Thursday, January 30, 2014

Part I: What the government didn't say in the McDonnell indictment

... was that an outside audit confirmed that Star Scientific and Jonnie Williams received nothing of value.

While media outlets are splashing sensational headlines about the government indictment, they are short on facts or the law, and ignore the McDonnells' side of the story. It's been interesting to follow the details of this case that are ignored by many in the mainstream media ... the piling on has overtaken the good this man has done for decades which some will feel is deserved. I don't happen to be one of them.

The Restoration Fund, Bob McDonnell's legal team, is reviewing the government's allegations and how far short they fall under serious analysis. Following is Part I of their assessment.

PART I:  What the Government indictment failed to mention is that.......
Outside Audit Confirms:  Williams & Star Received Nothing

April 29th, the Washington Post reported, and subsequently buried on paragraph 14,  that a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request has already confirmed that "Star Scientific" has not received a dime in state incentive grants or any other financial incentive under the McDonnell Administration.[1]  This critical information has already been subjected to numerous FOIA requests yet it has been largely ignored by the media and under-reported to the people of Virginia.

On July 18th, an external audit report was conducted by former Democratic Attorney General Anthony Troy to determine  a) whether Jonnie Williams or any of his affiliated businesses, including Star Scientific, Inc., (collectively, "Star Scientific) received any "public funds, grants, contracts or appointments" and b) whether any gubernatorial appointments were made to any officers or employees of Star Scientific.

This audit report vindicated Governor McDonnell and concluded:

§  A) Neither Jonnie Williams or any officer or employee of Star Scientific received a single grant, contract or a dollar of funds from the Officer of the Governor, the State Department of Health, the Secretary of Commerce and Trade, the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the Secretary of Agriculture, any universities under the Secretary of Education, the Secretary of Public Safety or Secretary of Technology.  In short, this audit confirmed that Star Scientific received nothing of value from the McDonnell Administration

§  B) Neither Jonnie Williams or any officer or employee of Star Scientific has ever been appointed to a Commonwealth board or commission.

[1] "Star Scientific does not appear to have received state incentive grants or other financial assistance during McDonnell's term, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request to the Virginia Economic Development Partnership, the leading state agency that manages such programs." - Washington Post, April 29, 2013

Bob McDonnell has been subjected to selective leaks, shoddy reporting, and a media that ignores critical facts in attempt to destroy a man with over four decades of public services to America and the Commonwealth. Whether this is another disturbing patter from the Eric Holder Justice Department to attack, smear and investigate successful Republican Governors remains to be seen.

The facts remain that outside groups and audits have confirmed that Star Scientific nor Jonnie Williams received any tangible benefit.  It is a shame the media has failed the general public in omitting or diminishing these critical facts.

The Restoration Fund

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Eric Cantor applauds passage of 'No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act'

Congressman Eric Cantor (VA-7), Majority Leader in the U.S. House of Representatives, applauded the passage of H.R. 7, the 'No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act.' His statement:
“I am pleased that the House has passed H.R. 7 as we stand firm in our efforts to ensure that the American people's tax dollars will not be used to fund the practice of abortion. I thank Congressman Chris Smith for his work on this bipartisan bill that respects the morals and views of millions of Americans and ultimately saves lives. As the House continues its work to make sure that the sanctity of life is upheld in the law of the land, it is my hope that the Senate will join us in this worthy effort.”

Baking Wednesday ... Laura Bush's Texas Governor's Mansion Cowboy Cookies

Laura Bush's Texas Governor's Mansion Cowboy Cookies

What's not to love about former First Lady Laura Bush's Texas Governor's Mansion Cowboy Cookies? These big yummy cookies are chocked full of goodie ingredients that make them perfect for an occasional indulgence.

During the 2000 presidential campaign, Mrs. Bush's cookies beat out Tipper Gore's gingersnap cookie recipe when readers voted for their favorite in a contest in Family Circle magazine.

