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Tintin Style • Supper Clubs • Holiday Gift Guide


in Motion

Behind the scenes at Richmond Ballet.

december 2011






Nomading Mongolia

Great Dismal Swamp

Thanksgiving Tablescapes 10/28/11 5:45 PM


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Own a luxury estate with views of golf & bay. 2-story foyer & entry leads to 30’great room overlooking screen porch & gardens. Owner will entertain lease/purchase or purchase. 35 minutes from Virginia Beach. Offered at $995,000.

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Deep water! Completely renovated to like new in ’05 offering gracious living on an impressive setting. Features: superior amenities, oversized 3+ car garage, 100’pier with dock & lift, & breathtaking rear patio/gardens. Offered at $950,000.

Views of Lynnhaven River in front & protected deep water canal in back. Over 2,800 sq. ft., covered boat house with a lift, new vinyl bulkhead & new HVAC. Boat to area restaurants. Fisherman’s dream! Motivated seller. Offered at $850,000.

Transitional on acre lot. 2-story entry, family room with formal living & dining rooms. 1st floor: flexible room for study/game room. 2nd floor: loft bedroom, master with bay window, sitting area, 3 additional beds & 2 baths. Offered at $725,000.

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Contributors VOLUME 10, NUMBER 1 December 2011 Published by

Cape Fear Publishing Company 109 East Cary Street, Richmond, Virginia 23219 Telephone (804) 343-7539, Facsimile (804) 649-0306 Publisher

John-Lawrence Smith EDITORIAL STAFF acting editor Erin Parkhurst Art Director Sonda Andersson Pappan assistant editor Lisa Antonelli Bacon assistant editor Daryl Grove CONTRIBUTING Editors

Bland Crowder, Neely Barnwell Dykshorn, Bill Glose, Caroline Kettlewell, Sarah Sargent, Julie Vanden-Bosch CONTRIBUTING writers

Paula Steers Brown, Mary Burruss, Mac Carey, Clarke C. Jones, Chiles T.A. Larson, Tricia Pearsall, Gary Robertson, Brooke C. Stoddard, Bonnie Williamson, Broocks Willich CONTRIBUTING photographers

Glen McClure, John Henley, Kip Dawkins, Robb Scharetg, Philip Beaurline, Tricia Pearsall CONTRIBUTING illustrators

David Hollenbach, Robert Meganck, Rob Ullman editorial interns

Glennis Lofland, Mari Pack Meredith Rigsby Advertising executives central virginia sales MANAGER Torrey Munford (804) 343-0782,

Christiana Roberts

(804) 622-2602, eastern virginia

Kerry Harrington

(757) 450-1335, Northern Virginia

Blaise Yanick

(804) 622-2603, western virginia

Tiffany Tucker

(804) 622-2611, OFFICE STAFF OFFICE MANAGER Carolyn Birney assistant oFFICe managER Chenoa Ford Creative Services director Jason Sullivan circulation manager Jamilya Brown Web content manager Daryl Grove COrpORATE SPONSORSHIPS Torrey Munford Groundskeeper Melwood Whitlock Activities & Morale Director Cutty Assistant Activities & Morale Director Rex

An Eye for Beauty Forgive me if I boast a little, but we here at Virginia Living know you count on us for stories that are smart and engaging, and photography and art that is poignant, complex and downright beautiful. I’m not shy about saying we’re proud of that, nor am I shy about recognizing the talented folks who create the beauty on these pages. For this issue, we asked stylist Richard Stone to work his magic and fashion Thanksgiving tablescapes that reimagine the standard gourd-and-pumpkin-stuffed cornucopia centerpiece. Richard delivered (as he always does), and we are pleased to share with you his richly textured and sophisticated tablescapes, which were shot by the inimitable Kip Dawkins. (See page 78.) We expected no less from Richard. He has styled a number of stories for us, most recently alongside contributing editor, Neely Barnwell Dykshorn, for April’s cover story, “Forever Prep.” Richard says that the first photo shoot he ever attended was for Virginia Living some years ago, an experience that launched his styling career and led him to jobs with the Richmond-based Sorrell Company where he helped style ad campaigns for high-end fabric and wallpaper companies such as Anna French, F. Schumacher, Stroheim & Romann, and Thibaut. This is work that requires an eye for detail. “If you look at a set while it’s being photographed, it looks very different to the human eye,” he explains. “Styling is a careful orchestration of light, space and flow.” Richard’s signature is pairing the refined with the rough; he does it so well. In addition to the styling work Richard does for us and through his company, The Faux Real Company, he is a pro at visual merchandising for clothing and home furniture retailers; he currently manages Yves Delorme in Richmond. The Chesapeake native has also worked as a visual merchandiser for Brooks Brothers and Restoration Hardware. “For me, the most exciting part of being a stylist is hunting for the objects, sifting through the pictures I’ve snapped of beautiful things, and then storyboarding the set,” says Richard. “When everything comes together, it’s like the pieces of a puzzle have been assembled.” A very beautiful puzzle that is. We looked to Ashburn-based freelance writer Mac Carey to turn her gaze on another kind of beauty for this issue—the dramatic landscape of the Great Dismal Swamp and efforts underway there to protect and rehabilitate land exhausted from years of agricultural use. (See page 86.) Mac’s story about the private-public partnership that is trying to restore Dover Farm—a 750-acre farm located within the boundaries of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge—to its original state as a hardwood wetland ecosystem is inspiring. The work is tough—eradicating the reeds alone requires hard-willed determination—and it will be years before the folks leading the charge will see their work come to fruition. “Dover Farm was fairly vast and flat when I was there,” says Mac. “The trees weren’t even saplings yet, but it felt as if it had a lot of promise... and a lot of mud.” Mac, who has written a number of intriguing stories for Virginia Living, including a December 2010 interview with Bob Kahn, one of the founders of the Internet, says she first learned of the Great Dismal Swamp when she read its name on a state map in fifth grade. She has been captivated by its ominous moniker ever since. “There is something so dramatic about its name, its history and its appearance,” she says. She pitched the story about Dover Farm to us and we jumped on it, eager to laud this effort to preserve a piece of one of our state’s most stunning natural resources. Mac says her biggest surprise while researching the story was just how many other people have been lured by the swamp, including Harriet Beecher Stowe and Robert Frost (who staged a dramatic and, ultimately unsuccessful, attempt at suicide there). Mac is certainly in good company. And there is so much more waiting for you in this issue of Virginia Living. Travel writer Tricia Pearsall shows us the raw beauty of Mongolia, and cookbook author Debi Shawcross reinterprets the classic supper club. I had the great good fortune to spend time with the dancers of the Richmond Ballet to find out what the working-life of a dancer is really like. It was a pleasure, as is this issue of Virginia Living. Enjoy, and happy holidays!

Erin Parkhurst, Acting Editor


We welcome calendar items; to ensure consideration, printed copies of information must be sent four months before publication via U.S. Mail to our Editor at the above address. POSTMASTER

Send address changes to VIRGINIA LIVING 109 East Cary St., Richmond, VA 23219 Subscriptions

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Back issues are available for most editions and are $9.95 plus $5 shipping and handling. Please call for availability. REPRINTS & REPRODUCTION PERMISSION

Contact John-Lawrence Smith, Publisher, at (804) 343-7539 or LEGALISMS

Virginia Living is a registered trademark of Cape Fear Publishing Company, Inc. Copyright 2008, all rights reserved. Reproduction without written permission of the publisher is strictly prohibited. IDENTIFICATION STATEMENT VIRGINIA LIVING

(USPS) ISSN 1534-9984 VirginiaLiving is published bimonthly by Cape Fear Publishing Company, 109 East Cary St., Richmond, VA 23219. Periodical postage permit 021-875 at Richmond, VA.

Department of Corrections Dear Madame:

Dear Madame:

I found your article on the coal industry in Virginia most interesting. My older sister (now deceased) was born in 1914 at Arno where my father was a young doctor for the Stonega Coke and Coal Co. He, a newlywed graduate of the Medical College of Virginia, went out with his bride to a rather primitive lifestyle in those mountains. He practiced medicine on horseback in the hills and hollow for about two years, I believe, because I was born in Richmond in 1916, after the end of that phase of their lives. Thank you for an enjoyable magazine.

The October 2011 article on heirloom apples brought back memories of Bonham’s Orchards in Chilhowie, Virginia. They had a wonderful apple called Virginia Beauty. It was delicious and beautiful, with a dark red and a yellow blush (or reversed). The orchard is long out of business, but Urban Homestead of Bristol, Virginia, sells trees (not Virginia Beauty). They told me that the tree grows in North Carolina and someone sells the apples in the Bristol area. The apple was not mentioned in your article, but it is well-worth locating.

Emily Sneed McGuire Potomac Falls

Mary Helen B. Nihart Lake Ridge

In our October 2011 interview with Gabriele Rausse, (“A Vintner’s Vintner”), we misidentified Mr. Rausse’s title, which is Associate Director of Gardens and Grounds at Monticello. Also in the October issue, the Virginia Horse Center’s revenues were reported incorrectly. VHC’s annual state revenue is $4 million. We apologize for these errors. Write

to us! Letters to the Editor We love receiving letters from our readers. Please e-mail us at Editor@CapeFear. com or write to us at Letters to the Editor, Cape Fear Publishing, 109 E. Cary St., Richmond, Va. 23219. Please include your name, address and phone number. Letters may be edited for length and clarity. For subscriptions, see our website, Kindly address all other editorial queries to V i r g i n i a

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©T&CO. 2011 800 843 3269 |



Tiffany Celebration Rings ®

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contents december 2011 Virginia Living

FEAt u r e s

h o m e & ga r d e n

d e pa r t m e n t s



19 Upfront Super-Scot David McKenzie,

Wetland Wonder The enigmatic Great Dismal Swamp has been rescued from agriculture and invasive species, and is slowly returning to its roots thanks to a noble private-public partnership.

By mac carey


The modern supper club The 21st century version of this classic social gathering is more than an elegant affair; it is a way to forge deeper connections between friends. By lisa antonelli bacon


life of a dancer Dancers make their art look effortless on stage, but to do so requires a lifetime of hard work. A look into the world of la belle danse.

town and country Shack Mountain is a hidden historical gem, and an enduring example of Jeffersonian Classicism located just a couple of miles outside of Charlottesville. By Broocks Willich


thanksgiving tablescapes Treat your guests to tastefully arranged tableaus when they gather in your home this Thanksgiving. By paula steers brown

luxury treehouse, Guv’s got game, real chocolate, luxury letterpress, gorgeous gifts, Tintin trappings, Bellwether and more!

52 profile Long before Grandma Moses

became a world-famous painter, she made a name for herself in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. By Gary Robertson

45 click 54 dining Social functions around the state, America finally has an equal to supporting art, institutions and charities.

50 virginiana The Italianate manse, Swannanoa, was built by a once-penniless Confederate soldier-turnedmillionaire for his beautiful Southern belle. By Brooke C. Stoddard

tapas, dim sum and piattini— the small plate. Embrace this growing trend in dining! By Lisa Antonelli Bacon

62 travel

On the move with the hospitable nomads of Mongolia. A chest-thumping adventure into this gloriously-raw land. By Tricia Pearsall

112 departure Commercial steamboats

may be gone, but in the ’30s and ’40s they were both commonplace and magical. By Chiles T.A. Larson

By erin parkhurst

O n t h e cov e r Phillip Skaggs and Lauren Elizabeth of Richmond Ballet. Photograph by Glen McClure

C y p r e ss t r e e s o n L a k e D r u m m o n d i n t h e G r e at D i s m a l Swa m p. p h oto g r a p h by J o h n H e n l e y

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So, you think you know best? Let us know!

2012 BEST OF VIRGINIA Coming May 2012 In our search to celebrate all things Virginia we encounter much of the best that our state has to offer…the best restaurants, the best fishing holes, the best arts and entertainment events, the best traditions and more.

But we know there are more “bests” out there across the Commonwealth, so we are looking to you, our readers, to share your opinions as we create the first ever Best of Virginia issue—a special edition that will hit newsstands in May!

Go to beginning on January 2nd, and start casting your votes for the Best of Virginia! Vote, and automatically enter to win an Apple iPad! Each week we will draw one lucky voter’s name, and that voter will win the week’s Apple iPad!

Cast your votes in January! Buy your copy in May!

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10/28/11 9:52 AM just got better! Our website now features more original content than ever before, extending the Virginia Living experience beyond the magazine. Visit today where you will find:

food & drink

Starr Hill Brewery’s suds swigged and reviewed, plus a four-course family style dinner served alfresco at Blenheim Vineyards.


All the Virginia Living recipes you know and love, alongside unique suggestions from some of the state’s most successful chefs.

Home & Garden

How to make your own compost, a look around the gardens at Monticello, plus mistakes you cannot afford to make when planning—or attending—a wedding.

Arts & Events

Virginia Film Festival 2011 coverage, a guide to ballet performances around the state, plus an interview with Richmond’s Legendary Santa. Exploring

How the fruit of the Persimmon tree can predict the severity of winter, and what to expect this season. Click!

Even more snaps from Virginia’s most sumptuous social gatherings. Photo Contests

Enter our photo contests to win fabulous prizes, or view the entries and vote for your favorites. Slideshows

More of the stunning photographs that you see in Virginia Living, including more from Mongolia, bonus ballet images and more greenery from the Great Dismal Swamp.

All that and more at s: plu

Find us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter!

V i r g i n i a

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Three things I need to be happy.

Watching It’s A Wonderful Life… again Eggnog with nutmeg A midnight kiss on New Y ear’s Eve

E mbrace life on your terms. Living at Rappahannock Westminster-Canterbury is about exactly that, “living.” Set on 165 of the most scenic acres of Virginia’s Northern Neck, RWC is an inviting, fullservice retirement community. We offer an appealing worry-free lifestyle for you to enjoy today, and the peace of mind of continuing care, if ever needed. To learn more, visit our website, or call to request your free copy of our Embrace Life Today DVD. Equal Housing Opportunity © 2011 RWC

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olden times


Agricultural Aggravation

Extramarital Explosion!

Accoutrements de Tintin

For the Love of Scots

By Mary Burruss

David McKenzie, master of ceremonies for Alexandria’s annual Scottish Christmas Walk, will do anything to preserve Scottish heritage.

David McKenzie in Old Town Alexandria.

David McKenzie greets me on a steamy September morning at the gate of the Virginia Scottish Games and Festival at Great Meadow in The Plains. The golf cart he pilots is dwarfed by his great stature and, as we ride along, he calmly issues instructions through a walkietalkie with a voice as smooth as a well-aged single malt scotch. He is Games Chieftain of the annual two-day event (an honor bestowed only twice in the 38-year history of the games in recognition of his service over the years), which was started by his father, the Rev. Dr. Charles Stewart McKenzie, in 1973. He is in his element here. As he stops frequently to greet and be greeted (he knows nearly every person we encounter), it is clear that he loves these games and everything Scottish. “I was virtually born into the St. Andrew’s Society,” he laughs, citing the charitable group, which was first organized in the 1700s and promotes the preservation of Scottish heritage through its chapters around the world. Now retired after 34 years with the District of Columbia-based Metro Police force, the 67-year-old Arlington resident is practical, matter-of-fact and takes guff from no one. But, like a favorite well-used overcoat, McKenzie is also reliable, comfortable and warm, any roughness worn off long ago. He, like the majority of attendees at the games, is dressed in a wool kilt (he says he owns between eight and 10) that is certainly better suited to the cool climate of Scotland than the hot, humid late summer days of Virginia. But the dark green plaid of his clan is de rigueur all summer long for McKenzie as he lords over the “heavy games” competitions. He feels it is an important part of the Scottish legacy to preserve these contests that create healthy competition and promote camaraderie amongst the athletes. “Athletics is what got me into this mess,” he jokes. “I am still doing this stuff because of the caliber of young people in the sport. They are outstanding individuals!” He proudly watches from the sidelines as his daughter Heather competes in


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the women’s division in events such as stone throwing, light hammer toss, caber toss (throwing something like the bare trunk of a tree) and sheaf toss (using a three-pronged pitchfork to toss a bale over a high bar). She recently became the 2011 Midwest Women’s Heavy Games Champion and is preparing to run in the Marine Corps Marathon for charity. “My dad and I have been going to Highland games since I was very little,” she says. “At 27, it’s still something I love sharing with him. His passion for preserving our rich heritage has given me a community full of lifelong friends. For that I cannot thank him enough.” Although McKenzie is widely known throughout the mid-Atlantic for his involvement in the games, he may be best known to the general public as the voice of the Campagna Center’s annual Scottish Christmas Walk, the centerpiece of a weekend of fundraising events for the center, which facilitates early childhood and literacy programs throughout Alexandria. “By December, I am about ready for another Scottish fix,” jokes McKenzie. “I view the walk as a special opportunity to bring together all my Scottish friends one more time and hopefully assist the Campagna Center with their programs as a result.” For 39 of the 41 years the event has existed, he has acted as master of ceremonies for the walk, an event that will take place December 2 and 3 this year. Nearly 30,000 people descend on Old Town Alexandria to watch the parade, buy heather, greens and various crafts, and perhaps taste some scotch. As the St. Andrew’s Society chair for the event, McKenzie also organizes clan participation, bands and volunteers. He is the ideal person to announce the parade each year from the VIP stands in front of market square because he knows each group personally. “I view it [the Scottish Walk] as part of my family history. My father was deeply involved in the event, and I personally believe in the programs that the Campagna Center puts forth.” After a tour of the Scottish Games and a few cheers for Heather who is competing today, McKenzie drops me off to enjoy a shepherd’s pie for lunch. (I decide to forgo the haggis on the vendor’s menu.) He apologizes for leaving, but insists he is on urgent business. “I have to go check out a kilt I’m interested in,” he laughs. i l l u s t r at i o n b y r o b e r t m e g a n c k

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Who You Callin’ “Least”? the least weasel may be cute, but it’s a killer. As predators go, the least weasel may not be one to strike terror in the hearts of men. Not that it isn’t a fierce and determined hunter. With sharp claws and sharper teeth, it makes short work of its next meal with a bite to the base of the skull, and it is readily capable of dispatching prey several times its size, consuming about half its body weight in freshly killed meat every day. But for all that, the least weasel is a diminutive and—dare I say it?— beguiling bit of fluff. Fully grown, a male least weasel in fighting trim is less than 10 inches long from nose to tail-tip and weighs in at under 3 ounces, and the females are typically even smaller. With neat, rounded ears, sleek body, delicate feet and large black eyes, the least weasel looks like a regular-sized weasel that accidentally got washed on the “hot” cycle. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Virginia’s smallest carnivore. “They really are tiny,” muses Dr.

John Pagels, professor emeritus of biology at Virginia Commonwealth University. Smaller and far more slender than a chipmunk, the least weasel “is like a cigar with a head and legs,” says Pagels. “They are thin all the way through and very good at getting into, turning around, and backing up in very small spaces,” he says. Their size and flexibility allow least weasels to slip into the burrows of their favored prey—small rodents like mice and voles—and their voracious appetites mean that they can play a significant role in controlling rodent populations over a surprisingly large territory. An adult male least weasel can maintain a home range of as much as five acres, and, despite their small size, least weasels can move with remarkable speed, are quite aggressive, and will take on prey that well outweigh them. On the Internet, you can find more than one video of a least weasel subduing a rat

twice its size, and an article from the Nature Conservancy claims they will even chase down a rabbit—an important food source in the spring when small rodents can be scarce on the ground. “They are very active, night and day,” says Pagels, “and if they see something they may go after it.” Nevertheless, your chances of spotting a least weasel aren’t great. For one thing, they’re small—really small—and they tend to blend well with their natural surroundings; in Virginia their year-round coat remains brown with a white neck and underbelly. But the least weasel’s North American range extends to within the Arctic Circle, and where snow is frequent, the fur changes to white in winter. They’re also a live-fastand-die-young species. Although in captivity a least weasel has lived as long as 10 years, in the wild most don’t live past their second birthday, and many fail to survive to their first. When you have to devour half your body weight in food every day, longevity is going to depend upon a steady and abundant supply of prey. And, being rodent-sized, least weasels are themselves vulnerable to being picked off by predators like owls, hawks and—pet owners take note—likely house cats as well. To combat these grim survival stats, least weasels can produce two litters a year, and they are highly adaptable to different environments, from Russian steppes to Virginia fields. Thus, despite the odds against them, these dollop-sized carnivores are believed to be holding their own—though admittedly, researching least weasel populations appears to be something of a challenge. In Virginia, least weasels are known to inhabit the western half of the state, although one has been found as far east as Caroline County, suggesting that they may inhabit the Piedmont region as well. But with their solitary habits and large territories, even when you’re looking for them, they aren’t that easy to find. “They are relatively uncommon even when they are common,” says Pagels. “People just don’t run across them that much.” But what if you do see one? Just be thankful you’re not a field mouse. —Caroline Kettlewell V i r g i n i a

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Take to the Trees Experience leafy luxury at Primland’s new treetop retreat. By Clarke C. Jones

Clockwise from left: A rare gold witch ball; toy Santas; antique Christmas lights and children’s beads in silver compote.

