Saturday, May 30, 2009

Rain's Richness

Images from a Watery World of Spring

Spring pansies.

Water drops add richness to the Spring garden.

Mountain Laurel
Mountain Laurel.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Imagining a Green Manhattan

"A New Heaven and a New Earth"
Manhatta Project image of the island in 1609.

Here is a fascinating project I saw on "A Daily Dose of Architecture" of a reconstruction of Manhattan in its pre-urban appearance. The Manhatta Project [click to read] is worth taking a serious look at. Here is More [click to read] from 'Daily Dose of Architecture.
Of course my interest is in why this is so appealing to us. Makoto Fujimora has talked about the concept of a garden city. In Genesis man first communes with the Divine in a perfect garden setting. I'm typing this while looking out on our back yard, graced by two Japanese Maples that remind me of two trips to that beautiful land. Does Manhatta resonate with some inner yearning? I think so! The Japanese love their gardens and even manage to shoehorn them into downtown Tokyo and Osaka. Their countryside is beautiful and inspiring.
I did some work for the World Development Endowment Fund when they wanted to envision a utopian sort of city. I looked for my inspiration to Fujimora, Genesis, Isaiah 60 and Revelation: 21 -22. There seems to be no discord between city and garden in the New Jerusalem and My Vision [click to view] for the WDEF attempts to reconcile the two as well.

Thursday, May 28, 2009

The Meaning of Sonia Sotomayor...

Redefining Our Society by Judicial Overreach

Augusta Court House
'Blind Justice' atop the Augusta County Courthouse.

Victoria Cobb, President of The Family Foundation writes:

It is always a relief, and usually a surprise, when courts do the right thing, but it is never a sure thing. The California court this week surprised nearly everyone when it simply upheld the important right of that state’s citizens to recognize the traditional definition of marriage, and the sanctity of the vote. It is ironic, however, to watch those who claim ‘every vote counts’ are decrying a decision that validates the voters of California.

At nearly the same moment, President Barack Obama announced his nominee for the U.S. Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor. Almost immediately forces on both sides of the Supreme Court debate staked out their positions – many without having any idea what she actually stands for – and the battle over her nomination began.

What is striking to me is just how far we have come from the system of government our Founders envisioned. The news media, pundits, elected officials, public interest groups and scores of Americans have their entire focus on the make up and actions of the judiciary – the third branch of government the Founders intended to be the least powerful.

So here we are today with our freedoms hanging in the balance, with the future definition of terms like marriage and family awaiting validation or reversal by a handful of men and women whom, for the most part, we did not elect. Such is not the Republic we were meant to be, and frankly such is a Republic that cannot sustain itself for long.

Regardless of the outcome of the nomination proceedings for Judge Sotomayor, our system of government – a Constitutional Republic – loses a cornerstone when the voice and will of the people as expressed through our Constitution is subject to the whims of an elite few.

The people of Virginia in 2006 voted overwhelmingly to protect the definition of marriage. Like California, our laws protecting marriage were at the mercy of the courts until Virginians were given the opportunity to amend the state Constitution to define marriage. Because of that vote a handful of judges should not be able to toss aside thousands of years of human history and the evidence of social science that marriage between one man and one woman is best for society, families and children.

And yet, we know it is very likely that at some point our marriage amendment, or another state’s marriage amendment, will face scrutiny by nine people in black robes whom are accountable to no one – some of whom are no longer accountable to the document they swore an oath to uphold.

That is not the America our Founders envisioned.

Sean Hannity to Address Virginia Republicans

Hints on His Show about What He'll Say

Leadership 2010
"What do we stand for, what do they stand for, and if we stand up for what we believe in, will we win elections?" -- Sean Hannity

It Should Be Inspiring [click to read]. ht/SWAC Girl, who will be there.

Live Feed [click to watch] from the Convention starting Saturday at 10:00am. Hear Sean Hannity for yourself!

