Neighborhood Partners • Asana • Augie’s Mussel House & Urbano 116

• Visit Alexandria • Virginia Tourism Corporation – Marketing Leverage Grant

Private Sector Partners Lead Partners • Alexandria Hotel Association

• Chadwicks Restaurant • Pizzeria Paradiso • Port City Brewing Company • Potomac Riverboat Company

November / December 2018 •


Make Your Holiday Guests Feel at Home BY MARY ANN BARTON

You can easily duplicate some of the amenities that have earned Rob five stars from nearly 300 reviews:

Wifi: Write down the name of your wifi network and provide the password.

Comfortable, quiet workspace: For that person who might be sneaking in a little work during the holidays, provide a dedicated desk or workspace for them to set up their laptop with an easily-accessible power outlet.

Laundry: Let your guests know you have an iron and ironing board available. If your guests can use your washer and dryer, leave instructions on how to use them.

Towels: Keep plenty of clean, fluffy towels handy and

As the holidays near, you may be making plans to host friends or relatives for a few days in your home. To make their stay memorable — in a good way — we’re sharing some tips from Alexandria Airbnb “superhosts” and local hotels. Alexandria Airbnb “superhost” Rob has earned his status — he has no fewer than 33 amenities on his listing online. (Superhosts, by the way, are “experienced hosts who provide a shining example for other hosts,” according to Airbnb.)

38 • November / December 2018

easily accessible.

Hangers: Be sure to have plenty of hangers and space in the guest closet.

First-aid kit: Keep Band-aids, indigestion medication, a thermometer and Tylenol available.

Inspiring library: Stack some books on the nightstand for night owls, rainy days or insomniacs. What did visitors who stayed at Rob’s appreciate most? Having shampoo and conditioner on hand as well as hand cream. Others mentioned liking having breakfast items ready for early risers (bananas, cereal, bagels, juice, coffee). Guests also mentioned



Make your Alexandria home feel extra special for out-of-town visitors by filling your guest room with Alexandria, historic and local items.

the home’s “comfortable temperature” so be sure to have extra blankets on hand as well as a fan for those who prefer cooler temperatures while sleeping. Umbrellas are a good idea to have available if rain is in the forecast. SCRABBLE, EXTRA TV FOR TEENS

Another Alexandria Airbnb superhost, Heidi, has earned five stars from 52 reviews for stays at her contemporary home in Old Town. One amenity that guests enjoyed was having an extra TV in a spot where kids or teens can chill. Having board games on hand like Scrabble also ranked high by guests. In addition, Heidi makes sure guests know that she is quickly available by text should anything go wrong. Visitors are also quick to point out that staying in a “sparkling clean” home is important. If you are short on time before your friends’ or family’s visit, think about hiring a maid service to do a deep cleaning a few days before they arrive. SIGHTSEEING AND SNACK BREAKS

If your guests plan to do some sightseeing and are driving, be sure to give them suggestions on where to park in town and have them download the ParkMobile app for Alexandria or DC. You can also help them download the DC Metro app. Alexandria Airbnb superhosts Joe and Leslie, who have earned five stars from 96 reviewers, include tour guide brochures (we recommend picking up a Visit Alexandria Visitor’s Guide for your guests), personal recommendations for restaurants, and a guest

parking permit for visitors. Their backyard comes in handy for guests with pets. Be sure to keep some simple snacks and bottled water on hand that they can slip into a purse or backpack while sight-seeing. Kimpton Lorien Hotel & Spa makes “AM and PM Breaks” snacks available to guests including: “Trail Blazer” granola, dried fruit, mixed nuts and sweets. Kids will enjoy the “Popcorn Break” with flavored popcorn, M&Ms and assorted nuts. Other thoughtful touches in a nod to hotel amenities that are easy to replicate and will make for a thoughtful touch for your visitors: • Fresh flowers or plants with a holiday touch such as poinsettias, christmas cactus or amaryllis • Tissues in the bedroom (be sure you have a wastebasket) • Bottled water and glasses • Chocolates or mints • Information on local fitness centers (many offer one-day or short-term passes), bicycle paths and running routes • A handwritten welcome note • A surprise welcome gift — something local and seasonal is best. • And last but not least, arm them with a copy of Alexandria Living Magazine, where they can check out the events calendar for fun things to do around town. November / December 2018 •




Say to Alexandria Resident Monte Durham BY MARY ANN BARTON

When TV viewers tune in to watch “Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta” on TLC, a show that features brides (and their entourages) seeking the perfect wedding dress, they likely think the slender Southern gentleman with the wry comments and snappy chemistry is an Atlanta resident. A West Virginia native, Monte Durham, 62, has made his home in the Alexandria area for many years (he’s a runner and a cyclist so be on the lookout for him when you’re out and about). We recently spoke with Durham as he was preparing to chair the American Horticultural Society’s 25th anniversary gala this fall at its headquarters at River Farm on the banks of the Potomac River between the City of Alexandria and Mount Vernon.

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Monte Durham poses for a photo with a replica of Jackie Kennedy’s wedding gown

You’re the honorary chair of the AHS gala this year. Are you a gardener yourself?

