Thursday, November 28, 2013

Today: James Madison University marching band in Macy's Thanksgiving parade

Virginia's James Madison University Marching Dukes will be one of only two college bands performing today in the 2013 Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City.

JMU first participated in the parade in 2001 and again in 2008, and will be sending 485 band members this year.

Band Director Scott Rikkers told WHSV TV-3:
"This will be our third time in the parade. We went for the first time in 2001, second time in 2008, and this will be our third appearance on the 20th of November. There are two college bands in the parade, and we are marching 485. We're probably one of the largest college bands in the country, which we're very proud of, but we're going because we really want to represent James Madison University. What we're just trying to do is create the best, most entertaining performance for the audience, and also again to represent the quality of our program and the school so that's what we focus on, and bottom line, the kids are going to have a great time."
As a JMU family with our own Duke alumnus son, we will be watching the Marching Dukes. Congratulations, JMU!

Thanksgiving 'Fun With Taters' from Hoops & Yoyo

Reprinted from 2008 ... for my brother-in-law Jon....

So it's Thanksgiving morning and we've got the turkey in the oven cooking, and my Mom, sister, and I have planned the side dishes, bread, dessert ... and then my brother-in-law asks, "Are we having mashed potatoes?"

Some years we have mashed potatoes but most years we have macaroni and cheese, which is what was planned this year. I laughed and asked him did he want mashed potatoes? He just laughed.

Then I slipped out of the kitchen to the office to check my email ... and there was an e-card sent by him, his wife (my sister), and their daughter (SWAC Niece). I opened it ... and laughed my head off. Mashed potatoes, indeed!

Check it out here if you want a good Turkey Day laugh. Be sure to click on the butter sticks for more funny commentary from Hoops and Yoyo.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Thanksgiving Eve snow in Shenandoah Valley

It didn't amount to much but snow flurries on Wednesday made a winter wonderland in the Shenandoah Valley. As I did food prep in the kitchen for Thanksgiving Day, my inner seven-year-old looked out windows and doors to watch the ever-whitening landscape.  It was a pretty sight....

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 27, 2013

'Twas the day before Thanksgiving ... family traditions

'Twas the day before Thanksgiving and all through the house
Lots of goodies were cooking (but not the mouse). 
The pies were all set on the counter to cool
While Ma in her apron was a holiday-cooking fool.
My sad attempt at putting a poetic spin on the holiday as I swirl around the house on Thanksgiving Eve ... LOL. Like many, I'm in the kitchen today prepping for tomorrow's big meal with family. My sister and I traditionally take on the cooking and baking, something we both enjoy, as we incorporate old favorites along with the occasional new dish.

We broke tradition last year when we roasted a chicken, a tradition that will continue this year. She's cooking the bird and adding her dishes. As for me, I make passed-down family favorites from aunts who are no longer with us: macaroni and cheese and chocolate pies. I've added to that Virginia Bread Pudding with caramel sauce, Thalhimer's Richmond Room Spoonbread, very veggie garden salad and dressing, steamed broccoli crowns, and "skinny" mashed potatoes (made with fat free chicken broth instead of butter and milk -- they're yummy).

Can you tell I like staying in touch with family and Southern traditions? Thalhimer's Richmond Room was a popular gathering place in its day when Thalhimer's and Miller & Rhoads were destination department stores in downtown Richmond. Virginia Bread Pudding is a nod to my husband's childhood when his mother used old bread to make dessert for her small brood so it's one part emotional memories for him and one part delicious dessert.

My Aunt Ola on my mother's side made the best baked mac and cheese so I began to use her recipe after going out on my own. It's a lot of cheese and many memories, a reminder of fun family dinners at her house when there were so many of us that we barely fit, and we had a children's table in the kitchen and a grown-up table in the dining room. I think I was in my 30s before ever graduating from the children's table which, sadly, meant the grown-ups were growing older and leaving us. There's many happy memories of those years at the children's table especially once I had my own children so we were sitting in there together.

The chocolate pies were always anticipated at holidays from my Aunt Ruth on my mother's side. These aren't pudding-from-a-box pies. These are -- pardon my cursing -- "stir-your-damn-arm-off" (as it was deemed by my sisters and me because it took forever to thicken and you couldn't leave it unattended or it would stick to the bottom and burn) real chocolate filling that was poured into a homemade crust. I fudge on the crust -- I don't like making it and really don't want to spend the time after being at the stove so long stirring -- and this year I made phyllo pastry crust for something new and a little -- emphasis on "little" -- healthier. It is a meringue-topped decadent chocolate fantasy so after Aunt Ruth passed away 16 years ago, I carried on the chocolate pie tradition.

That's what holidays are -- traditions carried on by families from generation to generation. My aunts were fantastic cooks from a large family and my sisters and I learned their tricks of the trade. One slice of pie or a serving of macaroni and cheese unlocks special memories, and tomorrow that will be going on all over America.

The food is delicious, the baking is fun, but the best part of Thanksgiving is being with family. Though my father passed away years ago leaving daughters who were 13, 20, and 22 at the time, another dad came into our lives when he married our mother, and so we are grateful to celebrate with the two of them who are now at the youthful ages of 86 and 87.

And to the military members who are stationed around the world and away from their families, a special thanks and prayers for them and their loved ones. We can never repay their dedication and service to our country which allows us the freedom to celebrate Thanksgiving in a peaceful land.

As I head back to the kitchen to finish food prep, here's wishing a Happy Thanksgiving with gratitude for our friends ... and to those who are traveling for the holiday, be safe out there.

One day in the life of Virginia's libraries

Libraries go out of style? You must not have been to one recently. The Virginia Library Association lets us know that in just one day ...

- 412,969 items were borrowed
- 3,726 new library customers enrolled
- 10,764 attended free classes
- 82,565 customers used computers and Internet access
- 14,527 people held meetings
- 8,861 people in the community were visited by the library
- 19,239 customers asked questions about business, jobs, health, government, and school work.

Libraries provide public education for all. A major component of Virginia's strong education system, libraries, deliver an exceptional three-pronged curriculum:
- Self-directed education
- Research assistance and instruction
- Instructive and enlightening experiences.

What's the number one citizen request in Virginia's public libraries? Digital information resources.

Technology: Today's new libraries stand poised to meet the information needs of the 21st century with:
 - Ebooks
 - Downloadable audiobooks
 - Online research tools
 - WiFi.

Interested? Check out any of the branches of the Augusta County Public Library system: Fishersville Main Branch, Churchville, Deerfield, Craigsville, Middlebrook.