During the years while President George W. Bush was in the White House, I often baked these and carried them to our local GOP headquarters to share with volunteers. Today I doubled the batch and made two pans of bar cookies to share with neighbors plus drop cookies for home. A word of warning: doubling the recipe makes a big batch of dough so be prepared to have a large container (I used a deep dutch oven pan), long-handled big spoon, and plenty of arm power to dig and stir to adequately mix all the ingredients.

The good thing with these cookies is you can add or omit according to what is in your baking cabinet. Today I left out the coconut because there was none here and not worth a trip to the store. I stirred in two cups of semi-sweet chocolate chips, two cups of dark chocolate chips, and three cups of butterscotch chips. Instead of pecans (because I didn't have any), I used three cups of sliced almonds that were left over from Christmas. Delicious!

Texas Governor's Mansion Cowboy Cookies
Laura Bush

3 cups all purpose flour
1 Tbsp. baking powder
1 Tbsp. baking soda
1 Tbsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter (room temperature)
1  1/2 cups granulated sugar
1  1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
3 eggs
1 Tbsp. vanilla
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups old fashioned rolled oats
2 cups pecans, chopped
2 cups sweetened flake coconut

1. Heat oven to 350 F.
2. Mix flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt in bowl.
3. In mixer bowl, beat butter on medium speed until smooth and creamy, about one minute. Gradually beat in sugars; beat to combine, about two minutes.
4. Add eggs, one at a time, beating after each. Add vanilla.
5. Stir in flour mixture until combined. Add chocolate chips, oats, coconut, and pecans.
6. For each cookie, drop one tablespoon dough onto ungreased baking sheets, spacing them three inches apart.
7. Bake in 350-degree oven approximately 12 minutes until edges are lightly browned. Remove cookies from rack to cool.

Yield: 8 dozen cookies

Note: For larger cookies, increase baking time to 15 minutes.

Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Woodland creatures at the bird feeder

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
January 29, 2014

Unexpected snow, sub-zero temps surprise Shenandoah Valley

With all eyes on the coastal areas of the southeastern U.S., the Shenandoah Valley in western Virginia was expected to see, at most, snow flurries while East Coast beaches were braced for a foot or more of accumulation. Not only did snow flurries turn into measurable amounts -- some areas saw 1.5-2 inches of snow -- but the thermometer plummeted overnight causing sub-zero temps by Wednesday morning.

At our house west of Staunton it dropped to -0.2 degrees.

No complaints from me. Much of our snow cover had melted Monday when temps hit 48 degrees before again dropping with an arctic cold front so the ground is now covered once again.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
January 29, 2014

U.S. House schedule for Wednesday, January 29, 2014

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

On Wednesday, the House will meet at 9:00 a.m. for legislative business.
First and last votes expected: 10:30 - 11:15 a.m.

One Minute Speeches

Conference Report to Accompany H.R. 2642 - Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management (Conference Report Rule, One Hour of Debate) (Sponsored by Rep. Frank Lucas / Agriculture Committee)

Special Order Speeches

Printable PDF

2014 Va General Assembly: It's a new day in Richmond

Headlines and blogs are blaring the news from Richmond's General Assembly: Democrats wrest control of state senate from GOP. And it all began here: RTD: GOP State Central wrong reversing to convention.

The rest, as they say, is history....

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Stormy relations: DirecTV CEO responds to The Weather Channel

[I'm enjoying WeatherNation now on DirecTV specifically because they offer weather 100 percent of the time, not reality TV programming. See my previous post here.]

Dear DIRECTV Customer,

I wanted to respond to some of the comments you may have heard lately about our attempt to renew our contract with The Weather Channel.

Frankly, I don’t like talking about internal contract discussions, but given TWC’s aggressive, and very public stance, please allow me to set the record straight.