'World Class Entrance to Shenandoah'

Interest is Out There for Renovating Rockfish Gap

Stratton Mountain Village
Just imagine shops and residences like these at Stratton Mountain being built at Rockfish Gap.

Lynn [SWAC Girl] just informed me that her post about The Village at Afton concept got picked up by Mountain View Journal [click to read].

The Village at Afton on Facebook [click to read] is a place you can share your thoughts for this.

Condominiums similar to this one at Wintergreen would provide desirable housing options for residents of The Village at Afton.

The Village at Afton.

Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Thoughts on the Notre Dame Speech

Nat Hentoff's Analysis:

An Obama I Can't Believe In, Yet [click to read] in Jewish World Review points out that:

"President Obama's Notre Dame speech on abortion was applauded by the mainstream media, quoting his call for more "open hearts, open minds, fair-minded words." But except for the pro-life, and some conservative forums, there was no mention of Obama's omission of his own documented, chilling record on abortion that proves what he also said on that Sunday."

The fact that Senator Obama repeatedly resisted the Born Alive Protection Act [voting against it three times] and vowed to strip Conscience Protection from medical workers shows that his heart and mind are firmly set with those who oppose the Pro-Life position.

The record also shows that he clearly promised a 'litmus test' for judicial nominees. Speaking to the Planned Parenthood Action Fund, he stated: "With one more vacancy on the Supreme Court, we could be looking at a majority hostile to a woman's fundamental right to choose for the first time since Roe v. Wade. The next president may be asked to nominate that Supreme Court justice."

I once designed a logo for a Pregnancy Help Center using Dogwood flowers. The connection has stuck in my mind ever since.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Take the Point!

Talk is Cheap, Who'll Lead?

Leadership 2010
"The False Debate being promoted by MSM: Who Speaks for the GOP? Limbaugh or Powell? Cheney or Ridge?

I Wanna Know: Who Represents the Democrats? John Edwards or Keith Olbermann? Blagojevich or William Ayers?" -- Sara James

Two news magazines arrived at the house today. World's cover featured Tiananmen Square and Time, the "Meaning of Michelle Obama." For me the question is who's speaking to INFORM us anymore? The era of Reagan is only over if we let it be. It's time to become conversant with the true scope of the issues and speak to them.

What is more important to understand? The Chinese democracy movement that was crushed in the square or Mrs. Obama's 'meaning?' We recently watched the Olympics from China with little mention of the life outside the 'Bird Cage' and 'Bubble Cube.' Living with eyes open is hard sometimes.

Who will ask the hard questions of a Supreme Court nominee who desires to make policy from the bench? Who will read the founding documents so as to be alarmed by that statement? The nomination of activist Sonia Sotomayor shouldn't surprise us. The lack of serious questions from those who should be asking them should be cause for concern.

Calling All Patriots

You're Invited to:
Chesterfield County Fairgrounds
July 25, 20091:00 - 7:00 pm
"Arm Yourself With Knowledge"

Never Forget

Dear Tea Party Patriots,

Thank you for putting your passion into action on April 15th at the Tax Day Tea Party. It was inspiring to see thousands of taxpayers exercising their first amendment right to peacefully protest out-of-control government spending and ballooning federal debt.

We've heard from many of you wanting to know "What's Next?"

We are excited to announce THE Summer Event, Liberty 101, which will focus on:

- Fiscal Responsibility
- The Rule of Law
- Free Markets
- Individual Rights

Liberty 101 will be held at Chesterfield Fairgrounds, July 25th, from 1:00 - 7:00 pm. This is a Family Friendly event. Bring your kids, your parents, your friends and neighbors!

What is Liberty 101?

An opportunity for like-minded citizens and organizations to gather, become better informed, and prepared to act.The Richmond Tea Party Team has been working very hard to bring you a day full of information AND entertainment.