I grew up in West Virginia on a farm. We grew up gardening vegetables and food, not necessarily flowers. Here at home, at the house, we do garden. I have an affection for dahlias. That’s what I tend to take care of. River Farm is a great place for weddings. Can you tell our readers how you became an authority on brides?

I started out my career as a personal shopper at Woodward & Lothrop. I worked mainly out of the Landmark store. Women would come in and say two things to me: They had a hard time finding a good tailor or they had a hard time doing the hair the way they wanted. I thought, ‘I can’t sew but I probably can learn to do hair.’ I went back to school, Graham Webb International in Arlington and took an advanced course in London and finished my degree there. I came back and landed a job at Elizabeth Arden at Fairfax Square. Not all hairdressers like dealing with brides. They don’t teach you to do up-dos. Up-dos are something I could do without a problem. All a sudden word’s out: Priscilla of Boston started sending all their brides to me. Then I started helping customers with bridal gowns, make-up and accessories. Then, Washingtonian wrote

They wanted to do something special for me. I said I’d like a replica [of the gown]. I was very persistent. It arrived in two different boxes it was so big. I made it a size 10, which probably runs about an 8. TLC’s “Say Yes to the Dress” is in its 10th season airing in a longer format now when it airs Saturday nights. How did you and Lori Allen, the bridal shop owner, meet?

Lori Allen and Monte Durham star in TLC’s ‘Say Yes to the Dress Atlanta.” Photo courtesy of TLC

about me as a bridal consultant. It was just then becoming popular to be married outside of a religious facility. River Farm was a favorite, so I was there helping brides walk down that beautiful aisle in the rose garden. We understand you are fascinated with Jacqueline Kennedy. Can you tell us a little bit about that?

When I was growing up in West Virginia, my mother and father were huge Kennedy fans. Our electoral votes put him in the White House, our votes sealed the deal for him. My grandmother had a plate of Jackie and John Kennedy and I always looked at that and wondered about this couple. I’m a little bit of a history nut. My mother had a penchant as all women did at the time to dress like Jackie. So it started me wondering ‘Who is this woman?’ My grandmother gave me the plate and I had it in my first apartment. She literally saved the White House, Blair House, Lafayette Square. Do you have any Jackie Kennedy keepsakes?

I have a whole room of Jackie Kennedy memorabilia in my office. I have magazines, dolls, salt and pepper shakers. I have an exact replica of her wedding gown. When I worked at the Red Door at Tysons, I did a lot of work with Priscilla of Boston. I used to go and promote their gowns whenever I did a fashion show or wherever I was going on a TV station or going to talk about weddings.

Priscilla of Boston asked me to travel around and do trunk shows for them. They then sold to David’s and another designer wanted me to work with them In the New York showroom. Lori has the largest store in the Southeast. Hers is three floors — it’s huge. She came in, she’s one of the top clients. I was in this black suit. She looks at me and she goes, “Hmmm, who are you?” I go “Good Morning Miss Allen, I am the new image director for the company.” She goes “Really? What’s your name?” and I go “Monte Durham.” She says “You know what? You are going to be in my store next week.” I said, “Please, Miss Allen, just take a seat and we’ll start the show.” And I go in the back and said to someone in the back, “Who’s the bossy blonde?” I was in her store the following week and we became friends right away. Her two granddaughters are Jack and I’s god daughters. Your best friend is on the series this season. What was that like?

I was the wedding planner on this one show. It was hilarious. She was getting married by the beach in Florida with her, the groom, her two children and his two children. And I step into it. And Lori goes to me, ‘So Monte what all did you change about the wedding?’ I said “Really, nothing, I really haven’t.’ She goes, ‘I know you, what did you change?’ I changed the location, her hair, her makeup, the food, the dishes, the flowers, the music, the reverend, the invitation, the music, the rehearsal dinner. But hey, she’s wearing the same dress. And I gave her a shrug and new jewelry. What do you like most about living in the Alexandria area?

There are two things that come to mind: History and green spaces. How lucky are we to have both? November / December 2018 •


Buyer Beware Homes Sold ‘As Is’ Can Come with Hidden Costs BY BETH LAWTON

In the current Alexandria real estate market, some buyers are offering to waive a home inspection in their quest to beat the competition in making an attractive offer. In other cases, some of the best real estate deals on the market right now are with homes that are being sold “as is.” Unfortunately, both of those deals can come with massive hidden costs. The biggest three issues with a home that can come up — whether they are sold ‘as is’ or not — are structural issues, water intrusion, and systemic issues with HVAC (heating, ventilation and air conditioning), electric or plumbing, said Nate Moore, owner of Moore Construction Group.

42 • November / December 2018

No matter how a property is being sold, buyers should think twice before waiving the inspection. An inspection or evaluation can reveal major issues that even an experienced homeowner may not recognize. Home inspectors can point out needed repairs, and a contractor can give estimates on how much those repairs will cost. A qualified home inspector or contractor can also find code violations and help uncover work done that was done without permits, potentially saving the homeowner tens of thousands of dollars. Skipping the inspection, even if it’s inconvenient, will be worthwhile in the money and stress it saves later on. “If you don’t have time for scheduling a full home inspection, a contractor can come out and you’ll get a good chunk of the information,” said Moore, whose company provides those services to potential homeowners in Alexandria.