Timeless Trimmings decking the halls in vintage style. By daryl grove Antique dealers and interior designers put up holiday decorations just like the rest of us; they just do it with a little more style. This season, Robert and Anne Hines, owners of Richmond’s ThomasHines Inc. antique store and interior design service since 1972, will decorate their Georgian home with Christmas ornaments from near and far, including one item that is literally priceless. “Since the 1500s, people in England have hung witch balls in their homes or shops to ward off evil spirits,” explains Mrs. Hines. “The hollow glass balls were all hand-blown, and the most prized are the gold ones,” because the precious metal is infused into the glass as the ball is blown. Prized, yes, but why priceless, you ask? Apparently, it’s considered very bad luck to sell a witch ball, which means it is virtually impossible to buy one. However, Mrs. Hines says that after she “became fascinated” with the balls (she first saw one in an antique shop in the Cotswolds, England), a friend in the antiques business was able to procure one, and sent it across the Atlantic as a gift. The gold witch ball is now dis-

played under the Christmas tree in the Hines’ home, resting on a skirt of mirrors to reflect its glorious color (and keep unwanted spirits away, we suspect). Also adorning the couple’s home this season will be a variety of inexpensive ornaments— more disposable amusements, shall we say—like Christmas lights from the late 19th and early 20th centuries, which rest atop colorful children’s beads in a silver compote. Another favorite is a tiny toy celluloid Santa candy holder from the 1920s or ’30s (the candy inside is vintage too—it was placed there before World War II). Mrs. Hines says the best thing about having these ornaments in their home is seeing other people’s reactions. “Friends of mine in their 70s and 80s see the toy Santas and get tears in their eyes, because they remember them from growing up.” But it’s also a sweet celebration of the Hines’ life together, as they’ve been collecting antiques and ornaments throughout their 43 years of marriage. “It’s just what we do,” says Mrs. Hines. “Some couples play golf or play bridge together. We do this.”

Barn Raising A new cultural redoubt for Berryville. BY Bonnie Williamson What used to be a drafty, ramshackle roost for pigeons is now a cultural and community center for Clarke County—one of the state’s smallest counties. The Barns of Rose Hill are two early 20th century dairy barns, part of a four-acre park, which was donated to the town of Berryville in 1964 by resident Horace Smithy. Smithy wanted his gift to be used for the educational, cultural and recreational benefit of the community. “But the barns were neglected for more than 40 years while the park around

them became a central green space for community activity,” says Susi Bailey, the Barns’ executive director. In 2004, The Barns of Rose Hill, Inc., a nonprofit Virginia corporation, was formed to raise funds to restore the barns and transform them into a space for lectures, book signings, performances, art shows, concerts and private events. The organization raised an impressive $1.7 million from sources including Clarke County, state and federal government and foundations: More than $500,000 came from private gifts.

P h o t o g r a p h y t o p : k i p d aw k i n s ; r i g h t : B a r ry T o w e P h o t o g r a p h y

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“It’s neat that barns, so much a part of rural communities that are fading away and lost, have been preserved and are now the center of our town,” says Keith Dalton, Berryville town manager. September’s week-long opening included a variety of events and concerts. With the exception of the pigeons, says Bailey, “We accept all visitors.” A fiber arts show and a photography exhibit of horse country are currently on exhibit until the end of December.

So, you think there’s no place like home for the holidays? Then think Primland instead. Primland—a vast 12,000-acre luxury resort in remote Patrick County, which was first opened in 1986 as a fishing and hunting preserve that offered sporting clays and horseback riding—pampers guests in its grand lodge and rustically glamorous fairway cottages (complete with Frette spa robes and Italian bath products, oh my). Now guests can experience this haven of natural beauty from a new vantage point, the Golden Eagle Tree House. Opened last summer, the romantic and adventurous tree house is built around a large chestnut oak tree and cantilevered over the Dan River Gorge, offering complete privacy at nearly 3,000 feet above sea level. Located not far from Primland’s nationally recognized golf course, the 384-square-foot

tree house (priced at $499 per weeknight, $539 per weekend night) features a spacious bedroom and bath, and a 340-square-foot rear deck, which offers a spectacular view of the gorge below. Primland Vice President Steve Helms explains the rationale for building the tree house: “We already have the rustic mountain homes, the European-chic Fairway cottages, and an ultra-modern lodge. It seemed natural to offer the Golden Eagle Tree House. With such a magnificent view from the rear deck, we feel a guest at the tree house will spend more time outside than in!” Don’t worry. Guests do not need to climb the tree to reach the tree house. A wooden walkway winds its way from the ground up and around the tree and deposits guests on the deck. Also new this year at Primland is the “sport” of geo-caching. Using a GPS and a guidebook, guests can search for hidden containers, or “geocaches,” on two different mountain trails—the Pinnacle Loop Trail, which is designed for the novice hiker, and the Buzzards Roost Trail for those seeking more difficult terrain. The prize for locating these geocaches? Inside each one is interesting information, puzzles or small token treasures that describe the wildlife, environment and history of the area. Let’s not forget that available at Primland year-round is the chance to play golf on Virginia’s number one-rated (by Golf Digest) new public course, fly fish, try your hand at shooting sports, and enjoy trail rides, spa treatments and stargazing from the observatory. There’s no place like Primland. V i r g i n i a

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A Taste of History

Chef Bucks Tradition

old school Chocolate-Making at Mount Vernon. BY daryl grove

Deer-for-Beef Switcheroo is fine by the Governor. By lisa antonelli bacon Just before Thanksgiving every year since 1677, members of the Mattaponi and Pamunkey tribes have presented Virginia’s governor with delicacies from the wild in lieu of paying property taxes. Per the tribes’ original treaty with the British Crown, they agreed to deliver 20 beaver skins to Virginia’s executive mansion, wherever it is located. (Once upon a time, the governor lived in Williamsburg, remember.) In modern times, deer and turkey, hunted on the reservations in King William County, have served as currency for the taxes, and until last year, the game and fowl were politely passed on to a charitable organization. Last year, though, Executive Mansion Chef Todd Schneider—who began his career as a waiter for Martha Stewart—was unaware that he was breaking tradition when he had the deer taken to the Mansion garage where he dressed it and prepared to cook it. “It was a gift to the Governor,” says Schneider. “I thought he should eat it.” So two days after Thanksgiving, the Guv and family thought they were sitting down to filet mignon, but found it to be a tad, well, gamey. The governor rang Schneider in the kitchen. “They said it tasted a little different,” Schneider recalls. But once identi-

Above: Executive Mansion Chef Todd Schneider.

fied properly, the vittles were more than satisfactory to the McDonnells. In fact, the whole meal was such a hit with Virginia’s First Family that Schneider is planning a post-Thanksgiving redux this year. The rest of the menu will also be repeated: goat cheese escalloped potatoes and sautéed asparagus will accompany the deer filet, followed by crème brûlée cheesecake. If you’re going to try it, Schneider has a word for the wise. The key to cooking venison, he says, is the marinade. His is a concoction that includes Worcestershire sauce, kosher salt and bourbon— the recipe for which is on the Executive Mansion’s website. What is the secret to Schneider’s sauce? Virginia-made bourbon. It’s the only kind used at the Mansion. Of course.

Pressing On Stationery designer Julia Farill knows the luxury of letterpress. BY Mari Pack “You feel like you don’t have enough limbs,” says Charlottesville native Julia Farill, 30, of her first experience with letterpress, a 500-yearold relief print form that’s been making a serious comeback on wedding invitations, coasters and just about anything else that lovers of fine paper can get their hands on. “I was making this giant old machine go with my foot,” she laughs. “All these little gears go, and thousands of pounds of metal just become alive.”

Above: Notecard designed by Farill. Right: The designer.

With degrees in art and landscape architecture, Farill started her letterpress printing company, Red Bird Ink, in 2005. “I think that getting a degree in landscape architecture has really influenced my design process and helped me understand how to think as a designer.” Conversely, as an artist, she has a love of negative space. “One thing I find intriguing about negative space is that it lures you into noting these tiny little details you wouldn’t see, like a little insect bite out of the leaf.” Farill’s popular botanical designs and wintry snowscapes are a testament to her love of flora and terra, something that the venerable Crane & Co. picked up on when they chose her camellia flower design as winner

photograph y top : j oe mahone y, R ichmon d times - d ispatch , right : r u ss f l int, bottom : A n d rew T homas Lee

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Did you know that George Washington began his day with chocolate? Not the prepackaged milky confection we eat today but thick, dark, hearty chocolate made from cacao seeds—commonly referred to as beans—that are roasted, shelled, crushed and rolled, then melted in a pot and flavored with spices like cayenne pepper. And he didn’t eat it; he drank it down. “It’s healthier,” explains Gail Cassidy, manager of historical interpretation at George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate, Museum and Gardens, and unofficial Colonial-era chocolate expert. “Modern chocolate—milk chocolate—is really only 30% chocolate. The rest is sugar and milk and other things that

Above: Gail Cassidy and Joel Nichols of Mount Vernon demonstrate historic chocolate making.

of their 2009 contest. Indeed, there is something about letterpress that has designers, vendors and customers hooked. “People like letterpress cards,” explains Winifred Wegmann, manager of Crème de la Crème boutique in Charlottesville, who carries Farill’s papers. Wegmann first met Farill in 2008, and says that immediately she admired the simplicity and elegance of Farill’s handpressed designs. “I think when you give someone a letterpress card, it reflects their appreciation of the artistry of the person who made them.” Farill agrees: “They think of it as a gift I’m giving to them.” Available at Crème de la Crème and Rock Paper Scissors in Charlottesville, and at Paper Plus and Quirk in Richmond.

water down the flavor.” What Washington drank was the real thing, and this season you can have some too. Mount Vernon, Washington’s plantation home on the banks of the Potomac and now a privately-run museum, education and visitor’s center, offers historic chocolate-making demonstrations throughout the holiday season inside a tent on the west side of the mansion. It all begins with an unpromising handful of cocoa beans. Once the shells are removed—with help from the audience—the bittersweet smell of real chocolate fills the air. But that’s just the beginning of the 3 to 4 hour process. The beans are crushed with a mortar and pestle and rolled with a mano (iron rolling pin) on a metate (a 50-60 pound heated volcanic stone) until the cocoa butter is released, and what was once a handful of seeds becomes a mass of gooey chocolate goodness. At this point, you’ll be forgiven for salivating, but visitors aren’t invited to eat the chocolate made during the demonstration—kids (and enthusiastic adults) have had their fingers in the mix after all. However, free samples of the MARS Corporation’s American Heritage Chocolate drink, made using the same Colonialera ingredients, are served. The flavor is recognizably chocolaty, with a little less sugar but a lot more history. Mr. Washington would be proud. Demonstration free with general admission. V i r g i n i a

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Gifts Galore this season give gifts that make a pretty tableau.

Sterling silver charms, some enameled in Tiffany Blue. $175-$225 at

Most of us know someone who uses a dresser as a repository for everything from jewelry to coins to sundry beloved things. Give gifts this year that will dress up and add some luxury to this often utilitarian space. Here are our picks for the well-appointed bureau.

La Prairie’s Limited Edition “Irresistible Caviar” Skin Caviar Luxe. $195 at Bloomingdale’s, Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, and Saks Fifth Avenue or online at

Nicolas Rieussec Anniversary Edition Chronograph, celebrating 190 years since the invention of the chronograph. $10,700 at Montblanc, Tysons Galleria, (703) 734- 5101 or

Quote 25-count travel humidor in maple and walnut burl. $79 at

Night and Day cufflinks from Verdura’s Hollywoodland collection; originally designed for Cole Porter. $8,150 at Charles Schwarzschild Jewelers, Richmond, 804-282-3724.

Tiffany & Co. Bracelet Bag in burgundy quilted velvet with palladium-plated solid brass beads. $995 at

Gearharts Chocolates 16-piece gift box. $25 at Gearharts Chocolates in Richmond and Charlottesville or at Rowallan Dede Jewelry Trunk. Large lizard-embossed leather keep with 12 drawers and a lift-out box for travel. Available in Winter White with chocolate-brown lining. $480 at The Farm Basket in Lynchburg or V i r g i n i a

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New Adventurers Revive the classic style of belgium’s best-known and beloved cartoon character as applied to 21st century sensibilities. That intrepid chap from Brussels—about to be discovered all over again this holiday season with the worldwide release of Steven Spielberg’s “The Adventures of Tintin: Secret of the Unicorn”—has us thinking about adventure. The sort where you take a misty midnight jump onto a rusty container ship and see where it takes you. No map, no GPS—just pack your pluck and go.

©Hergé-Moulinsart 2010

Despite its “Tin Snail” nickname, the Citroen 2CV was originally designed for a rural population driving on rough post-WWII roads and plowed fields. But with regular appearances in the Tintin books and the James Bond movie “For Your Eyes Only,” it evolved into the epitome of youthful cool.

Herge’s fearless palette of primaries and comic timing comes alive in these prints, The Adventures of Tintin. Posters are offered in the original français. 19.5”x27.5,” $36.99$39.99 at

Sydney Love’s Vintage Hotel luggage tags add provenance to today’s pedestrian rolling suitcase, with vintage hotel labels from the Grand Hotel in Venice, Raffles in Singapore, and Hotel de Paris both in Paris and Monte Carlo. Double luggage tag $25 at

Finding the nautical Captain Haddock-inspired stripes stateside can be a head-scratcher. Happily, two New Yorkers in a 100-year-old Pennsylvania knitting mill created the Edith A. Miller line of stripy separates in modern silhouettes.

Inspired by every world traveler’s essential piece—the Mackintosh trench coat—this skirt announces that you are a seasoned adventurer, roving reporter and possibly even a heroine. Girls’ trench skirt. $68 at

Relive the days when people handwrote letters and aviation was still new with Kikkerland’s Mailblok of airmail papers. As good for dispatches from the Cairo desk as for a thank-you-note for yesterday’s play date. Blue Airmail Paper pad $4.50 at

Tintin with a bottle of champagne and his fourlegged companion Snowy.

V i r g i n i a

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Bellwether a compendium of news and notes from around the state. By Mari Pack and Meredith Rigsby

Cycling City Bike fanatics, rev your—er—pedals? For the first time in more than 30 years, the 2015 World Road Championships are being held in the U.S., and—here’s the best part—in Richmond! Apart from the capital city’s history of hosting large cycling events (including the Tour de Trump and Tour DuPont in the late ’80s and early ’90s) Tim Miller, executive director of Richmond 2015, explains that Richmond was a natural choice to host the championships. “Richmond is not such a big city that something like this would get lost in the shuffle. If this got sent to New York, it would be just another event.” Its ideal location at the crossroads of two major interstates in the heart of the bike-crazy mid-Atlantic didn’t hurt either.

Trump From the Tower Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard in Charlottesville is now Trump Vineyard Estates—purchased in April by The Donald in a foreclosure auction—but it will be mostly Trump-less, run from New York by The Donald’s son Eric, president of Trump Winery. “I’m mostly coming for day trips,” he says from his New York office. “It always puts me in a good mood, flying into real America.” He says he has personally designed room layouts and chosen millwork and lighting for the Vineyard Estates. As they emboss the operation with the Trump brand, Eric will be onsite more. “We’re going to work on blends, and plan the crops accordingly,” he says. “I’ve learned a tremendous amount about what it takes to turn grapes into wine.”

Richmond’s Church Hill in Detail If history never changes, hasn’t enough been written about the early years of Richmond’s Church Hill? Apparently not. New to an already impressive list of books about the neighborhood where Patrick Henry gave his famous speech, where Poe’s Elmira Shelton lived, and one of the few areas that didn’t incinerate in the great fire of 1865, The Church Hill Old & Historic Districts illuminates beyond other chronicles the history of the area’s architecture. Published by Historic Richmond Foundation and written by John G. Zehmer and Joanne Tresnauk McDonald, this latest effort colors in where earlier efforts merely sketched, capturing the buildings of one of Richmond’s oldest neighborhoods and the people who created it, in text, maps and photographs. Available for $39.99 through Historic Richmond Foundation.

Small Town Racer With just three races to go (at press time) in NASCAR’s Nationwide Series Championship, Elliott Sadler is only 15 points from the lead. “Fifteen points is nothing,” says Erin Sagester, representative for Kevin Harvick Inc., Sadler’s sponsor. “The momentum is going to keep everyone going.” Sadler is not only a huge success on the circuit, he is also a family man. Born and raised in Emporia, the entire Sadler clan lives in this small town near the North Carolina border. Sadler moved back home after his mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2009. “Most drivers live near the team shops in Charlotte, North Carolina,” explains Sagester. Sadler makes the long commute weekly, but still finds time to run a foundation that raises autism awareness and promotes research for a cure. We’re rooting for you Elliott! contributed photos

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A Felt Partridge in a Pear Tree? OK, a Christmas tree just isn’t a Christmas tree unless it’s covered in ornaments: felt candy canes, hand-made sleds crafted by your grandmother, snowflake napkins from your little cousins and, of course, a group of fluffy felt birds inspired by an insane asylum inmate turned folk artist from Texas. Huh? Eddie Arning isn’t the only obscure folk artist that Jan Gilliam and Christina Westenberger drew from for their new book, The Art-Full Tree, which teaches readers how to create ornaments inspired by works from the Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Folk Art Museum in Williamsburg. “We didn’t want to take a painting and recreate a painting. We wanted to take an object and have the object be an inspiration,” explains Westenberger. With step-by-step instructions, artist biographies and information about the work, these cloth dolls, foil suns and felt snowmen aren’t just artsy Christmas additions; they’re history.

A Mighty Wind People can be picky about power. Coal? Some think it’s not ‘green’ enough. Nuclear? Some would say it’s too dangerous. What about wind? Dominion Virginia Power thinks it just might be the ticket. As part of a $43 million dollar federal grant project across 20 states, Dominion has received $500,000 to spend on offshore wind energy modeling and analysis. The goal is to find a sustainable, cost-efficient system to rival natural gas. “Wind is abundant on the coast of Virginia,” says Dominion spokesman Jim Norvelle. Though plans to build towers and turbines are in their earliest stages, Dominion is looking to wind farms in England, Denmark and Germany for inspiration. In two years time, you might spot these enormous white windmills on your family jaunt to the coast.

Hometown Favorite Since 1939, the Dixie Restaurant in Petersburg had served homestyle Southern cooking to its family of regulars. That is, until a brief period when it was transformed into a bar. That venture ultimately failed, and the Dixie was bought in 2011 by long-term residents Charlie and Frannie Rawlings who have returned the eatery to its roots. “We knew how much people missed it, because we had missed it,” says Frannie. In addition to hiring former cook Mary Daymond, keeper of many of the old recipes, the Rawlings dug original pictures and decorations out of attic storage. These “familiar things” help recreate the old-time family atmosphere that residents missed as much as they missed the hot breakfast. And “family” isn’t just limited to its bipedal members: You can even bring your dog. 804-732-7425

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New NeigHbOr. the new Chrysler Museum glass Studio brings our world-class glass collection to life. Learn about free daily demonstrations, classes


CONGRATULATIONS TO THE 2011 INTERIOR DESIGN EXCELLENCE AWARDS ASID WINNERS! Residential Over 3,500SF – 1st Place Ko Residence - Teresa Ko, CID, ASID, LEED AP Model Home/Show House – 1st Place Richmond Symphony Orchestra League Designer Show House 2011 – Elizabeth Cabell, CID, ASID / Cabell Design Studio Multi-Family Housing – 1st Place Branchlands Retirement Community – Mary Katherine Crouch, ASID, LEED AP, Cameron Stiles, CID, FASID, LEED AP / KSA Interiors Corporate Under 35,000SF – Honorable Mention New River Pediatrics – Teresa Ko, CID, ASID, LEED AP / Commercial Interiors, LLC Corporate Over 35,000SF – Honorable Mention Dominion Lincoln Park II – Cameron Stiles, CID, FASID, LEED AP, Melissa Moseley, CID, ASID, LEED AP, Erin Riggan, ASID, LEED AP / KSA Interiors Institutional – 1st Place Carol Weinstein International Center, University of Richmond – Eleanor Barton, CID, ASID / Glave & Holmes Architecture

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Lewis Archer McMurran, Jr. Hall, Christopher Newport University – Eleanor Barton, CID, ASID, Gary Inman, Allied ASID / Glave & Holmes Architecture

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For more information please visit us at Nor fol k , V A • chr

Lewis Archer McMurran, Jr. Hall, Christopher Newport University. Photographer: Prakash Patel.

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by b l a n d c r o w d e r

A Hurt Husband’s Revenge Cuckold tries a little home-wrecking of his own.


