Sunday, January 30, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue VA

An American Original
Ronald Reagan's Vision Shaped America's Future

This past week's TIME cover left a bad taste in a lot of people's mouths... that is if it didn't outright make them sick. The 'Obama Loves Reagan' theme was pretty lame. But here is the instructional moment:

When Obama was elected (or immaculated, as Rush says), TIME was quick to roll out the Photoshopped FDR cover. Here's the 'New New Deal,' they wrote.

Now, faced with a solid repudiation of his policies in the midterm elections, TIME wants to compare the 'Golfer' to the 'Gipper.' It is a stretch by anyone's imagination. Still, the point must be made that Obama almost always needs some comparison to make a statement about his place in history.

Ronald Reagan needed no such comparison. In the end, Reagan MADE history. He restored American exceptionalism and American confidence. He was always himself. When his advisors told him not to challenge the Soviets at the Berlin Wall, Reagan ignored them. He said "Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" as his aides writhed. The Soviets saw a new fire in the American spirit. The wall is gone.

Reagan began Ameriica's journey back down the hard road to greatness, but he never waivered from his core beliefs. He handed his successors a revived economy and a nation respected. Few men can rightfully claim such achievements.

"Tear Down this Wall"
Ronald Reagan at the Brandenburg Gate in 1987

"We welcome change and openness; for we believe that freedom and security go together, that the advance of human liberty can only strengthen the cause of world peace. There is one sign the Soviets can make that would be unmistakable, that would advance dramatically the cause of freedom and peace. General Secretary Gorbachev, if you seek peace, if you seek prosperity for the Soviet Union and eastern Europe,if you seek liberalization, come here to this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, open this gate. Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall" -- President Ronald Reagan

“The wall that had imprisoned half a city, half a country, half a continent, half a world for nearly a third of a century was swept away by the greatest force of all: the unbreakable spirit of men and women who dared to dream” -- Gordon Brown

"I, in my own mind, have always thought of America as a place in the divine scheme of things that was set aside as a promised land. It was set here and the price of admission was very simple: the means of selection was very simple as to how this land should be populated. Any place in the world and any person from those places; any person with the courage, with the desire to tear up their roots, to strive for freedom, to attempt and dare to live in a strange and foreign place, to travel halfway across the world was welcome here." -- Ronald Reagan, June 1952

"If all of this seems like a great deal of trouble, think what's at stake. We are faced with the most evil enemy mankind has known in his long climb from the swamp to the stars. There can be no security anywhere in the free world if there is no fiscal and economic stability within the United States. Those who ask us to trade our freedom for the soup kitchen of the welfare state are architects of a policy of accommodation." -- Ronald Reagan, October 27, 1964

"You and I have a rendezvous with destiny. We will preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we will sentence them to take the first step into a thousand years of darkness. If we fail, at least let our children and our children's children say of us we justified our brief moment here. We did all that could be done." -- Ronald Reagan, October 27, 1964

"The poet called Miss Liberty's torch 'the lamp beside the golden door.' Well, that was the entrance to America, and it still is. And now you really know why we're here tonight. The glistening hope of that lamp is still ours. Every promise, every opportunity, is still golden in this land. And through that golden door our children can walk into tomorrow with the knowledge that no one can be denied the promise that is America. Her heart is full; her torch is still golden, her future bright. She has arms big enough to comfort and strong enough to support, for the strength in her arms is the strength of her people. She will carry on in the '80s unafraid, unashamed, and unsurpassed. In this springtime of hope, some lights seem eternal; America's is." -- Ronald Reagan, August 23, 1984

"Government growing beyond our consent had become a lumbering giant, slamming shut the gates of opportunity, threatening to crush the very roots of our freedom. What brought America back? The American people brought us back -- with quiet courage and common sense; with undying faith that in this nation under God the future will be ours, for the future belongs to the free." -- Ronald Reagan, February 4, 1986

"How do you tell a Communist? Well, it's someone who reads Marx and Lenin. And how do you tell an anti-Communist? It's someone who understands Marx and Lenin." -- Ronald Reagan, September 25, 1987

"I've spoken of the shining city all my political life…. And how stands the city on this winter night? … After 200 years, two centuries, she still stands strong and true to the granite ridge, and her glow has held no matter what storm. And she's still a beacon, still a magnet for all who must have freedom, for all the pilgrims from all the lost places who are hurtling through the darkness, toward home." -- Ronald Reagan, January 11, 1989 [1.]