Contract talks with any channel are always extremely complicated and difficult. TV Networks feel it’s their absolute birthright to be paid more and more each year for the same content they offer, regardless of how many customers actually watch their channels. But in each negotiation we represent the interests of all of our customers, and try to strike the best possible deal we can, so it in turn has less impact on your monthly bill.

As with all TV providers such as Comcast, Dish and Time Warner Cable, we are forced to raise our prices annually due to programmers like The Weather Channel, demanding to be paid more and more each year. In 2014, DIRECTV will be forced to pay 8% more for the channels you enjoy, yet, the average increase we passed on to our customers was 3.7%, which was lower than the increase in 2013, and also lower than many of our competitors.

We work extremely hard each day to deliver the best possible service and keep your monthly costs down. One of the ways we can do that is to negotiate a lower rate for an existing channel, or replace that channel with a better alternative at a lower cost. That’s what we’re doing for our customers in this situation. Giving them more weather coverage, 24/7 around the clock, and all at a lower cost.

Let me explain why The Weather Channel or an alternative service should cost less:

  • The manner in which people access weather-related information has changed dramatically and is increasingly available from a wide variety of online and offline sources, for free.
  • Our customers tell us The Weather Channel is their fourth choice when looking to access weather information. They first turn to mobile devices and computers for instant weather information and then to local news sources that have a better grasp on local conditions.
  • Because of these first two points, The Weather Channel has lost about a third of its viewers over the last two years. Why should DIRECTV customers pay more for a channel they are watching far less?
  • A growing number of customers have complained that The Weather Channel devotes 40% of its programming day to reality shows, preempting the hard weather news they really want. Why should you pay for 100% weather information, and only receive it 60% of the time?
  • We have a variety of ways to keep customers informed about weather, including WeatherNation, a channel that provides weather detail 24/7, at a much lower cost; and we have you covered with weather information from your local news channels, national news networks and special emergency channels we will launch in times of severe weather.
  • We conducted a very thorough evaluation of the usage and value of The Weather Channel, and we determined it was worth one-quarter of the price The Weather Channel is demanding for their programming.

In every other industry, when the demand for any product is reduced, prices go down, they don’t go up. That is the heart of this issue.

We’ve heard from a small number of our customers that WeatherNation is not an exact substitute for Weather Channel. We recognize that, but it does solve the number one complaint you have with their channel — WeatherNation provides weather information 100% of the time.

WeatherNation offers our customers what they want at a fraction of the price, and it will only get better in the coming months. Tune in to WeatherNation on channel 362, and I’m confident that you will find a suitable replacement. The Weather Channel may not appreciate the competition, but it’s our job to offer you the right content, at the best price.

I would like to set the record straight on another issue. The Weather Channel, which is owned by hedge funds and one of our competitors, is claiming that millions of customers are leaving DIRECTV as a result of this impasse. I know you are only concerned with your household, but I can assure you 99.9995% of our current customers have voted to stay on the DIRECTV platform, because they understand what we are trying to accomplish in these contract talks. I only bring this issue up because you should know that you’re not alone in being willing to take a stand on these out-of-control content price increases.

Finally, I’m sorry that The Weather Channel has taken this public. You should not be pulled into the process. I’m disappointed that a group who used to be such great partners in the past, have resorted to nasty “Chicken Little” scare tactics in an attempt to achieve their financial goals. A public mudslinging campaign and expensive newspaper ads are not going to solve the problem.

I encourage you to look beyond all the drama and hyperbole and ask yourself a simple question: Do you think you should you be paying more for their service? If you feel you should pay more, then I respect your opinion, but I am confident that nearly all of our customers will vote with their pocketbook in mind.

In closing, I apologize again that you’ve been drawn into what is increasingly becoming a nasty public dispute. We deeply appreciate your loyalty and patience, and I thank you for the opportunity to better explain the situation. In the end, after knowing the facts, I am confident you will understand that DIRECTV is fighting to deliver the best possible value for our customers.