Music: We're bringing in bands of all kinds: Rock, Country, and Bluegrass. Contests: Everything from dunking booths to Hula Hoops. For the kids and the kid in everybody.Food & Drink: Enjoy iced tea and lemonade, hot dogs and burgers, ice cream, funnel cakes, and whatever else we think sounds good to eat on a summer afternoon!

Featured Attractions: Check out the informational booths hosted by organizations working to restore sensible government. Our indoor pavillion will feature seminars on important issues like Fiscal Irresponsibility, Freedom in Education, the Second Amendment and the growing "states' rights" movement.

Highlighted Speaker: We have extended an invitation to a nationally known speaker and will be updating you when we have received a commitment!

Between now and July 25th, we'll be sending you updates, including featured speakers and schedules so you can plan your day.If you want to help out, there are plenty of opportunities. Click on the Volunteer link and let us know what interests you. Please consider contributing a few bucks to help pay for the staging and sound system, facility rental, security and permits. Every dollar helps us provide you a bigger and better event. In the meantime, stay tuned. The best is yet to come!
Thank you for standing with us in defense of liberty!

The Richmond Tea Party Team at: [click to read]

Monday, May 25, 2009

Save Our War Memorials!

Overreach by the Anti-Christian Litigation Underwriters

Here is a story that shouldn't happen in America. The ACLU goes to court to tear down a memorial in the Mojave Desert just because it is a cross.

Don't Tear Me Down [click to read]

Save Our Memorials [click to read]

I'm Offended!

Mojave Desert 'Forbidden' Cross
Mojave Desert 'Forbidden' Cross.

The VFW erected the memorial in 1934 and originally owned the land on which the memorial sits, and then donated it to the government. The ACLU sued for removal of the veterans’ memorial on the grounds that it is unconstitutional, and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals agreed and ordered the memorial and cross dismantled.

After that decision, the VFW gave 5 acres of land in exchange for the retrieval of their monument. The Ninth Circuit ruled that was unconstitutional and ordered the monument and cross dismantled instead. The cross is currently covered by a plywood box, awaiting The Supreme Court’s decision.

"It is bad enough to say that the veterans’ memorial is unconstitutional, but it is outrageous to say that the government cannot give the monument back to the people who spilled their blood and put it there in the first place," said Kelly Shackelford, chief counsel of Liberty Legal Institute and attorney for the veterans groups.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Frank Woodruff Buckles

America's Last Surviving WWI Veteran!

The Last Surviving WWI Veteran Shares His Thougths [click to read] at Yankee Phil's Blog.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Can Do, Kauai Style

Alexis de Tocqueville Would Recognize THIS America

Remember last December when floods destroyed roads in a Hawaiian State Park. Government officials assessed the damage and estimated it would cost two million dollars to repair and would take two years.

Citizens, who depend on the park tourism for their livelihood, decided they couldn't wait that long and banded together to do the repairs in a matter of weeks for far less than the government estimate.

Pete Peterson Writes in City Journal [click to read] about the lessons in self-governance to be found here.

"Tocqueville was struck by how Americans collaborated in common effort, from building hospitals to roads. The Frenchman attributed this American quality to natural causes: without a large government or an aristocratic structure, Americans could “do almost nothing by themselves, and none of them can oblige those like themselves to lend them their cooperation. They therefore all fall into impotence if they do not learn to aid each other freely.”

Remember that great movie, Pollyanna, where the townspeople decide to raise money for the new orphanage THEMSELVES rather than accept the benevolence of Polly Harrington who owns the whole town? How wonderfully American that is! There is something deep in the American Spirit that wants no king or noble dispensing favors. Thank you to the good people of Kauai for reminding us it still exists.

Ice on the Trees
Skyline Drive after an ice storm.

Friday, May 22, 2009

'A Modern Dystopia'

H. G. Wells, Godfather of American Liberalism

Here's an Interesting Article on H. G. Wells [click to read] by Fred Siegel in City Journal. Most of us remember Wells for his novels: The Time Machine and War of the Worlds but his political writings inspired people like Margaret Sanger.