Saturday, January 29, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue V

Obama and Reagan... a Shotgun Wedding?

The 'other' Weekly News Magazine [click to read] is featuring the cover: "Why Obama Loves Reagan." No, Obama loves Clinton, if anybody, here. After his own disasterous midterm election trouncing, Clinton veered right, building on his previous reputation as a moderate.

It worked. He embraced welfare reform and created the impression that he was his old Arkansas self again. He successfully fought off impeachment and won another term.

Obama campaigned as a moderate but one cannot find evidence that he ever intended to govern as one. If you actually read the healthcare bill and cap and trade legislation, you will see clear evidence that the man is a big statist. After calling for 'bipartisanship' in his campaign, he tersely reminded Eric Cantor: "I WON." He had no intention of working with Republicans unless they "rode in the back." Even with the help of publications like TIME, the President will have a hard time convincing voters thanks to the work of Hannity, Beck, Limbaugh, Lavin and Fox News. The President has pointed to all of these as enemies rather than answer the legitimate questions they have raised about his policies.

Here's What Obama Could Learn from Reagan [click to read]. The fact that Obama has not embraced these 'four pillars' of Reaganomics would indicate that this is all about style over substance.

More on the TIME Cover...

Michelle Malkin [click to read] offers this from Doug Powers.
No Sheeples Here [click to read]. "He's no Reagan!"
Here's the Real Reagan [click to watch] delivering HIS 1983 State of the Union Speech. ht/No Sheeples.
American Power [click to read] adds to what may well become the most 'shopped' TIME cover since 'Is Rush Limbaugh Good for America.'
Here's I Own the World [click to read] with the Obama 'self portrait.' ht/Mike.
Remember When America had a Real President? [click to read]. Mike asks, remembering a time in the not too distant past when the grown-ups were in charge.
The President's eHarmony Match [click to read]. We used eHarmony's TM system to find Mr. Obama's perfect match!

More on Reagan... in his Own Words

"Our friends in the other party will never forgive us for our success, and are doing everything in their power to rewrite history. Listening to the liberals, you'd think that the 1980s were the worst period since the Great Depression, filled with suffering and despair. I don't know about you, but I'm getting awfully tired of the whining voices from the White House these days. They're claiming there was a decade of greed and neglect, but you and I know better than that. We were there." -- Ronald Reagan, February 3, 1994.

"In closing, let me thank you, the American people, for giving me the great honor of allowing me to serve as your president. When the Lord calls me home, whenever that day may be, I will leave with the greatest love for this country of ours and eternal optimism for its future. I now begin the journey that will lead me into the sunset of my life. I know that for America there will always be a bright dawn ahead." -- Ronald Reagan, November 5, 1994

Friday, January 28, 2011

Remembering Challenger

Still a Vivid Memory Twenty-five Years Later

The crew of Challenger who perished 25 years ago today. Nasa Photo.

Today Lynn Remembers the Astronauts [click to read] of the Challenger. My father was an engineer at Goddard Space Flight Center and the whole family followed launches. We had cheered Armstrong's first step on the Moon, still remembering the fire that claimed the lives of Gus Grissom, Ed White and Roger Chaffee on January 27, 1967.

We cheered the landing of Fred Haise, Jack Swigert and Jim Lovell of Apollo 13 after their crippled ship circled the Moon, using the Lunar Excursion Module as a 'lifeboat.'

25 years ago today we mourned the loss of Mission specialist Ellison S. Onizuka, Teacher in Space Participant Sharon Christa McAuliffe, Payload Specialist Greg Jarvis, Mission specialist Judy Resnik, Pilot Mike Smith, Commander Dick Scobee, and Mission specialist Ron McNair.

David Brown, Laurel Clark, Michael Anderson, Ilan Ramon, Rick Husband, Kalpana Chawla and William McCool Died in the reentry of STS-107, the final mission of shuttle Columbia on February 1, 2003. Space flight has always been about a journey into extremely hostile conditions. These brave men and women gave their lives in our quest to explore the final frontier.

Liftoff of STS-107, the final mission of shuttle Columbia.
NASA photo.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

A Snowy Day in Augusta County

Snow Creates New Visions of Familiar Places

The Buckingham Branch tracks through Fishersville.

In Ridgeview Park in Waynesboro...

...the South River becomes a wonderland.

Trees everywhere take on a magical quality...

IMG_2333 fluffy snow clings to branches.