Lt. Governor Bill Bolling encourages shoppers to support Small Business Saturday on November 30

Just as he did in 2012, Lieutenant Governor Bolling today encouraged Virginia shoppers to participate in the fourth annual Small Business Saturday which will be taking place this year on November 30, 2013

Small Business Saturday, which falls between Black Friday and Cyber Monday, supports the national movement to drive consumers to shop at local, independently owned businesses during the heaviest shopping weekend of the year. Small Business Saturday was created in 2010 in response to small business owners’ most pressing need: more customers.

The lieutenant governor noted:
“I urge Virginians to buy local on the Saturday after Thanksgiving and support the small businesses in their communities. Small businesses contribute positively to local economies by supplying much needed jobs and generating large tax revenues. Please take this opportunity over the holiday weekend to patronize small shops, restaurants and service providers that help Virginia’s economy grow.”
According to the second annual Small Business Saturday Insights Survey released by the National Federation of Independent Businesses and American Express, 67% of small business owners will offer discounts on specific items or general discounts and 36% will offer coupons for future offers or discounts.

To learn more about Small Business Saturday, please click here:

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Foggy, rainy Shenandoah Valley

Foggy conditions invaded the Shenandoah Valley Tuesday as icy conditions gave way to heavy rain and rising temperatures.

From this spot on the road, the Appalachians are layered against the western sky with higher West Virginia mountains in the background. Not today. As I drove home shortly before dark, the fog had settled over my corner of Augusta County, kind of like a hidden village under the clouds ... our own Brigadoon, if you may.

After dark, the rains increased as temperatures rose. The forecast says the temperature could rise a couple more degrees overnight before a second blast of cold air in the morning moves in to complicate matters even more. We're keeping an eye on NBC-29 for weather updates. Safe travels to all who are headed to Thanksgiving destinations.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 26, 2013

Winter weather hits Shenandoah Valley ... local schools on delay

Graphic from The Weather Channel

Augusta County and Staunton public schools are on a two-hour delay this morning after winter weather moved into the area overnight. Ice, snow, and freezing rain were expected with a winter weather advisory lasting until 4:00 p.m. Tuesday.

Tuesday night and Wednesday, heavy rains will be moving into the Valley with wintry weather in other areas making Thanksgiving travel hazardous for millions along the East Coast.

The Winter Weather Advisory includes locations in the Shenandoah Valley and east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Check NBC-29 for the latest closings/delays and weather updates throughout the day.

Reps. Eric Cantor, Bobby Scott to give back to community Wednesday

On Wednesday, November 27, 2013, Congressman Eric Cantor (VA-7) and Congressman Bobby Scott (VA-3) will volunteer at the Central Virginia Food Bank and help prepare weekend backpacks for children who do not have reliable access to nutritional meals other than those provided at school. This is part of an ongoing #ServiceRVA effort to encourage more people to give back to the community.

From the Weekend BackPack Program website:
Around the region, you’ll find many teachers who can tell you about a student who came to school on Monday, not reluctant to start the school week but eager to get back to school after going through Friday evening, all day Saturday, and all day Sunday without a square meal—or knowledge of a source for their next meal.

Those children are the reason we started the BackPack Program.

The BackPack Program is one of FeedMore’s major initiatives to ensure that children in need have balanced, nutritious food they need to learn and grow. The concept is simple: children at risk of weekend hunger receive a bag of food that is child-friendly, nutritious, nonperishable, and easy to prepare/eat. Each BackPack offers enough food that children can easily assemble into six healthy meals over the weekend when schools are unable to provide breakfasts or lunches.

By partnering with Communities in Schools, school staff, and local school systems, the BackPacks are distributed to children in need through the school system—discreetly—each Friday afternoon or before a long holiday weekend.
The Weekend BackPack Program is looking for more partners. Go to the website for more information.

Thanksgiving 2013 proclamation from Governor Bob McDonnell

Thanksgiving 2013 official holiday proclamation from Governor Bob McDonnell recognizing November 28 as Thanksgiving Day in Virginia.


WHEREAS, the first permanent English speaking settlement in the New World was established in Virginia at Jamestown in 1607, as Captain John Smith led a group of settlers across the Atlantic on a voyage that would entail much hardship over the coming years, including disease and starvation; and

WHEREAS, to show their appreciation for the colony's success and to take stock and give thanks for their own gifts and blessings, and in spite of tremendous adversity, the settlers in Virginia found time to celebrate the first Thanksgiving in America at Berkeley Plantation on December 4, 1619; and

WHEREAS, a state historical marker commemorating “The first English Thanksgiving in Virginia” was dedicated on November 1, 2013 and was placed along Route 5 just west of the entrance to Berkeley Plantation in Charles City County; the marker states that on December 4, 1619, the ship Margaret arrived in Virginia carrying “Capt. John Woodlief, a member of the Virginia Company, with 35 men to take charge of Berkeley Hundred,” and Capt. John Woodlief “bore instructions that the day of his ship's arrival ‘be yearly and perpetually kept holy as a day of thanksgiving to almighty God’”; and

WHEREAS, while reflecting upon the actions taken by the colonists at the first Thanksgiving, we also honor the Indian peoples, for without their presence, the survival of the colonists would have been ever more difficult; and

WHEREAS, American leaders and citizens have recognized a day of Thanksgiving since our first president, George Washington issued the first Thanksgiving proclamation in 1789, stating “it is the duty of all nations to acknowledge the providence of Almighty God, to obey His will, to be grateful for His benefits, and humbly implore His protection and favor”; and

WHEREAS, it is a Virginia tradition for our citizens to come together in unity on Thanksgiving Day and give thanks for the great level of serenity, harmony and abundance with which we, as citizens of a free nation, have been blessed; the rule of law by which we peaceably govern ourselves and by which our civil and religious liberties are guaranteed; and the brave servicemen and women of our armed forces who risk their lives to defend the freedoms and blessings we cherish;

NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert F. McDonnell, do hereby recognize November 28, 2013 as A DAY OF THANKSGIVING in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens; and

FURTHERMORE, I encourage all Virginians to give thanks to our Creator for our plentiful blessings, including the rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness as well as the unwavering strength of our families and communities.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Shenandoah Valley: VDOT prepares for wintry weather

 The Rt. 262 bypass around Staunton was being treated this morning as VDOT put down anti-freezing fluids on the roadways preparing for incoming wintry weather that could include snow, ice, and freezing rain. By this afternoon, both sides of the road had been done as well as many other main thoroughfares around Staunton, Waynesboro, and Augusta County.