House Hunt Like a Pro If you’re looking for a home, you should know that today’s home buyers are facing increasing mortgage rates, higher home sales prices and low inventory. So, what’s a potential homebuyer to do? Novice and veteran home buyers alike may find it tricky to navigate the current market, according to Alexandria Realtor Elizabeth Lucchesi of The LizLuke Team at Long & Foster. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you look for a home this spring: Get Perspective

Relatively speaking, “The fours are not a terrible place to be,” said Skylar Olsen, director of economic research at Zillow. Average 30-year, fixed-rate mortgages reached 4.45 percent, a record high since 2014, in August. However, this number is still historically low. Remember: Pre-recession home buyers faced interest rates of 6.5 percent in the summer of 2007.

Earlier this year, Moore caught a homeowner (who was himself a real estate agent) selling a home after substantial work had been done without final permit inspections. “Instead of closing the permits, they just tried to sell the house,” Moore said. A buyer engaged Moore to do a pre-purchase inspection, and Moore discovered serious structural, electrical and plumbing issues that could have cost more than $100,000 to fix. The buyer walked away. Both Alexandria City and Fairfax County have online systems where any member of the public can search the work permit history of a property by address. Online searches are free. Before buying any home (in as-is condition or not), homeowners should check the permit history of the property, Moore said. If it looks like there’s a new kitchen and there were no permits pulled at all, that could be a red flag.

Your credit will largely determine the rate you get, so keep that clean. Lock in your rate when you are ready. Rates vary day to day and timing it well is more luck than skill, Olsen said. The Golden Rule

Don’t buy more house than you can afford, Lucchesi said. Think about the practicality of your future home as a place to live, not an investment. Work with a Professional Realtor

This is no market for the faint of heart. Teaming up with an experienced real estate professional, who has likely been to the negotiating table more times than you have, is a smart move. Realtors assist buyers in crafting better deals with tactics like offering a bigger down payment, more earnest money or a shorter closing time.

Overall, Moore said: “If it doesn’t look right, it’s probably not.” November / December 2018 •


SANDWICH The holidays are a time when family comes together. It’s also an opportunity to gauge and discuss your parents’ well being. We delve into the topic of senior living from longterm care insurance to aging in place to available services.


November / December 2018 •











information for families to help them learn about senior care options. “It’s so impactful when you come home and see the house isn’t tidy, your parents aren’t tidy and nothing is in the refrigerator,” said Maribeth Bersani, COO of Argentum, an Alexandria-based trade association serving companies that own, operate, and support professionally-managed senior living communities.

How to Help Your Elderly Parent

One way to avoid the shock of coming home and finding your parents struggling is to ask them certain questions each time you speak with them on the phone. Bersani recommends asking: What did you do today? Did you see your friends? Did you go to book club? What have you read lately? What did you eat for lunch?


Lauren Finney was living in Japan teaching English when her father become seriously ill. At the urging of her mother and brother, she came home. It had been a year since she had seen her dad and she knew his health had been declining. “As soon as I saw him, I realized that something was wrong,” said Finney, 37, who lives in Alexandria. She was heartbroken.


Finney’s experience of not seeing her parent for a long time and suddenly realizing there is a problem isn’t unusual. As the holidays approach, many adult children will visit their parents for the first time in months. Unfortunately, when they arrive, some will be surprised by what they find.

Unanticipated changes in behavior can signal a problem, said Terri Lynch, director of the City of Alexandria’s Division of Aging and Adult Services. For instance, if your parent is typically gregarious but is suddenly withdrawn, or if your parent has always been a neat person but suddenly their appearance and home are messy, those are signs they might need help.

“Holiday time, when adult children come home, is when our phones start ringing,” said Robin Edwards, a certified senior advisor and senior care consultant for CarePatrol, a senior placement organization that provides no-cost

Don’t despair. There are plenty of resources available to help you and your elderly parents navigate this transition, whether they want to age at home or move into a senior living community or nursing home, Lynch said. • November / December 2018


In Alexandria, more than 5,000 of the area’s 22,733 residents who are 60 years or older live alone, according to the Division of Aging and Adult services.

OLDER ADULTS ARE STAYING AT HOME LONGER While our first inclination is to move mom or dad to an assisted living community, Lynch warned that might not be the best option. In many cases, your parents will be able to receive needed services in their own home. The trend is for people to stay in their own home for as long as possible because it’s often the most cost-effective option, said Mary Lee Anderson, executive director of Senior Services of Alexandria. The cost of care for elderly adults in Northern Virginia is expensive. Assisted living communities face the same taxes and land costs that renters or homeowners face in this region, Bersani said. The average cost of a one-bedroom, private assisted living unit in Northern Virginia is $2,765 per month and nursing home costs are more than $7,000 a month, according to Genworth Financial, Inc. As a result, more elderly adults are staying in their homes longer. In Alexandria, more than 5,000 of the area’s 22,733 residents who are 60 years or older live alone, according to the Division of Aging and Adult services. In fact, the average age of a resident in assisted living is 87 years old, unless they have early on-set Alzheimer’s or another disease that