Hell hath no dynamite like a Hurt carpenter spurned. On a November Saturday night around 8 p.m., a jealous Ocie Dunn went to the home of the single Henry years ago Fugate in Hurt, in Pittsylvania County, where Dunn’s wife, Dorothy, was “visiting.” Once there, Dunn just blew up. Or, tried to blow Fugate’s house up, with TNT, reports the Altavista Journal. At first, Dunn tried the diplomatic approach, speaking to Fugate through a window of the house and demanding that his wife come out. Fugate claimed that Mrs. Dunn was not there with him, hoping, he said, that he could get Dunn to leave. Later, though, Fugate said that she was there, because he had wanted to help her when he “heard her trying to quiet her dog.” That dog did not hunt, and the

short-fused Dunn introduced four lit sticks of dynamite into the would-be altruist’s two-story domicile. Describing the scene, Sheriff’s Deputy Wallace Dawson said that the building was “all wrapped up with broken glass” and that the refrigerator had been knocked over, reported the Danville Bee. Despite extensive damage, though, no one was hurt, and Fugate “produced” Mrs. Dunn from a nearby thicket. Mr. Dunn pleaded not guilty to charges of feloniously dynamiting an occupied building, claiming that his wife and Fugate were not in the building when he tried to raise the roof. And even though Deputy Dawson said that neither Fugate nor Mrs. Dunn “bore any marks or were covered with dust,” this still smelled like bombing aforethought. Plus, it turns out Dunn had gone to Gretna that afternoon and bought the dynamite at a hardware store. While in Gretna, Dunn had run into another deputy, Tommy English, on the street and asked him if he could get a warrant against Fugate for “breaking up his home and harboring his wife.” English told Dunn that they couldn’t issue such a warrant. In that case, retorted Dunn, “I can burn some powder.” Dunn then proceeded to try some homewrecking of his own. Dunn was no stranger to the use of extreme measures against Mr. Fugate for helping Mrs. Dunn quiet her dog. Just a few weeks earlier, the two men had been working on a house for the Dunns when they “fell out over Mrs. Dunn’s affections,” the Bee said. Mr. Dunn used a more direct approach that time—a hatchet hurled at his rival.

p e n n y P o s tc a r d s BY M e r e d i t h R i g s by

A Stroll Down Main Street Stamped in time, postcards from Virginia towns exude quintessential Main Street charm from the days of penny candy and vintage cars.

Main Street, Looking East Charlottesville Sent by Kathy Mika, Keswick Punctuated by striped awnings, motorcars and trolley buses, this bird’s eye view communicates the simple nature of a leisurely stroll down Main Street in Charlottesville.

Main Street, Looking South


News is still a trifle thin in Appomattox, years ago but the town is proving to be a center of innovation in the hunting realm, especially among female hunters. Their latest game? The underrated opossum. Reports the Times-Virginian, the “great sport” of the ’possum chase, which “for many a generation” has been enjoyed by hunting men in late fall, is now “being indulged in by the ladies also.” In early November, with “several old-time hunters as guides,” a bevy of ladies goes hunting and bags some “fine fat ’possums and enjoyed the outing greatly.” Just in time for Thanksgiving. One can almost hear the board groan!


Fur is flying over a typo in the Charlotte Gazette of Drake’s Branch. An ad for years ago the Modern Beauty Shop in Chase City, in neighboring Mecklenburg County, is to play up “machineless permanents,” priced at $6.50 a head. The Linotype operator typesetting the ad gets a finger curl, or something, and sets a “1” after the dollar sign, adding ten dollars’ loft to the price. The beauty shop owner, one Mrs. D.A. Bushell, writes the paper that she has never charged $16.50 for a perm. “The error was very easily made,” the story runs. “After seeing some of Mrs. Bushell’s work, we did not think that $16.50 would be unreasonable.” The ad probably runs free this week. As does the bull.


Preston Harrell of Waverly upbraids the Sussex Board years ago of Supervisors on the topic of roaming dogs in his hometown, reports the Sussex-Surry Dispatch. The dogs rip "the clothes off my line,” and “eat my wife’s cats’ food,” he says. “They invade my house, tear my clothes up.” The county has a dog warden, but Harrell tells the supervisors that they won’t let the warden work but four hours a day, and that “by the time he gets here, it’s time for him to go home.” Harrell threatens to deal with the dogs on his own—and he’s done it before. “They got under my house and I threw some firecrackers under there. That took care of them.”

Send unique postcards, along with an explanatory note and 8 1/2 -inch SASE, to Virginia Living, Postcards, 109 E. Cary St., Richmond, Va., 23219, and get a free one-year subscription if your entry is selected. (Send at your own risk.)

I l l u s t r at i o n B y r o b u l l m a n

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HARRISONBURG Sent by Mary Priest, Amissville Known for its fine stores and beautiful buildings, Harrisonburg's Main Street in the heart of the Shenandoah Valley is bustling with excitement.

Commerce Street from Main Street Fredericksburg Sent by William Garnett, Fredericksburg Men gathering on street corners, horse-drawn carriages and Bond’s pharmacy hark back to a time when this main drag pulsed with activity.

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10/28/11 9:19 AM

Feel the Difference with Hot House Yoga Hot Yoga and Hot Vinyasa Ultimate luxury studios offering full amenities and the best instruction available. Coming to Richmond December 2011 in the Westpark Shopping Center.

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books |

R e v i e w e d by B i l l G lo s e

Prada Heels in Cow Fields A Jersey girl goes along with a plan to move from New York City to a farm in Central Virginia, but refuses to give up her city style.

In 2004, Susan McCorkindale was working a six-figure job in New York City as marketing director of Family Circle magazine. But ever since the terrorist attack on the World Trade Center in 2001, she had not felt comfortable. “We were scared every single day,” she says. “A truck backfires, and everybody jumps out of their heels. And then there were these National Guardsman in big white suits because of the anthrax scares. I let my handsome husband [Stu] convince me to walk away from my job and move out of the city. I just figured it would be somewhere with people and a Starbucks, and a shoe store would be nice!” Instead, they moved to a 110-yearold farmhouse with 500 acres of land in the tiny town of Upperville. When Stu sprung the idea upon her, it was obvious that farming was something he wanted and knew how to do, having grown up in farm country himself. With hesitation, she acquiesced, figuring, if nothing else, at least it would make for a good story. Indeed, it did. In 500 Acres and No Place to Hide, McCorkindale recounts what life has been like for a displaced city girl trying to make it on a farm. Writing in a humorously brash tone, she shares her stories in chapters that stand alone as episodic adventures, or misadventures to be more accurate. She pokes fun at every aspect of country living and kvetches over the stylish accoutrements she must now do without. But her tone is never malevolent; it is more whimsical and satirical with bon mots sprinkled here and there, and the butt of her jokes is, more often than not, herself. She turns her rants into the suspenseful beginnings of endearing stories you know will end in calamity. When she writes about replanting her window boxes, it is clear some misfortune is imminent, though what it will be remains to be seen. After a fox attacks the hen house, the surviving chickens dig up her carefully planted flowers and take roost in her window boxes. The loudest of them, named Cluckster, harangues McCorkindale every time she comes near her former flowerbed. She writes about one meal the family was eating on the porch when Cluckster “made for the fern hanging above my head. Alas, chickens really can’t fly. But they can fall, and when they do, they stick their landing, which Cluckster did—in my scalp. I went from zero to bun-free burger flying in less than a second. ‘Get it off! Get it off!’ I screamed, tearing across the porch…That hen hung on, digging her claws into my new, sophisticated ‘do.’” But this is just the beginning of

McCorkindale’s misadventures. Chickens attack her, goats stray into the house, her dogs bring her calves’ skulls as presents and snakes slither into her kitchen only to get beaten up by her otherwise docile cat. “Oh my God!” she says in a nasal, Northern tone, drawing out the last word so it sounds like Gawwd. “Things like that just happen to me.” Her accent is as out-of-place in the country as are the ever-present high heels on her

feet. Although she owns a couple of pairs of work boots, she only wears them for tasks that would be utterly ridiculous wearing anything else. If it’s only slightly ridiculous, then she’s wearing heels. In one passage, she details the extent of her shoe fetish: “I’ve shown our rental houses in heels. Corralled cattle in heels. Fixed fence boards, fought off snakes, and shooed the goats out of the garden in heels. I’ve

Eyes of the Innocent by Brad Parks, Minotaur, $24.99

In the follow-up to Parks’ best-selling Faces of the Gone, investigative reporter Carter Ross returns to report on a fast-moving house fire that kills two boys in Newark. After writing a front-page feature, Carter discovers the fire isn’t what it seems, launching him into the sordid world of urban house-flipping and Jersey-style political corruption. An authentic and entertaining thriller from the journalist turned award-winning author.

Lions of the West: Heroes and Villains of the Westward Expansion by Robert Morgan, Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill, $28.95

With illustrations, portraits, maps, battle plans and time lines, Lions of the West serves as a richly authoritative biography of 19th century America’s fascination with Manifest Destiny. Morgan accomplishes this by portraying the lives of 10 American legends, such as Thomas Jefferson, David Crockett and John “Johnny Appleseed” Chapman, and showing how their adventurous spirits pushed the western boundaries and altered the shape and substance of our nation.

Intern Nation: How to Earn Nothing and Learn Little in the Brave New Economy by Ross Perlin, Verso, $22.95

Every year, between one and two million Americans work as interns. A huge number of internships are illegal under the Fair Labor Standards Act, and this mass exploitation saves firms more than $600 million each year. Interns enjoy no workplace protections and no standing in courts of law—let alone benefits like health care. Through interviews with academics, professionals and, of course, interns, Ross Perlin exposes their world of drudgery and aspiration with both insight and humor.

The Consuming Instinct by Gad Saad, Prometheus Books, $25.00

In this highly informative book, Dr. Gad Saad connects our biological makeup to our daily lives as consumers and shows how evolutionary forces deeply influence our purchases. Saad separates acts of consumption into four key Darwinian drives: survival (we prefer foods high in calories); reproduction (we use products as sexual signals); kin selection (we naturally exchange gifts with family members); and reciprocal altruism (we enjoy offering gifts to close friends). A fascinating read for anyone interested in what makes consumers tick.

lifted hay bales, changed the hens’ bedding, and chased a raccoon out of the chicken coop in heels. Platform, chunky, stiletto; I wear ‘em and I work ‘em. I like to think of it 500 Acres and as ‘high yield in No Place to Hide high heels.’ By Susan McCorkindale “I’m always improperly Penguin, $15.00 dressed,” she explains. “If I ever had sneakers on, Stu would be like, ‘You’re either going out jogging or you don’t feel well.’ It just got to be funny after a while.” For McCorkindale, humor is key, always, even when the subject matter gets serious. Two years ago, her husband was diagnosed with cancer, and he passed away earlier this year. In the book, she gave his illness a few pages of poignant reflection before turning her attention again to the absurdities that seem to inhabit her life. “One day when Stu was first sick,” she says, “I went outside and there was this gigantic man walking toward me up the road holding two goats, one under each arm. He said, ‘Ma’am, these your goats?’ And I said, ‘Why, yes, yes they are!’ I started to cry and I told him what was going on and I said, ‘My husband is sick and he told me you can’t fence them in as much as you can fence them out of the spots you want to protect.’ And he was so sweet. He was like, ‘Ma’am, we’re going to put you on our church’s prayer list.’” For her first few years on the farm, McCorkindale only concerned herself with the embellishments of rural living, the fashions she had to live without and the ways in which she could spruce up the farm. At Christmastime, she clipped battery operated Christmas lights to the cows’ ear tags. She decorated the three rental properties on their land and acted as her own real estate agent in finding tenants. These days, she’s the one who wears the big hat on the farm. She has to take care of the land, shoo goats from the house and herd the cows from the street back to the pasture. At first, this city girl didn't think she could do it, but she's adapting. “It no longer paralyzes me,” McCorkindale says. But some things will never change. She will never give up her sense of humor. And she will never stop wearing high heels. V i r g i n i a

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10/28/11 9:20 AM

The Perfect Way to Start the Holiday Season!





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A rt s |

BY S a r a h S a r g e n t

Prosaic to Poetic Hampton Roads painter James Warwick Jones combines a photorealist style with artifice to reveal the beauty in his workaday subjects. James Warwick Jones greets me on the quiet street in Hampton where he lives. His house is stylishly appointed with handsome antiques and interesting old domestic and maritime objects. It is a refined and sophisticated setting, and it’s no surprise that Jones expresses a profound interest in design, both as it pertains to his work and his surroundings. Jones’ studio is upstairs in what was once a spare bedroom. It’s very compact, containing only a desk with computer, and an easel and worktable on which sits an impressive quantity of neatly arranged brushes. Born and raised in Hampton, Jones, 64, started painting when he was 13. He had a good deal of success early on, winning numerous awards at outdoor art festivals and juried shows, and was selected for the 1966 Virginia Artists exhibition at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts where he took home a certificate of merit. Supported and encouraged by his parents, Jones completed three years at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia before the reality of making a living as an artist set in: He transferred to Old Dominion University in Norfolk where he secured a degree in secondary school art education. After graduation, to support his painting, he worked as a public school art teacher, and for the past 30 years as a curator and administrator, first at the Peninsula Art Center in Newport News and, currently, at the Charles H. Taylor Arts Center in Hampton. A prolific painter, Jones paints what he knows, finding inspiration from his immediate surroundings— the marshlands, boats, beaches, architecture and industry that comprise the Hampton Roads area. The landscape is part of his DNA, and it might be said that his painting technique involves a kind of osmosis; he generally returns repeatedly to a place before he decides to paint it, photographing the landscape at different times of the day, in various weather conditions and seasons of the year in order to gain a heightened understanding of it. Jones focuses on ordinary, often overlooked things encountered during the course of a

day, deriving particular satisfaction in finding beauty in ugliness. This aspect resonates with viewers. As Sydney O. Jenkins, director of the Ramapo College Art Galleries in Mahwah, New Jersey, puts it: “I have often said that one of my favorite kinds of art deals with things you see everyday and transforms the experience into something compelling. I think Jim's work does that. Besides being formally strong, his imagery can make me think again about what I've seen hundreds of times. By this, I mean his skillfully composed and executed paintings lift ‘generic’ Tidewater subject matter into the realm of the poetic.” Indeed, what many might consider an eyesore—a landfill, a construction site, machinery­—Jones sees as rich visual fodder where light, atmosphere or compositional elements can be particularly compelling. “For me, though, there is a certain order or relation-

ship between the shapes, volumes, values or colors that attracts my eye. It might be the way the sunlight creates a pattern of light and shadow, an atmospheric condition, or a mood which it evokes in me. It is almost always about the abstract quality, the way all the parts fit together in an interesting way. Finding or creating a unified design, a harmonious composition in that subject, is one of the most important aspects of my painting.” When he finds something that appeals to him, he tends to paint variations on the theme over and over. The actual painting process can proceed for days, weeks or months, depending on the size of the painting and the complexity of the subject. Photographs play a big role in his

Above: "Red Zinger," acrylic. Below, from left: "Reflections," acrylic; James Warwick Jones outside his home.

work (Jones reckons he must have taken a good 10,000 photographs in the past 50 years), which he uses as reference material during the painting process. Once back in the studio, he crops the photographs using a paper viewfinder, focusing on a portion that is the most interesting while moving the viewfinder to manipulate the design possibilities. “Once I am

satisfied with this stage, I consider how else I might change the image. Almost always, I depart from the photograph by eliminating, changing or adding some element or adjusting the color, value or spatial relationships. At the end of this process of observing, photographing, cropping and editing, if I am still inspired or motivated to create a painting, I am ready to move on to the next phase.” His goal is not to produce a typical representation of something but to produce work that is mostly about light, composition and design. It is this introduction of artifice to his photorealist style that makes his work interesting. You never lose sight of the fact that you are looking at a two-dimensional painting created by an artist as

opposed to a verbatim representation of reality. Of the three hats he wears— overseeing the Charles H. Taylor Arts Center gallery, painting and teaching—teaching is his favorite. “If I could do only one of them, I would teach even above painting. Painting is a very solitary pursuit.” He enjoys interacting with students, who run the gamut from retirees to high school kids. As befits a teacher, Jones is kindly and articulate, and sports a salt and pepper Van Dyke beard. He describes himself as a quiet, introspective person and, indeed, there is a stillness and quietude about his work. Favoring an earthy palette, Jones works primarily in acrylic, though his formal training was in oil; he does a handful of watercolors each year, primarily so he can participate in the annual Virginia Watercolor Society show. He prefers to work on a fairly small scale, but some subjects seem to require a larger format, and he has completed a couple of large commissions. Jones did a lot of figure painting in art school, but the figure is largely absent from his work, although often the presence of man is suggested by the subject or environment, as if someone may have just left the scene. “Artists find what attracts them, what they’re good at,” Jones says. For him, it’s landscape, whether manmade or natural, his personal connection to it and the opportunity to experiment with the formal aspects of the painting, namely light and composition. The end result is work that goes above and beyond doctrinaire representation. V i r g i n i a

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10/27/11 9:17 AM

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Events december 2011


Star of Wonder: Mystery of the Christmas Star, Virginia Living Museum, Newport News, 757595-1900,

Around the State

NOVEMBER 25-27 30th Annual Virginia Beach Christmas Market, Virginia Beach Convention Center, Virginia Beach, 757-417-7771, NOVEMBER 26-DECEMBER 24

Flying High NOVEMBER 16 National

Acrobats of the People’s Republic of China, Hylton Performing Arts Center, Manassas, 888-9452468,

festivals NOVEMBER 16 Shriner’s Seafood

Festival, Golden Leaf Warehouse, South Hill, 434-372-5747 NOVEMBER 17 Annual Writ-

ers’ Harvest Reading, Hollins University, Roanoke, 540-3626451, NOVEMBER 19 Thomas Jefferson

Wine Festival, Thomas Jefferson’s Poplar Forest, Forest, 434-5251806,

DECEMBER 3 Watermen’s

Museum Oyster Roast, Watermen’s Museum, Yorktown, 757-887-2641

“Glory Bea! A Shenandoah Valley Christmas Story," Wayside Theatre, Middletown, 540-869-1776, DECEMBER 1-31 Winter Wonder-

land—The Coleman Collection, Courthouse Galleries, Portsmouth, 757-393-8543,

DECEMBER 2 Jingle Bell Jamboree at the Rives Theatre, Rives Theatre, Martinsville, DECEMBER 10 Wreaths Across America Ceremony, Old City Cemetery, Lynchburg, 434-8471465, DECEMBER 10-11 “Christmas in

Brilliant Boats

DECEMBER 3 Yorktown Lighted Boat Parade, Yorktown Waterfront. Festively decorated sail and power boats

gather for a floating parade of lights. 757-890-4970 or




DECEMBER 9 American Festival

NOVEMBER 19 Coliseum

Luminaries, Downtown Buchanan, Buchanan, 540-254-1212,

DECEMBER 10-11 41st Annual Candlelight Tour, Historic Fredericksburg Foundation, Fredericksburg, 540-371-4504,

DECEMBER 31 Hogmanay:

DECEMBER 10-11 The Fan District

DECEMBER 18 Chamber Music

the Country,” Historic Brownsburg, Brownsburg, 540-348-1600,

DECEMBER 24 Christmas Eve

A Scottish New Year Celebration, Colonial Williamsburg, Williamsburg, 757-220-1000,

Holiday Harmonies DECEMBER 14 Vienna Boys Choir: Christmas in Vienna, Town Center,

Virginia Beach, 757-385-2787,

Pops Orchestra, George Mason University’s Center for the Arts, Fairfax, 888-945-2468,

Holiday House Tour, Richmond,

Concert, St. George’s Episcopal Church, Fredericksburg, 540-3734133,



NOVEMBER 19 "Smithsonian at

Little Washington,” The Theatre at Washington, Little Washington, 540-675-1253,

NOVEMBER 19-March 11 Mummy:

NOVEMBER 20 “My Fair Lady,”

DECEMBER 3-February 26 Love

Roanoke Performing Arts Center, Roanoke, 540-853-5483, NOVEMBER 25 Virginia Opera

Presents “Hansel & Gretel,” Carpenter Theatre at Richmond CenterStage, Richmond, 804-5923330,

DECEMBER 8-11 Waynesboro

Players Present “Scrooge—The Musical,” Waynesboro High School Louis Spilman Auditorium, Waynesboro, 540-949-8842,

Secrets of the Tomb, Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, Richmond, VMFA. Museum

and War: Masterpieces of Renaissance and Baroque Painting from the Lauro Collection, Muscarelle Museum of Art, Williamsburg, 757221-2700,


White: Empathy and Engagement, the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum at Hollins University, Roanoke, 540-362-6532,


Community Collects: From Durer to Warhol and Beyond, Chrysler Museum of Art, Norfolk, 757-6446200,

Central Holiday Parade, Peninsula Town Center, Hampton,

DECEMBER 3 Old Fashioned

Christmas Parade in Chincoteague, Main Street, Chincoteague Island, 757-336-6161,

DeCEMBER 10 Toyland Parade, Riverwalk Landing, York County, 757-890-3500,

benefits NOVEMBER 19 Jefferson

Thanksgiving Ball and Holiday Show, Omni Hotel Ballroom, Charlottesville, 434-978-4466,

NOVEMBER 19 Southwest Virginia Ballet’s Nutcracker Ball, The Hotel Roanoke Crystal Ballroom, Roanoke, 540-387-3978 DECEMBER 10 Gadino Cellars

Food Pantry Fundraiser, Gadino Cellars Winery, Little Washington, 540-987-9292, DECEMBER 17-18 Colonial Christmas at Berkeley Plantation, Berkeley Plantation, Charles City, V i r g i n i a

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Chesapeake The Aerial Photography of Cameron Davidson With text by David Fahrenthold

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The Blue Ridge Palace of Love and Good Vibrations. By Brooke C. Stoddard

So the story goes, the penniless Confederate soldier, so badly wounded early in the war that he was relegated to the ordnance department in Staunton, met a young belle from an old Virginia family. They picnicked on Afton Mountain where the young woman could gaze over Piedmont and Valley. The soldier said he would build her a house there. Despite the objections of the belle’s Episcopal parents that the young man was Irish Catholic, she married him in the home of her sister in Staunton four years after the war ended. If the story about the young lovers is true, 40 years later the former Confederate began living up to his promise. At the top of the Blue Ridge, straddling Augusta and Nelson counties, multimillionaire James Dooley described his vision of a summer home for his wife, the former Sallie May. It would become perhaps the most expensive and elaborate home in the state, employing 300 craftsmen over two years. (Construction ended in 1913.) Sallie, depicted among flowers in a 4,000piece Tiffany window above the grand marble staircase, loved swans because they mated for life. So the Dooleys called the home Swannanoa,

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and despite its passing from the Dooley family in the 1920s, the home still stands tall on Afton Mountain, having coursed a history as rare, even as bizarre, as its inception. James Dooley was second generation Irish. His father and mother immigrated in the 1830s and settled in Richmond. James studied—very ably—at Georgetown College in Washington, D.C., receiving an A.B. degree just before war broke out in 1861. In August, at age 20, he volunteered for the Confederate Army and was assigned to Company C, First Virginia Regiment. He served as a private until he was shot in the right wrist during the May 1862 Battle of

Williamsburg. With a partly incapacitated forearm, he was then made a lieutenant in the ordnance department in Staunton. After Lee’s surrender at Appomattox, Dooley returned to Georgetown to study for a master’s degree, then began to read law with prominent Richmond lawyers William Green and Charles Crane. Though Richmond was practically prostrate in those years, it was fertile ground for a young man with energy, ambition and brains. By 1870, Dooley had set his sights on the legislature and was elected a delegate. Dooley was particularly interested in transportation and real estate.

