Thursday, May 25, 2017

Thursday Thirteen

Virginia Facts and Trivia
1. Virginia was named for England's "Virgin Queen," Elizabeth I. Jamestown, located on the coast, was the first English settlement in the U.S. (1607 - 1699) and the community was the first capital of Virginia. The Virginia Company of England established the colony in hopes of cashing in on the silk trade. When that failed, tobacco became the main export. Jamestown was essentially abandoned when the state capital moved to Williamsburg and today the colony exists only as an agricultural site.

2. Soybeans have replaced tobacco as the state's major cash crop. Other agricultural crops include corn, wheat, cotton, and tomatoes. The first peanuts were grown in Virginia.

3. Virginia was the 10th state of the admitted to the union (June 25, 1788) and is one of the original 13 colonies.

4. Eight United States Presidents were born in Virginia: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.

5. Six Presidents' wives were born in Virginia: Martha Washington, Martha Jefferson, Rachel Jackson, Letitia Tyler, Ellen Arthur, and Edith Wilson.

6. Seven Presidents are buried in Virginia: Washington, Jefferson, Madison, Monroe, Tyler, Taft and Kennedy.

7. The College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, founded in 1693, is the second oldest educational facility in the United States.

8. The state nickname is the "Old Dominion." The state tree is the dogwood, and its blossom is the state flower. The state motto is "Sic Semper Tyrannis"(thus always to tyrants).

9. On March 9, 1862 at Hampton Roads, Virginia, the USS Monitor and the CSS Virginia (formerly the USS Merrimac) met in one of the most famous naval engagements in US history. Their battle, the first of its kind between metal armored vessels, changed for all time the nature of naval warfare. Over one-half of the 4,000 battles fought in the civil war (1861-1866) were fought in Virginia. The last major battle, fought in 1865 between General Jubal Early and Philip Sheridan, took place in Waynesboro, VA.

10. Virginia is home to the largest office building in the world, the Pentagon, located in Arlington, VA. It has nearly 68,000 miles of internal telephone lines.

11. The Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel is the world's largest bridge-tunnel complex.

12. Bristol, a city in far Southwest Virginia and in Tennessee, is legally two cities. The city is divided down main street, and each side has its own government and city services.

13. Wild ponies have roamed freely on Assateague Island for centuries. Two herds of wild horses make their home there, separated by a fence at the Maryland-Virginia line. These small but sturdy, shaggy horses have adapted to their environment over the years by eating dune and marsh grasses and drinking fresh water from ponds. The Chincoteague Volunteer Fire Company owns and manages the Virginia herd, which is allowed to graze on Chincoteague National Wildlife Refuge, through a special use permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The permit restricts the size of the herd to approximately 150 adult animals in order to protect the other natural resources of the wildlife refuge. It is the Virginia herd which is often referred to as the "Chincoteague" ponies. The animals were made famous by Marguerite Henry's children's book, Misty of Chincoteague.

Thursday Thirteen is played by lots of people; there is a list here if you want to read other Thursday Thirteens and/or play along. I've been playing for a while and this is my 501st time to do a list of 13 on a Thursday.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Read Local at the Salem Museum

Saturday the Salem Museum in Salem, VA hosted a "read local" event featuring multiple local authors. I ventured out to visit with some old friends and see what the writing community has been up to since my byline disappeared from the newspaper.

This is my pal Peggy Shifflett. She writes Appalachian history books
that detail her life in the hills near Harrisonburg. (I edited two
of her books.) You can find her books on Amazon.

Becky Musko is well known in the writing community. She had four of her books for sale. Her website is We go back a long way.

Liz Long was new to me, but she has authored several books set in the Roanoke area. Her website is

Francis Curtis Barnhart, also new to me, offered readers a memoir called
The Beauty of Impermanence. Her website is

Fred Eichelman offered up some sci-fi and memoir. He has a website at

Just an overview shot. The author was talking so I moved on.

Betsy Ashton is my friend on Facebook, and now we have met in real life.

These are Betsy's Mad Max books. She told me they were about a woman of a certain age (approximately mine) who solves mysteries. Her website is

Just a shot of some folks looking at the books. They had a good crowd.