This VDOT worker was retrieving trash from the middle of the road. Keeping us safe ... many thanks for VDOT and the men and women who make our highways and byways safe all year round but especially during winter. It looks like they will have their hands full the next 24 hours.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 25, 2013

November ... bare trees and firewood piles

 November landscape ... bare trees, leaves on the ground, cold wind blowing. It's almost Thanksgiving.

Bill's wood lot. The latest pile waiting to be split and added to the big stack. There is nothing like a wood stove to keep the house warm during wintry weather.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 25, 2013

Thanksgiving greetings from Congressman and Mrs. Eric Cantor

We received a Thanksgiving card in the mail today from Congressman Eric Cantor and his wife Diana. In these tough political times, we are thankful for the leadership from the U.S. House's majority leader who happens to be from Virginia.

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Hanukkah to Congressman Cantor and his family from the Shenandoah Valley!

Spend Thanksgiving weekend 2013 in historic Staunton, Virginia

There are few places as quaint and picturesque as the city of Staunton in the central Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Surrounded by the Blue Ridge and Appalachian mountains, this community-oriented small town celebrates holidays in style, and Thanksgiving is no exception. For a fun and exciting adventure, spend the long weekend enjoying all the area has to offer. The calendar of events is packed with activities to celebrate Thanksgiving and welcome the holiday season.

Wednesday, November 27:
- Playhouse Tour, 2:00 pm, Blackfriars Playhouse
- Trivia, 7:00 pm, Zabbs Beach Day Cafe
- "She Stoops to Conquer," 7:30 pm, Blackfriars Playhouse
- Live jazz, 7:30 pm, Mill Street Grill
- The Level, 8:00 pm, Clocktower Restaurant
- Brent Hull & Joe Tyree, 9:00 pm, Byers Street Bistro

Thanksgiving - Thursday, November 28:
Enjoy your Thanksgiving meal at one of the local restaurants that will be open:
- Kathy's Restaurant, 11:00 am - 3:30 pm, reservations available
- Stonewall Jackson Hotel & Conference Center, 11:00 am - 2:30 pm
- Rowe's Restaurant
- Cracker Barrel, 6:00 am - 10:00 pm

Friday, November 29:
Black Friday" offers the opportunity to check out the local stores and shops of downtown Staunton and the surrounding vicinity. From unique gift items, jewelry, clothing, handmade chocolates, and domestic goods in Staunton to the shopping availabilities of Waynesboro's Target, Books-a-Million, and Kohl's, there's plenty to keep everyone happy. Check out local restaurants for breakfast, lunch, and dinner as well as unique coffee shops throughout town.

Green Valley Book Fair will open Friday, November 29, for its last two-week run of 2013. Open daily, this Mt. Crawford book retailer is known far and wide for its deeply discounted deals on books, audio tapes, and more. It's a great spot to pick up gifts for everyone from children to grandparents.

The Frontier Culture Museum's gift shop offers imported items from Ireland, Scotland, and Great Britain as well as America -- nutcrackers, Christmas ornaments, glassware, historical and cook books, and other just-right gift items for that special person. Don't forget the Museum's famous fudge that comes in a variety of flavors and is always a favorite with visitors.

Staunton's world-known American Shakespeare Theater kicks off the holiday season on  Friday, November 29, with a variety of offerings in the authentically recreated Blackfriars Playhouse as well as tours of the theater. The playhouse can be found on Market Street beside the Stonewall Jackson Hotel.

Ox-Eye Vineyard's tasting room is located in a renovated 1910 building in the historic Wharf District of downtown Staunton which offers an inviting location to taste this local wines crafted by Susan and John Kiers.

The Staunton Christmas Parade will add a magical touch on Monday, December 2 (always the first Monday after Thanksgiving). The route will begin at Frederick and Augusta Streets, turn down Market Street, and then turn right onto Beverley Street. Thousands of tiny white twinkly lights, Christmas decorations, and inviting window displays will entice visitors to step into shops and dine in restaurants before and after the parade. Bundle up for a fun evening in the brisk December air, followed up with a steaming cup of hot chocolate. Meeting friends downtown is a must for this annual tradition.

Be sure to check the Visit Staunton website for more activities as well as lodging and dining opportunities. Come to the Shenandoah Valley for Thanksgiving and stick around to kick off your holiday season.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Grayson County Fraser firs decorate Busch Gardens Christmas Town, grace Vice President Biden's home

I'm a little prejudiced about Grayson County since it's where my grandparents grew up and where lots of relatives still live but I think the Fraser firs grown in that part of Virginia are the most gorgeous Christmas trees around. Where once cows grazed in rocky meadows on mountain slopes, now rows and rows of Frasers grow in the cool temperatures of this southwestern area of the Commonwealth.

Journalist Bill Lohmann has taken a look at Grayson's Fraser fir Christmas tree industry in today's Richmond Times-Dispatch, a business that took root in the 1970s and has grown into an economic boom:
The steep and rocky mountains of Grayson County are some of the tallest, most spectacular in Virginia, wonderful for hiking and sightseeing but less than ideal for farming — unless you are growing Christmas trees.
One whiff of a Fraser and you'll be hooked.

Mr. Lohmann talked with one of the pioneers of Fraser farming in Grayson, Rodney Richardson, owner of Mount Rogers Christmas Tree Farm, who has some well-known clients. This year he sent several hundred trees to Busch Gardens in Williamsburg for their Christmas Town display, and another tree is going to Vice President Joe Biden's residence.

Good article. I could almost smell the heavenly scent of Frasier firs while reading it....

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Ice skating in downtown Richmond

Ice skating in downtown RVA. Would love to have something like that here in the Shenandoah Valley....

Staunton's Ox-Eye Vineyards rakes in more accolades

Susan and John Kiers have a winning product with their Ox-Eye wines and this week they received more accolades, this time from Brian Yost at the Charlottesville-based Virginia Wine blog who writes:
The Shenandoah American Viticultural Area (AVA) doesn't have the density of vineyards that you will find in Central or Northern Virginia. Nevertheless, there are lots of great wineries in this region and they are producing wines and a few varietals that are distinct to the AVA. Ox-Eye Vineyards is one of these wineries. Since my first visit a couple years ago, I've become a huge fan.
Brian's post offers good background on the beginnings of Ox-Eye as well as the refurbished historic Wharf District building where the tasting room is located. It's a good read about what I consider to be an excellent wine. Drop by and be prepared to kick back in a relaxing atmosphere ... and maybe try my favorite whites, the White Ox or Riesling. You'll be in for a treat.