H. G.Wells
H. G. Wells.

Memorial Day


Time to Legalize Counterfiting

Time to Decriminalize Making Your Own Money

Thought Provoking Piece in American Thinker [click to read].

I heard about this on Rush Limbaugh's show today. It'll never happen, just like decriminalizing stealing! The government wouldn't want the competition!

Iran Nuclear Threat

The American People 'Get It' More than Washington

No surprise, Polls Show Americans Understand the Threat [click to read]. I hope Binyamin Netanyahu hangs tough on this. ht/Joel Rosenberg.

Washington Still Does Not 'Get It' [click to read]. ht/SWAC Girl.

This is no time to get it wrong!

Range of Iranian missles.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Urban Wilderness

Great Hiking inside Staunton City Limits

Betsy Bell
Hiking Trail in Betsy Bell Park.

SWAC Girl Jogged My Memory [click to read] of a particularly fine wilderness area in the midst of our town. Betsy Bell Park [click to read] is a great place to get in a short hike when you can't get away to the big ridges.

Charles Catlett donated the fifty acre mountain park to the City in 1941 with the stipulation:"The City of Staunton shall as far as is reasonably practicable and in its considered opinion advisable, and for the common benefit of its citizens and inhabitants, keep and maintain the crest of the mountain as a perpetual memorial..." of events in the past life of the community and in memory of its citizens who have given their lives in protecting the nation.

Catlett left instructions that the site be maintained in its natural state and a "cross" cut out of the woods visible from the Valley below be maintained.

Shhh, please don't tell the ACLU about that cross. I love it.

Betsy Bell
The Cross cut out of the forest on Betsy Bell Mountain. It is there as a memorial to those who have given their lives in defense of this Nation.

Deja Vu All Over Again

Shades of Smoot-Hawley

Protectionism Returns [click to read]. I've referenced Lawrence Reed before. His Book, Great Myths of the Great Depression [click to read] should be required reading for our time. ht/W. C. Varones

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Scenic Overlook on Skyline Drive

Taking in the View

Who's watching who?

The 'Taxinator'

California's New Taxes Show Us Where We're Headed

W. C. Varones Writes about California's New Taxes on Darn Near Everything [click to read]. When I see 'Carbon Tax' being fast tracked, new emissions and economy standards being ramrodded, California seems to show us where we're headed. ht: Michelle Malkin

California Dreamin' [click to read]. Here's Michelle Malkin's take on it. Also there is a great 'Movie Poster' for the 'Taxinator.'

Barack's Cadillac, does it meet the standards?

The Medicare Ponzi Scheme

Straight Talk from John Stossel
[Do We REALLY Want Government Healthcare]?

Here is Some Thought Provoking Analysis [click to read]

"When something is free for one group, demand runs wild, pushing up prices for those who must pay for themselves and the subsidized group."

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Save the Date


July 25, 2009
Chesterfield County Fairgrounds
1:00 - 7:00pm (tentative) --Permit Pending--Guest Speaker
Educational Seminars Arm Yourself with Knowledge
Congregate, Educate, Activate

fron the fine folks who brought you The Richmond Tea Party! [click to learn more]

Laus Deo

Laus Deo

A Daniel for Our Day

Binyamin Netanyahu Understands the Times

Binyamin Netanyahu.

Yesterday Mr. Netanyahu had a meeting with the President. I pray he was able to get through to him that the world is indeed a dangerous place. It was dangerous before there ever was an America so apologizing for everything America ever did is not going to make the world any safer.

On Iran, Mr. Netanyahu is very clear in his thinking. Looking at a world leader who denies the holocaust, wants to wipe Israel [and the US off the map], sees blue lights when he's speaking at the UN and wants nukes as fast as he can get them, Netanyahu says: "It’s 1938, and Iran is Germany, and Iran is racing to arm itself with atomic bombs."

You really can't get any clearer than that.