Diane Fanning writes true crime and mysteries. Her website is I am not sure, but I think Ms.Fanning and I corresponded on AOL or a bulletin board about 25 years ago. I remember doing some messaging with a local true crime writer who wouldn't reveal her name at the time. Maybe she remembers?

Michael Abraham has been widely acclaimed for his recent book, Chasing the
Powhatan Arrow, which is about a train. He has several other books as well. His website is

My old friend George Kegley was there to represent the Historical Society of Western Virginia.
Mr. Kegley and I go way back as he was a source for many of my articles for the newspapers. He
flattered, embarrassed, and humbled me by calling me the "scribe of Botetourt" when he
saw me. You can visit for more information.

Neil Sagebiel is the author of several books about legendary golf figures.
His website is

Peggy Wade is the author of In Full Armor, the Life of Clifford Frith, a biography about
her father. I wrote an article on Mrs. Wade for the newspaper some years ago.
Her book is available on Amazon.

There were many other writers there, too. I thought it was a nice event and I hope the authors sold many books. It is great to support local folks, so check out some of these websites and give a local writer a hand.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

The Preston Medal

Last week I attended an event about Greenfield, a former plantation in my county that is now an industrial park.

The Botetourt Center at Greenfield is a 922 acre site the county purchased for $4.5 million in 1995.  The land was divided into an industrial area, a parks and recreation area, and a school area.  The county built Greenfield Elementary School and the Greenfield Education and Training Center in 2000.  The county completed a couple of ball fields and built a $3 million sports complex at the Recreation Center at Greenfield.  Two industries located in the industrial area; one left, that building has now become a brewery. There is also a "pad-ready" site that a business could build a structure upon. It was available for several years with no takers. Supposedly a company from Italy is going to build there, but the last time I was by there - about six weeks ago - no construction was underway.

In late 2015 there was a big brouhaha over the supervisors decision to move historic structures on the property to a place they deemed more appropriate for a historic/visitors center area. One of the arguments they used to justify moving these structures was traffic. People shouldn't be moving through an industrial park, they said. Interestingly, the new brewery, which purchased an empty building not long after the historic structures were moved, is going to have 300-seat restaurant. So I guess that having people driving in and out of an industrial park really wasn't the reason.

When the supervisors' efforts to remove the historic structures became known, a group calling themselves the Friends of Greenfield/Preston Plantation sprang up. I was a part of that in a peripheral way. First I wrote letters to the editor of the local weekly to keep it in the public eye, and once people finally woke up and realized they needed to move, I set up a Facebook page and managed it for a short time. I also made monetary donations and took photos.

The slave quarters at Greenfield,
being prepped for moving. Photo taken December 30, 2015.

The slave quarters at Greenfield. Photo taken December 30, 2015.

Greenfield was once owned by Colonel William Preston, a Botetourt County statesman and a Revolutionary War hero. The structures that the supervisors moved despite public opposition were pre-Civil War and included a slave dwelling and kitchen.

The farm was called Greenfield Plantation, named so in 1761. William Preston moved from Greenfield to Drapers Meadows in 1774. He represented Botetourt County in Virginia’s House of Burgess in the 1760s, before there was a United States.  He was a pioneer and a soldier who defended the Virginia frontier during the Revolutionary War.

Preston's son, John, also a Revolutionary War soldier and a Botetourt County statesman, became owner of the Greenfield farm after William Preston and his wife died. The Preston family owned Greenfield through seven generations and sold the land in the late 20th century.

The Greenfield mansion burned in 1959, and it is thought that part of the original log structure existed until that time.

The Friends of Greenfield last week showed off some of the more than 13,000 artifacts that archeologists and volunteers dug up during a hurried three-week dig last year.

I'm not sure what these things are but the archeologists have been busy cataloging this stuff. The hope is that eventually there will be some kind of museum at Greenfield. I am not holding my breath.

Lisa Farmer was one of the group leaders.

Danny Kyle, who I later found out is my cousin, was
also one of the group leaders.

Rupert Cutler, a well-known Roanoker, is working on the
supervisor-appointed Greenfield Commission.

After remarks and discussion, some of which included financial concerns as there are still bills to pay for the archeology study, the group handed out medals they had made to folks who had played at role in attempting to preserve Greenfield's history.