Yours Truly,

Mike White
Chairman, President and CEO

February 22: Staunton Winter Wine Festival

Add Ox-Eye Vineyards to the list of those who will be pouring at the Staunton Winter Wine Festival at the Stonewall Jackson Hotel and Conference Center.

Challenger 28 years later ... 'slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God'

Has it really been 28 years since the Challenger shuttle exploded in mid-air? Seven lives were lost, the tragedy was caught live on TV, and Americans were shocked at the disaster that had taken place in front of their eyes.

Space launches had become so routine to most people by the time Challenger came around that it rarely caused much excitement. Indeed, on that fateful day of January 28, 1986, it was cold and wintry in rural North Carolina, just as it was cold at the site of the launch in Florida. At home with my two-year-old son, I remembered the NASA launch was taking place that morning so turned on the television to see how it was going.

TV cameras scanned the spectator stands at Cape Kennedy where family and friends of the astronauts watched, full of excitement in anticipation of the launch that included Christa McAuliffe who was there as part of the Teacher in Space project. Millions of children across the nation sat in classrooms watching and waiting for the launch with expectations of experiments and lessons later during the journey from the teacher in space.

McAuliffe's participation was what made me particularly interested in this launch. She was a teacher and wife but, more importantly, the mother of two young children, ages six and nine. She had spent long months away from her family training for the Challenger mission which made me realize I would not have been able to make that sacrifice, but I admired her determination and the support of her family.

I tuned in to watch that morning, saying a quiet prayer for their safe journey as my son played on the floor. Everything was routine with the countdown and there was lift-off. Cheers rose from the crowd of spectators as they took photos and watched the shuttle lift higher and higher until NASA Control gave instructions for full throttle-up.

There was an immediate explosion that filled the sky. For those in the stands, the looks of joy turned to bewilderment as they realized something wasn't quite right. Some gasped, some screamed, others simply watched in disbelief. Was it merely a reflection of the sun or perhaps just a vapor trail? There was confusion in the stands. Seconds later came the fateful words from NASA that there was "obviously a major malfunction," followed with, "... the vehicle apparently exploded."

Video of the launch shows the reaction of family and friends as the realization began to set in that they may have just witnessed the death of their loved ones. As they anxiously scanned the sky overhead, America watched their anguish. It was the first time a NASA tragedy had been caught live on TV.
The biggest fear of disaster had come true just at a time when everyone felt relaxed and comfortable with space travel, letting their guard down to the fact that riding a hydrogen tank into space was still a dangerous and challenging endeavor.

Later in the day, President Ronald Reagan addressed a shocked and stunned nation as he remembered the lives that were lost and the families left behind. He reminded America that we were still pioneers in space travel and then addressed the school children who had witnessed such a sad event, gently telling them that sometimes painful things happen when men take chances to expand their horizons. He continued by saying that the future didn't belong to the faint-hearted but, rather, to the brave.

The president then added words that would move a nation, saying that the astronauts had "slipped the surly bonds of earth to touch the face of God," bringing tears to millions who had shared in the dream of six astronauts and a teacher in space.

Twenty-six years later, many still remember the day we lost Challenger. The young school children who watched in classrooms are now in their 30s. Others, like my children, were too young or were not born at the time. Challenger, however, is a chapter in our history that will not be forgotten, a reminder of the loss of seven space pioneers who helped pave the way for those who followed.

U.S. House schedule for Tuesday, January 28, 2014

From Majority Leader Eric Cantor....

On Tuesday, the House will meet at 10:00 a.m. for morning hour and 12:00 p.m. for legislative business. The House will recess no later than 5:30 p.m. to allow a security sweep of the House Chamber prior to the President's State of the Union address. The House will meet again at approximately 8:35 p.m. for the purpose of receiving, in a joint session with the Senate, the President of the United States. Members are requested to be on the Floor and seated no later than 8:25 p.m.