$ 3,337

Homemaker Health Aide

$ 3,813

Adult Day Health Care

$ 1,236

Assisted Living Facility, Private one-bedroom

$ 2,765

Nursing Home, Semi-private room

$ 7,011

Nursing Home, Private room

$ 7,650

* Based on annual rate divided by 12 months

causes them to need around-the-clock care, Bersani said. INVOLVE YOUR PARENTS IN THE DECISION One of the biggest mistakes adult children make is to treat their parents like they are children. Don’t walk in and immediately talk about moving them out of their house, Lynch said. Instead, ask them questions such as “Would it help if you had a housekeeper or if I found someone to check on you a few times a week?” Use matter-of-fact statements like, “I’ve noticed” and say, “I wonder if.” Then listen to their response. If your parent is reluctant to get assistance, tell them that accepting outside help will ease your mind, Anderson said. Anderson suggests saying, “I’m far away and I’m worried I couldn’t be here to help you if there was an emergency. Can you share with me what you would do, maybe get a life alert, or let me know you have all the necessary paperwork in place so that I can make sure you can be taken care of the way you want to be taken care of, if something happens?” For instance, your parents should have a will, power of attorney and advance medical directives. “Be patient. This isn’t a one-time conversation,” Edwards said. “Make

sure you have little discussions to start planting that seed in their head.” Many adult children are balancing careers and young children so they want to fix the problem immediately, Edwards said, but you shouldn’t push your parents into making a quick decision. Frequently, families don’t understand all the options available. “Often, they just put their parents in the nursing home down the street but that might not be the best fit,” Edwards said. Keep in mind that you’re not just shopping for housing but also somewhere your parent can thrive and be safe. You can’t just get a list of places to live and approach it like a real estate transaction, Edwards said, because it’s really a health care decision. “If your parent is outgoing and likes to do things, then you want to make sure they move somewhere active and engaging,” she said. “Not all communities are the same.” KEEPING YOUR PARENTS SAFE If your parents are going to stay in their home, it’s important that you look around the home and focus on safety. They should have a bathroom and bedroom on the main floor, and not have to climb stairs several times a day, Anderson said. Check for tripping hazards such as stairs without railings, area rugs and loose electrical cords

November / December 2018 •



“Isolation is a huge problem for older adults, particularly those who don’t have family members living nearby and checking on them.”

on the floor. Make sure they have a smoke detector and a carbon monoxide detector. If they use a walker or a cane, they shouldn’t necessarily do their own grocery shopping.

If you’re worried your parents can’t properly care for themselves and live safely in their home, Anderson recommends contacting their physician or clergy member. While your parent’s physician can’t share confidential infor-

(For more information on preparing to age in place, read our article on p. 50)

mation, you can make the doctor aware of your concerns. Edwards recommends getting a neutral third-party such as

You also want to make sure your parents aren’t alone all the time. “Isolation is a huge problem for older adults, particularly those who don’t have family members living nearby and checking on them,” Anderson said.

CarePatrol involved so it’s not the chil-

When you only see your parents once or twice

dren telling them what to do.

a year, the condition of their home can be a

Explain to your parents that you aren’t trying to take something away from them but to help them improve their overall quality of life, Edwards said.


Experts know anecdotally that residents

It’s never too early to start the discussion about whether to move to an independent living or assisted living community. Bersani recommends taking your parents to visit an assisted living facility long before they need to make that move.

in assisted living have a better quality of

If they have friends in assisted living, take them for a visit, and visit senior living communities multiple times. It’s not unusual for it take a year or longer to make a decision, Edwards said.

away everything they ever knew – their


Warning signs

life because they’re consistently eating

red flag but there are other warning signs to watch for either when you visit or when you talk with them by phone. Here’s what to look for:

Changes in personal hygiene such as not getting dressed or bathing

Social isolation, including avoiding activities they once enjoyed such as reading, playing cards or visiting friends

Unexplained bruises from falling or walking into things

A messy or dirty house, signs of hoarding, piles of laundry

Spoiled food in the refrigerator or an empty refrigerator

Missed doctors appointments or forgetting to take medication

three meals a day, socializing and taking their medications, Bersani said. Moving to a senior living community can be a scary process for your parents because it can feel like you’re taking car, their house, their neighborhood. Once they move into assisted living, the majority will say they wish they had done it sooner. • November / December 2018

Available Services With more elderly residents staying in their homes longer, communities are offering more services to help keep residents safe. Here’s a sampling of the services offered in the Alexandria area. For a complete listing, visit the City of Alexandria’s Aging and Adult Services webpage at or call (703) 746-5999. Many of these services are available across the country. If your parent lives in another city or state, call their local office on aging or the U.S. Administration on Aging’s Eldercare locator at (800) 677-1116.



Groceries To Go

Alexandria offers an enhanced 911 service that allows residents to create online safety profiles with home and mobile phone numbers, along with additional information that would be valuable to dispatchers and first responders during an emergency. This includes details about medical conditions, daily medications, pets and emergency contacts. To register, visit or call (703) 746-4357.