Lynn Captures a Magic Morning

Sunrise and Snow Create a Whole New World

The morning sun illuminates the snow-covered trees. Photo by SWAC Girl.

Here's some Morning Magic [click to read], courtesy of Lynn. Enjoy!

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

What a Difference a Day Makes!

Sunny Day Followed by Snowy Day

Charlottesville's Downtown Mall at Miller's yesterday was sunny and pleasant...

...and today I'm watching the snow fill the branches of the Catalpa....

...the Japanese Maple...

...and the River Birch.

New Perspective on the State of the Union

What We Need to Do to Reboot Today's Economy

A sign on a heavy equipment dealership in Fishersville, Virginia says it clearly: Pray for recovery.

Nicole Gelinas writes on The Four Pillars of Reaganomics [click to read] in City Journal. Here is a model our President and our lawmakers would do well to embrace... including the hard parts, like reducing spending.

Economic Solutions Alone are Not Enough

We have often relied so much on our own self-reliance that we face the problems before us with great anxiety. The actions of a handful of men in Washington and in corporate offices have had consequences that have been beyond our ability to overcome.

Nehemiah faced great problems and opposition when he set out to rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, yet he began wth prayer. He won the monitary support of a hostle king, overcame opposition close to home and led each family in rebuilding the section of wall by their house.

If that sounds like what we face today, join in prayer.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Pay No Attention to the Man in the Corner

What You Won't See at the State of the Union Speech

The words engraved in the capstone of the Washington Monument.

A lot has been written and speculated about what you will see in tonight's State of the Union Speech. No doubt, the President will make an effort to reconnect with the American people. He'll address our concerns about high unemployment, government overreach and spiraling deficits.

Here is something you WONT see in tonight's State of the Union Speech. Dennis Prager [click to read], writing in Jewish World Review, is certain the cameras will never pull back to a wide angle view that would show you the inscription above the President's head.

The words "In G-d we trust" are there. [1.] This acknowledgement to the Divine is seen by our lawmakers every day, yet our media storytellers find that so at odds with their current narrative -- that we are asecular nation founded on the exclusion of such 'religious intrusion' into the affairs of government.

"A generation of Americans has been raised to regard any mention of G-d outside the home or church as a violation of the deepest principles of our country. To the men and women of the left-leaning news media, in particular, "In G-d We Trust" is an anachronism at best, an impediment to moral progress at worst. The existence of those giant chiseled words so disturbs the media that, consciously or not, they do not want Americans to see them." -- Dennis Prager

Some day I want to take the tour of Washington offered by Dean Welty of 'America’s G-dly Heritage.' The city is full of evidence that the founders began their great experiment in self-governance with a great sense of their need for the Divine. I've found a lot of them on my own, I'm curious as to what I have missed.

Pierre Charles L'Enfant's "Plan of the Federal City,” drawn in 1792, set aside a prominent site for a "great church for national purposes." Today the National Portrait Gallery stands in that place. The site, midway between the Capitol and the White House hardly speaks the popular media narrative that prevails today. How ironic, that a recent National Portrait Gallery show featured ants crawling on a crucifix. Religion may be freely trashed in today's public square, but not freely expressed.

Our founders did not want a national church, such as the Church of England, but they showed no intent of throwing the pursuit of the Divine out of our nation's public life.

I've superimposed the site of L'Enfant's 'great church' on the McMillan Plan.

Rose window illuminates the interior of the National Cathedral. Photo by Laney Riley.

George Washington
Light from the windows above... Photo by Bob Kirchman.

George Washington
...frames a statue of George Washington. Photo by Bob Kirchman.

National Cathedral
Stained glass and stone. Photo by Bob Kirchman.

The tower of The Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception. Photo by Laney Riley.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fishersville Mike On DaRadio

He'll Be on DaTechGuy's Show Saturday Night

My photo of the WNLR tower in Churchville.

Fishersville Mike [click to read], proud member of the 'Axis of Fedorables' and fellow SWAC Blogger will be a guest on DaTechGuy's Show [click to listen] out of Massachussetts this Saturday. Congratulations to Mike on his debut in radio.

Spontaneous Delight as a Design Element

What the Neo-puritans of the Nanny-state are Missing

Here is a better way to encourage more people to use the stairs.

Behavior police take note. Here is a great example of a better way to get people out of their routines; Out-of-the box thinking! The idea was to encourage more people to use the stairs. You could have used the same old approach of trying to correct 'wrong' behavior -- or a fresh approach like these designers chose to.