More about Ox-Eye:
- Washington Post calls Augusta County's Ox-Eye Vineyards one of top 10 mid-Atlantic wineries to check out
- Ox-Eye Vineyards offers wine tastings and fun in downtown Staunton
- Sears Hill Bridge Day offers festive atmosphere in historic downtown Staunton

Congratulations ... a new little McCain is born

The newest little McCain has hit the world at a bouncing 8 pounds, 3 ounces, as announced by proud first-time grandpa and blogger extraordinaire Stacy McCain:
My first grandchild -- 8 pounds, 3 ounces -- James William McCain Jr. Congratulations, Jim and Danielle!
Pop on over to The Other McCain and see the pictures. Congratulations to the McCain family!

Holiday events at Monticello

Wreath Workshops
November 29, 30 & December 1, 2, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8. 
These ever-popular workshops, in their 27th year, produce a gratifying and tangible end product: a beautiful holiday wreath.

Holiday Open House with Host Thomas Jefferson
Saturday, December 1, 3 p.m. - 5 p.m.
Thomas Jefferson (Bill Barker) will be pleased to greet you as part of this open-house tour of Monticello. $5.

4th Annual Monticello Holiday Classic 5K and Deck the Halls Kids Dash
Saturday, December 7, 7 a.m. - 9 a.m.
This family-oriented 5k begins at the East Walk of Monticello. Kids 12 and under can enjoy the Deck the Halls Kids Dash, a quarter mile loop around the West Lawn! Adults, $30; kids 12 and under, $10.

Handmade for the Holidays at The Shop at Monticello Museum
Saturday, December 7, noon - 5 p.m.
Your holiday destination for gorgeous, one-of-a-kind handcrafted gifts this season! Beeswax candle-making for the kids, historic chocolate demonstration and tasting, winter garden preparation tips and more. Free!

Holiday Evening Tours
December 7, 14, 20- 23, 26-30 at 5:30, 5:45 & 6:00 p.m. each evening
These small-group house tours, which include the Dome Room, offer visitors an intimate look at how the holidays were celebrated in Jefferson's time, plus the rare opportunity to experience Monticello after dark. $45.

Monticello Gingerbread House Family Workshop
December 7, 8, 14, 15, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Embrace your inner architect during our Monticello Gingerbread House Family Workshop. Kids and grownups alike will enjoy this icing intense program. Try your hand at creating your own architectural masterpiece, just like Mr. Jefferson! $49 for a family of four.

UNESCO Anniversary $5 Admission
December 14 & 15
 In celebration of 26 years as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, we're going back to 1987 ticket prices ($5) for 2 days in December.

Dana Perino reveals lesson in forgiveness learned from President George W. Bush

Politics is full of betrayers. There's always those who will turn but, until it happens, we never know which ones it will be. Dana Perino shares in this video clip a long-held secret about how President George W. Bush urged her to forgive a colleague who had betrayed the president.

She also reveals that President Bush said to her he knew she would not do the same. Those who are loyal are a rare few.  A lesson learned early on was that if you have one friend in politics, you're rich.

Dana's revelation about GWB is yet another example of why I admire the Bush family and their leadership style....

RIP: Walt Disney's daughter Diane passes away

In memory of Diane Disney Miller:
Diane Disney Miller, Walt Disney's daughter and one of his inspirations for building the Disneyland theme park, has died at her Northern California home. She was 79.

Her death Tuesday in Napa was confirmed by The Walt Disney Co. The cause was complications from a fall, said Andi Wang, spokeswoman for the Walt Disney Family Museum.

"As the beloved daughter of Walt Disney and one of his inspirations for creating Disneyland, she holds a special place in the history of The Walt Disney Co. and in the hearts of fans everywhere," Robert Iger, the company's president and CEO, said in a statement. "She will be remembered for her grace and generosity and tireless work to preserve her father's legacy."

Friday, November 22, 2013

Jennifer Rubin: 'What about Jeb?'

He's known as the other Bush brother, the one who originally was expected to run for president before his older brother found himself in the right place at the right time. Both governors with the experience from that executive position, Jeb's name has been tossed around for a while as someone to run for president.

However, general sentiment seemed to be that the country had soured on the Bush name. Father George H.W. as president 41, and brother George W. as president 43. Would America really want a Bush president 46?

With the passing of time and circumstances, the time may be right, and the Washington Post's opinion writer Jennifer Rubin agrees. In her post earlier this week -- "What about Jeb?" -- she made a notable argument in Jeb's favor:
George W. Bush has bounced back in popularity, and if the Dems can run a Clinton there is no reason the GOP can’t run a Bush. Besides, experienced leadership may be in style after we survive the next three years. And to boot, GOP governors are looking like the party’s saviors these days. Moreover, the passage of time has allowed certain issue to fade and others to resolve themselves (e.g. the Bush tax cuts). Jeb Bush understandably can say “times have changed” if he chooses not to adopt a position his brother took sixteen years ago. (Yes, it’ll be 16 years between 43′s presidential run and when Republicans again start trudging through Iowa and New Hampshire.)
I have no idea if he will run. But I am more convinced that he could and should. He’s got a lot to tell the GOP voters.
Run, Jeb, run. He may find he has more supporters than he realizes.

George W. Bush Christmas ornaments for sale at Bush Library

2013 George W. Bush Library Commemorative Christmas Ornament

Exclusively designed 2013 commemorative Christmas ornament available as a three dimensional metal ornament reminiscent of the White House Historical Association ornaments. Framed art is an untitled work painted by President George W. Bush. Available in a red box with a silver foil imprint of the ornament on the front.

Photo from George W. Bush Presidential Center

George W. Bush: 'On this solemn anniversary, Laura and I join our fellow citizens in honoring our 35th President'

From Dallas, former President George W. Bush commented on the fiftieth anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy:
"Today we remember a dark episode in our Nation's history, and we remember the leader whose life was cut short 50 years ago. John F. Kennedy dedicated himself to public service, and his example moved Americans to do more for our country. He believed in the greatness of the United States and the righteousness of liberty, and he defended them. On this solemn anniversary, Laura and I join our fellow citizens in honoring our 35th President."

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

South Fork wildfire north of Luray

A forest fire is raging north of Luray on 450 acres in both Page and Shenandoah Counties. Over 100 personnel are involved in the wildfire whose origin is unknown. From the National Park Service's Incident Information System:
The South Fork Fire was reported on Monday November 18 2013. This fire is located fourteen miles north of Luray VA. It is north of Habron Gap south of Indian Grave Ridge and west of State Road 717 in both Page and Shenandoah Counties.

There is no containment date.