Reality Check:

A Two State Peace isn't the Arab Goal [click to read]. Here is some historical perspective from Jeff Jacoby in Jewish World Review.

The "whole world" wants a Palestinian state and near utopia in the Middle East. It won't happen. Here's why.

May Mountains

The Hills are Alive

Summer Trees
Trees are leafing out in the Blue Ridge Mountains.

Rockfish Gap
Trees in Rockfish Gap.

Monday, May 18, 2009


Film Captures the Personal Implications of Imago Dei


Here is a Film [click to watch] that you must see! It is just fifteen minutes in length but I saw it at Randy Alcorn's Blog and it was pretty powerful. Recently an editor at one of our local weeklies editorialized that Abortion is Not Murder because kids from 'religious' homes are having them and abortion foes are not resisting as they would if someone were gunning down a busload of elementary school children. His argument fails to see that throughout history other great evils have been accepted by even good people in a society.

Just because a course of action is popularly accepted and most follow it does not make it less of an evil. Many Christians owned slaves and I'm sure there were fine principled people serving in the German government. Can we legitimately argue that the holocaust was not murder because church members were working in the camps? Volition does a great job of showing how the right choice has often been the road less travelled in historical perspective.

Notre Dame

I hope anyone who feels like the editor at our local weekly saw the entire scope of what happened this week at Notre Dame. Alan Keyes and an Eighty Year Old Priest were arrested for protesting the President's speech and honorary degree. While the protest was pretty tame compared to campus protests of the past, these protesters were willing to put themselves at risk to save unborn children.

The slipstream media largely ignored a peacful prayer vigil and protest by 3000 students [who could legally protest on their own campus]. Many of them chose to not attend their own graduation. Sean Hannity was one of the few media people who gave the protest the coverage it deserved.

Read More About the Protest [click to read] here.

Abortion IS Murder [click to read] from The Valley American, an excellent response to "Eighty-One's" editorial.

Judge Andrew P. Napolitano [click to read] has a new book out: Dred Scott's Revenge [check it out]. The book is a look at how creating sub-classes of humans who are denied basic constitutional rights leads to bad things.

"The U.S. Supreme Court once decided that the government can declare a class of humans, i.e. blacks as non-persons. One hundred years later the highest court in the land concluded that babies in the womb are also non-persons. The horrible lesson here is that both courts defined who does and who does not have rights and that government has no natural or constitutional limits on it.”

Real Hate Crimes...

...And a World in Denial

Ibn Warraq and Michael Weiss on The UN's 'Human Rights Council' [click to read]

Why is this organization such a friend to Islamists and tyrants everywhere?

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Garden Worlds

Pansy 'Galaxies'


I love the way nature has design motifs that are repeated at different scales. Good design always reflects the artistry of the designer. I shot these after looking at some NASA Hubble images.



Garden Worlds

Crossing a Leaf

Ant on Dogwood Leaf
An ant makes its way across a dogwood leaf.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Space Shuttle in Space

Man in the Vast Cosmos

In this NASA photo the space shuttle crosses the sun.

Understanding the Times

Making Sense of Secularization's Senslessness

Secularization, Its Control and Power [Part 1] [click to listen]
Secularization, Its Control and Power [Part 2] [click to listen]

Ravi Zacharias has some important observations. His talk will help you understand the worldview discussion that is going on today.

Flower Shop
Flower in Monterey.

Dr. Gordon Pennington: Culture & Our Identity [click to listen]

Dr. Pennington describes how our postmodernist culture has so disturbed our identity as a people.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Thriving, But Rarely Seen

This Political Species is the One We Need More of

I've had more fun with TIME's May 18 cover! Here's a great graphic of a species I hope we see a lot more of in the future. People who step up from the ranks of 'ordinary' Americans to do extraordinary things. Theodore Roosevelt sucessfully ran as a 'Moose' and this animal still has the potential to inflict powerful reform on our political system.

Real Hate Crimes...