Fun as a Teaching Tool
A Drab Hallway Becomes a Bright New World

At Staunton Alliance Church, we were confronted by a long institutional hallway that led to our childrens' outdoor playground. Tracy Daniels, our administrator, approached me one day with the idea of painting a mural to "brighten up the hallway." Her idea was that we create a missions theme along the walls. Thinking that a mural paintedby an architectural illustrator might be a bit boring, I partnered with Laney Riley, a very talented artist in our congregation.

Our theme soon grew into a depiction of Isaiah 60 and Revelation 21where the restored Earth and Heaven are one. Representatives of every Nation are brought into the presence of the Lord. It is the hope of every believer, according to scripture, but is often depicted as a white-on-white perpetual harp concert. I'd read some books by Randy Alcorn, who writes about Heaven and puts it in its true context: a world of delights more delightful than anything we in this world can imagine... and yet, our imaginings here, and our most delightful experiences are but an indication of the joy that awaits us.

Thanks to what I refer to as 'Laney Magic,' bright colors and faces reflecting 'sanctified mischef' are the norm. This isn't your Mother's nursery mural. The figures are life-sized. We start the sketches by finding real children's pictures. Often they are kids in rags. We turn them into 'princes and princesses' of the New Heaven and the New Earth. We leave a bit of mischef in their faces though so the kids can see themselves in that beautiful world. The Creator who made the otter and the hairy-nosed wombat certainly has a playful streak, and Imago Dei would suggest that our love of fun is divinely authored.

An Irish boy, full of playful pranks, takes shape.

"Kristina's World" Takes Shape
Here's 'Kristina's World.' The American girl, of Irish and Cherokee ancestry, stands in front of a farmhouse built in 1828. Bright colors and life-sized figures draw children into the painting.

A Walk to Blackrock on a Cold Day

Shenandoah's Rocky Outpost Offers Great Views

An earlier hike to Blackrock, in warmer weather.

More Pictures [click to view] are to be seen in Hiking in the Blue Ridge [click to read].

Snow on the trail to Blackrock.

Friday, January 21, 2011

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume III, Issue IV

The Truth about Grizzly Moms

The 'other' Weekly News Magazine [click to read] is focused on 'Tiger Moms,' those achievement-minded ladies who push their kids to excel. THYME has another species in mind.

We're thinking of those trail-blazers who lead their kids, mostly by example, and help to make the world a better place. They excel themselves, often without recognition, and their children gain confidence by watching them.

A lot of us were raised by such women.

This week I received a complaint from one of THYME's three readers. She said: "Why did you just put another crazy person on the cover in answer to the 'other' weekly news magazine?" Her idea was that I should have put Gabrielle Giffords on the cover and not given any ink at all to a troubled person looking for instant fame.

Her point was well taken. Over the past week we've had the chance to get to know this amazing woman and her astronaut husband. We've prayed for them and shared their struggles. We cheered when we learned that she was making major strides toward recovery.

Now Congresswoman Giffords is headed to Houston and a long process of rehabilitation. Here is where her courage and determination will really come in to play. No longer will the news report every breakthrough, but they will be no less significant.

We're pretty sure her return to public life will be well covered, but we will miss much of the story that brings her there. Perhaps it would do us well to look for those quiet heroes around us... the lady in our church who cares for her elderly parents, patiently cooking meals that they barely touch; the parents of a Down's Syndrome child who make life rich for her; the Grandmother who's raising her child's child.

Instead of focusing on the shocking and unusual, it is time to see the quiet strength that resides in America. Real greatness is often practiced in obscurity.

Eternal vigilance is the price of liberty. Photo by David Karaffa.

“Municipal institutions constitute the strength of free nations. Town meetings are to liberty what primary schools are to science; they bring it within the people’s reach, they teach men how to use and how to enjoy it.” -- Alexis de Tocqueville

Eternal Vigilance Department
On the Campaign Trail with Candidate Karaffa

A Look at What it is Like [click to read]. David writes the blog: 'Augusta Conservative.' I refer to it all the time for good illustrations of how to really fix health insurance and many other subjects. David says: "On Saturday, January 8th I announced my candidacy for the Beverley Manor District seat on the Augusta County Board of Supervisors in the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Election is November 8th 2011.