DOT Para-Transit offers curbto-curb taxi service, seven days a week for residents of Alexandria who find it difficult to use public transportation. A one-way fare within the City of Alexandria and up to five miles outside the city limits is $3, and one-way fare for trips more than five miles outside the city is $5. Call (703) 836-5222 for reservations, and for more information, call (703) 836-4414, ext. 116 or email

In partnership with Giant Foods and Harris Teeter, Senior Services of Alexandria provides a grocery delivery program to seniors who are 60+ living in the City of Alexandria. Volunteers deliver groceries between 10:30 am and noon to the client’s home, and if requested to do so, will put groceries away and loosen any tight-fitting lids. To be eligible, you must be a resident of the City of Alexandria, be at least 60 years old, and have a debit, credit or EBT card. For more information, contact Sandy Freedman at (703) 836-4414, ext. 119 or by email at

Friendly Visitor Program Senior Services of Alexandria screens, trains and matches volunteers with socially-isolated seniors living in assisted living and health care communities or in their own homes. Volunteers, who are paired with a senior who has similar interests, visit the senior for about an hour each week. For more information, contact Mary Giordano at (703) 836-4414, ext. 120 or email

Property Tax Relief Residents of the City of Alexandria who are 65 years of age or older by Nov. 15, 2018, may be eligible for the City’s Real Estate Tax Relief Program for Elderly and Disabled Persons. Tax relief may be prorated for persons who turn 65 or who become disabled between January 1 and November 15, 2018. For more information, visit the City of Alexandria website at

Meals on Wheels Senior Services of Alexandria provides meals 365 days a year in partnership with more than 350 volunteers and the financial support of the City of Alexandria’s Department of Community and Human Services’ Division of Aging and Adult Services, and a number of local organizations. For more information about this program, call (703) 836-4414, ext. 112 or email

Rental Accessibility Modification Program This program will grant up $50,000 to pay for modifications to a rental unit including installing of handicap accessible ramps and widening doorways. The program also funds smaller modifications of up to $1,500 to install grab bars and specialized fixtures. For more information, contact the Alexandria City of Housing at (703) 746-4990.

Mount Vernon at Home This membership program offers assistance to seniors who want to stay in their home as long as possible. For a nominal yearly fee, residents can sign up for a range of support including transportation, assistance with technology issues, light handyman tasks, home organization and seasonal help such as gardening, lawn mowing or leaf raking. Services are provided to a 14-square-mile section of southeastern Fairfax County, generally known as the Mount Vernon area. Similar programs are available in Old Town and throughout the Washington, D.C., metro area. For more information, call (703) 303-4060.

November / December 2018 •


How to Assess Whether a Home Can Let Parents Age in Place BY BETH LAWTON

More than 85 percent of people age 65 and older want to stay in their homes and communities as they age, according to research from the American Association for Retired Persons (AARP). Whether they can actually do that safely is a matter of design, money and available services, according to local architects. 50

“With everything that you’re doing to the house, the health and safety of the occupants is always the number one priority,” said Alexandria architect Erin May, who has worked on several home conversion projects for area seniors. We talked to May and Steve Kulinski, principle of Kulinski Group Architects in Alexandria, for information on how to assess whether a home can be converted to allow seniors to age in place and what the occupants need to consider. Horizontal living is always easier to convert, whereas townhome, split-level • November / December 2018

homes and historic rowhomes in Old Town can be more difficult due to stairs or narrow rooms, they said. Regardless of the type of home, the first thing a homeowner (and their children or caregivers) should look at is access into and out of the home, according to May. When a resident comes home from the hospital or a doctor’s appointment, they will need to be able to get out of a vehicle at the street or in the driveway, transition onto a flat, level walkway and access whatever means will get them inside their front door, whether that’s a ramp or a mechanical lift.


WHAT HAPPENED TO THE CLAPPER? The Clapper inspired a million jokes, but it was actually one of the first successful ‘smart home’ products on the market. The sound-initiated device invented in the 1980s allowed people to turn on or off lights and appliances by clapping.

The next consideration is circulation inside the home — having hallways, doorways and rooms (including bathrooms) wide enough to allow wheelchair access and space to turn around, May said. Next is assessing kitchens and bathrooms. Making those accessible whether the resident is walking or in a wheelchair is critical and may include lowering countertops, installing pull-down cabinets and other systems to improve accessibility and safety. “The benefit of using an architect to modify your house is that the architect can look at the layout of the house and make sure everything works together,” May said. “It’s not putting a Band-Aid over something – it’s a holistic approach to the house.” An architect especially should be consulted before any walls or doorways are knocked down to prevent structural issues from developing. In all areas of the home, the floors should be carefully selected. “The tactile experience is subtle but important,” Kulinski said. “Changes in surfaces should be easily identifiable either by feel or with limited vision. If there’s a step in the middle of a room, you need to have contrasting floor material so they can see or feel the transition.” All installed flooring should also be slip resistant. “Avoid polished finishes so people are less apt to fall.” Some of the most helpful design changes to help older adults age in place include:

A walk-in, curbless shower. Older residents may not be able to step over the side of a

bathtub or even over a curb to get into a shower. Showers that allow them to roll (or shuffle) in can be safer.