Areas temporarily closed:
Massanutten National Recreation Trail (#408) from Habron Gap to Indian Grave Ridge and areas west to the Forest Service boundary and Habron Gap Trail and Indian Grave Ridge Trails are closed as is Forest Service Area west of SR 684 and 717 in the fire area.

Habron Gap Trail #559

Indian Grave Ridge Trail # 597

Hunting is not permitted adjacent to the active fire under Virginia State law.
Safety of the public and firefighters is always the number one priority when dealing with wildfires. Trails adjacent and within the fire area are closed. Observe all posted closures.
Conditions involve steep and rocky terrain with light winds and temperatures in the low 40s.

W appears as guest of Jay Leno and jokes, 'You're about to head out to pasture'

It was vintage George W. Bush Tuesday night as the former president and first lady appeared with Jay Leno on NBC's "Tonight Show." The opening exchange went something like this:
Jay Leno: "I know you've tried to stay out of the spotlight for the past few years so I was actually pleasantly surprised you accepted our invitation."

President George W. Bush: "Only because of you. (laughter) I mean you're about to head out to pasture (laughter) ... just wanted to see what you looked like before you got to the gate." (laughter)
Talking about a variety of subjects during the twenty-minute interview, W and Leno joked back and forth before being joined by Mrs. Bush to discuss the humanitarian work the Bushes do around the world and at home.

The former president emphasized his belief in laying low after leaving office:
Leno: "I know you've avoided talking policy for the last six or seven years. Explain why."

W: "I don't think it's good for the country to have a former president criticize his successor."
W didn't show up empty-handed and presented Jay with a caricature painting of Leno as they talked about the president's hobby of painting since leaving office.

The classy Bush family values would go far in today's toxic political atmosphere. He is missed. To see the entire 20-minute interview, check out the links:

President George W. Bush with Jay Leno on NBC's "Tonight Show":
 - Part 1
 - Part 2
 - Part 3
 - Part 4

For archives of the Bush Administration and the humanitarian work the president is still doing, check out these links:

George W. Bush Institute
George W. Bush Presidential Library
George W. Bush Center

U.S. House schedule for Wednesday, November 20, 2013

From Majority Leader Eric Cantor....

On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and noon for legislative business. First votes expected: 1:45 - 3:15 p.m. Last votes expected: 5:30 - 6:30 p.m.

One Minute Speeches

H.Res. 420 - A resolution providing for the consideration of H.R. 1900 - Natural Gas Pipeline Permitting Reform Act (Special Rule, One Hour of Debate) (Sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess / Rules Committee) 

Complete Consideration of H.R. 1965 - Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn / Natural Resources Committee / Judiciary Committee)

Postponed Amendment Votes:
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Amendment #5
Rep. Alan Lowenthal Amendment
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Amendment #6
Rep. Jared Polis Amendment
Rep. Peter DeFazio Amendment 

H.R. 2728 - Protecting States’ Rights to Promote American Energy Security Act, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Bill Flores / Natural Resources Committee / Science, Space, and Technology Committee)

The Rule provides for one hour of general debate and makes in order the following amendments:
Reps. Holt / Peters / Polis Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Bill Flores Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Reps. Reed / Costa Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Peter DeFazio Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Amendment (10 minutes of debate)

Special Order Speeches

Judiciary Committee markup of the “Innovation Act
(Wednesday, November 20th, at 11:15 a.m.)

Printable PDF

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

UVa University Democrats & College Republicans to hold Deeds vigil tonight

Because of the tragic turn of events today regarding State Senator Creigh Deeds, the UVa University Democrats and College Republicans will hold a vigil tonight on campus. Senator Deeds represents Charlottesville.

A statement was issued about the joint event:
Join the UVA University Democrats and College Republicans for a vigil for state Senator Creigh Deeds, who is currently in critical condition at UVA Medical Center after being stabbed in his home. The event will be held at 8pm at the UVA Ampitheater on Thursday November 21. Visit our Facebook event page for updates.

It is with great sadness that College Republicans learned the news of Senator Deeds' condition, and we ask the University community to hold the Deeds family in their thoughts and prayers during this difficult time.

Va State Police news conference: Creigh Deeds tragedy

Noon: We're on standby for hearing from Virginia State Police in Charlottesville about this morning's tragic stabbing of State Senator Creigh Deeds and the shooting death of his son Gus.

12:10: State police spokesman Coreen Geller said  they're less than five hours into the investigation and have much work to do. They are still on the scene investigating the assault at the Deeds' residence.

State Police and Bath County deputies responded at 7:20 Tuesday morning at a home at 26 Vineyard Drive in Millboro where they found Senator Deeds stabbed multiple times around the head and upper torso. He was flown to University of Virginia Hospital and is being treated for serious injured. He was able to talk with investigators and give a statement.

Senator Deeds' 24-year-old son Gus was found inside the residence suffering from life-threatening injuries associated with a gunshot wound. Despite lifesaving efforts, he died at the scene.

The investigation continues by State Police with the assistance of Bath County Sheriff's Department where they are working on confirming the motive and sequence of events. There is more work to be done and more details will be released once they are at that place.

State Police is not releasing the identity of the 911 caller or the 911 tapes.

(Questions being asked by media but unaudible)

Question about whether it was a self-inflicted gunshot wound; she would not confirm that information. They are not looking for suspects.

Gus Deeds was the only son of Creigh Deeds who has four children.

Question as to whether the son had a criminal record could not be commented on.

Creigh Deeds' family is at the hospital; state troopers are at hospital guarding the area.

NBC-29's link to the news conference is here.

Governor Bob McDonnell offers prayers to Creigh Deeds family

Statement from Governor Bob McDonnell on today's events involving State Senator Creigh Deeds:
“In this tough and sad time, our thoughts and prayers are with the Deeds family. The news from this morning is utterly heartbreaking. Creigh Deeds is an exceptional and committed public servant who has always done what he believes is best for Virginia and who gives his all to public service. He cares deeply about Virginia, and the people of Virginia care deeply for him. I urge all Virginians today to join me in praying for a full and complete recovery for Creigh and for many more years of his public service to the Commonwealth. At this moment, our state unites in prayer for Creigh Deeds and his family.”

Va Senator Creigh Deeds stabbed, in critical condition; son dead -- UPDATED

In a heartbreaking turn of events, news is breaking all over social media that Virginia State Senator Creigh Deeds was stabbed this morning and his son is dead from a gunshot wound at their home.

From the Richmond Times-Dispatch:
Sen. Creigh Deeds, D-Bath, is in critical condition after being stabbed in his home and his son Gus is dead from a gunshot wound, law enforcement sources told the Richmond Times-Dispatch this morning.