First votes expected: 1:30 - 2:30 p.m. Last votes expected: 4:30 - 5:10 p.m.

One Minute Speeches

H.R. 7 - No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act, Rules Committee Print (Closed Rule, One Hour of Debate) (Sponsored by Rep. Chris Smith / Energy and Commerce Committee / Ways and Means Committee / Judiciary Committee)

Special Order Speeches

Ways and Means Committee hearing on “Impact of the Employer Mandate’s Definition of Full-Time Employee on Jobs and Opportunities” (Tuesday, January 28th, at 10:00 a.m.)

Printable PDF

Monday, January 27, 2014

Ed Gillespie responds to Howie Lind's decision to withdraw from GOP U.S. Senate race

Howie Lind removed his name from the Republican race for U.S. Senate to challenge the seat now held by Democrat Mark Warner.

Republican front-runner Ed Gillespie issued the following statement upon that news:
“I’ve enjoyed spending time with Howie Lind over the past few weeks as we’ve both pursued the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Mark Warner.  I’m proud to call him a friend, appreciate his service to our nation and our party, and hope all the best for him in the future.”
Photo by Lynn R. Mitchell

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Frigid weather woes ... broken outdoor water pipe -- UPDATED

Sunday. Mid-day. SWAC Husband headed into the basement to retrieve something he needed and found himself walking in water. Half the floor was flooded.


A frantic search began for the leak, first checking the usual suspect -- the washing machine. Nope. That wasn't it.

Next suspect would be the hot water heater. Nope. It was dry.

The next check was the area where the outside water pipe entered the house. Bingo. Water was trickling down the inside of the exterior wall, filling an ever-expanding pool in the part of the house where we store stuff. SWAC Husband turned off the water to the house but the trickle continued so then he turned off the pump to the well.

It slowed ... and slowed ... and eventually it stopped.

With that taken care of, attention was turned to the boxes of toys, books, memorabilia, Christmas decorations, wrapping paper, old stuff, and who-knows-what-else that sat on the floor. Our slow transition to all plastic not yet complete, the remaining cardboard boxes were soaking up water like a straw. Not good.

And so we began the transfer of boxes to the family room, stacking plastic bins while unpacking the contents from wet cardboard containers. Wow, we both noted, aren't we glad this didn't happen while we were out of town. Then the mopping began. The bucket was filled, dumped, and refilled. Push mop on floor, sop it with water, pick up, hold over bucket, wring it out, and repeat. Over and over and over.

Never before have I ever wished for a shop vac but today it would have been my best friend. SWAC Husband found an old towel and began swabbing the concrete floor to speed up the mopping process.

Meanwhile, a plumber needed to be called. I texted a few friends who had lots of local contacts or were in real estate and asked for names of someone who would make an emergency call. And then I posted on Facebook. What better way to get the word out fast to as many people as possible?

It worked. Zing! Homeschool moms came through first, then other friends. Text messages were returned with names and phone numbers. What would we do without friends?

On a winter Sunday afternoon with snow on the ground, we wondered if plumbers were up to their ears in calls from others who had experienced broken pipes and other weather-related issues. After all, it's been below freezing or right at for a couple of weeks. Last night's overnight low was 10.

We found a gentleman recommended by a friend who lived about 10 minutes away in Staunton. He came out after lunch and pinpointed it to an outdoor issue. Somewhere in the pipe between the well and the house there was a break, crack, or some other issue causing the water leak.

Next step: dig. He suggested checking at the house and at the well, the two most likely places for a leak. If all else failed, we would have to dig up the front yard using a backhoe to unearth the water line while searching for the leak. With more sub-zero temps headed our way this week, that's not a happy proposition at this time.

Meanwhile, after the plumber left, SWAC Husband called on long-time friends who live nearby. He's a builder and offered good advice and will be over to help. That takes place tomorrow.

