Thursday, June 29, 2023

The Fight of Our Lives


I was back at my library yesterday when I spotted these books on the bottom shelf reserved for recent publications. Even though I'm already deeply engrossed in another book, Howard Blum's In the Enemy's House, I nevertheless also picked up Mendel's The Fight of Our Lives: My Time with Zelenskyy, Ukraine's Battle for Democracy, and What It Means for the World. So many books! So little time!

Wednesday, June 28, 2023



"The Capitol at Williamsburg, Virginia housed both Houses of the Virginia General Assembly, the Council of State and the House of Burgesses of the Colony of Virginia from 1705, when the capital was relocated there from Jamestown, until 1780, when the capital was relocated to Richmond. Two capitol buildings served the colony on the same site: the first from 1705 until its destruction by fire in 1747; the second from 1753 to 1780.

The earlier capitol was reconstructed in the early 1930s as part of the restoration of Colonial Williamsburg. The reconstruction has thus lasted longer than the combined total of both original capitol buildings" -- Wikipedia

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Chaste Tree

The chaste tree  "is a plant native of the Mediterranean region. It is one of the few temperate-zone species of Vitex, which is on the whole a genus of tropical and subtropical flowering plants.Theophrastus mentioned the shrub several times, as agnos (άγνος) in Enquiry into Plants. It has been long believed to be an anaphrodisiac – leading to its name as 'chaste tree' – but its effectiveness for such action remains unproven." - Wikipedia

Monday, June 26, 2023

Ice and Stone


I can't believe I missed posting this one, by far and away the most gripping book I've read over these past few months. It reminds me very much of Ernest Shackleton's epic journey in the Antarctic, only this saga took place on the opposite end of the earth. I wouldn't even dream of spoiling your reading by saying any more; so I'll just share this: 

"Winds were whipping up and it was getting very cold by early afternoon. Bartlett told everyone to hurry with the shelters. They should warm themselves by the big fire, try to dry their wet boots and clothing and otherwise keep moving. Bartlett surveyed the island and the surroundings, an empire of ice and stone."

Saturday, June 24, 2023

Слава Україні!


This sunflower immediately makes me think of events reportedly taking place in Ukraine and Russia this morning. I doubt the world will be any better place as the result of the armed "rebellion" now supposedly taking place in Russia led by members of the extreme right. On the other hand, if it will divert any of Russia's attention and resources away from Ukraine's ongoing counteroffensive, then maybe, in strange way, it can ultimately serve to bring peace to that troubled region. We shall see. Слава Україні!

Thursday, June 22, 2023



Spotted this specimen on a trail near my home. Not too difficult to figure out how it got its name:

"The small, inconspicuous flowers of Jack-in-the-pulpit are borne on a fleshy, spike-like inflorescence called a spadix ('Jack'), which is enclosed (or nearly enclosed) by a large, sometimes colorful bract called a spathe ('pulpit'). The flowers are clustered around the base of the spadix inside the spathe. A sterile spadix appendix protrudes from the mouth of the spathe tube. The appendix is covered by the leafy tip of the spathe, referred to as the spathe hood (or spathe lamina). The lip along the mouth of the spathe tube, used as a landing platform for winged insects, is called the spathe flange." -- Wikipedia

Wednesday, June 21, 2023



I've been somewhat surprised to see peaches coming into season here lately.  Surprised, because I can remember seeing the trees, but not the fruit. So maybe they've just taken this long to fruit. I've read that it can take from three to four years to do so, and this does look like a very young tree.

Monday, June 19, 2023

Powell House


"Benjamin Powell was a carpenter who became a contractor, built a couple of Williamsburg landmarks, and enjoyed the company and counsel of some of 18th-century Williamsburg's leading gentlemen. He acquired his property at the east end of the city in 1763, and for nearly 20 years pursued from there the career of an 'undertaker' – as contractors were called in those days." -- Colonial Williamsburg

Sunday, June 18, 2023

Bottlebrush Buckeye


"The naturalist, explorer and plant collector William Bartram first noted this . . . shrub on his travels through Carolina, Georgia and Florida in 1773–78. An old example was still to be found in Bartram's Garden, Philadelphia, in 1930." -- Wikipedia