Deeds is being treated at the University of Virginia Medical Center.
Reporter Julie Carey has reported on Twitter:
Creigh Deeds is a long-time representative for citizens in western Virginia and at one time was delegate for western Augusta County before the 20th House District was added in 2001.

In 2005 Deeds ran for attorney generation as the Democratic candidate against Republican Bob McDonnell in a contest that ended in a recount. McDonnell won with just over 300 votes.

Four years later Deeds again ran against McDonnell for governor. McDonnell won in a landslide and swept the top three.

Prayers go to Senator Deeds and his family at this tragic time.

3:30 p.m. Richmond Times-Dispatch has an updated article about the tragedy.

'Tis the season for Christmas tree farms

Linda Jones and Joe Freeman of Mistletoe Meadows Tree Farm deliver Christmas tree to Virginia Executive Mansion in 2010. With First Lady Maureen McDonnell.

So you may not be ready to pick out a Christmas tree today but it's not too late to be thinking about this year's purchase. After all, there's only 35 days until Christmas as the countdown clock shows.

Here's a list of Virginia Christmas tree retailers: Virginia Grown Christmas Trees.

Here's a list of Christmas tree farms in the Staunton area: Staunton Christmas Tree Farms.

Gather the family and have fun! 'Tis the season....

U.S. House schedule for Tuesday, November 19, 2013

From Leader Eric Cantor's office....


On Tuesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and noon for legislative business. First votes expected: 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Last votes expected: 5:00 - 6:00 p.m.

One Minute Speeches

H.R. 1965 - Federal Lands Jobs and Energy Security Act, Rules Committee Print (Structured Rule)
(Sponsored by Rep. Doug Lamborn / Natural Resources Committee / Judiciary Committee)

The Rule provides for one hour of general debate and makes in order the following amendments:
Rep. Doc Hastings Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Amendment #5 (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Alan Lowenthal Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Amendment #6 (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Tom Marino Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Reps. Polis / Huffman Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Peter DeFazio Amendment (10 minutes of debate)

S. 1545 - PEPFAR Stewardship and Oversight Act (Suspension, 40 minutes of debate) (Sponsored by Sen. Robert Menendez / Foreign Affairs Committee)

Special Order Speeches

Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations hearing on “Security of” (Tuesday, November 19th, at 10:15 a.m.)

Printable PDF

Monday, November 18, 2013

November 'Full Beaver Moon' /Frosty Moon setting over Appalachians

The view out our window this morning toward the western Appalachians as the full moon began setting at day break. November is known as the Full Beaver Moon because it was when pioneers set up their beaver traps before the swamps froze. It is also referred to as the Frosty Moon. (Source: Farmers Almanac)

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 18, 2013

Friday, November 15, 2013

Peace, Watkins, Sessoms, Marcus on Gov.-elect McAuliffe's transition committee

Reaching across the aisle as he prepares to become the 72nd governor of Virginia, Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe announced his transition committee as he prepared to follow in the footsteps of such notable leaders as Patrick Henry, Thomas Jefferson, and James Monroe,

Among the list of 52 public and business leaders on his team, the Democrat included Republicans. Senator John Watkins (R-Powhatan) and Delegate Chris Peace (R-Hanover) were picked along with political consultant Boyd Marcus and Virginia Beach Mayor Will Sessoms.

Reaching out should be a good thing, right? Politics has become so polarizing that those willing to listen to the opposite side should be applauded ... right?

Apparently not. 

On Friday, conservative activist Ben Marchi noted on his Facebook page that he had heard from grumblers:
I got phone calls this morning from some of my favorite AFP activists who were angry with Christopher Kilian Peace for accepting this appointment. My response was, "If Terry McAuliffe has asked you to participate in his administration and if there's something you can do to make Virginia a better place to live, work, & raise a family, then you should do it, and any other Virginian ought to do the same. It's better that conservatives have a seat at the table, than not at all." Am I wrong? Thoughts?
Several dozen comments had been left by Friday evening, most in agreement with Ben's sentiment but some expressing concerns while 55 people gave a thumbs up.

Delegate Peace took to Facebook, too, to comment about his appointment:
As you know, I have a very strong conservative voting record and to that end worked hard and invested resources in electing Republicans to office this and every cycle. At this point it is critically important that with the prospects of losing all three statewide races that our common sense conservative perspective have a seat at the table. I see my temporary role in transition as giving the people of my district as well as my conservative friends the biggest and best voice in their state government possible. Now is not the time for name calling or taking the ball and going home. Virginia deserves civility and honor, and real leadership requires listening and being engaged in dialogue. It isn’t easy but it is necessary.
Delegate Peace is correct ... Virginia deserves civility and honor. Ben is correct ... conservatives need a seat at the table. Governor-elect Terry McAuliffe is offering both. 

Is there a war on Thanksgiving? Or are stores serving consumers?

“Thanksgiving is more than eating, Chuck ... we should just be thankful for being together.”
–Marcie to Charlie Brown in "A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving"

For most, Thanksgiving is a time to spend with family. For others, however, it's a work day just like any other, and becoming increasingly so as the trend grows to open retails stores on Thanksgiving Day, getting a jump on Black Friday sales.

This year the list of stores planning to open on Thursday, perhaps looking to beef up their bottom line or maybe just satisfy consumer demands, includes some of the best known in the country: Kohl's, Penney's, Toys R Us, Kmart, Walmart, Macy's, Target, Old Navy, Sears, Staples, Michael's, Gap, and Best Buy.

Other retailers will keep their doors closed: Radio Shack, Costco, REI, Nordstrom, Burlington Coat Factory, and American Girl have specifically noted their desire to allow employees to enjoy the day at home with family.

Thanksgiving opening times are increasingly encroaching on the turkey. A few years ago some stores opened at midnight, then moved it to 10:00 p.m., then 8 p.m, and this year most plan to open at 6:00 p.m.

Kmart, however, has announced Thanksgiving Day hours beginning at 6:00 in the morning. I guess that allows for shopping while the turkey is in the oven. I can hear it now early on Thanksgiving: "Hon, could you keep an eye on the turkey? I'm going to dash out to Kmart to grab that video game Johnny wants for Christmas."

But what about traditions like watching the Macy's Thanksgiving parade on TV while cooking in the kitchen and cheering on James Madison University's marching band this year as they perform in New York City? What about the family time spent together whipping up sweet potato casseroles and pies and stuffing as the generations mingle, grandmother showing grandchildren her technique for stuffing the turkey while the guys watch football games on TV?