Leaving his work as a politician, he took up railroading. If you were good at it in the Gilded Age, railroading was very profitable, and “Major” Dooley, as Richmonders tended to call him by then— although he had never achieved that rank—was very good at it. By 1886, he was a millionaire and president of the Richmond & Danville Railroad. With Sallie, he bought land west of the city, then built an estate and mansion there called Maymont in Sallie’s honor. In 1899, Dooley retired from the law and finally devoted some time to his old promise to his wife to build a home on beautiful Afton Mountain. What he had in mind for the Dooley “summer home” was modeled on Rome’s 16th-century Villa Medici. Little expense was to be spared. The Dooleys hired Richmond architects Baskerville & Noland who toiled over the project for eight years. Stone cutters, wood carvers, plasterers and more set tons of white Georgia marble cut for the Italianatestyle mansion and embellished the rooms. Mules hauled heavy stonework up the mountain grade and terraced gardens were built, all to the tune of about $2 million. (Some C o n tr i b u t e d p h o t o s

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plumbing fixtures were gold.) Carrara marble, teakwood paneling, coffered ceilings and a grand marble stairway graced the interior. The Tiffany window cost $100,000 (a stonecutter then made about $1,200 a year) and is the image of St. Cecilia in a garden, though many would say the saint has Sallie’s face. By the time the mansion was completed in 1913, the Dooleys were advanced in years. James died in 1924, leaving $3 million to St. Joseph’s Orphanage (now St. Joseph’s Villa) in Richmond. Sallie died in 1926, leaving Maymont to the City of Richmond and $500,000 to the Richmond Public Library. The Dooleys were childless, so Sallie willed Swannanoa to her deceased husband’s two sisters. The sisters sold Swannanoa almost immediately for $300,000 cash to a consortium of successful businessmen called the Valley Corporation, which planned to use the mansion as the centerpiece for a country club. They built a fine 18-hole golf course. In 1928, President Calvin Coolidge visited over Thanksgiving week and was much taken with the place. He asked Congress to purchase the mansion as a summer home for U. S. presidents; the Congress refused by two votes. The Valley Corporation sank $500,000 into creating the country club and opened it in 1929. Their timing, of course, could not have been worse. The Depression skewered disposable income. The Valley Corporation sold the property back to the shareholders over a period of years beginning in 1932, recouping just $125,000. Swannanoa then began a string of years of sitting empty. After Pearl Harbor, the Navy considered buying it to house notable prisoners of war whose rooms would be secretly wired with listening devices. But, fearful that Congress again would object, the Navy gave that job instead to Fort Hunt, a spartan camp near George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Swannanoa’s unused years stretched well into World War II. Then, in 1944, a consortium called Skyline Swannanoa, led by Charlottesville businessman A. T. Dulaney, bought the place for $60,100. (It was, by that time, in a state of some decrepitude.) Dulaney gave tours beginning that year, with vague notions of development in his mind. Though he was then unaware, the marble mansion was about to be subsumed in “Universal Law.” Perhaps mysterious cosmic oddity attracts cosmic oddity. In any event, in 1948, up to Swannanoa drove polymath Walter Russell and his new English wife, Daisy Cook Stebbins, who were looking for

a home for Russell’s art and cosmic consciousness center. Russell, then 77, emerged from the car and walked toward the mansion, but Daisy, then 44, turned toward the view of the valley below. It was, she related later, what she had “seen” two years before, just after an “outof-body” experience in which she “pulsed with God’s electric universe.” During that mystic event, she envisioned herself on a mountaintop looking down on a beautiful valley “with a glorious figure of Christ behind me, his hands on my shoulders.” That was enough persuasion for Russell, and the couple began negotiating for Swannanoa. The purchase price was too high, but they could afford a lease, and they began at once to set up the Walter Russell Foundation, which later changed its name to the University of Science and Philosophy. Swannanoa was the home of Russell’s New Age nexus for the next 50 years. Russell himself was notorious. Having left school at age nine in 1880, he educated himself, and in 1926 predicted the existence of deuterium (an isotope of hydrogen), which was not detected until 1931, as well as the element plutonium. In addition, he was a notable sculptor, artist, author and lecturer. He was a friend of Thomas Watson Sr., founder of IBM, and was admired by electromagnetism innovator Nikola Tesla. Daisy, too, was a marvel. Born to a middle class English family, she created the country’s largest mail-order beauty business in the 1920s. Her products included bust enhancement creams, and pills called Slimettes for losing weight. The federal government shut down her extension into the U.S. in the 1930s for unsubstantiated advertising claims. She then took increasingly to spiritual reading. When she met Walter Russell in 1946, she told him she had met “her soul mate.” They wed in 1948 and went in search of a spiritual home, which they found in the Italianate marble palace beside the Blue Ridge Parkway. Together Walter Russell and Daisy—who had changed her name to Lao in honor of Lao Tzu, author of the Tao Te Ching, an ancient Chinese text on Taoism—created their Course in Cosmic Consciousness—a home study regimen of books and articles they wrote. “The Law of Love is a rhythmic, balanced interchange between all things,” Russell had penned in 1926 in one of his books called The Universal One, which is emblematic of his creed. The Russells erected a statue of Jesus in the garden and, in celebration of refurbishing the mansion, former Governor Colgate Darden helped

Facing page, clockwise from top left: Tiffany window; fireplace with Carrara marble embellishments; staircase. This page, top: Baronial Hall; bottom: completed in 1913, Swannanoa was, for many years, home to the University of Science and Philosophy.

the Russells reopen Swannanoa in 1949. Adherents from around the world—including Gloria Swanson in the 1950s—took the Cosmic Consciousness course and visited the marble mansion. Born of love in the Civil War, Swannanoa was now a locus of love for the whole world. Though Russell died in 1963, Lao kept renewing the lease on Swannanoa and wrote her own New Age books: Love, and God Works with You but Not for You. Admirers and acolytes made pilgrimages to the mountain: John Denver, Dennis Weaver, Shirley MacLaine, Art Linkletter, Eddie Albert and more visited as Lao soldiered on through the hippie era in the 1970s, and then the Reagan years. She blossomed into the mistress of Swannanoa, the smiling, cheerful advocate of love and harmony who

guided visitors through the marble halls, one step ahead of faltering mortar joints and leaking roofs. She died at age 84 in 1988, the day after a massive solar flare: Followers would have said her passing was linked to a cosmic event. Later that year, the University of Science and Philosophy moved out. Love and cosmic consciousness cannot hold mortar joints, and the grand old dame requires massive repairs, which likely will take years. Today the Dulaney family again is custodian of the towered Italianate manse. They plan to make it a center for conferences and events, and a bed and breakfast, and they hold open houses several times a year. Head held high on its mountaintop, Swannanoa glides like the swan she is into the future. • V i r g i n i a

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Grandma Moses broke the glass ceiling from down on the farm. By gary robertson

Long before the women’s movement and long before the world knew her as Grandma Moses, Anna Mary Robertson Moses—the prolific American primitive painter who took up painting in her 70s and became a media sensation in the mid-20th century—was a pioneering entrepreneur and businesswoman in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. As the 50th anniversary of Grandma Moses’ death approaches in December, a small group of Augusta County residents are trying to save Mount Airy—an aging farmhouse set on a windswept knoll, which was the first house that Grandma Moses ever owned—and to chronicle for posterity the busy 18 years that she and her husband spent in the area from 1887 to 1905, rising from tenant farmers to middle-class property owners. Immediately following their wedding in New York State in 1887, the 27-year-old Anna, and Thomas,

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25, boarded a train and headed toward North Carolina where Thomas expected to have a job waiting for him on a horse ranch. The couple, however, took the wrong train out of Washington, D.C., and had to spend the night in Strasburg, Virginia, amid the company of boisterous deer hunters who occupied the inn where the couple was staying. When Anna and Thomas arrived in Staunton the next day, Anna was tired from the sleepless night and wanted to rest before they resumed

their trip on Monday, so she and Thomas found a boarding house and took a room. While Anna was resting, Thomas went out looking for shaving supplies. He returned with much more. He had received an offer to rent a farm of approximately 100 acres just outside Staunton, near the hamlet of Swoope. The farm’s current tenants were former teachers and intended to return to the profession. Anna agreed that they should rent the farm, and so the couple abandoned their plans for North Carolina. The “Bell Farm” became the

Grandma Moses Painting Outside. Copyright © 1952 (renewed 1980) Grandma Moses Properties., New York

Pioneering Woman

couple’s first home in the area. They had arrived with $630 between them, saved from her 15 years of work as a companion to the elderly and his lifelong work as a farm hand. The couple bought livestock—cows, a team of horses, and chickens—and spent the next year selling their produce and milk in Staunton. In May 1888, Anna had what she called “some good churnings” and began producing what would later become her highly prized butter—prominently imprinted with “Moses”—from a recipe she had brought with her from New York. At that time, locally-made butter was selling for 8 cents a pound, but Anna’s butter was in such high demand owing to its superior flavor and consistency that she sold hers for 12 cents. A local merchant who seemed to be poking fun at Anna’s Northern heritage dubbed it “Yankee” butter. She would wrap her rolls of butter in her best linen napkins, place them in new milk pans and cover them in wet burdock leaves to protect them from the heat. Demand for Anna’s butter grew quickly. J. Wellington Spitler, the Staunton merchant who was paying Anna 12 cents a pound for the butter, soon increased the payment to 15 cents because his customers were clamoring for it. Then Spitler’s wife, the daughter of prominent farmer Christian E. Eakle, helped put Anna on the road to even higher profits. When her father sampled the butter, he offered to pay Anna 50 cents a pound if she and Thomas would lease his 605-acre “Belvidere Farm” on the South River. Eakle had an eager customer for Anna’s butter waiting in the wings—his brother Benjamin E. Eakle, superintendent of the upscale White Sulphur Springs Resort in Greenbrier, West Virginia. The couple moved to Belvidere in November 1888. According to Anna Moses’ own estimate, she was soon producing about 160 pounds of butter a week at Belvidere. By one calculation, her annual income from butter sales exceeded $3,000. (The annual wage for industrial workers then ranged from $380 to $435.) “This would have been a huge income for that era,” explains Franklin Johnston, a former industrial troubleshooter now living in Staunton who has used deed books, death certificates, local histories and Grandma Moses’ memoir to help construct a record of the years that the artist and her family spent in Virginia. At Belvidere, Anna grew busy helping her husband with his twice weekly trips to the market in Staunton where he sold their produce

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Grandma Moses: Moving Day on the Farm (K965) Copyright © 1951 (renewed 1979) Grandma Moses Properties., New York


during the growing season, and giving birth to two children: Winona, on Dec. 2, 1888, and Loyd, exactly three years later, on Dec. 2, 1891. In the mid-1890s, Anna—then two months pregnant—and her husband were forced to move from Belvidere when the owner fell into debt and the property had to be sold at public auction, reflecting the dire economic downturn that was sweeping the country. They set up housekeeping at “Dudley Farm,” which comprised 374 acres on Middle River. Anna gave birth there to a son, Forrest, on May 17, 1893, and to a daughter, Anna, two years later, on Aug. 28, 1895. The Moses’ lease on Dudley Farm required them to pay a year’s rent of $700 in advance, which was an enormous sum for the day. But the couple had saved that much in cash, attesting to their hard work, and what Grandma Moses would often refer to as her “Scotch thrift.” The Dudley Farm was not equipped for large-scale butter production, so Anna and Thomas turned to milk production instead, which required Anna to wash 60 to 100 bottles a day to keep up with Thomas’ growing milk route. They remained at Dudley Farm for six years, until the owner decided to reoccupy the property. This time the couple decided to buy instead of rent and paid $6,000 to purchase Mount Airy, a 177-acre farm in Augusta County, finally settling into the first home of their own. The focal point of the farm was a circa 1830, two-story farmhouse erected with handmade bricks and featuring chimneys at each end. Anna’s last child, Hugh Worthington Moses, was born at Mount Airy on Aug. 30, 1900. The family did not live at Mount Airy long—less than two years— because Thomas was growing restless to return to New York State. Anna wanted to remain in what she termed “that beautiful Shenandoah Valley,” because all of her 10 children—her “little rebels” as she called them—had been born there. One lived only six weeks, and four others were stillborn. They are buried in the Laurel Hill Baptist Church cemetery in Augusta County, under a tombstone inscribed, “Moses Babies.” As Anna and Thomas began making plans for their return to New York in 1902, their first step was to sell Mount Airy. They realized an 18 percent return on their investment and added to their growing nest egg, according to Johnston. The couple had planned to rent rooms in Staunton as they settled their affairs, bought winter clothing for the children and prepared for the return north. But they could find no

accommodations because Staunton was then, as it is now, a busy college town, and students and teachers had spoken for all the available rooms. Anna and Thomas, somewhat reluctantly, then purchased a 20acre farm within what are now the Staunton city limits. They would live there for about three years, from September 1902 until December 1905. A postal worker who was staying with the couple named the farm Mount Nebo after the place from which Moses (the biblical character)

Her production soon increased from one pound per week to 10 pounds, and subsequently to barrels of potato chips. Profits from butter and potato chips, born of her ability to create markets for products that had no following until she introduced them, permitted Anna to create a degree of wealth largely unknown by farm wives of the time. “There is a lingering myth that the Moses family was a poor rural family. In fact, Anna was atypical in what she accomplished as a rural entrepreneur

time of their departure, the couple had accumulated enough household goods, including a cow and a coop of chickens, to fill a railroad car. They bought a dairy farm in Eagle Bridge, New York, where Thomas would later die of a heart attack in 1927. Grandma Moses remained a widow for the next three decades. In her 70s, years after Anna had returned to New York State, she began creating the endearing primitive paintings of rural life that made her famous around the world. But she still remembered her friends and neighbors in Augusta County with visits and letters. Nancy Sorrells, a member of the Augusta County Board of Supervisors and presidentelect of the Augusta County Historical Society, has pushed for years for formal recognition of Grandma Moses’ life in the area and the preservation of Mount Airy. Sorrells says Mount Airy, located on land occupied by the Augusta County Government Center in Verona, has been stabilized for now, and she is hopeful that a longterm plan can be created for preserving it. “We are working to develop agritourism in the county, and Grandma Moses and Mount Airy would fit right in.” It is believed that about 40 of Grandma

“Anna was atypical in what she accomplished as a rural entrepreneur at the end of an age when women were expected to stay home, do their chores, raise the kids and leave matters of business to the men.” departed. One of Anna’s most famous paintings, “Moving Day on the Farm,” was her memory of Mount Nebo. During the years they lived at Mount Nebo, Thomas hired himself out to manage a nearby farm, and Anna launched another business, this time in potato chips. Potato chips originated in Saratoga Springs, New York, and it’s probable that Anna sampled them as a young woman, perhaps at a county fair. She learned how to make them, and her potato chips—like her butter—caused a sensation in Staunton and beyond. She began selling them for 25 cents a pound but, within days of their introduction, the price reached 30 cents a pound.

at the end of an age when women were expected to stay home, do their chores, raise the kids and leave matters of business to the men,” Johnston says. “A realistic appraisal of what Anna Moses really accomplished can be lost in focusing only upon her life after she was famous.” Anna probably could have earned a nice living either from an expanded potato chip business or a return to making Yankee butter had she remained in the Augusta County area. But the couple left in 1905, as Thomas’ homesickness grew worse. By the

Moses’ paintings were drawn from her memories of her life in the Shenandoah Valley. The State of Virginia recently agreed to place a historical highway marker near Mount Airy to commemorate the artist’s years in the Commonwealth. Reminiscing in later life, Grandma Moses expressed a wistful longing for the area where she came as a young bride, gave birth to her children and established herself as a successful businesswoman. “Give me the Shenandoah Valley every time,” she said. •

Facing page: Grandma Moses painting, outside her home in Eaglebridge, New York, 1946. This page: “Moving Day on the Farm” (1951) by Grandma Moses. V i r g i n i a

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A Soupçon of Spectacular The Spanish have tapas; the Chinese, dim sum. Italians have piattini and Greeks, the mezze. What does American cuisine have to offer as a match? Increasingly, the answer is small plates. by Lisa Antonelli Bacon

So you want the Dover Sole Amandine, but a whole fillet is more than you’re angling for, not to mention the attendant sides. Maybe you can’t make up your mind between the Pork Veronique and the grilled lamb chops. Or maybe you want to experiment with four or five dishes and a glass of wine without having to spend all night doing it and paying a hefty bill at the end. If you eat out four to five times a week, as the National Restaurant Association estimates Americans do, routine can become the enemy. Small plates are the universal antidote. B.J. Stone of Stone’s Cove Kitbar in Herndon says grazing has become the norm for people who love to eat. “Smaller plates in a grazing environment allow people more choices for a broader experience.” Stone defines the small plate as smaller than an appetizer, larger than tapas. (Hence, his menu heading, “Appetapas.”) He even set up his restaurant to be conducive to the small plate experience. Tables surround a cooking station, manned by a “cheftender” who does everything from cooking and presen-

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tation to serving cocktails and wine. It’s sort of like eating in a friend’s kitchen, where the host whips up dishes and drinks in front of you and then hands you the finished results. For the diner, cost is one incentive for the grazing experience. The price of a small plate—usually 30 to 50 percent cheaper than an entrée— allows diners to try something normally out of their budget range. “They’re getting a high-end product, but it’s affordable,” says Owen Lane, chef and co-owner of The Magpie

in Richmond. His Corn Dog Lobster Tail (breaded, fried and served on a stick with coconut tomato and horseradish mango sauces) is a popular example, priced at just $15—a paltry sum when compared to the market price of a full lobster dinner. Granted, the average $10 to $12 price tag per plate can hamstring the lone grazer, but remember, like tapas, mezze, dim sum or piattini, small plates are meant for sharing; likewise, the tab. While cost and the diversity of

options make the small plate appealing, its hallmark is the extraordinary combinations of ingredients that you just don’t get when you order an entrée with sides. A good small plate offers “an ensemble of flavors,” says Stone. Sure, the Kitbar offers an economical steak dinner (seared Flat Iron marinated with roasted vegetables and Stone’s horseradish sauce for $13) and an equally conservatively-priced ovenroasted Wild Salmon Fillet (with asparagus, lemon butter and cornsmoked tomato salsa for $11). But as scrumptious as they sound, if you really want your dining experience to “pop,” Stone says, turn your attention to small plates. His Blue Crab Margarita Wraps are interesting, with avocado and red onion. But what makes them really sparkle? “Almonds with lime sugar,” he says. “It’s an explosion of flavors.” Likewise, the Kitbar’s Lobster Cones, for instance, feature Chipotle Lobster Salad with basil, guacamole and tomatoes in a (pop!) black sesame cone for $10. For Meghan Gill, executive chef at Pomegranate in Troutville, balance is an integral part of the small plate. “You want to awaken your palate,” she says, “not overwhelm it.” Gill balances textures and tastes in her dishes. A Parmesan Basil Pesto is a nice foil for the creamy softness of her Ricotta Gnocchi. And a salty bleu cheese cream is the perfect counter-