Saturday, June 17, 2023

Diary Keepers


"For this book, I intentionally chose not to excerpt the best-known diaries . . . by Anne Frank, Etty Hillesum, Abel J. Herzberg, or other worthy diaries . . . More diaries, more perspectives, help us to get a far better sense . . . . I was seeking a range of perspectives, not many but various. I wanted to juxtapose and balance voices from the occupation period and provide a rounded view of the war." -- Nina Siegal

Friday, June 16, 2023



This section of a tree trunk is from the tulip poplar that stood near the west front of Monticello. Centuries old, the tree succumbed to old age and disease and was removed in 2008. Although traditionally regarded as a tree from the era of Thomas Jefferson, the absence of solid wood and growth rings prevented a precise determination of the tree's age.

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Saunders Bridge


Saunders Bridge, opened on July 3, 2002, serves "as Monticello's main vehicular entrance and a link between sections of the Saunders-Monticello Trail on the north and south side of Route 53.

"Thomas Jefferson, himself, envisioned a bridge in the same general vicinity when he devised plans to connect his property at Monticello to land he owned across the road, known then as Montalto (now Brown's Mountain). In his "General Ideas for the Improvement of Monticello" (ca. 1804), he discussed linking the upper (Montalto) and lower (Monticello) park lands without impeding public traffic through the 'thoroughfare' gap." --

Wednesday, June 14, 2023

Farm Table

The nice thing about hiking the Saunders-Monticello Trail is the Rubenstein Visitor Center near the end where--among other things to do--you can relax and and enjoy a meal at the Monticello Farm Table before turning around and heading back to the trail head.

The cafe's menus are "seasonal, using local, organic and sustainable ingredients. Offerings include homemade soups, salads, and sandwiches made with Monticello-grown vegetables and locally sourced meats, cheeses, and bread. Coffee, tea, Monticello Root Beer, Virginia wine and beer, and other locally or regionally produced beverages are available, as well as fresh-baked cookies, brownies, and muffins." 

Monday, June 12, 2023


The Saunders-Monticello Trail also boasts a truly impressive array of boardwalks.

Sunday, June 11, 2023

Saunders-Monticello Trail

"The Saunders -Monticello Trail is truly a beautiful trail achievement as it winds its way 2 miles up Carter Mountain to the entrance of Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson. The entire trail never exceeds a 5% incline making it wheelchair accessible. The trail starts at the base of Carter Mountain at the Kemper Park and Arboretum. From here the trail winds through native plantings and gradually begins its ascent, passing by a small manmade pond edged with bull rushes that is well worth a closer look. Green herons can be seen stalking small fish along its banks and the rushes usually hold some skulking song and occasional swamp sparrows.

The trail was designed to reflect how Thomas Jefferson wanted his home to be approached as he wrote:

Of prospect I have a rich profusion – it may be successfully offered, & in different portions through vistas…with the advantage of shifting scenes as you advance on your way." -- Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources

Saturday, June 10, 2023


Had quite a conversation yesterday with this ewe. From what I could gather, she was a little agitated about her breakfast being late, although, to be fair to her handlers, I think sheep are always just a little bit agitated whenever it comes to matters involving food. :-)

Friday, June 9, 2023

Retention Pond


A bit of explanation probably called for here.

Several of the stormwater retention ponds near me have been neglected for quite a while.

As a result, they've been allowed to become overgrown to the point that the roots of trees have begun to interfere with their drainage systems.

Hence, the excavator.

Thursday, June 8, 2023

Sunday, June 4, 2023

Saturday, June 3, 2023



Tried a couple of different tea brands yesterday, Darvilles and Taylors. Both were excellent. I'm not much of one for discerning and describing the different flavors in teas. Suffice to say, they were as advertised.

Darvilles says its English Breakfast Tea is a traditional English favorite (the Brits like to write "fav-ou-rite" :-), full bodied and ideal as a breakfast beverage. Can't argue with that other than to say it's a nice tea for any time of the day. 

Taylors describes its Assam tea as "strong and malty." I don't have any problems with that either, although I've noticed lately that anything less than a "strong" tea just doesn't cut it for me. I don't like the bitter aftertaste I detect in some strong teas, but I definitely do like a tea that can still stand up to, say, a slice of pumpernickel and jam.