Perhaps new traditions are being formed: Breakfast out, then shopping, then home to cook the Big Meal. Maybe some of those shoppers are employees who have to work on Black Friday so need to check off holiday requests when possible. Others may just be watching their bottom line by stretching their holiday dollars with deep price cuts. I remember our tight budget when our kids were little. We were a one-income family so I took advantage of spectacular sales on items from the wish lists.

Whichever it is, one thing is for sure: it's a personal choice for stores and consumers. One cannot exist without the other.

RVA: Bethlehem Walk 2013

Walk the streets of Bethlehem and experience the time when Christ was born. In its ninth year, Bethlehem Walk, located west of Richmond, will offer a Christmas encounter sure to confirm the meaning of the season. From their Facebook page:
Since its inaugural season in 2003, Bethlehem Walk has thrilled and emotionally touched thousands of visitors from across the Commonwealth. Nearly 6,000 travelers toured Bethlehem the first year. Last December, host church Salem Baptist in Crozier, VA partnered with 11 area churches to reach 13,000 people with this interactive Gospel drama that takes visitors through scenes ranging from the entrance of the Savior into the world to an empty Jewish tomb.

Your trip will take you on an adventure to first century Bethlehem on the night Jesus was born. As you enter the city allow the sights, sounds and smells to carry you to a period of time that changed the world. Expect to be met by Roman soldiers and counted in the census. Journey through the heart of the city to the marketplace that is bustling with activity from over a dozen authentic shops; enjoy samples from the baker’s shop, marvel at the potter’s crafts and listen for the rumor of a “king’s” birth from excited townspeople. Continue your journey to the Nativity where a very special baby was born in the stable. Here you can reflect on the blessed birth of Christ - the greatest gift that has ever been given.
Bethlehem Walk, free to the public, is located on Broad Street (Rt. 250) six miles west of Short Pump between I-64's Exit 167 (Oilville/Goochland) and Exit 173 (Rockville/Manakin-Sabot).

Here is all the information to make it to Bethlehem Walk 2013...

- The address for those in need of GPS assistance is 465 Broad Street Road, Manakin-Sabot, Va 23103.
- Parking is FREE onsite or FREE shuttles from the West End Church of the Nazarene (591 Broad Street) or the Food Lion in Centerville (30 Broad Street).
- There will be Chick-fil-A sandwiches, snacks and sodas available in the welcome tent.
- Accepting canned goods for our local Food Bank.
- Free refreshments at the end of the Walk.
- Strollers are welcome but be prepared for some uneven ground in a few spots.
- There will be chariots (golf carts) for those who need assistance.
- There are fires throughout the Walk to keep everyone warm.
- Be prepared to have an awesome experience hearing the true Word and reason for the season.

Dates and Times:
Dec 4 - 5 - Wed/Thu: 6:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Dec 6 - Fri: 6:00 pm - 10:00 pm
Dec 7 - Sat: 4:00 pm - 9:00 pm
Dec 8 - Sun: 3:00 pm - 8:00 pm

U.S. House schedule for Friday, November 15, 2013: Upton's 'Keep Your Health Care Plan Act' vote today

From Majority Leader Eric Cantor....

What to watch today ... "Keep Your Health Care Plan Act" sponsored by Congressman Fred Upton will be voted on today, a bill President Barack Obama has declared he will veto if it makes its way to his desk. Points of view: Ezra Kline - Wonkblog at the Washington Post / Twitchy / Fox News / USA Today


On Friday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business.
First votes expected: 10:30 - 11:15 a.m. Last votes expected: 12:30 - 1:30 p.m.

One Minute Speeches

H.R. 3350 - Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013 (Closed Rule, One Hour of Debate) (Sponsored by Rep. Fred Upton / Energy and Commerce Committee / Ways and Means Committee)

Special Order Speeches

Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Commerce, Manufacturing, and Trade hearing on “Our Nation of Builders: Training the Builders of the Future” (Friday, November 15th, at 9:30 a.m.)

Printable PDF

Thursday, November 14, 2013

From Washington to Washington ... U.S. Capitol Christmas tree connects west coast with east

Save the date! The lighting of the U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree will be held on December 3, 2013, in Washington, D.C. on the grounds of the Capitol. America is invited.

The tree, a gift from the people of Washington State from the Colville National Forest that was harvested on November 1, is on its long journey to the nation's Capital, making stops along the way at towns and cities as Americans send it on its way. It will arrive in Washington, D.C., by Thanksgiving.

The people of Washington State were invited to create ornaments for the Capitol Christmas tree with 5,000 handmade creations traveling along with the tree on its journey. On December 3, House Speaker John Boehner will host a tree lighting ceremony, and the tree will be lit nightly from dust to 11:00 for the holiday season.

Follow the tree's progress on Twitter @TracktheTree.

The route across America is here. It's track will take it through Nashville, Tennessee, on November 20 (heads up, SWAC Daughter), then Knoxville, and on to it's only Virginia stop that will be in downtown Roanoke for their holiday celebration. Afterward, it will hit Hagerstown, Maryland, then on to Allentown, Pennsylvania, and back to Andrews Air Force Base before arriving in D.C. on November 25 to prepare for its lighting on December 3, 2013.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays!

Update: Just talked with SWAC Daughter who said the Nashville stop will be at Cool Springs Mall in Franklin (just south of Nashville), where she lives, so she if she goes she will get photos to pass along. Country musicians Diamond Rio and others are scheduled to be part of the celebration....

Tim Tebow Foundation helping Philippines victims

A good man continues to do good works, as reported in the Washington Times:
Former NFL quarterback Tim Tebow, who was born in the Philippines while his parents served as missionaries, is stepping up to help victims in the country devastated by Typhoon Haiyan.

The Tim Tebow Foundation has activated a donation link so people can help those in need. Mr. Tebow has also made the Philippines one of the primary beneficiaries of his outreach programs, First Coast News reported.
The humanitarian relief is in coordination with Tebow's father's foundation, the Bob Tebow Evangelistic Association, that builds churches and cares for orphaned children in the Philippines.

The Tebows ... a family giving back.

U.S. House schedule for Thursday, November 14, 2013

From Majority Leader Eric Cantor's office....


On Thursday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and noon for legislative business. First and last votes expected: 2:30 - 3:30 p.m.

One Minute Speeches

Motion to go to Conference on H.R. 3080 - Water Resources Development Act of 2013 and Democratic Motion to Instruct Conferees

H.R. 2655 - Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act of 2013 (Closed Rule, One Hour of Debate) (Sponsored by Rep. Lamar Smith / Judiciary Committee)

Special Order Speeches

Education and The Workforce Committee hearing on “The Effects of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act on Schools, Colleges, and Universities”
(Thursday, November 14th, at 10:00 a.m.)