As a result, I have decided to change course with this blog. I am going to turn this blog into a live journal of what it is like to run for public office, at least on the local level."
This should be required reading for all who would contemplate entering public service.

How a California City Manager's Salary was $787,637

The Road to Bell [click to read] by William Voegeli in City Journal. Paved not with good intentions but with the avarice of professional government bureaucrats. Also required reading for those entering public service.

Feminism Comes of Age
Today's Issue is the Direction Our Country is Headed

The ex-governor of Alaska and her Mama Grizzlies argue that the real women’s issue is our country’s fiscal future.

The Battle for Feminism [click to read] by Kay S. Hymowitz in City Journal.

Ursus Americanus footprint seen on Blackrock in Shenandoah National Park.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

End of the World, or a New Golden Age?

It is Wise to Be Prepared for the Possibilities of Both

The dream of a bridge between the Americas and Asia has been a staple of publications like Popular Science for years. Will the next generation make it a reality?

Our parents lived through the Great Depression. Then they saw a war that practically destroyed the Continent of Europe. Our Country had barely survived its birthing and was almost destroyed by Civil War in the Nineteenth Century. Now rising powers across great oceans threatened our continued existence. Still, in the midst of the Depression, the 1939 World's Fair showed us the world of the Twentieth Century.

A few years later the National Socialists in Germany were busy creating Hell on Earth. Surely to a person of faith at that time, the World was ending. For over six million people it did. The attempt to install a new order and a Master Race almost destroyed Western Civilization.

Faith gives us hope in the midst of such dark terror. Certainly the hope expressed in Isaiah 60 and Revelation 21 is necessary to anchor us in such desparate times. One day the Divine will establish His Kingdom. A kingdom that is without end.

Mankind has moved through ages of deep depravity and times that we have come to know as Golden Ages as well. What will we do with the time that is ours?

The great irony is that Heavenly minded men and women, far from being "no Earthly good," have often been the catalysts for building a better life for their fellows. Alvin Schmidt documents this in his book "Under the Influence." Many advances in compassion and society are the result of people like England's William Wilberforce, who championed the abolition of slavery for years, and Charles Dickens, who changed the way society responded to the needy among them.

With our eyes set firmly on the "hope of things to come," will we bring the touch of G-d to our age?, or will we surrender to our dark demons?

Now is not the time for quitting.

The Bering Straight Crossing might have cable stayed sections to allow ships to pass...

...and miles of floating piers.

Is the human ability to dream big dreams a gift from the Divine? I believe it is.

I wish a buck was still silver and it was
back when the country was strong
Back before Elvis and before the Vietnam war came along
Before the Beatles and yesterday

when a man could still work and still would
Is the best of the free life behind us now
And are the good times really over for good

Are we rolling downhill like a

snowball headed for hell
With no kind of chance for the flag or the liberty bell
I wish a Ford or a Chevy

would still last ten years like they should
Is the best of the free life behind us now
And are the good times really over for good

I wish Coke was still cola

and a joint was a bad place to be
It was back before Nixon lied to us all on TV
Before Microwave ovens

when a girl could still cook and still would
Is the best of the free life behind us now
And are the good times really over for good

Stop rolling downhill like a snowball headed for hell
Standup for the flag and let's all ring the liberty bell
Let's make a Ford and a Chevy

that'll still last ten years like they should
The best of the free life is still yet to come
And the good times ain't really over for good

--Lyrics by Merle Haggard

Soon I'll be working with the boys at the Field School again, challenging them to imagine and draw things they might not have imagined before. Here is the Eastern terminus of a Bering Strait crossing...

...begun as a prefabricated construction camp. It features an indoor passageway system for times of severe weather.

The 1939 World's Fair.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to Repeal Obamacare in the Senate

Time to Get Serious about Killing this Bad Legislation

The bill 'we had to pass to see what's in it.' We've seen what is in it and it is time to get serious about repealing it.

"This week the House will pass a bill to repeal Obamacare. Congressional experts will argue that the Senate won’t pass a full repeal. They are correct to argue that full repeal will not be passed by both the House and Senate in the next few months, but they may be wrong that a full repeal bill will not pass in this Congress within the next two years. If Senators don’t take two procedural steps this week, they will make it virtually impossible to ever get a vote on the House-passed full repeal bill this Congress."

How to Repeal Obamacare in the Senate [click to read] by Brian Darling in The Foundry. ht/Redstate.