Grab bars or resting points at strategic locations. Kulinski said he’s worked on projects where a resident wants to age in place but doesn’t need major modifications yet. In those cases, Kulinski places blocking and studs strategically in the walls to make it easy for a contractor to install grab bars later. Anything designed to support a person’s weight needs to be anchored properly to avoid damage to the walls or injury to the person.

A first-floor master suite. “If you convert a room on the first floor to a bedroom, there are minimum requirements for livability, including two means of egress,” May said. “Having a closet does not make a space qualified to be a bedroom.” The first-floor master suite should eliminate unnecessary doors to closets, include an accessible laundry room nearby, and include a sitting area, too, Kulinski suggested.

Access between floors. In designing a new home or making modifications, many homeowners are requesting an elevator between floors or need mechanical lifts to get from one floor or area to another. In one home in Old Town, May created space for an elevator by taking out closet space and moving some walls. May said in some newer homes, some architects are intentionally stacking elevator-sized closets to allow for an easier installation if an elevator is needed in the home later on. An elevator, whether in a new home or retrofitted, can cost $30,000 to $50,000.

Today, an increasing number of seniors are incorporating smart home technology into their agingin-place plans. “Home automation may be something that can help if seniors still have the mental acuity to use it,” Kulinski said. “There may be some reluctance or resistance to change, but there are a lot of my clients who have adapted to the technology rather readily.” “If they’re going to make the effort to renovate the space, they want to incorporate the latest gadgets to make their lives easier.” These gadgets may include multifunctional smoke alarms with speaker capabilities, strobe lights and more. Home automation will allow people to find out the weather without going outside and see who’s at the door before opening it, as well. “Amazon Alexa is the modern-day version of ‘The Clapper,’” Kulinski said.

TRIVIA The Clapper was originally invented by a Canadian duo and didn’t work very well, but it was re-engineered to work, produced and marketed by Joseph Pedott, founder of Joseph Enterprises, Inc. That same company was responsible for another iconic 1980s product — the Chia Pet.

November / December 2018 •



Door lever handles instead of knobs. As seniors lose dexterity in their hands due to arthritis or other issues, making doors easier to open can help improve their mobility in the home. Door lever handles are best to replace doorknobs.



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Relocated electric outlets and light switches. Bringing electrical outlets up to an easily accessible level (instead of near the floor) and bringing light switches down so they can be reached from a wheelchair easily are small improvements that can make a big difference. Older people may not be able to lift their arms up to reach a light switch or bend down to plug in or unplug an appliance.

Improved lighting. “As people get older, they lose their ability to see clearly, so adding more lighting is a really good upgrade to consider,” May said.

New plumbing fixtures. Like doorknobs, certain faucets may become difficult for older people to use. Consider purchasing Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant plumbing fixtures.

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To schedule an appointment or for more information: Phone: (703) 379-0442 Email: Web: Also available for in-home visits as well as consultations at hospitals, nursing homes and assisted living facilities.


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Considering moving a loved one into your own home? Some local residents are making the decision to buy a home large enough for an in-law suite or a property large enough for an in-law (or senior) apartment addition. “Your aging parent doesn’t want to lose their independence any more than you do,” May said. “They want their space and privacy.” If you decide to renovate or buy a home with space for elderly parents to live, it’s important to consider everyone’s activities, privacy preferences, noise tolerance and ways of living. “The very first consideration is asking what they want and finding out their needs,” May said. Zoning codes vary between Alexandria City and Fairfax County in terms of what’s allowed — the style of kitchenette, how separate dwellings are attached on the property and more. Again, working with an architect is strongly recommended to ensure code compliance, safety and smart design.

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52 • November / December 2018

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Silverado Memory Care Facility Opens BY MARY ANN BARTON

Silverado Memory Care in Alexandria opened its doors May 23 and moved in two residents the very next day. The brand-new facility, at 2807 King St., is sandwiched between Woodbine Rehabilitation and Healthcare and Ivy Hill Cemetery in Alexandria. The center is the first on the East Coast and the 37th in the nation for the Irvine, Calif.-based company. “All of our residents are living with some type of memory impairment — that could be Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, Lewy Body Dementia...some with an official diagnosis and for some, it may not be an official diagnosis but they’re showing signs of memory impairment,” said Katie Hilburn, administrator. The age of those living at Silverado ranges from people in their 60s to their 90s. Typically, Silverado will hear from adult children looking to find a place for a parent, she said. They mainly want to know about staff ratio, 24-hour nursing, and security and safety measures. “Most of our residents who have come to us have either exited another community (assisted living only, without a memory component) or have had some wandering behavior,” Hilburn noted. Silverado likes to keep high-functioning residents in the early stages of memory impairment engaged with cognitive brain exercises, physical exercise and social stimulation with everything from drum circles to cooking classes. A monthly program called Silverado Cares engages residents in an activity designed to help the community at large. They kicked off the Silverado Cares program in June by laying wreaths on the graves of veterans buried at Ivy Hill Cemetery next door, Hilburn said. The residents also take morning walks at Ivy Hill. All Silverado employees are trained to interact with the residents. “It’s so important that our residents have a relationship with