They very kindly gave me one.

The fate of the historic area at Greenfield lies in the hands of the Greenfield Commission appointed by the supervisors, and the supervisors, of course. I do not know if the community has the will to push to have this historic preservation area funded and placed. We have lots of folks who are always yelling about taxes and what they consider to be unimportant expenditures, so I guess it will depend upon who screams the loudest.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Sunday Stealing: Q&A

Sunday Stealing: The Q & A Questions

1. Where is your significant other? A. He is in the shower.

2. What is your favorite thing? A. Probably my technology toys, at this stage of my life, since you ask for a "thing." I like my computer and my Kindles (yes, I have three of them).

3. What was your dream last night? A. I dreamed of a haggard old woman who was changing people into werewolves and then killing them because she wanted their hides, and she was also poisoning people, and I was watching her do all of this and trying to get the officials involved but no one was listening to me. Then she started coming after me with an axe. (I tend to have night terrors.)

4. What is your goal? A. To get up each morning.

5. What is your hobby? A. I play computer games.

6. Where do you want to be in 6 years? A. Above ground.

7. Where were you last night? A. In bed.

8. What you're not? A. I am not sure what this question is asking, but I am not stupid, a narcissist, or rich in money (I'm rich in many other ways, though.).

9. What is one of your wish list items? A. I would like to publish a book.

10. Do you have a pet? What is it? A. I have a herd of cows, two bulls, multiple free-range deer, a bear that likes my trash can, many squirrels, and occasionally a skunk.

11. Are you missing someone? A. Not right now.

12. What kind of car do you drive? A.  I have a white 2014 Toyota Camry.

13. Name something you are not wearing that you usually wear. A. I have on a Fitbit Flex 2. It is new to me so it is not something I am used to wearing. (I rewrote this question, as I did many of them, as I had no idea what it was actually saying.)

14. Do you love someone? A. Of course. I love many people, even people who might think otherwise. My heart overflows with love, even for people who read my blog whom I have never met.

15. When was the last time you laughed? A. Today.

16. When was the last time you cried? A. At my nephew's college graduation a few weeks ago.

17. What is your favorite past time? A. Reading.

18. Are you a hater or a lover? A. I'm a picker, I'm a grinner, I'm a lover, and I'm a sinner.

19. Do you have any vices? A. I eat too much chocolate and I bite my fingernails. 

20. What is your favorite blog of memes, other than Sunday Stealing? A. I run the Thursday Thirteen meme, so I have to say that one, I suppose, but I really like Saturday 9. I love the music questions.

I encourage you to visit other participants in Sunday Stealing posts and leave a comment. Cheers to all us thieves who love memes, however we come by them.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Saturday 9: Him or Me

Saturday 9: Him or Me -- What's It Gonna Be? (1967)

Unfamiliar with this week's tune? Hear it here.

1) In this song, a man pleads with his girlfriend to make up her mind. Do you consider yourself decisive?

A. I don't know. Sometimes the answer is right there in front of you, but other times you really have to tickle the ol' brain cells to puzzle it out. I mean, there are answers and then there are answers, you know? (I think the direct answer to this question is no.)

Since this song is all about either/or, we're using that as our theme this Saturday . . .

2) Choose a condiment: Catsup or mustard? A. Ketchup (Heinz)

3) Choose a sci-fi series: Star Wars or Star Trek? A. I have to decide? I like them both.

4) Choose your spy: James Bond or Jason Bourne? A. Bond. James Bond.

5) Choose your winter sport: Football or hockey? A. Neither.

6) Choose your breakfast: Pancakes or waffles? A. Pancakes with blueberries.

7) Choose your side: French fries or potato chips? A. That's a tough one. Potato chips, maybe.

8) Choose your chore: Washing dishes or doing laundry? A. Laundry, definitely.

9) Choose your nextdoor neighbors: Munsters or Addams Family? A. Addams Family.

That wasn't so hard. I made a few decisions there. Does that mean I am decisive?


I encourage you to visit other participants in Saturday 9 posts and leave a comment. Because there are no rules, it is your choice. Saturday 9 players hate rules. We love memes, however.