Meanwhile, we're without water. That's not a tragedy ... at least we have heat as temperatures plummet again tonight, and electricity. SWAC Son lives nearby and offered his house for showers, refilling water jugs, and whatever we need so we'll survive with a bit of an inconvenience. Hopefully, we'll have water before too long.

The silver lining of all this? We wanted to clean out the basement anyway so we've already gotten off to a good start. Ready or not, that project is under way.

Meanwhile, the winter of 2013-14 continues. Cold temps, snow, frigid winds ... it's definitely been one for the books so stay warm out there. And keep an eye on those water pipes....

UPDATED 1:00 pm Monday: Our friend showed up at 9:00 this morning to help SWAC Husband look for the water leak. It didn't take long ... it was the first place they looked which was where the outside pipe entered the house. A joint had pulled apart in the freezing ground. A quick run to Lowe's for parts resulted in repairs that had the water back on by noon.  We are very grateful to a long-time friend who came to our rescue.

Garnett Benson Whitt, Jr. ... best obituary ever?

I didn't know Garnett Benson Whitt, Jr., but his obituary appeared in today's Roanoke Times and definitely caught my attention. It reads more like a short story than the usual by-the-book rundown of a person's life in 20 words or less with names of survivors. I have to tip my cap to Mr. Whitt and his interesting adventures, after you read this, you will know him a lot better than any other obituary you read today. RIP.

WHITT, Garnett Benson Jr.
September 8, 1939-January 23, 2014

Garnett (Buzzy) Whitt Jr., was a Chevrolet man who would not be caught wasting money on anything less than the best. He held true to his principles on everything from race cars to basset hounds, tractors to generators, bourbon to leftovers. Buzzy liked his food fresh and his cars fast. He would be friendly to most anyone, and didn't need to steal a joke from any TV talk show to make you laugh. His wit was as fast as his ride, which he would not mind being mentioned before any family because what you drive is who you are.

Buzzy might have had a hard time growing up under the shadow of his older sister Wanda's swift mind. Wanda went to business school and learned shorthand, jotting down recipes for their mom Roxie in writing so beautiful and terse it looks like hieroglyphics, keys to secrets not yet unlocked. Buzzy left school in 8th grade, most likely deciding he was better off with engines than spelling. His younger brother Randolph joined the National Guard.

Buzzy married Judy, and they had Lisa. For a while it was Roxie and Garnett, Buzzy, Judy and Lisa. Roxie helped out a lot in taking care of Lisa. They had a huge garden that could feed a neighborhood, growing everything from rhubarb to zinnias. The garden was a wonder of color and natural mystery. Then Wanda and Linzie had Shaunda, and then Rhonda. Wanda and Linzie, and of course Roxie and Garnett Senior, all have passed on. Lakin Barnes, Rhonda's son with her ex-husband Mark Barnes, is the closest Buzzy has to a grandchild. Lakin looks enough like Buzzy to have been his grandchild, and Buzzy was closer to Lakin than to any child, so there is that.

While other boys his age were trading marbles and baseball cards, Buzzy managed to trade up, and into possession of a monkey. Roxie wasn't very excited about the monkey which she relegated to the basement, where the coal was kept, alongside canned garden vegetables and all the makings for homemade soap. If anyone knows what happened to the monkey it would be Bill Macy, Buzzy's oldest friend. Bill is the only person who could manage to stay on speaking terms with Buzzy for seventy years. For that we remain ever grateful, since Buzzy got pickier and pickier about the company he kept.

As a young man, Buzzy lived the NASCAR lifestyle long before it was a brand, much less a TV channel. His two front teeth were slightly knocked back. That happened when he was drag racing near the country club golf course. After the car wrecked, he took off running from the police on foot, over the dark terrain of the course. With the police in pursuit Buzzy stepped on an iron rake that smacked those two teeth into a position where they would stay for most of the rest of his life. Buzzy was driven. He always worked several jobs. He was a fireman, a mechanic, a welder. He used the welding rig he built to thaw pipes in the winter. He built a garage in his backyard and did work for all sorts of men, young and old, souping up their cars with Chevrolet big block V8 engines. He put a 427 into more than one Chevrolet SuperSport. He put a 427 into a Porsche. He put a 427 into a Camaro. He was, apparently, the go-to guy if you wanted a 427 engine in your anything. Buzzy could make things fast. It was his gift, or one of them.