...and a World in Denial

Caroline B. Glick Writes About This [click to read] in Jewish World Review. Many Israelis want their country to join an EU that is increasingly hostile to them.

The Torture Pictures We DO Need to See

Saddam's 'Chamber of Horrors'
Should Remind Us What Real Torture Is!

Jerry Weinberger Writes in City Journal [click to read] of a visit to Saddam Hussein's notorious security complex in Northern Iraq where he killed possibly 200,000 Kurds. The executioners kept a macabre photographic record of their hideous work and it is a chilling reminder of the enemy we are dealing with in this war.

Yes, a real enemy with cruel methods that make waterboarding look positively kind [indeed if you spared one American City from attack, it IS kind]! Hussein himself ordered unspeakable atrocities be done to his enemies when he executed them.

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mountain Laurel

Blooming on the Mountain Now

Mountain Laurel
Mountain Laurel in Shenandoah National Park.

'Hate Crimes'

Most Real Hatred is not Criminalized by this Legislation

The recent 'hate crimes' legislation that was pushed through Congress at breakneck speed raises a few questions:

1. If crimes against homosexuals have actually decreased, why does a special class of crime [and victim] even need to be created.

2. The recent treatment of Carrie Prejean by a pagaent judge, death threats against her from Britian, they should be treated as 'hate crimes,' right? I don't 'feel the love' in the way she is being treated.

3. Visit the Voice of the Martyrs [click to read] website and you will find that 'hate crimes' are indeed increasing worldwide against a specific minority group. Guess who they are?

4. You guys are really OK with the Iranian leader Mahmoud Ahmadinajad wanting to wipe Israel off the map? If we can 'just talk to him' why can't we just talk about things closer to home?

5. What? Hate crimes are only hate crimes when comitted against a certain KIND of person? It's not so much about the intent as it is about the victim's orientation. Matthew Shepard was killed for money. I don't think the perps even knew he was gay. Is it still a 'hate crime' if you don't know? Looks to me like this needs to be renamed the "Special Interest Protection Act." It sure is ignoring a lot of real hate.

The Holocaust, a time of true darkness.
Mahmoud Ahmadinajad would visit this
horror on the Jewish people again.


A Beautiful Remote Corner of Virginia


Walk of Honor
Walk of Honor.

Confederate Monument
Confeterate Soldiers' Memorial.

The Highland Inn
The Highland Inn.

The Highland Inn
The Highland Inn.

Redbud House
Redbud frames a house in Monterey.

The Real Party of Change

Republicans Should Be It

Straight Talk from Larry Elder [click to read] in jewish World Review.

"Republicans can regain the White House by standing on principles — and explaining their purpose and utility. The party needs candidates unafraid to convince the American people that the Founding Fathers designed the Constitution as a contract that restricts the federal government to a handful of important services, not least of which is national security. Republicans need to show how Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — to say nothing of the various entitlement programs advocated by the current administration — will bankrupt the country. Republicans must make the case, however difficult and unpopular, for private savings accounts, a free-market-based approach to health care, and private charity for the needy."

Blue Dogs, unfortunately are also an endangered species in today's political ecosystem.

Straight Talk from Michelle Malkin [click to Read]. What is needed is not another 'Rock Star' but the articulation of Rock Solid Principles!

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Health-Care Chicago Style

Strong Arm Tactics on Health-Care 'Reform' May Backfire

David Gratzer on 'Reconciliation' in City Journal [click to read]

David Gratzer on 'Obamacare' [click to read]

David Gratzer on 'The Audacity of Distortion [click to read]

Sears Tower
Chicago's Sears Tower.

Chicago River
The Chicago River.

Chicago Skyline
Chicago Skyline.

Actual Question on an AP Exam

Who Says Educators are Biased?

" Which is a worse environmental injustice: taking days to clean up a wealthy neighborhood or taking days to clean up a poor neighborhood?"