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point for the sweetness of her Ruby Red Beets. “The cream isn’t as salty as bleu cheese,” she explains. “The walnut dressing brings it down a bit.” And the pop? Spiced candied walnuts. “You have crunchy, creamy, sweetness from the beets and saltiness from the bleu cheese cream.” All bases covered. Chefs, too, appreciate the latitude of creativity of the small plate menu. “They’re more intricate,” says Gill. “I like to put a lot of finesse into the food.” And the combinations are usually the imprimatur of each chef and not found on others’ menus. Lane, who estimates that small plates make up about 50 percent of The Magpie’s business, thinks no limb is too far to go out on. “A small plate menu allows us to be more daring,” says Lane’s partner Tiffany Gellner. “People don’t want to commit to [paying a lot for] something and then be disappointed.” The degree of creativity is all in the hands of the chef, and no selfrespecting chef will rip off another. Sometimes that means getting online and checking out menus at other restaurants to make sure they’re not duplicating someone else’s creation. “I’ll look online and see something I’d already thought of, so I don’t use it,” says T.J. Hamilton, executive chef for The Green Onion, with locations in Norfolk and Virginia Beach. “Or I’ll

While cost and the diversity of options make the small plate appealing, its hallmark is the extraordinary combinations of ingredients that you just don’t get when you order an entrée with sides. find something and figure out a way to make it our own.” Rarely, if ever, will you see a small plate replicated by another restaurant. Hamilton’s signature is to take a classic and “twist it on its side.” His version of Oysters Rockefeller, for instance, takes all the ingredients (spinach, parmesan and bacon) and mixes them in a cream sauce, which then dresses fried oysters. His Chipotle Aioli is a riff on the traditional Russian dressing: mayonnaise, catsup, cornichons and chipotle powder. Supplanting the classic Caprese Salad is Hamilton’s Griddled Houlimi (a cheese that doesn’t decompensate when heated), stacked with tomatoes, fresh basil and a balsamic reduction. In fact, small plate offerings tend to be so richly creative and so creatively rich that an entrée-sized version might be more than the average constitution can handle. For instance, the mere description of Gill’s Diver Scallops triggers the salivary glands. First the scallops are soaked in apple juice. Then they’re

paired with Napa cabbage braised in a bacon buerre blanc. But the ensemble could go from heartwarming to heartburn when sized for a large plate. “It’s too rich for an entrée,” Gill says. In scaled-down portions, small plates afford all the pleasure with none of the threat. Another advantage to the restaurant serving small plates is the fact that there is little waste involved. In fact, chefs often find creative ways to incorporate the “extra” ingredients from another dish into a small plate creation. “I break down beef tenderloins into 8-ounce steaks and use the rest in my filet mignon kebabs,” says Gill. Instead of turning it into that old standby—beef

tips—she adds a non-traditional Chimichurri sauce to make it her own. And the crowd hurrahs. “I don’t think I can take that one off the menu,” she says. While small plates have become an important component of dining out and chefs are reveling in experimentation, there is, alas, a downside for the clientele. Just as there is no waste in the kitchen, the same is true at the table. Sorry. No doggie bags. •

Facing page: Lobster Cones and Ahi Tuna at Stone's Cove Kitbar in Herndon. Below: Steak and Egg from The Magpie in Richmond. Right: Diver Scallops from Pomegranate in Troutville.

Think you may have a big appetite for small plates? Get a taste at the following restaurants: THE GREEN ONION Virginia Beach, 757-248-3474 Norfolk, 757-963-1200 THE MAGPIE Richmond, 804-269-0023 POMEGRANATE Troutville, 540-966-6052 STONE’S COVE KITBAR Herndon, 703-434-3615

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Nomading Mongolia In the 13th century, Genghis Khan united the nomadic tribes of northeast Asia and founded the Mongol Empire. Today, Mongolia is a post-Soviet democracy where modern cities exist alongside mountainous terrain inhabited by nomads. Tricia Pearsall joined the latter, and journeyed across the Kharkhiraa Mountains via camel.

Hiring a camel man was absolutely essential to trekking in western Mongolia’s Kharkhiraa Mountains, and he had to be a nice camel man, according to my flamboyant twenty-something college student guide-cum-cook, Shinee (pronounced she-nay): “Our last camel man was lazy, not nice, not good.” Shinee was our trip liaison with Happy Camel Tours and Expeditions, the company I’d booked for the month-long adventure I was taking with my friend, Sigrid. For the first two weeks, we had zigzagged a more or less prescribed tourist route westward across the roadless steppes of Mongolia in the bouncy comfort of a Land Cruiser—owned and operated by Erka, our perpetually jolly Mongolian road jockey whose beaming grin seemed etched into his middleaged face. Now, we were about to trek into the Kharkhiraa range, but no longer had a route plan or a local guide. This was unscripted nomading Mongolia. 62 |

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From Ulaangom, the capital of Uvs aimag (province), Erka drove us south to Tarialan, a small sum (administrative center) at the head of the Kharkhiraa Valley. We stopped in front of a one-floor, two-window, white box of a building—a leftover from Mongolia’s Soviet-era—and in strutted Shinee (clad in black tights overlaid with red socks, tie-up red leather sneakers and une petite skirt just dusting her derrière) to speak to the local magistrate. She emerged an hour later with a skinny man in knee-high work boots, and introduced him as the head of the local communist party (still a vital force in Mongolia, despite the nation’s fledgling democracy). “He’ll take us to a nice family man, who’ll find us a nice camel man,” Shinee explained. Fifteen miles later, Erka deposited us and our

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gear at the solitary, solar-paneled ger (a large, circular, white-felted yurt) of the nice family man, Salbaa, a stout, ruddy bloke in black boots. He’d hunt for a pack camel guide, but tomorrow. Finding one at the end of August wouldn’t be easy, Shinee told us, as most were moving their own families, gers and herds from the high mountains where they spent the summer, or were out harvesting hay in anticipation of the upcoming winter. Last winter’s dzud (a catastrophic, killer cold, which has been happening every five to six years due to climate change) had wiped out over 12 million sheep, goats, horses, camels, cows and yaks in Mongolia. Proper preparation could mean life over death in this relentlessly harsh environment.

When Erka left to return to Ulaanbaatar, we gathered inside Salbaa’s ger with his wife, sons, daughter, neighbors and his blind grandmother. The men sat together at the back politely exchanging snuff bottles while we were offered a bowl of airag (fermented mare’s milk), the national beverage of Mongolia. Shinee took the bowl, dipped her middle finger into it and flicked a drop up to the sky, one out to the air and one down to the ground. She then tapped her forehead before imbibing. This offering to the blue sky, wind and earth—all considered gods by Mongolians—is

based in part on tradition, superstition and shamanism, as well as resurgent Buddhism. I opted to drink salty milk tea while we grazed on plates of aarul (dried curds) and boortsog (fried pastry), trying our best to observe the rules for impeccable Mongolian manners—balancing the tea bowl and eating with the right hand only, while sitting on the carpeted ground with our feet turned away from the others and nodding bayarlalaa (thank you). By my third or fourth ger visit, I felt fairly proficient at this etiquette dance. Mongolian hospitality is legendary, but we found it especially

Facing page: Family caravan heading to Ulaangom. This page, clockwise from top left: Erdene Zuu temple; Kazakh nomad preparing tea; Kazakh eagle hunter; ancient deer stone. V i r g i n i a

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This page, clockwise from top left: Inside a ger; Erdene Zuu blue prayer scarves; Ochiroo’s tired camel; Mongolian food, and treasures left at an Ovoo; Ochiroo on horse in Kharkhiraa Mountains.

abundant and sincere in these mountains. As the heavy golden sun spread a deep shadow, we pitched our tent near the nice family’s ger, and were surrounded at nightfall by the 800 sheep, goats and camels of Salbaa’s original herd of 2,000 that survived the last dzud. The next morning we met Ochiroo—the camel man Salbaa engaged­­—a seasoned herder in his late 30s with an impish twinkle in his eye who lived three or four miles across the steppe at the base of the mountains. He’d never worked with a tourist or trekker before, but had two sturdy pack camels with full humps, knew every inch of these ranges, and everyone in them, and seemed to be an extremely gracious gentleman. Before we set out, we stopped at Ochiroo’s ger to meet his wife and four children and, naturally, share his yogurt and freshly-boiled sheep. Then up the hill we traipsed to be introduced to his sister and her family of five. More yogurt and fried pastry awaited us there. I’d been designated family portrait photographer, so the kids wiped at their noses and faces and put on clean shirts, while the

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brother-in-law polished his motorcycle—a prized possession. Snap. Finally, we hit the trail on foot into the mountains—Ochiroo on his horse, and Shinee hiking in her red shoes. For six days, we followed Ochiroo—looking rakish in his brown satin del (long tunic) girded with a lime green sash, the brim of his white open-weave cowboy hat cocked to one side—as he blazed an uncharted, remote circuit up and over passes, down into steep gorges, across barren steppes of every earth tone from crimson to ochre. The land reaped nothing but the bones of dead sheep and camels, victims of the dzud. We crossed the melt-rushing Kharkhiraa River first by horse, then again on camel, and stopped at every ger along the way for salt tea or homemade vodka. We trekked around ancient Bronze Age burial mounds, circled ovoos three times in keeping with custom and added rocks to these sacred piles of stones and wood, which were laden with khadags (blue scarves) and sacrificial offerings of money, sweets or abandoned crutches, which signify

healing. Hailstorms produced heavy snow on the peaks—signs of winter—as camels carried all the worldly possessions of families migrating from lofty summer grazing grounds to autumn pastures nestled amid the steppes. Even in transit, these nomads would stop and offer us tea as we passed by, and at night, a few came and squatted outside our tent door to give us the once-over, stare and smile. When Salbaa’s gray van—a Russian relic called a Furgon—crested the hill to collect us at the end of this part of the journey, I wasn’t prepared for this spontaneous slice of honest Mongolia to end. But it was time for our drive westward to Mongolia’s Kazakh province, Bayun-Ölgii, and the Altai Mountains’ Tavan Bogd National Park. Except for the capital, Ulaanbaatar, and a few small provincial cities, Mongolia is naked, forever-rolling plains broken by huge salt and freshwater lakes with the Gobi Desert to the south, Siberian forests along the northern border, and high-peak glaciered mountains to the west. The greatness of this land and the way

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“Even in transit, these nomads would stop and offer us tea as we passed by, and at night, a few came and squatted outside our tent door to give us the once-over, stare and smile.” Mongolians, nomads in particular, revere and own all of it, yet individually own none of it, explains in some part the resurgence of almost mythical veneration for the young herder, Temujin, who, in 1206, started uniting all the disparate tribes under one realm. As Genghis Khan (a title that means the Great Khan), he amassed the largest contiguous territorial conquest in world history, the Mongol Empire. Utilizing that spirit, as evidenced by the hundreds of stylized Genghis Khan banners waving throughout the country, the government hopes to lift up the new Mongolian democracy from the ravages of the tortured, repressive communist state, the former Mongolia People’s Republic (1924-1990). In the countryside, this means 40 percent of the population have returned to nomadic life. (The Soviets had tried to order everyone into communities during their rule—something the Mongolians railed against.) In Ulaanbaatar, on the other hand, this means the slow conversion of the patchwork of dismal Sovietera crumbling edifices, roads and ger-ghettos into an international center of modern complexes,

retail and smart development. When we arrived, we caught glimpses of high-rises under construction, including the 25-story, winged Blue Sky Tower multiplex, which features a five-star hotel, office space and penthouse residences. Haute retailers like Louis Vuitton, Armani and Hugo Boss now compete with the high-end cashmere boutiques. But this wasn’t the Mongolia of the Great Khan nor the Mongolia we’d come to see, so we immediately headed west to the great monastery of Erdene Zuu, built on the ruins of Genghis Khan’s city, Khara Khorum. Once home to 62 temples built inside a square wall linking 108 white stupas (Buddhist mound structures), only three temples remain there today. During the communist purge, all other temples were destroyed and more than 10,000 monks were killed. Now a museum, the remaining temples, with their celadon-glazed roofs and animalsilhouetted corner eaves evoke a collaborative Asian style of temple architecture—Beijing meets Lhasa. Many of the monastery’s treasures, such as tsam masks and thangka paintings, which were

hidden from the Soviets in houses or buried in the mountains by sympathetic families and military officers, have resurfaced. From Erdene Zuu, we crossed the steppes to the holy mountain of Otgontenger and visited volcanic craters and salt and freshwater lakes that seemed more like seas—some calm, some stirring up tempests. We also stumbled on a 35th high school reunion in Tsagaan Gol. (Mongolia’s literacy rate is a remarkable 97 percent.) The event included wrestling matches and horse races, a tradition that predates Genghis Khan. Mongolian wrestling and WWE matches have much in common: strutting, swaggering and body bulk. The big guys, or pros, were clad in traditional open-front (to expose female imposters) long-sleeved red or blue jackets, very tight-fitting blue briefs and ornate upturned leather boots, topped by pointed velvet and silk hats. The matches we witnessed were decided in seconds, the pros “eating” the Top: Mongolian herder with lasso. V i r g i n i a

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This page, clockwise from top left: Family in Kharkhiraa Mountains; Otgontenger Uul (Holy Eternal Snow Mountain) with statue of Ochirvaani (Protector God of Mongolia) in foreground; Salbaa’s son milking goats. Below: Mongolian wrestling match.

skinny local challengers, then prancing about rippling their muscles above their heads, tugging at their undies. From Ulaanbaatar to Uvs aimag, we had covered almost 1,000 miles—some of it in the relative comfort of the Land Cruiser, but the last of it in a bare-bones Furgon that made a grinding sound like a teed-off camel with a broken nose stirrup whenever it went uphill in first gear: It ferried us to the Altai Mountains in four days. Adding to the torture, the last 20-mile stretch to the Tavan Bogd National Park entrance was over large, beach ballsized river stones that fill the gorge of the narrow Tsaagan Gol (White River). Tavan Bogd, which means five saints, is a cluster of five prominent snow-capped peaks that form Mongolia’s border with China and Russia. Roughly the height of Mount Whitney, they create a substantial glacier system with arctic tundra approaches, which had turned red and gold in the abbreviated autumn. Our guide, a 20-something Tuvan, brought us to his ger in the park, (nomads still live and graze within its boundaries) and offered us a taste of marmot meat while his new bride prepared boortsog pastry, which was fried in the animal’s fat (this was the best fried pastry we had), before heading out to hike on the tundra. The tundra’s stunted mosses and grass sit like clumps of squishy sponge atop earlier desiccated tussocks, so hiking on it upright and not looking plastered drunk was nearly impossible. We continued beyond base camp and stopped at the

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base of Malchin Peak, our next day’s walk-up. For 24 hours, it rained, hailed and snowed, but the resulting prize was a fiery orange sunset finale. The next morning, the sun broke with clear skies and a leftover moon. Though we’d lost our climbing window, we couldn’t just passively turn back. With my inner Genghis Khan throbbing, my friend and I took off without the guide, who was busy with his camels anyway. We assured Shinee, our stalwart guide, we’d catch up in an hour. We trudged about a third of the way up Malchin and traversed a snowfield to a barren plateau with spectacular vistas of the Tavan Bogd and distant glimpses of Russia. I discovered a scientist’s telescopic camera, which was measuring glacial movement, and descended a slate slag precipice by foot-skiing more than 1,000 feet straight down. Exhilarated, we rendezvoused with Shinee four or five hours later, and she applauded the adventure. The next day, we flew back to Ulaanbaatar where entrepreneurs, politicians, prosperous bankers and the well-to-do pay tögrögs (Mongolian currency) for their urban accoutrements. I find it very difficult to condense my journey into this mammoth, expansive and gloriously raw land— where each personal encounter is an occasion of note—into any sort of seminal conclusion. Instead, perhaps it’s better to just let loose a big, chest-thumping, ululating holler. •

>> For more, go to

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Above, left: Shinee after washing her hair and clothes in Kharkhiraa River. Above, right: Ochiroo and camels crossing Kharkhiraa River.

Going to Mongolia? Tips for the intrepid traveler looking for a taste of the Mongolia Tricia Pearsall experienced. how to get there

Most direct flights into Ulaanbaatar are from Beijing, Tokyo, Moscow, Seoul and Berlin. From Ulaanbaatar, take MIAT Mongolian Airlines (Mongolia’s largest airline), Air China, or Air Mongolia into Chinggis Khaan International Airport. Or take the Trans-Siberian Railway, which runs from Beijing to Moscow, stopping in Ulaanbaatar along the way. Tour Operators

Abercrombie & Kent: Small group travel, private journeys, tailor-made trips and extreme adventure exploration options paired with the choice to visit a variety of locations in Mongolia. Package prices range from less than $5,000 up to $10,000. Adventure Mongolia: Tailor-made trips that can combine a wide variety of activities and experiences (trekking, hunting, fishing, camel riding, national and regional events). Package prices vary. Happy Camel Tours and Expeditions: Tours and expeditions from three days up to 32 days, with a variety of experiences and regions and landmarks visited. Price varies depending on tour preferences and amenities. Selena Travel: Active-adventure tours, cross-country tours, wildlife safaris, community-based tours, cultural tours, winter tours and discovery tours. Package prices range from $350 to $5,000. When To Go

The sun shines 200 days of the year, but bitter cold winters that average minus 9 degrees Fahrenheit make traveling during the warmer months between June and September optimal. July and August are the mildest and wettest times of the year. For more information, go to

what to see

The Thousand Camel Festival: This 12-year-old event includes camel races and performances by traditional Mongolian musicians and dancers. Held in late January to February. Tsagaan Sar Festival: One of Mongolia’s oldest festivals, it is held over three days to celebrate the end of winter and the beginning of spring. Held in January or February. The Golden Eagle Festival: On festival days, watch as Kazakhs hold Golden Eagle competitions based on speed, agility and accuracy. Traditional Mongolian games like Kokbar, archery and horse racing. Held in October. Naadam Festival: Mongolia’s largest national festival showcases the three “manly sports” of horse racing, archery and wrestling. Held in July. Cultural Tips

• Remove your gloves when shaking hands with a Mongolian. • No need to remove yout hat when entering a ger, but lift it as a sign of greeting instead. • Inside a ger, walk in a clockwise direction only. • Avoid leaning against support columns, furniture or walls inside a ger. • Resist the temptation to whistle inside a ger. • Sit cross-legged, with your feet underneath you. • Always sleep with your feet pointing toward the door. • Refuse nothing! Always take at least a sip or nibble of anything offered. • Receive food or gifts with either both hands or with the right hand supported at the wrist or elbow by the left hand. • Take food from a plate with your right hand, even if you’re left-handed. • When passing anything to a Mongolian, use more than two fingers. • Leave a small gift for your hosts, something other than money. V i r g i n i a

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Bringing Joy to Your World! Ahoy There! Located on the North Carolina coast, Camp Sea Gull for boys and Camp Seafarer for girls offer a 3:1 camper-staff ratio with an awesome seamanship program, power boating, golf, confidence, laughs and more.

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Virginia Living Magazine 2011 4 1/4”(wide) x 5 5/8”(high) - 1/4 Page Placement: right-hand page, far forward – Henry David Thoreau

Hunting. Fishing. Hiking and Running Trails. Rafting. Canoeing. Kayaking. Tubing. Rock Climbing. Golfing. Horseback Riding. SnowFlex Skiing. These are some of the recreational activities near our historic riverfront boutique hotel. Visit our Web site or call and ask about our Outdoor Enthusiast Packages. • 434.455.1500 • Historic Waterfront, Downtown Lynchburg

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Call 703-361-6599 or visit


Friday, December 2, 2011 5:30 p.m. - 9:00 p.m. Manassas Museum 9101 Prince William Street



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Virginia Living is pleased to announce the impending relaunch of, where you’ll find not only all the things you love about the print edition, but also expanded content, contests, Web-only material—and your contributions, too. More voices. More Virginia.

.C O M

Celebrate with us! Join us for our 30th anniversary sale November 10 and throughout the holiday season.

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The Richmond SPCA is deeply grateful to our Thirteenth Annual Fur Ball major sponsors

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top properties

Thirteen-and-a-half foot ceilings rise to meet original crown moulding in the living room.