Printable PDF

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Whiskey Hard Sauce

Part of the fun of being in the blogosphere is the people we meet and the information we share. Case in point is this cold weather recipe a blogging friend sent over that is something my husband will absolutely adore. He's the big sweet potato lover in our family, and bread pudding is one of his favorite desserts. The recipe is posted at her blog, The Little Black Dress and A String of Pearls, where she declares:
It has been said that a Southern woman only needs three things to survive any social situation: a little black dress, a string of pearls, and a Smithfield ham. If you ever find yourself facing that “social situation”, this little blog is my contribution to weathering the storm, making a splash, or merely creating some 'comfort on a plate'. So .... find a recipe, grab a glass of wine, maybe a mint julep, or perhaps a cold sweet tea and head for the kitchen .... time's a wasting!
Amen, Sister!

Hop on over and check out Merlot's recipe for Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Whiskey Hard Sauce, just in time for Thanksgiving menu planning. Eat, drink, and be merry!

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
Thanksgiving 2012

Denver Post editorial: 'Poll -- Obama misled nation'

The Affordable Care Act is not working out the way President Barack Obama and Democrats thought it would. Today's Denver Post editorialized about the negative effects of Obamacare:
"President Obama's misstatement, 'If you like your health plan, you can keep it,' left a bad taste with a lot of people," said Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Polling Institute. "Nearly half of the voters, 46 percent, think he knowingly deceived them."

Just because you like your old approval ratings doesn't mean that you can keep them.

Autumn leaves at Staunton's Byers Street Bistro

I took this picture last week while in downtown Staunton. The vivid colors of the tree stood out against the gray color of the Byers Street Bistro building and its outdoor eating area in the historic Wharf District.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 4, 2013

Déjà vu in Virginia attorney general drama

Eight years ago my phone rang bright and early the day after the 2005 election. I was still sleeping after a hard-fought campaign that saw Bill Bolling elected as lieutenant governor, Jerry Kilgore lose as governor, and Bob McDonnell in a tight down-to-the-wire race for attorney general. I was needed at the Augusta County Government Center to witness the vote canvas, the beginning of a process that eventually led to my participation in a mid-December recount that saw McDonnell prevail with a mere 360 votes over his Democratic challenger, Creigh Deeds.

Fast forward to last week's election that saw Democrats Terry McAuliffe and Ralph Northam winning the governor and lieutenant governor spots. The end of the day, however, showed a tighter-than-a-tick contest between Republican Mark Obenshain and Democrat Mark Herring that fluctuated back and forth as a variety of events took place over the next seven days. When all votes were finally tallied, Herring was ahead by 163 votes in a contest that was probably headed to recount.

However, as happened in the 2005 race, recounts rarely change the final numbers by much. If Herring prevails, Virginia Democrats will have swept the top three offices that were won in landslide victories four years earlier by Republicans McDonnell, Bolling, and Cuccinelli.

NBC 12 has a report on the final count.

Appalachian sunset

Sunset over the Appalachians Tuesday evening at Buffalo Gap.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 12, 2013

Bradford pears display last of colorful autumn leaves

As cold wintry winds blew through the Shenandoah Valley Tuesday, I bundled up and took a stroll around the yard. Autumn leaves that have fallen and are covering the ground beckoned for us to grab rakes and get to work. Not just yet, however, because the Bradford pear leaves are just now turning. With bare trees around them, the Bradfords with their perfect shapes have the autumn palate all to themselves before shedding the last leaves of the season and then we can start raking.

Tuesday's overcast, gray, blustery day was the Valley's first taste of winter weather as temperatures fell from the 40s at sunrise into the 20s by evening. While other areas of Virginia saw snow squalls throughout the day, none were spied in our corner of Augusta County. It's late fall in the Shenandoah Valley.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 12, 2013

U.S. House schedule for Wednesday, November 13, 2013

From Majority Leader Eric Cantor's office....


On Wednesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and noon for legislative business. First votes expected: 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Last votes expected: 4:30 - 5:30 p.m.

One Minute Speeches

H.R. 982 - Furthering Asbestos Claim Transparency (FACT) Act (Structured Rule) (Sponsored by Rep. Blake Farenthold / Judiciary Committee)
The Rule provides for one hour of general debate and makes in order the following amendment:
Rep. Steve Cohen Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Jerry Nadler Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee Amendment (10 minutes of debate)
Motion to Instruct Conferees on H.R. 2642 - Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management of 2013 (Offered by Rep. Dave Loebsack)

Special Order Speeches

Foreign Affairs Committee hearing on “Examining Nuclear Negotiations: Iran After Rouhani’s First 100 Days” (Wednesday, November 13th, at 10:00 a.m.)

Printable PDF

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Arctic cold front approaches Shenandoah Valley

Daybreak this morning looking to the east under dark clouds ushering in an Arctic cold front. The forecast is calling for colder temps on this blustery day with possible rain and snow flurries. Most of the leaves are gone and the winter woods are returning. It's late fall in the Shenandoah Valley.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell
November 12, 2013

U.S. House schedule for Tuesday, November 12, 2013

From Majority Leader Eric Cantor's office....

On Tuesday, the House will meet at 2:00 p.m. for legislative business.
Votes will be postponed until 6:30 p.m.

One Minute Speeches

Legislation Considered Under Suspension of the Rules:
1) S. 252- PREEMIE Reauthorization Act, as amended (Sponsored by Sen. Lamar Alexander / Energy and Commerce Committee)

2) S. 330 - HIV Organ Policy Equity Act (Sponsored by Sen. Barbara Boxer / Energy and Commerce Committee)

3) S. 893 - Veterans’ Compensation Cost-of-Living Adjustment Act of 2013 (Sponsored by Sen. Bernard Sanders / Veterans’ Affairs Committee)

4) H.R. 2922 - To extend the authority of the Supreme Court Police to protect court officials away from the Supreme Court grounds (Sponsored by Rep. George Holding / Judiciary Committee)

5) H.Res. 196 - Supporting the Sixth Amendment to the United States Constitution, the right to counsel, as amended (Sponsored by Rep. Ted Deutch / Judiciary Committee)

6) H.R. 2871 - To amend title 28, United States Code, to modify the composition of the southern judicial district of Mississippi to improve judicial efficiency, and for other purposes (Sponsored by Rep. Howard Coble / Judiciary Committee)
Special Order Speeches

Rules Committee meeting on “H.R. 982, Furthering Asbestos Claims Transparency Act, and H.R. 2655, Lawsuit Abuse Reduction Act” (Tuesday, November 12th, at 5:00 p.m.)

Printable PDF