everyone living in their space, this is their home,” Hilburn said. “It’s this entire sense of family across all departments.” Hilburn has been in the industry for 15 years, first as an activity assistant. She became interested in the field after her father passed away when she was in college majoring in music; she and her brother cared for their grandmother. She ended up switching career paths. “We were young and had no idea what we were doing,” she said. “Had I known then what I know now it would have been much different. It got me thinking: ‘What do people do who don’t have family?’” Those who stop in for a tour of the center receive a copy of Silverado co-founder Loren Shook’s book “New Possibilities in Memory Care: The Silverado Story.” Shook, the president, chairman and CEO of the company, came to Alexandria for the grand opening and also to meet employees during orientation. His philosophy? “Love is greater than fear.” “We’re taking care of people,” he told them, “their souls, their spirits.” Silverado has a 60-day pledge — if for any reason within the first 60 days of moving in a family decides that Silverado isn’t working out as planned, the center offers a full refund, Hilburn said. “If it’s not a good fit, you need that money to go start over somewhere else. It’s peace of mind for families looking to place a family member. If we’re not it, let’s help them find the right fit.” The center includes 66 private rooms and one room for two. The rates are all-inclusive at Silverado and are either in the Enrichment ($350 per day) or Nexus (high-functioning) category ($330 per day). Silverado offers two discounted beds that are currently filled; people can get on that waiting list through the City housing office. Silverado also wants to help support those caring for the memory-impaired at home, Hilburn said. They currently have a support group for primary caregivers sharing that experience, she said. “We want to be a resource to help people.” November / December 2018 •



Investing for the Future What you need to know about long-term care insurance.

Here are a few things to consider from the American Association of Retired Persons (AARP), ALTCP and AALTCI:

There’s no question that paying to live in a nursing home, assisted living facility or even at home with nursing care is expensive.


To help offset those costs, consider investing in long-term care insurance. Seventy percent of Americans age 65 and older will need expensive longterm care at some point in their lives, according to the Association for LongTerm Care Planning (ALTCP). The average man needs 2.2 years of long-term care, and the average woman needs 3.7 years of care. Those with dementia or other cognitive challenges can stay in a nursing home for five years.

adult day care, care coordination and other services.


Long-term care insurance is designed to help pay for exactly what it sounds like – long-term care. Most policies help pay for the daily needs of people who have chronic illnesses, disabilities or other conditions whether you live at home, in an assisted living facility or in a nursing home. Some long-term care insurance plans can also pay for

Policies will cost less when you’re young and in good health; if you wait until a serious health condition arises, you may not be able to get insurance coverage or pay much more to get it. Discounts you get for being in good health when you buy the policy could benefit you financially for decades to come.


While you may not need these services until you’re in your 70s, 80s or even 90s, the time to purchase long-term care insurance is when you’re relatively young and healthy. The American Association for Long-Term Care Insurance (AALTCI) recommends buying a policy when you’re between the ages of 52 and 64. • November / December 2018

If your income is and assets are relatively low, spending money on a long-term care policy may not make sense if you can qualify for Medicaid. Consult a financial adviser and insurance broker before purchasing a policy to talk about your income, expected needs, tax situation and other concerns.

If you have reliable, interested family and friends locally, they may be able to help care for you, reducing your costs for care.

WHAT SERVICES DO YOU WANT? Do you want to age in the home you’re currently living in, or would you rather move to a senior community or somewhere closer to family? Compare the costs of care in the area you expect to live in with the services you want and the benefits of the policy you’re considering when making your insurance selection. Before you buy, consult one of the long-term care associations and talk to an independent insurance broker, who can help navigate the system and find the best policy for your individual needs.


Estate Planning and Elder Law Planning for the future can be daunting. Hiring the right attorney is key. Adult children and their parents will meet, gather, and talk over the upcoming holiday season. If the family has not seen each other for months or even a few years, changes in the growth of grandchildren or newly born children will be a huge focus. At the same time, subtle changes in the parents’ ability to accomplish daily tasks because of physical or memory problems becomes apparent. How does the family talk about these issues and what steps should be taken? Estate planning and elder law is a proactive area of law. Talking about such issues and how to plan is what we do. Traditionally, estate planning is preparation for the inevitable – death. A proper estate plan establishes the who, what, and when of what happens to a client’s property after the client’s death. It involves the drafting of a will, revocable living trust, and documents to transfer assets. But with the advent of elder law over the last 30 years, planning for incapacity became the paramount concern. Elder law attorneys also do estate plans, but we also address what happens to the client’s estate and personal life should the person lose capacity. What do we mean by planning for incapacity? We mean insuring that the decisions we would want made and by whom are established in advance. The default of not doing advance planning is a guardianship and conservatorship. In a guardianship (for personal decision making) and conservatorship (for financial decision making) the court establishes that the person is already incapacitated and needs a substitute decision maker for personal and financial decisions. Such