Fueled by a lifelong and well-documented need for speed, Buzzy died with at least two points on his license, those a result of one of his many late-night trips in his red Corvette. When he couldn't sleep, a frequent occurrence in those last years, he made midnight forays to Tennessee. He bragged about the trooper who pulled him but didn't give him a ticket -- Buzzy speculated the trooper only wanted to see inside the shiny red hotrod. It's more likely that the trooper didn't want to give a one-armed man a ticket for driving just a little bit fast in a car that begged for it, but it's also just as likely the trooper decided he liked Buzzy because, well, everyone did.

Since Buzzy had lost his right arm to a bush hog in 1997, he developed a habit of using his mouth for things most use their other hand to accomplish. That's hard-duty on teeth, and as he continued to use them as tools one of them finally gave up the fight and exited the scene.

By the time he passed Buzzy was a sad-looking soul, missing an arm and a front tooth, but he continued fervently with the work of Living, even against all odds. Buzzy drove himself to safety after he lost that arm, and then did it again after the fire that led to his death earlier this week. More than one friend has helped pull Buzzy from a dire situation. All are remembered in our prayers.

Buzzy was no stranger to tragedy. The family hopes you might forgive him the cuss that he became at the end. He was a victim of circumstance, but he would not want to be remembered as such.

It is fitting that Buzzy's drive helped him save himself, not once but many times. Independent, stubborn, willful, and determined, Buzzy Whitt wouldn't have it any other way except his. May his drive be an inspiration, and a marvel to celebrate.

The family warmly invites you to celebrate Buzzy's life. Visitation will be held at Stevens Funeral Home, 815 Randolph Avenue in Pulaski on Sunday, January 24, 2014 from 5 to 7 p.m. A service will be held at Stevens at 7 p.m. on Sunday evening. Burial will be Monday at 11 a.m. at Highland Memory Gardens in Dublin, beside his mother Roxie and his father Garnett.

In lieu of flowers the family respectfully requests that memorial contributions be directed to the Pulaski County Humane Society, P.O. Box 1046, Dublin, VA, 24084. Buzzy had some varied opinions about people, but he loved animals, and Chevrolet.

Arrangements by Stevens Funeral Home, Pulaski.

Cardinal in the snow

 This majestic creature honored us with his presence on the deck as he hunkered down in the snow after first enjoying the sauna of the heated bird bath. The beauty that we find right outside the door never ceases to amaze me....

 Is it any wonder this beauty is Virginia's state bird?

Bird spa ... heated bird bath on the deck.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
January 24, 2014

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Winter day on the snowy back roads of Augusta County

 Saturday's travels in western Augusta County were curtailed because of high gusting winds, blowing snow, and frigid temperatures. I avoided some of my usual back roads because drifting snow over roadways made driving a bit tricky without four-wheel drive, and blowing snow speckled my camera lens.

 Staying home, however, was not an option. I've been wanting to get out into the back country all week but waited because of road conditions. Today's overcast skies were what I wanted for my pictures, and so I headed out, and I was not disappointed. The snowy vistas, icy streams, and even the blowing snow left me in awe once again at the beauty of this part of Virginia.

 The flags at Buffalo Gap High School stood straight out in the extremely windy conditions.

 Just think how many winters this old farm house has seen at the foot of the Appalachian Mountains.

 Buffalo Gap.

 One of the many historic homes in Swoope.

 Snow had drifted over this road and in some areas was half-a-foot deep.

Photos by Lynn R. Mitchell
Western Augusta County, Virginia
January 25, 2014