A real question?!, on an AP Environmental Science exam!!!, I'd rather face a rattlesnake than some people who call themselves "educators." No wonder they consider homeschoolers dangerous.

Is James Cone writing curriculum now? It would be unthinkable for James Dobson's philosophy to be reflected in an exam question so why would Cone's Liberation Theology be allowable?

The sad truth is this, for every Carrie Prejean you see getting pressure to conform or be ostracised there must be hundreds of young people dealing with the pressure to conform to the 'politically correct' ideas of their teachers. They need our support and our prayers.

Mountain Laurel
Mountain Laurel.

Use Your Brain...

Apply Logic to Their Arguments

Such as... Social Security is paying out money that isn't in the 'Social Security Trust Fund' that doesn't exist anyway. Medicare is going bankrupt. Freddie Mac tanked the mortgage business.

Let's give the government complete charge of our healthcare!

...what's wrong with this picture?

Open Minds in Environmental Debate

Common Sense Meets 'Climate Change'

Old Car
Rusting car in Augusta Wetlands.

A Clear Picture of Carbon Policy and its Effects [click to read].

"Politicians persist in pushing the impossible. With President Obama positioning the U.S. EPA to regulate carbon dioxide emissions, Congress is marching this nation toward a carbon-constrained future that is certain in only one respect: Energy will cost more. "

Bronx Cheers

Understanding How Kids Learn Begins With
Understanding Kids

Light on the World...
Globe at Crozet's Field School.

Nat Hentoff Describes Success [click to read] at a unique public school 'where everybody knows your name.'

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Honest Science

Dr. Mehmet Oz Tells Oprah and Michael J. Fox
Adult Stem Cells are the Answer

Dr. Mehmet Oz Talks Straight About Stem Cell Research [click to read]. This from the Family Foundation. We know the breakthroughs are coming from adult stem cells and the embryonic stem cell research is more of a political issue than one of pursuing good science.

Still, it is pretty amazing when Oprah's expert talks straight from his knowledge and doesn't simply toe the line.

Ruby Beck

Modern Day Pioneer Woman

The Boxwood House in Culpeper, Virginia.

Today the Boxwood House Complex in Culpeper sits by the side of US 29 as a rehabilitation facility. Few know its remarkable history as the fulfillment of a dream.

Ruby Beck was an African American woman who worked for other people most of her life. In the mid-1960's she dreamed of opening her own restaurant using old family recipies. When most people would have been planning retirement she was out looking for financing.

The local banks wouldn't touch her project. They'd listen politely and then politely brush her off. Mrs. Beck was not the kind of person to give up easily. Eventually she found her way to the offices of Burke and Herbert [click to read], a locally owned Alexandria bank. They listened politely to her business plan and gave her the initial financing to go ahead.

Mrs. Beck built a building that was described in this manner: "what Howard Johnson's would build if they had less money and more taste." She used E. A. Clore chairs [click to read], custom designed with low backs for ease of movement for the servers. It was configured just like a Howard Johnson's but guests always lingered at the tables and Mrs. Beck's glassware collection soon took over the counter. Her meals always featured homemade bread, her own preserves and pickels, and fine Southern recipies. To dine at Boxwood House was to partake of Southern cuisine as high art.

Her sister Lizzie joined her in the business and was probably the head chef for most of the establishment's existence. Lizzie had been my Aunt Molly's live-in caregiver prior to coming to Boxwood House. A vivacious woman who taught us how to catch tadpoles and smallmouth bass, Lizzie was also the best marksman we knew. Her good eye became a family legend after we witnessed her shoot a snake out of a tree in the darkening evening. We never feared for her or Aunt Molly's safety living alone in rural Madison County. We did fear for anyone foolish enough to sneak around their house at night.

In those difficult days of the mid-sixties, Ruby and Lizzie established themselves as people you had better not mess with. I think their dad taught them the fine points of marksmanship and endowed his daughters with the gift of confidence. They were great ladies!