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Town and Country Tucked into a lush mountain landscape, Shack Mountain is a graceful Jeffersonian classic. But this hidden historical gem is also just a couple of miles from Charlottesville, giving it the best of both worlds. By Broocks Willich


p h oto g r a p h y by P h i l i p B e au r l i n e

In 1935, when noted American architect Fiske Kimball conceived the 102-acre estate Shack Mountain, Charlottesville’s bustling Route 29 was an unlit road, and the property was literally in the middle of nowhere. Nowadays only two miles from downtown Charlottesville, the brilliance of the site is that it is still wonderfully isolated. Protected on three sides by the Rivanna Reservoir and the Ivy Creek Natural Area, there’s only one other house in sight, several ridges away. The house sits covertly at the end of a forested drive on property that was owned and settled by the Shackelford family in the 1700s, the inspiration for its name. The approach winds through oak, hickory, poplar and walnut hardwoods; it suggests that a modest country home lies at the end. But the house, replete with Flemish bond brick, grapevine joint masonry and triple-hung sash windows is more than that. It is a refined and enduring example of Jeffersonian Classicism. The front of the T-form structure, which rests atop a hill beneath an old-growth canopy and is flanked on one side by native mountain laurel, boasts an elongated octagon, which invites light from all sides. A pedimented Tuscan portico is supported by paired stuccoed columns, and

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above the front door is a lunette window, a Jefferson hallmark. The standing seam metal roof makes a buffer against the elements. The landscaping is clean and simple, allowing the house to bask in the epic mountain vistas of the Blue Ridge to the west and north, and the Southwest Mountains to the east. Mature boxwoods cosset the brick ascent to the entrance, while those planted almost 75 years ago loom large and abut the flagstone terrace on the north side. In late afternoon light, the Piedmont rolls off into the distance, golden embers burning on the horizon. Upon entry into a small alcove, a solid wood curved door opens into the living room, revealing another door just like it. Two rounded walls frame the entrance to the dining room and highlight the medallion of Jefferson— made by noted American sculptor Walter Kirtland Hancock—which hangs above. Thirteen-and-a-half foot ceilings draw the eye up to the majesty of the original hand-carved crown moldings. After stepping through the second curved door into a broad hallway, one has access to the kitchen (also accessible from the dining room), library, both bedrooms and one of the two main-level bathrooms. The closet space is not modern, but it is plentiful. Below, above ground windows stream light into a two-bedroom, onebath basement. The home is elegant and peaceful, its surroundings serene. The sash windows in the living and dining rooms almost beg to be used as escapes to the beauty outside. The window in the library has a screen door behind the sash, which offers quick access to the pool, pool house and terraced garden below. Though these outdoor features were added later, says Jack Robertson of the Jefferson Library: “The indoor/outdoor effect that Jefferson achieved at Monticello is very much in evidence at Shack Mountain.” It is impossible to separate the house, which was completed in 1937, from its owner and designer, architect and architectural historian, Fiske Kimball (1888-1955). Credited as the first to acknowledge Jefferson’s legacy as an architect, Kimball designed the home as an homage to Jefferson and—more prac-

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tically—as a gift for his wife, Marie (née Marie Goebels, 1889-1955), in hopes that they would retire there. Kimball—aided by the tireless help of Marie— limned Jefferson’s architectural passions and talents in the 1916 book, Thomas Jefferson, Architect. In Jefferson’s time, most of the credit for creating buildings of import went to the builders, carvers and carpenters of the day because there were very few trained American architects. In fact, within eight years of Jefferson’s 1826 death, according to Hugh Howard’s book, Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson, Rediscovering the Founding Fathers of American Architecture, published in 2003, the credit for Monticello had actually been attributed to another designer. Wrote Howard: “Each of Jefferson’s several biographers seemed to have been blithely unaware that architecture interested him. Nothing in the Jefferson literature suggested that the man ever built or cared about a building in his life.” It’s an ironic statement for Charlottesville residents who live so closely with Jefferson’s legacy. What most of them don’t know, however, is that they are surrounded by Fiske Kimball’s legacy almost as much. Many of Monticello’s contents, including Jefferson’s papers, were sold off shortly after his death, but the collection of letters and drawings that heralded Jefferson’s devotion to architecture and Monticello remained unseen. They were slowly rotting in the basement of one of Jefferson’s greatgreat grandsons, T. Jefferson Coolidge Jr., a Massachusetts resident. With the Massachusetts Historical Society (reportedly one known depositor of Jefferson’s papers) acting as go-between, the Kimballs were granted permission by the Coolidge family to study the collection. While Fiske examined the some three or four hundred drawings at this historical society, Marie, every bit her husband’s intellectual equal, read all 15,000 of Jefferson’s letters contained there, and cross-referenced them with the published calendars in his official papers in Washington to fully parse the exchanges between him and his contemporaries. The Coolidges were so impressed by Kimball’s findings that they asked him to write an historical account, to be privately published for the family.

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Facing page: The pedimented Tuscan portico. This page, clockwise from above: Triple-hung sash windows in the dining room; the center hall; the library with mountain views.

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It is impossible to separate the house, which was completed in 1937, from its owner and designer, architect and architectural historian, Fiske Kimball.

This page, top: Two bedrooms on the main level connect via a broad hallway. Below, from left: Flemish bond brick remains in perfect condition; the garden house. Facing page: The walls and fences of the terraced garden were added by the present owners.

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Thomas Jefferson, Architect was the resulting folio; the 1916 first edition comprised only 350 copies. As a result of the Kimballs’ indefatigable efforts, Jefferson was recognized as an expert—and an enduring influence—on American architecture, and Kimball emerged as a noteworthy scholar in the field. William Seale, historian, preservationist and author of The President’s House, A History (1986), states that Kimball “was the first outstanding American architectural historian…Scholarship has tightened the historical interpretation of Jefferson as architect and perhaps taken away some of the glory that Kimball created. Yet Kimball can be credited with promoting Jefferson as an American savvy of the arts, in a period when early America was considered by the world largely artless and unsophisticated.” In 1919, Kimball became the first chair of the Department of Arts and Architecture at the University of Virginia and, for the next six years, in addition to his professorship, supervised all the building at the university. As architect, he was behind the McIntire Amphitheatre, the faculty apartments and the Memorial Gymnasium. In 1923, he moved to New York City where he established the graduate program at the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University in cooperation with the Metropolitan Museum. Kimball left that post in 1925, and served as the director of the Philadelphia Museum of Art until his retirement in 1955. In that position, he brought the museum international attention. During these years, he also oversaw the restoration at Monticello, serving for 31 years on the Jefferson Memorial Foundation’s Restoration Committee. (He was elected to the foundation’s board of directors in 1939 and remained on the board until his retirement.) Kimball would also serve on the Advisory Committee of Architects for the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg, as head of the American Institute of Architects, on the advisory boards for the Rockefeller Center and the National Park Service and as adviser on art to President Harry Truman. Despite Kimball’s distinguished career, he was known for using vulgarities and enjoying the shock value of his audacity. All sources suggest that

he didn’t shy away from his verbally pugilistic tendencies. After he was appointed by President Franklin Roosevelt to oversee the design of the Jefferson Memorial, on which construction began in 1939, he entered into a prolonged and angry public debate with modernists Mies van der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright who disagreed with the memorial’s classical design. Kimball bested the pair, but was not a cultural snob. He recognized the talents of the new generation and encouraged their place in future building in Washington. As accomplished as her husband was, Marie Kimball was in no way overshadowed by his achievements. She became the first curator of Monticello in 1944, serving until her death in 1955. She published three volumes on Jefferson and earned the Guggenheim Fellowship twice. The couple never had children, and despite their wish for Shack Mountain to be their retirement home, spent only short amounts of time there each year. Marie died in 1955 and, despondent about her death and out-ofsorts, Kimball had her interred on the property. An attendee of the funeral observed, “ It was the saddest funeral I’ve ever been to. No one said a word to one another, and Fiske was inconsolable…She was buried in a rushed and too shallow grave.” Bereft, Kimball died six months later, at the age of 67, and was buried in Monticello Memorial Park. Marie was moved there later to join her husband. Shack Mountain is being offered for sale to the public for the first time. It is considered a masterpiece of scale, and is listed on the Virginia and National Historic Registers. It has the distinction of also being a National Historic Landmark along with Jefferson’s other iconic buildings in the area— Monticello and the Academical Village’s Rotunda at UVA. Kimball and TJ meet again. • Shack Mountain is for sale for $3.25 million through Jos. T. Samuels Realtors in Charlottesville. (434) 295-8540 or V i r g i n i a

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p h oto g r a p h y by k i p daw k i n s | s t y l i n g by r i c h a r d s to n e

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| s e t a s s i s t a n t , T r e y t ay l o r

10/27/11 9:41 AM

A Feast for the Eye Thanksgiving-inspired tablescapes that invite your guests to linger. By PAULA STEERS BROWN

Thanksgiving is all about gathering—food from the harvest shared with family and friends to return thanks for its bounty. Dish up some wow-factor with your turkey this year, too, by creating inventive tablescapes for the Thanksgiving table and beyond. We have thoughts aplenty of novel possibilities for holiday entertaining stations that are both convenient and convivial. Start by taking inventory of your furniture and accessories. Consider moving pieces out of their usual spots to improve traffic flow, especially in areas of smaller homes that tend to get crowded such as the bar. The foyer is not just a passageway—it is auxiliary serving space for holiday guests. This area is readily accessible upon entry, makes superb use of a large and beautiful space that is often underused in older homes, and keeps guests out of the kitchen—which needs to be reserved for the serious food prep a major feast demands. In this foyer, a long Lucite console serves as a functional sideboard, creating an ideal tablescape for the bar without taking up much space, visually or literally. The sleek bright orange lacquer tray strikes a bold counterpoint to the foil damask

wallpaper. This comfortable mix of contemporary and traditional updates a classic setting. Juxtapose velvety roses in fall colors with berries such as hypericum to accentuate the textural contrast. This dramatic table arrangement for the main harvest feast—which is anchored by a luxurious suede cloth from Lynchburg leather company Moore & Giles, embossed on one side to look like shark skin—puts a new spin on the fabulous textures and shapes found in nature. Autumn’s iconic orange is present, but in the classic form of roses. The natural tone and unusual texture of dried lichens (glued onto picks) arrest the eye even more when juxtaposed with roses. The large orange ceramic vase imparts an Asian flavor, but after all, isn’t the blending of cultures what the first Thanksgiving was

Facing page: Iconic autumn orange and persimmon blend with blue-green eucalyptus. Top: An aqua and gold vintage chest from the 1960s blends with a gold frame and spiny okra pods. Below: A Lucite console serves as a bar.

all about? Branches of ripened, native persimmons lend a glowing complement to the soft, bluegreen foliage of seeded eucalyptus. The lighter-colored seeds echo the striking lime green tones of Asclepias physocarpa, a balloonlike variety of milkweed, as do the linen napkins and etched glassware. Add a bowl of osage oranges for a final fillip to this warm tablescape that will make guests want to linger. Consider other table surfaces for tableaux when the gathering is large and spill-over entertaining space is desirable. Here, an aqua, gold-dotted chest is a vintage Drexel Heritage piece from the 1960s, lifted to new life with faux finishes. Dried bittersweet encircles an oversized glass vase. Spiny okra pods project nice vertical lines and last for years. They can be sprayed gold or green, but the dark natural tone produced when they are simply allowed to dry on the plant provides an interesting contrast to both the vase and the vivid Caribbean Blue Water wall color. At dinner parties, people tend to gather first in the kitchen, but if you harvest pleasing elements from the garden and place them strategically around your home, they attract guests like magnets

M anta R ay sue d e h i d e i n B lue M oon , c ourtes y o f M oore & G i les , Ly n c h burg . O r i ental vase c ourtes y o f R ut h + O ll i e , R i c h mon d . et c h e d vases , L angea i s nap k i ns an d Carousel c h i na c ourtes y o f Y v es Delorme , R i c h mon d . Fau x bamboo f latware f rom Caspar i , C h arlottes v i lle ( T o t h e tra d e only ) .

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and provide warming autumnal backdrops for conversation. Tired of pumpkins and gourds? Grow cascading stems of bright Chinese lantern and mix them with chocolate brown locust pods. Bundles of wheat can stand vertically or be interspersed with fiery pyracantha berries or purple ligustrum berry clusters. Plumes of grasses give strong line to centerpieces as can animal feathers, often rich in color. Objects from nature become objets d’art when you showcase them with a discerning eye. Rethink every space in your home, combining style and function. Remove the framed pictures from an interesting side table or from the baby grand and drape it with a shining silk for the dessert station. Or create a tablescape of unusual natural objects that can be appreciated at close range—line a tray with polished buckeyes and place it on an ottoman for your after dinner drinks, like seasonal hot apple cider laced with spiced rum. This Thanksgiving, boldly go where you have never gone before, accessorizing with a fresh eye for a great mix. Throw in some startling forms and textures from nature. Your cranberry salad and stuffing will never look better. • V i r g i n i a

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Relax on North Carolina’s famed Wrightsville Beach! This classic 1940 Wrightsville Beach cottage, is one of the oldest homes on the island, and has just enjoyed a total restoration, landscaping, and refurnishing. North Carolina pine panelling, wrap-around porches, garden shower, and fantastic views all serve to make HendersonHouse a unique and relaxing home away from home. HendersonHouse is conveniently located on East Henderson Street seven houses from the beach, and within pleasant walking distance to a variety of local favourites including Johnny Mercer’s Pier, Robert’s Grocery, and the King Neptune restaurant. Wrightsville Beach’s incomparable

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Complete package emailed to you by request. Contact Timothy at or 434-989-3222 Antique 25’ x 20’ cabin with timber floor and roof system. Labor and materials, $59,800.

More at

The New

Virginia Living is pleased to announce the impending relaunch of, where you’ll find not only all the things you love about the print edition, but also expanded content, contests, Web-only material—and your contributions, too. More voices. More Virginia.

toppropertiesDEC11.indd 80

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10/28/11 4:41 PM

Representing Richmond’s Luxury Lifestyles

Brokering Fine Properties Since 1938 Robert Poore House Downtown Charlottesville C.1836, Second French Empire style 2.5 story featuring Flemish bond brickwork, Mansard roof, 3 arched dormers, & scrolled brackets w/ standing seam roof. Formerly a childrens’ school established by Miss Lizzie Poore in the 1850s, the property is in the Court Square Historic District & near Downtown Mall. Pine flooring, 5 FP, high ceilings, screened porch & brick terrace. Great candidate for State & Federal RehabilitationTax Credits. Large city lot with the potential to design & construct 12+/- parking spaces. Zoned for commercial or residential use. $912,500


9150 James Riverwatch Drive R ICHMOND, V IRGINI A

“Riverwatch” – a special community along the James River offering a generous and private 6+ acre access to the river and all its adventure! Custom designed and built in 2009 by Holder Brothers as the Builder’s personal residence! Positioned on a beautiful knoll overlooking the James River, one enjoys panoramic views of the water, water fowl, incredible sunrises and sunsets. The direct walk to the water affords the owner quick access to the great fishing, kayaking, or canoeing! The home of brick and stone has 5600 sq. ft. on two light-filled levels, each with nine-foot ceilings and great open spaces along with 5 bedrooms, 4.5 baths. The river side of the home is wrapped by decks, verandas, and screened porches – all with water views. The first floor boasts a library, formal living and dining rooms, gourmet kitchen with Wolf, granite, Sub-Zero. There are first and second floor family rooms. Originally priced at $ 1,850,000, available now at an impossible to reproduce price of $1,395,000!


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Hawkhead Albemarle County A 5-6 bedroom residence with full, finished terrace level for a total of over 5300 SF. There are large master bedrooms up & down. Spacious FRs on both levels, one of which is finished in mahogany the owners brought from Argentina. Lots of builtins, attic & storage spaces. Lovely deck runs full back of house and accessed from master bedroom, kitchen and formal dining room. Great flow for living and entertaining inside & out. The 16 ac are a mix of pasture and woods. Also included are a barn, guest cottage w/deck, run-in shed & a 3-bay garage. $1,500,000 ESTATE BRO AND KE D RS N LA

STEVENS & COMPANY One Boar’s Head Place | Charlottesville, Virginia 22903 434-296-6104 |

‘Tis the Seasons… Kingsmill Realty, Inc wishes you a happy holiday season and a healthy and prosperous New Year!

Kingsmill Realty

To our past clients, we are grateful for your business and we hope you’re enjoying your home! To our present clients, thank you for entrusting us with your dreams! To our future clients, see our past and our present! We hope Kingsmill Realty, Inc is part of your future, your dreams!

100 Kingsmill Rd • Williamsburg, VA • (800) 392-0026 An equal housing opportunity. One of the Anheuser-Busch Companies.

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HOME & G A R DEN Patricia Palermino Studio New, Vintage and Handmade Frames

By appointment at our gallery and at your home.

Thirty-five years of design experience

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Interiors by Complete interior and exterior design services, kitchen and bathroom, home consultations, custom window treatments, furniture, bedding, antiques, wallpaper, fabric and trim...

Mount Vernon Holiday • Prints • Notecards • Ornaments • Children’s Books are available at the Farmers’ Market on Market Square on Saturday mornings and on the website.

2711 Rivermont Ave.










Lynchburg, VA

434.384.6844 703-360-4757



ART 180’s

raiser d n u F l a u n n A 8th Party a m r a K d o o and G 180 T R A t fi e n e B to

• Plant Zero . .m p 0 -1 7 , 1 Thurs, Dec or Tickets via art

February 23–26, 2012

Gala & Show at The Science Museum of Virginia Brunch & Lecture with Alexa Hampton at The Jefferson Hotel Information & Tickets: or 804-551-3723 Hosted by

The Richmond Academy of Medicine Alliance Foundation, Inc

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Page 4

The Perez Family at Hilton Head



acrylic on canvas




30" x 48"



Hilton Head

The Perfect Anniversary Gift Helen had a 25th anniversary approaching and was tired of predictable gifts for her husband, Mike. She was on the lookout for a special gift and had seen ads for David Cochran's "Casual Family Portraits". She admired how he depicted his clients in a relaxed yet realistic manner. She felt sure this could work with her own family, but wondered about the price, process and timeline so she called David for information. Helen was intrigued to find that David creates an acrylic painting of a family, working from the client's photographs and depicts them with a personalized background.The entire process can be completed using photos sent via Email from anywhere in the country. A painting can be any size and can include as many or as few portraits as desired, even incorporating family members of former generations. The artist assured Helen that the painting could be a surprise for her busy husband. David depicted the family at Hilton Head, a favorite family vacation spot, in front of Pool Bar Jim. Many personal references are subtly included: the boys’ schools, soccer, Notre Dame (where the couple met) and the family dogs (one of them habitually chewing on dad’s, umm, undergarments). Dave handled all logistics and the painting was unveiled at a family anniversary gathering. Mike marveled at the way his family was brought to life.This 30" x 48" painting now hangs in their family room. With such a perfect gift, Helen now wonders what she will do for next year's anniversary! Giclée prints were made of this painting and given to various family members.

COCHRAN STUDIOS Studio: 703.684.7855 | Web: | Email:

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Island prs By Mac Carey

photography by John Henley

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A private-public partnership is working to protect the enigmatic swamp that has captured Virginians’ imaginations for centuries. V i r g i n i a

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Previous page: Sunset on Lake Drummond. This page: Bald cypress on Lake Drummond.

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Dave Urban scans the horizon for the enemy that lurks within the 112,000 acres of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge on the southern Virginia border. Quiet and skilled, the killer attacks by day and night, and nothing is immune to its wrath. Enemy number one, at least as far as Urban is concerned, is the phragmite, better known by its street name: the reed. As Urban undertakes transforming the 750 acres of Dover Farm that is located within the swamp and which his company, the Towson, Marylandbased Ecosystem Investment Partners, purchased in 2007 to turn from agricultural land back to swampland, reeds are only the most prominent of myriad problems to be overcome. The Great Dismal Swamp has long captured the public’s imagination; its siren call issued to all walks of life. The swamp was given its evocative name by William Byrd II as he first surveyed the area in 1728. There are the stories of escaped slave communities well hidden in the lush growth of the bog. Harriet Beecher Stowe set her sequel to beings pass through the refuge annually, and Uncle Tom’s Cabin here, entitled Dred: A Tale of the this intermingling of development and nature Great Dismal Swamp. In 1894, a young lovelorn poet has not been without its downsides. Flat coastal named Robert Frost decided the swamp’s romanplains are prime real estate spots, and housing tic name and enigmatic aura would be the perfect developments dot the boundaries. Loss of habisetting for his own death, and wandered in hoptat, changes in water patterns and forest devastaing to perish there. He didn’t succeed. tion have all taken their toll, and the Great DisThe northernmost swamp along the Atlanmal Swamp is no longer the uncharted expanse tic Ocean, the Great Dismal Swamp is located of the East Coast it once was. Enter public efforts between two eco-regions, and everything from and private groups such as Ecosystem Investment the black bear to the otter, barred owl and alligaPartners, acting together to protect one of the tor call it home. The swamp has been recognized most unique regions in North America. for its unique properties since the days of George Early 19th-century settlers removed the Washington. “George Washington became enamored with the idea of draining to make a vast swamp’s juniper trees, which provided lightcorn plantation of farmland. It failed, and variweight, rot-resistant wood. “For decades, people ous efforts later failed as well,” felled trees and cut them into shingles, and explains Brian van Eerden of those would be exported. White cedar was Above: Near east entrance virtually eliminated,” says van Eerden. Later the Arlington-based Nature to Lake Drummond. Conservancy, one of the concame farmers, who drained out the swampBelow: James Remuzzi servation groups active in the land to grow corn and soybeans. By the (left) and Dave Urban at swamp. Today, 50,000 human mid-19th century, the composition of the for-

“Reeds grow in thick stands and in areas that are really disturbed. Only thing to do is herbicide it. You can't pull it out."