a court case is costly and time consuming. The court may not always appoint the person you would have wanted as your decision maker. What are the basic tools for advance decision making? The financial durable power of attorney and an advance directive are the basic planning tools. In both documents, the appointment of an agent for future decision making is required. The appointment under such documents doesn’t mean that the agent begins to immediately take over — the agent is a deputy appointed to step in when the person can no longer do the normal things of life: pay bills; maintain property; get medical information; make medical decisions. Paramount to the creation of such documents is the selection of the agent. Here the estate planning/ elder law attorney should advise. The attorney’s job is not to select but to advise the client how to select. The revocable living trust is also used for an advance decision making. Think of the revocable trust as a financial power of attorney on steroids. The trustee actually holds legal title to the property but must manage the property for the beneficiary’s welfare. The beneficiary is you the maker of the trust but may also be future beneficiaries after you die. The revocable living trust is a hybrid document used for planning for incapacity and after death planning for contingent beneficiaries. If we return back to the family discussion the estate planning, an elder law attorney must be sensitive to the family dynamics. The adult children want to insure their parents are financially protected and properly taken care of. The parents are concerned with suddenly losing control.

It’s incumbent upon the attorney to advise that the two goals are not incompatible. That the establishment of advance planning does not lessen the decision-maker’s authority but enhances it. Finally, the attorney advising this family should know all the community resources available. Such resources include services through the local Agency on Aging or Department of Human Services. Elder law attorneys are collaborators. We work with other specialists such as care managers and financial planners. We know the lay of the land of the continuum of care community. Finally, and not least, there will be an inevitable discussion about public resources from Medicare to Social Security to retirement accounts. Few of us have the resources to pay for long-term care services and therefore a discussion about Medicaid and its complicated eligibility rules is necessary. Estate and elder law planning are not just for the very rich or very sick. The issues in the above household are the same for all families regardless of financial means. The question is not who and when to make such plans but recognizing that the present time is the right time. Edward E. Zetlin, Esq. Edward E. Zetlin, Esq., specializes in senior care law, wills and estates, special needs law and related issues. Learn more about him at

November / December 2018 •



Q&A Did you always love history? I was always a history enthusiast. When I was in grade school and high school and had to do history — especially American history — my mother said not to think of it as having to memorize names and dates but to think of it as a story.

Is this a talent or a skill? It’s both. The skill is writing the cries because they’re essentially poems, and that’s technical. The talent comes into the pageantry of it, and being able to stand in front of people to deliver something.

Were you loud as a little kid?

Benjamin Fiore-Walker The Alexandria Crier

“Oyez, oyez.” Carrying on a tradition as old as Alexandria itself, Town Crier Benjamin Fiore-Walker has opened hundreds of events in and around the city. From parades and festivals to local events, Fiore-Walker has appeared in period costume as the town crier for more than seven years. Fiore-Walker hails from another historic city — he grew up in suburban Philadelphia — and came to Virginia for graduate school in 1991. Although he always had a strong interest in history, he didn’t make it his career. Instead, he went to the University of Virginia for his doctorate in neuroscience, and joined the faculty at Georgetown University. He now works at the American Chemical Association and lives in the West End of Alexandria with his wife and two children, ages 9 and 11. Over the years, he has volunteered at Gadsby’s Tavern Museum, promoted history as a pedicab tour guide in Alexandria, and married his wife at the Woodlawn Meeting House in a Quaker ceremony in period dress. In 2011, Fiore-Walker received two emails from two friends almost simultaneously. Both emails contained the City of Alexandria’s press release looking for a new Crier. The Office of Historic Alexandria was holding a “cry off” for those who wished to audition for the role. Facing stiff competition from local actors, Toastmasters and historians, Fiore-Walker briefly considered backing out — but his grandfather had always encouraged him to never let an opportunity pass and to give things a shot when he could. Knowing little about being a crier, Fiore-Walker hit the Internet and eventually stumbled across a cry from the late 16th century in Scotland. The public service announcement about minding your kitchen and coal fires was written in a rhyming scheme. He got the role, and the rest, as they say, is history.

56 • November / December 2018

Probably. I did notice through this process that my dad had a town crier voice, but he never yelled. … I think for me, I wasn’t always like that, but I probably always had it because I used it as a college professor to project to students who were sleeping in the back.

Which cry are you most proud of? The proudest moment as crier was for a group of nephrologists — they study the kidney and run dialysis. I worked in the glomerulus, which is the structure in the kidney that does a lot of the filtering, and was able to rhyme it with something.

When you aren’t the Old Town Crier, what are you doing? I sew. I do Revolutionary War reenacting, too, but essentially just getting together with my neighbors. We have a really tight-knit neighborhood, and we get together for neighbor nights and our kids play outside.

What’s your favorite thing about Alexandria? It has got be the people. … Also, the history of Alexandria, especially as an African-American, is so varied. I love the character of it.

What would you change about Alexandria if you could? Traffic – that would be the biggest thing. That’s the one that gets me. And it’s not limited to just Alexandria. Oh, and parking.


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