Dover Farm.

est had changed; the swamp was one-third of its original 2,000 square miles, and many animal and plant species were threatened or had disappeared altogether. But there were more problems. Large plots of land within the swamp remained in the hands of farmers, and substantial development was still occuring as late as the mid-20th century. (A plan to sell large tracts to a logging company was thwarted in the 1970s.) And though there have been other successes—logging was halted, and the white cedar and bald cypress, thought to be on the path to extinction within the swamp during the mid-20th century, were saved—invasive species such as phragmites continue to be a thorn in the sides of conservationists, biologists and park authorities. By 1974, lawmakers and activists realized something needed to be done. That year, Congress passed the Dismal Swamp Act, which in part created the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge: 112,000 acres of protected, forested wetlands. The refuge’s work has been relatively successful, removing several animals from endangered lists and restoring the original hydrology and water flow of the swamp. But foreign species like the reed are posing one of the greatest threats to the stability of the swamp by crowding out the more delicate, native species. Reeds are foremost on Urban’s checklist during his regular visits to Dover Farm. It’s the first item he asks his environmental specialist about. “It grows in thick stands and in areas that are really disturbed. Only thing to do is herbicide it. You can’t pull it out,” Urban explains. Since phragmites have horizontal roots, the plant seems to follow the same growth pattern as gray hair: pull out one, and two seemingly grow up in its place. As the swamp authorities begin to turn the clock back on the swampland, from the deterioration, foreign species and development which have propagated in the last half century, they will have more to deal with than just reeds. Though the 1974 act helped direct attention and resources V i r g i n i a

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9 V G D

isiting the reat ismal Swamp


The Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge has miles of paths for hiking and biking, the most highly recommended being the elevated Dismal Town Boardwalk Trail, which passes through a sample of the diverse swamp habitats. Loaner backpacks containing a pair of binoculars, a magnifying glass and a field guide may be checked out at refuge headquarters. As you make your way through the swamp, be sure to look up, as bird watching of the more than 200 species calling the area home is popular amongst novices and hobbyists, particularly during the annual spring migration in late March and April. Whatever path you take, be sure not to miss Lake Drummond, the highlight of any trip. If looking at the 3,100-acre lake (the largest natural lake in Virginia) isn’t enough, boating is permitted year round, though you will need a state fishing license if you want to try and catch some of the lake's yellow perch and bullhead catfish. There is no camping allowed on refuge lands, but the Lake Drummond Reservation is located nearby. Open 24 hours a day, spring through fall, it is equipped with fire rings and two picnic shelters as well as bathrooms with running water. Access to the camping area is by water only. Refuge trails are open daily for hiking and biking, sunrise to sunset. Portions of the refuge are closed to the public during deer and black bear hunt days. The refuge office is open Monday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed on federal holidays. 757-968-3705

Great Egret.

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to the area, the protected zone was still more like a quilt than a blanket, with spaces of agriculture and housing breaking up blocks of preserved space. And while humans may have respected these arbitrary boundaries, animals and plants do not. Patchwork preservation limited animals and plants that needed extended spaces to flourish. Through purchases like those by Ecosystem Investment Partners (EIP), that patchwork is becoming what Don Schwab, wildlife biologist at the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, calls a “green island.” EIP purchases threatened land and recoups its expenses (Dover Farm was purchased for $5 million) by selling easements in the form of Payments for Ecosystems (PES) to companies which are required by the government to purchase and protect the same amount of land they develop; it is currently working on similar wetlands purchases in Delaware, Montana and Louisiana. Motivated by financial as well as environmental interests, EIP targets areas like the Great Dismal Swamp, which contain conservation gaps. “Our purchase is going to add 1,000 more acres to the National Wildlife Refuge. Bear and bird species need a lot of room to be successful. To defrag an area allows them to breed and spread out,” Urban says of the beneficial effects. In 2007, EIP’s partner, Nick Dilks, heard of a farmer who was thinking of selling his landholding within the protected area. Dilks managed to find a way to come up with the capital for the 1,000-acre Dover Farm, and Urban was off. Now Urban, acting as director of operations, spends his time trying to turn land that for 20 years grew soybeans and corn into marshy wetlands that will foster native species development. It took a year to get permits and then, in spring of 2008, the ground site changes began. Nature is on Urban’s side, but habit is not. Farmland in the Great Dismal Swamp is, by definition, exhausted. There is also the problem of past pesticide use. “Residual herbicides and pesticides in the soil affect growth…Luckily, most herbicides they use now degrade quickly,” Urban explains. There are also weeds specific to agricultural areas, which Urban’s team may need to spray off with pesticides of their own. First on Urban’s and the team’s agenda is planting trees. Soon after the purchase, the field was covered in neon orange strips marking where trees

Above: Bear, left, a 3-yearold white shepherd and Abby, an 8-year-old chocolate lab, resting on a dock on the intracoastal waterway. Below: Dave Urban at Dover Farm.

had been planted. “Oaks, cedars, pines. We’re farming here, too, tree farming,” the site’s senior environmental specialist, Mark Eversole, says of the now eye-level-height saplings. Restoring forest cover is a goal for all groups working within the swamp. (In addition to the Nature Conservancy and EIP, groups including the Trust for Public Land, the Great Dismal Swamp Coalition and the Conservation Corps are also working to restore the swamp.) Van Eerden sees the trees as not only important within themselves but also integral to conservation: “An abundance of forested wetlands provide tremendous benefit to wildlife.” Urban looks over the saplings, which spread out as far as the horizon, “We’ve planted over 800,000 trees on the site,” he says. “We want at least 400

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trees per acre in 10 years.” The site isn’t much to see now, because to get the kind of trees that Urban and Eversole want, they will need to first fill the land back up with water, and take a yearly inventory of arboreal growth. Urban says that in the late 1930s and early ’40s, the area was made into a military airfield. “It was never paved, but they filled up the holes.” Now his group is working to make sure all of the land is returned to its original state. And then, of course, there’s the Sisyphean task of annihilating the reed. Despite popular belief, the most widespread reed along ponds and marshy ditches is not native to Virginia or North America. “With phrag, no one knows where it came from. It was used as fill material and packaging material as far back as Colonial times,” explains Schwab. Now, one of the largest efforts on behalf of the park service, and the assortment of conservation groups that work in the swamp, is to prevent the reeds from pushing out other less hardy, but rarer and indigenous species. “When there are too many reeds, they inhibit growth of other species. We want sedges, et cetera, in open water and forested areas. It’s a management tool,” Urban explains. Biologists like Schwab worry about the larger impact of the reed. “Phragmites become a monoculture. They change overall habitat, though the acidic soil of the swamp here limits it somewhat.” Private groups like EIP have a flexibility not seen in government and can raise funds that the cash-strapped state and federal government departments cannot. For years, refuge officials had their eyes on Dover Farm for conservation, but EIP had ready cash on hand, which gave them the freedom to act faster to make it happen. The Great Dismal Swamp Refuge is completely supported by federal appropriations from Congress. But with an 18 percent reduction proposed in the 2012 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s budget, including $48 million in cuts for national wildlife refuges, park authorities will have to rely even more heavily on partnerships with advocacy groups such as the Nature Conservancy and smaller firms like EIP to make things happen. Private ownership allows for more conservation and the government departments are glad for the help. Schwab has worked closely with Urban and EIP throughout the restoration process of Dover Farm. “I’m glad they found it. I’m glad they’re going to change it back to wetlands. It can only help in the long run. It was probably the only big inholdings left inside; everything else is within our hands.” But the ubiquitous reed is not the only species that is out of sync within the swamp. Animals great and small have their own set of problems. “Fire ants have few natural predators here and can affect all ground-living critters, lizards, insects and mammals,” explains Schwab. “There are lots of threatened species. Some plants are just rare, like the Virginia liste trillium. It’s not impacted by invasives; it’s just rare.” There are also several native animals that have landed themselves on the state endangered list: “The Great Dismal Swamp shrew, timber rattlesnake, the big-eared bat. All warm fuzzies; things you want to wrap your arms around,” Schwab laughs. But the refuge has had its successes. The swamp is the only place where populations are steady or increasing. Despite

Above: Cypress tree

Pretty soon this place will be overrun with changes, van Eerden believes on west side of Lake deer and bear. much of the romance of the swamp Drummond. “We have big plans to replicate this remains. “The refuge has true 10 more times in the next two years. It’s forest habitat conditions. There going to take a few more years to recoup our are no edge effects or edge impacts affecting investment here,” Urban adds as he proudly surspecies. The size of the refuge allows it to be a veys the land. The highest distinction Urban and tremendous storehouse of biodiversity. Not only EIP want for the land is for it to not be distinct great diversity, but abundant population.” at all, but a seamless, reed-less addition to the Urban hopes his Dover Farm will become green island. another one of the swamp’s success stories. He “In 10 or 15 years,” says Urban, “we want it to and his colleagues have already seen some black look like the rest of the refuge, so you can’t tell bears, hawks and snakes on the site. “All of the where one stops and the other begins.” • animals are already here,” he says. “We just want them to reproduce and expand. Eventually, there will be woodpeckers when trees die and rot out. >> For more, go to V i r g i n i a

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p h oto g r a p h y by k i p daw k i n s


s t y l i n g b y n e e ly b a r n w e l l d y k s h o r n

A Time for


The modern version of the classic supper club hasn't lost any of the elegance of its golden era, but today, it is as much about forging deeper connections between friends as it is about the food.


By Lisa Antonelli Bacon

Once upon a time (when our grandparents were young and foolish), supper clubs were destinations— nightclubs, really—for people who wanted to dress up, relax, enjoy an elegant meal (often in a setting where they could order bathtub gin) and spend time with friends. Long, sexy cigarette holders, black tie, and draping pearls were all mainstays of a glamorous night out where people sipped martinis and listened to live orchestra or club music. (Desi Arnaz and Frank Sinatra come to mind.) As dressed up and interesting as the people were, the menus were not. The fare was straightforward: Surf and Turf, mashed potatoes. . . nothing complicated or French. Today, supper clubs are a different affair altogether. They aren’t just a setting; they are an entity. The guests, not the venue, are the club. But the purpose is the same: to spend time with friends over food and drink. The modern supper club is held in a home for a limited group, which is the most exclusive aspect of today’s supper clubs, and the same people show up every time. Best of all for guests, the host and hostess of the month usually spend days hunting down exotic ingredients and preparing dishes that are as intriguing as they are complex. But it’s about more than food. “We’re trying to

recapture an era when people made time for each other,” says Debi Shawcross, author of Friends at the Table, the Ultimate Supper Club Cookbook and the authoritative word on how to do it right and best. Also a teaching-chef, Shawcross knows how to pull off the perfect dinner party that is the template for entertaining in the new millennium. Her goal is to make every event ne plus ultra. “I think of it as a splurge for my friends,” she says. One of the benefits of the modern supper club is reciprocity. “They do the same for me.” In Friends at the Table, Shawcross cherry-picks the elements of the vintage supper club and transforms them into home entertaining. There is music (via iPod), cocktails (served by the host or hostess, not by a waitress in a provocative get-up) and fine dining (prepared meticulously, not en masse, in a home kitchen). The best deviation from the original? There is no tab at the end of the night. According to Shawcross, when forming a supper club, you first must figure out what you want to accomplish. Do you want to cultivate friends with children the same ages as yours? Are you trying to network for professional reasons? Are you looking for other couples to share your enthusiasm for

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Previous page: Artichokes and fresh herbs enliven the table setting. Above: Debi Shawcross hosts her supper club for a holiday feast. gastronomy? Maybe you’re new to the neighborhood and seeking entrer. “To get the most out of the supper club experience, you need a common goal,” says Shawcross. In her case, she simply wanted to have time committed to spending with close friends. “We’re going into our fourth year,” says Susan Moss, one of Shawcross’ clubbers, adding that children at home were the primary commonality. The group decided to include one nonmember “mystery couple” at their events; I was the crasher at their holiday supper club. “Usually, I try someone I don’t know real well,” says Moss, “someone I think would be an interesting conversationalist, but who blends in.”


For most of us, when fate intervenes (or the babysitter cancels), good friends forgive someone who opts out of a get-together at the last moment. But with supper club, there are no excuses short of death or an extreme act of nature. “For a supper club to work, you need to commit to a schedule, whether it's monthly, bi-monthly or quarterly, and stick to it,” Shawcross firmly states. Adds Moss, “It forces us to get together and make it happen.” The benefit? “A supper club is designed to build relationships on a deep, ongoing level,” says Shawcross in her book. Indeed, for some of us, nothing says “friend” better than one who devours your flat soufflé and pretends to enjoy it. While no one had to choke down a flopped dish at this party, it was clear the group appreciates time with each other as much as they appreciate exceptional food. But what of the old rules for entertaining, I ask Shawcross. Aren’t they more relaxed than in the days of starched linens and shrimp forks? (Yes.) Can I email invitations? (Yes.) Do I have to invite my best friend? (No.) Can I mix friends with colleagues? (Carefully. You don’t want your best friend to resurrect the story of when you left your kid in the supermarket.) Can I pass off Trader Joe’s Two Buck Chuck for good wine? (Don’t even.) Just because your club mates are close buddies doesn’t mean you can slack. In fact, the quintessential supper club experience demands perfection. And why not? To Shawcross’ thinking, if your best pals don’t deserve your best effort, then who does? Guidelines for supper club aren't that different than those for the elegant dinner party that you make yourself give once

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a year. In addition to the right mix of people, ambient lighting and a smooth segue from cocktails to table without announcing “Chow Time” are important. And there are some new issues that Desi and Lucy never foresaw: How do you accommodate vegans? Shawcross says go the distance, even if it means making a whole separate meal, which she did for one of her guests at this gathering. And, even though your guests can be as close as family, graciously signaling a close to the evening's festivities always requires a delicate touch. “I usually ask what people are doing the next day,” says Shawcross. Although in Shawcross’ club, each host couple is responsible for an entire evening, some clubs divvy the courses among members for each event. “In other words,” she says, “job-share to create the ultimate dinner party.” Another suggestion is for the men to handle the cooking and cleanup. At the Moss home, Susan engages her husband as sous chef. “Charlie will do everything, from chopping to grilling to serving food to doing dishes at the end,” she says. Whatever the arrangement, be prepared to go above and beyond what you normally do for a dinner party. When preparing for this holiday supper club, Shawcross spent hours in grocery stores. Rarely does she find everything she needs in one spot—blood orange juice for the cocktails was the elusive item this time. While some of us might fudge with a substitute like crème de cassis, Shawcross goes strictly by the book. For her professional standards, it's all in the ingredients, and sometimes there is just no substitute; certainly not for the beef tenderloin, prosciutto and rosemary, or cremini mushrooms, all of which were part of Shawcross’ holiday supper menu. Remember, above all, it’s about spending time with friends. Shawcross’ holiday supper club was time well spent; the food, a superb backdrop. But don’t relax. In a supper club, there is always the unstated expectation that you will extend the same amount of effort as other members. Whether it’s on time spent ferreting out unusual ingredients or meticulously peeling fruits and vegetables, supper club should have the sense of a major production, no matter how effortless these hostesses seem to make it. After all, without a little showbiz excitement, it just isn’t supper club. So, what are you doing tomorrow? •

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1. Blood orange champagne cocktails. 2. Chef and author, Debi Shawcross. 3. Roasted beef tenderloin with caramelized onion sauce. 4.

Prosciutto-wrapped shrimp with orange and rosemary. 5. A sprig of thyme finishes off a place setting. 6. Charlie Moss, Shawcross and Chiwon Hahn. 7. Brandied wild mushroom pâté. 8. Jeff Shawcross.

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Wasabi scalloped potatoes.

5. Beef tenderloin and wasabi scalloped potatoes. 6. Nancy Hahn. 7.

Chocolate lava cake.

8. Shawcross preparing cocktails.

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All recipes from Friends at the Table, the Ultimate Supper Club Cookbook by Debi Shawcross.


1/2 ounce dried blend shiitake/porcini mushrooms 1 cup hot water 1 stick unsalted butter 1/2 cup finely chopped sweet onion such as Vidalia 3 garlic cloves, minced 6 ounces cremini (baby bella) mushrooms, sliced 1/2 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves 1/2 teaspoon dried sage leaves 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary ½ teaspoon salt freshly ground pepper to taste 1/2 cup dry white wine 1/4 cup brandy 1/3 cup freshly-snipped chives for garnish For the pâté: Soak the dried mushrooms in hot water for 10 minutes, until very tender. Drain well. In a large, heavy skillet melt butter over medium heat. Add the onions and garlic and cook until they begin to soften, about 3 minutes. Add the mushrooms, herbs, salt and pepper, and sauté until very tender. When the liquid begins to evaporate, add the wine and brandy. Reduce until most of the liquid is gone. Cool, taste, and adjust seasonings; then add to a food processor and process until very smooth. Pour into a small bowl or crock and chill until set. Remove from the refrigerator an hour before serving to soften a bit. Rye Toast: 1 package dark cocktail rye bread 4 tablespoons butter, melted Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Place bread squares on a large baking sheet. Bake until lightly toasted on each side. Brush one side with melted butter, return to oven, and bake an additional 3 minutes. Remove from oven and cool. To serve: Spread pate on toasted rye bread and sprinkle with chives.

PROSCIUTTO-WRAPPED SHRIMP WITH ORANGE AND ROSEMARY 24 large shrimp, peeled and deveined with tails intact 1/2 cup Sambuca liqueur 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil 1 teaspoon orange zest, plus more for garnish 3 tablespoons fresh rosemary, leaves and soft tips only, plus more for garnish kosher salt and fresh ground black pepper, to taste 8 slices prosciutto (about 4 ounces) Place the shrimp in a single layer into a shallow sided baking pan. In a small bowl whisk together the Sambuca, olive oil, 1 teaspoon orange zest, 2 tablespoons rosemary, salt and pepper. Pour the mixture over the shrimp; tossing to coat thoroughly. Let marinate 10 minutes and then turn them over to marinate 10 more minutes. Carefully cut the prosciutto slices into thirds lengthwise. Wrap a strip of prosciutto around the center of each shrimp, tucking a rosemary leaf or two between the shrimp and prosciutto. Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill to medium-high heat. Cook the shrimp, turning once until cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a serving plate and garnish with a bit more rosemary and some orange zest.




3 ounces Ghirardelli 60 percent Cacao bittersweet chocolate 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream

6 cups mixed field greens meat from 2 steamed lobsters (1 1/2 pound each), cut into 1-inch pieces 2 red peppers, roasted, peeled and cut into1/2-inch strips 5 ounces goat cheese, crumbled Place the greens, lobster and peppers in a salad bowl and add enough dressing to coat. Toss well. Top with sprinkles of goat cheese Dressing: 4 tablespoons miso paste 1/2 cup rice wine vinegar 2 tablespoons ginger 2 teaspoons minced garlic 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper juice from 2 oranges 1 teaspoon tahini Whisk together the miso paste, vinegar, ginger, garlic, pepper, orange juice and tahini in a small bowl. Set aside.

ROASTED BEEF TENDERLOIN WITH CARAMELIZED ONION SAUCE 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided 16 cups thinly sliced sweet onions such as Vidalia (about 4 pounds) 2 tablespoons firmly packed brown sugar 6 ounces dark beer 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar 2 cups beef stock 1 tablespoon chopped fresh rosemary salt and freshly ground pepper to taste 1 (2-pound) beef tenderloin 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil


Cake: Nonstick cooking spray 6 ounces Ghirardelli 60 percent Cacao bittersweet chocolate 12 tablespoons unsalted butter 3 eggs plus 3 egg yolks 1/2 cup sugar 3/4 teaspoon vanilla 1/3 cup cake flour 1 tablespoon raspberry flavored liqueur Garnish: 1 cup heavy whipping cream 3 tablespoons powdered sugar 8 raspberries For the centers: Melt chocolate and cream in a double boiler. Whisk gently to blend. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until firm. Form into 6 balls. Refrigerate until needed. For the cakes: Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Spray eight 4-ounce ramekins with cooking spray. Melt the chocolate and butter in a double boiler and whisk gently to blend. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, yolks, sugar and vanilla with an electric mixer on high speed about 5 minutes or until thick and light. Fold the melted chocolate mixture and flour into the egg mixture just until combined. Mix in the liqueur. Spoon cake batter into the ramekins. Place a chocolate ball in the middle of each ramekin. Bake about 15 minutes. Run a small, sharp knife around the inside of each ramekin, place a plate on top, invert and remove ramekin. To serve: Mix the cream and powdered sugar together in an electric mixer until stiff peaks form. Garnish cakes with raspberries and a dollop of whipped cream.

For the sauce: In a large saucepan, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently until onions begin to turn a deep golden brown, about 30 minutes. Add the brown sugar, mix well, and cook 3 minutes. Add the beer and vinegar to the pan, scraping the bottom to loosen browned bits. Cook, stirring occasionally, until mixture is reduced by half. Add the beef stock, mix well, and continue cooking until the sauce is reduced by half. Stir in the rosemary and whisk in the remaining butter. Season with salt and freshly ground pepper.

All recipes serve 8 to 10.

Debi Shawcross and Lisa Bacon prepare lobster for salad.

For the beef tenderloin: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Sprinkle the beef generously with salt and freshly ground pepper. In a heavy, large skillet, heat oil over high heat. Add the beef to the skillet and cook until brown on all sides, about 5 minutes. Transfer the beef to a roasting pan. Roast in oven until a thermometer inserted into center of the beef registers 120 degrees for medium rare, about 35 minutes. Transfer the beef to a cutting board and let rest 10 minutes. To serve, cut the beef tenderloin crosswise into ½ -inch thick slices. Spoon sauce over the slices.

P o m e g r a nat e D i s h t o w e l , A s t o r i a C a n d l e s t i c k h o l d e r s , C h i l e w i c h ® D a h l i a c u t -v i n y l p l a c e m at s i n g u n m e ta l , L u s t r e s i lv e r N a p k i n s a n d H ya c i n t h M e ta l l i c R u n n e r f r o m C r at e & B a r r e l , R i c h m o n d . Ec o - f r i e n d ly, l o c a l ly g r o w n g a r l a n d b y T h e G r e e n F l a m i n g o , R i c h m o n d . B l a c k b a m b o o c h a i r s f r o m Pa r t y P e r f e c t, R i c h m o n d .

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Life Dancer


of a

A look behind the scenes at the working life of the artists-cum-athletes of the Richmond Ballet, and into the world of la belle danse. By Erin Parkhurst | Photography by Glen McClure

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Cody Beaton preparing for rehearsal.

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This page: Thomas Ragland and Phillip Skaggs. Right: Tommy Garrett and Maggie Small. Below: Shira Lanyi in the costume shop.

Caption goes heres here and hereand a caption and hereand a caption gtion


At around 10 o’clock on a late winter morning, dancers of the Richmond Ballet gather in the fourth-floor studio of their steel building on Canal Street. Floor-to-ceiling windows on two sides of the room look out over the downtown city skyline, usually inviting light into the space, but not today. Rain streams down the slick surface against the backdrop of a glowering sky. The 14 members of the professional company, and the 30 or so trainees and apprentices all hoping to make it to the big show, start each day here, at the barre, rain or shine. Jerri Kumery, the lissome ballet master, walks slowly around the room as she conducts the 90-minute class, softly issuing corrections or compliments to the dancers who watch their movements closely in the smudged mirrors. As muscles warm, outer layers of clothes are shed and perspiration begins to show. One of the dancers grimaces as he lowers his body to the floor in splits, and the company lets out a collective sigh at the end of each exercise. But in a moment of levity they break concentration and laugh as two dancers accidentally collide and stumble, giggling. Tonight they will perform Giselle at the opulent Carpenter Theatre. The audience will not see any

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sweat, or witness any stumbling or hear any sound that would betray the brute strength required to perform the gravity-defying choreography. The dancers will appear weightless, their fluid movements, effortless. But here, on mornings like these, is where the work happens to create that fiction. “You want the truth? You can’t handle the truth!” teases Malcolm Burn at the beginning of a rehearsal. The native New Zealander who has been with Richmond Ballet for nearly 25 years, first as a dancer and now as ballet master, gets a laugh from the group for his Jack Nicholson impression. The object of his gentle ribbing, Julie Smith, a freshfaced 22-year-old, smiles. She is the newest member of the professional company. Just days before, she was promoted from apprentice (typically, a two-year paid training program) to company member, and signed her first professional contract (she will earn roughly $20,000 for the season). This is a place few aspiring dancers make it to. “It was exhilarating,” Smith says of the day she found out. “There are no words.” A native of Plano, Texas, Smith began dancing at the age of eight. She spent one year as a trainee at

Cincinnati Ballet, then auditioned for six months before landing an apprenticeship at Richmond Ballet in 2008; a process she describes as “like running a marathon.” (Of the 24 or so trainees at Richmond Ballet each year, only eight will be hired as apprentices.) This year, Smith is just one of three apprentices who were promoted into the professional company. Today is one of Smith’s first rehearsals as a pro. She stands somewhat shyly at the edge of the group as Burn gets serious and calls everyone to gather around an old TV that has been set up in a corner of the darkened stage. There is new choreography to learn for next season, and this is how they do it. “Ballet repertory is not recorded in books or libraries,” writes Jennifer Homans in her 2010 book, Apollo’s Angels, which limns the 400-year history of ballet, “it is held instead in the bodies of dancers.” Burn pops a tape into a VCR, and Smith leans forward with the others to see the small screen and hear the crackling music. When the tape is finished and the dancers try out the new steps, Burn offers technical direction, “OK, now arabesque,” and advice that is a little less concrete: “Now you come around and swoopy-doo,”

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First row, from left: Valerie Tellman, Julie Smith and Lauren Elizabeth. Second row, from left: Cecile Tuzii, Shira Lanyi and Samantha Benoit. Back Row; Thomas Bettin, Dylan Keane, Ariel Rose and Ben Malone.

waiting for? What are you saving for? “ What are youNow is all there is.” george balanchine he says, making a wide sweeping motion with his arms. The dancers seem to know what this means as little by little they try and tweak and try again, each effort bringing them closer to what the steps will look like when they are finally performed a few months from now. There is little about Burn to suggest the harsh stereotype of the ballet master who shouts at dancers and cracks a stick against his palm. Dressed in dark jeans and a t-shirt, Burn’s wispy gray hair and glasses make him appear something more like a charming mad-scientist. He watches as Phillip Skaggs, 33, Thomas Ragland, 24, and Tommy Garrett, 27, practice a series of jumps. Quiet for a few moments, he determines that the second beat in the three-count step is off. “It’s so small, but it shows,” he says to the men, who have been running and leaping across the stage in the empty theater for at least 15 minutes and are now breathing heavily. But there is more

to master than just technique. “Character does not come from the technique,” Burn admonishes. “At first, I had a hard time getting into character,” says the lanky 6-foot 2-inch Garrett, a native of Jacksonville, Florida, who is in his seventh year with the company. “The first couple of years of my training I was so focused on technique.” When I meet him later after the rehearsal, he is wearing jeans and a plaid shirt, his longish brown hair tousled. He laughs as he explains he wanted to be a basketball player when he was young and told his mother (who owned a small dance school), “You’ll never find me in tights!” He appears boyish as he says this, but gets serious when he explains that it was the difficulty of ballet that drew him to it ultimately. This evening, he will perform the role of Albrecht in Giselle. The convivial young man talking with me seems so different from the regal and sophisticated character he will become in a few

hours. To prepare for the nightly transformation he must make, Garrett says he listened to the music constantly for weeks, even as he fell asleep. He also describes what strikes me as an almost Zen-like process of visualizing choreography over and over in his head. “Not everyone thinks about it so much,” says Maggie Small, 26, who has just joined us. “Tommy really likes to think through the choreography over and over, like 42 times before he does it! I say, ‘Oh my God! Can we just do it?’” Garrett smiles, and says, “It just makes me feel more secure.” Small, also in her seventh year with the company, is allowed this bit of playfulness. She and Garrett have been a couple for nine years—since their first apprentice year. A Richmond native who came up through the ranks of Richmond Ballet, the ebullient Small was singled out in 2010 by Dance Magazine as one of the year's "Most Amazing

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Clockwise from above: Igor Antonov and Maggie Small with Shira Lanyi in background; Thomas Ragland in front; Valerie Tellman.

Performers." I ask if she has thought of moving to a company in a bigger city (though Richmond Ballet is Virginia’s only professional ballet company, and the official state ballet), she doesn’t hesitate: “Why? I have everything I need right here.” Everything about Small reflects the ethos of carpe diem that the late George Balanchine, who was perhaps America’s most influential choreographer, was known to espouse. “What are you waiting for?” he would say. “What are you saving for? Now is all there is.” I ask what Small’s plans are for the future and she smiles: “That’s a good question!” When I meet Shira Lanyi, who is 24 and in her fifth season with the company, she confesses, “It’s really annoying to me when people ask what else I do. People sometimes don’t realize this is a fulltime job.” (Dancers arrive around 10 a.m. and work all day, eight hours or more, six days a week for the 40 weeks of their annual contracts.)

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A few weeks from now, when the season ends in mid-May, the dancers’ contracts will end, and many of them will draw unemployment insurance for some or all of the 12 weeks they are not paid during the summer. For the last six years, Lanyi— a graduate of Maggie Walker Governor’s School in Richmond who laughs easily and plans to study to become a pediatric orthopedist when her dance career is over—has supplemented her income by operating a catering business called Sur La Pointe. She is not the only dancer with a side business: Phillip Skaggs, 33, and one of the company’s most seasoned performers with 12 years at Richmond Ballet under his belt, operates a guest-performer referral business,, which he started in 1998, the year after he joined Richmond Ballet. (Dancers often perform as guests in other companies.) The enterprising Skaggs tells me, “I’m more than a dancer. I’m happy dancing right now and

my body feels great. But I will only dance until it doesn’t feel right anymore.” The owner with his wife of a circa 1911 bungalow in Richmond’s North Side, Skaggs says his “dream job” in his next career would be to flip houses. Skaggs’ path to dancing was more circuitous, perhaps, than some of his colleagues’. Born and raised in Kentucky, the 6-foot 3-inch square-jawed blonde with the earnest expression didn’t start dancing until he was 16. “My whole ballet life has been like Forrest Gump. I’ve always shown up at the right time, the right day to make it work out.” He trained at Nutmeg Conservatory in Connecticut for three years, and of his peers there he says, “We were a bunch of jocks. We’d go to the gym and pump iron and slam chests, then at night we’d watch ballet videos.” It was at Nutmeg that he says he had an a-ha moment. “Once, rehearsing for Sleeping Beauty, I did a pose and looked over in

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Clockwise from above, left: Stoner Winslett working with dancers; Jerri Kumery; Igor Antonov; dancers rehearsing Nuevo Tango.

the mirror and saw the prince,” he says. “I saw the vision then of what I could be. At that point, I wasn’t the most talented kid, but I decided to work to be the best dancer that I can.” The next time I see Skaggs, it is at the tail end of a rehearsal for a performance he and fellow company member Cecile Tuzii will give in North Carolina next month. They confer with Burn as they run bits of the choreography. Even in the over-warm theater, the fluorescent lights overhead throwing down jagged, unnatural light, none of the magic of ballet is lost; in some ways, the removal of the artifice makes it even more beautiful to watch. “There is a point when you no longer look good in white tights,” Skaggs confides later. “It is a

visual art, and you want to take yourself out before someone else takes you out.” Though he is, he says, living in the present of his career, he is also at a point where he is beginning to evaluate what comes next, and the long-term effect on his body of the punishing physicality of his work. Like his peers, Skaggs is no stranger to injury; he tore an ankle tendon just last year. (Not surprisingly, the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics claims that dancers have one of the highest rates of nonfatal on-the-job injury at 97 percent.) Skaggs is well acquainted with the rehab process. His wife of seven years, Katie Lynch, 32, was a professional dancer and company member with Richmond Ballet for seven years; she retired in 2007 (a term that feels odd to use when talking

about such young people). “I really wasn’t ready to retire, but my body was, which made it especially hard for me,” she says. Lynch was diagnosed with lupus (a chronic autoimmune disease) at 17, just before she joined Richmond Ballet as a trainee, which slowed down her recoveries from a series of injuries that started in her first apprentice year. She describes the many months she spent in rehab and on Worker’s Compensation as torturous. “For a dancer, the worst thing is to sit on the sideline.” Dark-haired and petite—and pregnant with the couple’s first child, a boy they will name Louie— Lynch is on the faculty of the School of Richmond Ballet and teaches 5, 6, and 7-year-olds. She is circumspect as we sit talking in the quiet of the lobby on a late afternoon. “I can equate it to the stages of

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Clockwise from above, left: Dylan Keane and Cleopatra Avery; Jerri Kumery works with Cody Beaton and Trevor Davis; Phillip and Katie Lynch Skaggs with son, Louie, who was born in July; School of Richmond Ballet.

grief,” she tells me of her decision to retire. “It sort of felt like there was a part of me that died when I stopped performing. I had been ‘Katie the Ballerina’ since I was three. I worked hard to become that person, then I wasn’t her anymore. Who am I without this I asked myself? Will I ever feel as passionate about anything else?” In two weeks, Lynch, the daughter of an orthopedic surgeon, will graduate with a nursing degree from Virginia Commonwealth University, and plans to work in labor and delivery. Was it hard living with a dancer during the transition to her next career? “In some ways, because Phil is a dancer it was easier because he understood,” she says. “But also because he was a dancer, I couldn’t escape it.” So, what does Lynch miss the most? She pauses for a moment, and glances at the pointe shoes lying on the floor nearby (earlier she demonstrated how a ballerina’s foot fits into the shoe, still limber enough to bend over despite being eight

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months pregnant). “I miss performing the most, and the physical activity. At the end of the day my body would be so tired, but it felt so good.” She adds, “Nothing is going to be exactly like that was, but I have to be able to leave that there and move on to other things.” All dancers do. “I miss moving through space to the music,” says Stoner Winslett, founding artistic director of Richmond Ballet who is in her 31st year with the company. She cradles a small dog on her lap as we talk. (Winslett’s 11-year-old daughter persuaded her to adopt the timid Shih Tzu named Ellie who was recently rescued from a puppy mill. “Dog, you will be reformed!” she says as she hugs her.) Winslett explains that her knees gave out while she was in college (she began dancing when she was four and even operated a small ballet school in her parents’ basement when she was a teenager), which prevented her from dancing professionally. “I was mostly sad when that happened," she says thought-

fully. But she adds, “Around that time I was also starting to think there could be a different way dancers could be treated. A lot of directors treat dancers like Kleenex, use them and throw them away. I thought maybe I could make a different kind of place.” Richmond Ballet is a no-star, all-star company, which means that all the dancers have an equal chance at winning leading roles. And, unlike many other major ballet companies in the country (including the New York City Ballet, which earlier this year ended a nearly year-long contract dispute over pay, and illness and injury policies), the dancers in Richmond Ballet are not in a union. Of Richmond Ballet, Winslett says, “We’re not where we want to be yet, and we never will be. As a dancer you realize that perfection will never be attainable,” but, she laughs, “every day we come a little closer, and that’s what makes it so savory!” “It was great to dance, but it’s even better to

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Clockwise from above, left: In the costume shop; Maggie Small and Tommy Garrett in The Nutcracker; Cecile Tuzii.

master,” Jerri Kumery, 53, tells me when she comes out of her smallish office and settles in to one of the soft velvet sofas in the lounge area outside the administrative offices. She is all energy—even seated, her body is moving, and she gestures with her hands as she speaks. “I have a photographic memory,” she says. “I love to put together puzzles. As a ballet master, what I love is to take all the pieces of the choreography and fit them together, then see it come to life with the dancers.” Kumery retired in 1987 after 10 years with the New York City Ballet where she danced for Balanchine (“Mr. B” as she refers to him). She suffered a career-ending injury in a rehearsal for an opening night performance of his ballet, Rubies, in which she was a soloist. Her arms came unlocked from her partner's as he threw her into a jump: She landed squarely on her knees, unable to break her fall. She performed that night anyway. “The doctor knew I couldn’t dance again,” she

says, “but he also knew I had to go on stage and find out for myself.” After a year away from ballet, she returned and became a répétiteur for the George Balanchine Trust (one who is authorized to stage Balanchine ballets). “I guess I needed to go far away from that life I had lost to find another beginning. I wasn’t completely Jerri until I got back into it.” Would she rather not have been blind-sided with an injury like hers? “The universe made the decision for me,” she explains as she cocks her head of close-cropped blonde hair, “and I’m open to that. I couldn’t imagine deciding to stop.” “I think going out because of an injury would be more difficult,” Igor Antonov, 43, tells me later the same day. “That for me would take a lot of vodka!” jokes the Ukraine-born Antonov who, just two weeks earlier, gave his last performance after a career that lasted 25 years. (At the age of 10, he was sent to a prestigious dance school in Kiev, 12 hours

away from his home.) As we talk, he crosses his legs and runs his fingers through his thick brown hair; he has an easy way about him. “I’m sad not being on stage,” he says of his decision to retire, his voice thickly-accented, “but at the same time I am ready to not be on stage.” Antonov (who is engaged to fellow company member Cecile Tuzii) will now teach upperlevel dancers in the School of Richmond Ballet. (“Maybe I should work at McDonald’s?” he jokes). “I like helping somebody achieve something they haven’t before, through the discipline of everyday hard work.” What Antonov doesn’t like, he says, is for people to come see rehearsal. Why? “For me, the ballet is magic. We’re supposed to pretend it is effortless.” • >> For more, go to

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departure Final CalL: All Ashore… A backward glance at the end of the era of steam packet travel on the Chesapeake Bay. By Chiles T. A. LARSON | Illustration By DAVID HOLLENBACH


xcept for their steel hulls, they were constructed largely of wood, ran on steam and, in the summers of my childhood, never failed to provide the most wonderful adventure imaginable. They were a fleet of steam packets, the Southland, built in 1908, the Northland (1911), and the District of Columbia (1925), plying between Norfolk and Washington in the Potomac River Service of the Norfolk & Washington Steamboat Co. Growing up in Norfolk, where one is almost completely surrounded by water, marine and maritime ways became a part of the fabric of everyday experiences. Although an overnight journey by steamer to visit grandparents in Alexandria became an annual family ritual in the late 1930s and early ’40s, it never became a casual event. On the evenings of our journeys, the family would embark an hour before departure time. Once on board, we would make our way to the purser’s cabin to be assigned our staterooms. With the key in our hands, my sister and I would race off to locate and inspect our quarters. The always-spotless staterooms had two berths: a large lower one, suitable for two persons, and a smaller one overhead. There was a basin in the corner by the porthole (I say porthole, but actually it was a large rectangular window with a single glass pane). For privacy or to shut out the heat or light, a louvered shutter could be pulled in to fill the space. As interesting as the staterooms were, we would not linger. There was too much activity elsewhere. Excitement permeated the air. Passengers and friends gathered in small groups for final goodbyes. Stevedores were moving the last of the automobiles, baggage and assorted freight aboard. The goose bumps that formed on the back of my neck reached full size by the final call. “All ashore that’s going ashore!” echoed throughout the passageways. Would everyone not going get off in time? What about late arrivals? Would the captain wait a few extra minutes if he saw a passenger running down the wharf ? We wouldn’t dwell on these questions very long, for this call was also our notice to seek a vantage point to watch the procedures for getting underway. The upper deck near the bridge was best to observe the captain giving commands. First, the gangway would be pulled and shoved aboard, followed by a call for slack on the mooring lines. Once satisfied, the captain would order steam. These orders would be carried out by the mate in the

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wheelhouse with a quick downward pull on the twin arms of the engine telegraph, setting off a sharp, “Bering, Bering!’ followed by a flood of wash boiling in an ever enlarging arc as the powerful propellers came alive. Then came the deepthroated blast from the steam whistle sending aloft watchful seagulls perched on surrounding pilings, knowing that morsels would be stirred up from the depths as we slowly made our way down the Elizabeth River past old Fort Norfolk, the coal piers, the naval base and out into Hampton Roads. After making a scheduled stop at Old Point Comfort, it was full speed ahead for the open waters of the Chesapeake Bay. One evening, on one of the last trips we made before the war, I recall two slot machines had been placed in the lounge area near the ship’s canteen. I did not know what they were, since heavy felt cloths had been draped over them earlier in the evening. Later I found out why. Virginia state law prohibited gambling while in state jurisdiction. Before climbing into my berth, I asked my father if I could go to the canteen for a candy bar. He gave me 10 cents, and off I went. By this time, the covers had been removed from the gaming devices, and a sizable crowd kept the galloping dominoes and horserace machines jumping. Seeing someone collect a few nickels after each of the horse races, I determined to forget the candy bar and try my luck. Much to my dismay, my horse finished out of the money. Fully aroused now and down to my other nickel, I switched to the galloping dominoes. Placing the bet was easy. The grownups were avoiding one particular coin slot because of the long odds. This was unbeknownst to me, and down the chute went the nickel. When the spinning lights and whirring gears stopped, a hat full of nickels spewed out and rolled all over the deck. The active players were asking each other who had won. I certainly didn’t realize I had. Fortunately, a watchful stranger told the others it was my good fortune. When all the nickels were collected, I walked a troubled route back to the stateroom. My dad was less than enthusiastic. His wry comment was to keep the money, because I would soon be parted from it anyway. Parting with it came soon enough, as it did with this journey. “All ashore” we find ourselves, stranded this half century after the last of the steamboats has blown its mournful “taps” and its bell tolled its own requiem. •

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Virginia Living - December 2011  
Virginia Living - December 2011  

Virginia Living's December 2011 issue