How to Really Fix the Healthcare System
Four Simple Steps from David Karaffa

Part One [click to read]
Part Two [click to read]

Part Three [click to read]
Part Four [click to read]

I believe there are reforms that can be achieved that would allow market solutions that work to stand and those that don't to be improved upon.

Tort reform should be part of the equation of making healthcare affordable as well. Malpractice insurance premiums are killing many medical practices. Reasonable awards for malpractice would cut costs for everyone. Also, higher deductables and MSA's [Medical Savings Accounts] would make people manage their own costs better. Here's an example, my children used to go to a pediatrician who simply billed "the maximum insurance will pay." -- his own words. I already had a high deductable and was paying out of pocket -- we found another doctor.

In short, I believe that a properly regulated system can find market efficiencies and provide better care than a government run system can. The monies that would be spent remaking the system would be better spent focusing on bringing in the uninsured and presently uninsurable.

Noah's Ark Meets Global Warming

Thoughts on Man's Relationship with the Miraculous

Wrightsville Beach
Menace or miracle? The sea acts as a wonderful cleansing mechanism for the world today. Reports of its impending 'rise' are greatly overrated.

"Through the narrative of Noah's ark, the Torah teaches us the all-important lesson that nature and miracle are one, and that our efforts earn us the success born of divine intervention, even if the miracles wrought for us remain concealed by the appearance of natural cause and effect."

Noah Redux [click to read] By Rabbi Yonason Goldson in Jewish World Review.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Journey to Historic Charlottesville

It All Began at the Augusta Health Blood Bank...

...I was at Virginia Blood Services on the Trima machine, which collects platelets needed for the treatment of illness. One has a lot of time to think and converse during the procedure, and the Phlebotomists at Augusta do their best to make donation a great experience. Little did they know they were about to exceed their own expectations!

When I asked if they knew of an inexpensive getaway for a weekend with my wife, they started putting their heads together. We take care of my wife's elderly parents, so with a relief caregiver volunteering to come in, we didn't want to waste the weekend. Still, it has been tough for all of us associated with the building industry. There was no way we could afford a getaway.

"How much can you afford to spend?" she asked as the machine whirred a return. It was clear from my answer that financial resources were extremely thin. "Let me call my brother." she said.

Visions of a weekend in someone's hunting cabin came to mind. My wife would not find that all that romantic. Still, I needed ideas and was pretty desperate. "By the way, you don't need any artwork for your hotel?" I heard her ask. My ears perked up, I love the barter angle.

Then I heard her say my name in obvious answer to the question "Who is it?" "Oh, you know him!" she exclaimed.

Turns out her brother manages the Hampton Inn in Charlottesville where I worked in partnership with Russ Fisher to paint the lobby murals fifteen years ago! Now I have a complimentary suite! I can feel a twinkle in the eye of the Divine, who I suspect is quite a romantic.

The Rotunda is a familiar image...

The inspiration for the Hampton Inn murals must rightfully be traced back to the photographs of Rufus W. Holsinger, who chronicled Charlottesville around the turn of the Century. Holsinger's images were reproduced on the walls of the University Cafeteria, which my Grandmother considered one of the few places to eat in Charlottesville. Monticello, the Rotunda and all of the familiar landmarks were there for the patrons to enjoy as they dined.

When Lisa Johnson of Plan Pro II first suggested the murals, the University Cafeteria was no more. It seemed like Charlottesville needed some sort of visual connection to its history and the lobby of her newest downtown hotel would be the ideal location.

...but what is lost is the vista Jefferson intended for it to overlook. Photos and rendering overlay by Bob Kirchman.

We checked in and walked around the lobby. Then a most amazing thing happened. Not only is the Divine a romantic, He is an encourager! The Desk manager discovered that I had designed and painted the murals and she began to introduce me to the staff. My wife and I felt like celebrities as we were introduced to a host of people from housekeeping and maintenance.

It was clear that these wonderful souls, who went to work by these murals every day, loved them. Perhaps they loved the unique identity they created for the hotel, perhaps they just loved the connection with their community, but the fact is that their lives were somehow enriched by a work G-d had allowed me to do. I am thankful for that.

Here I am with the Rotunda painting.

Crabtree falls is above us as we take a 'tour' of the murals with the hotel staff.

You can see all of the Hampton Inn Murals [click to view] here.

Charlottesville's Downtown Mall...

...features the restored Paramount Theatre,...

...and a multitude of didning experiences.

In the 1970's Charlottesville created the Mall from its Main Street...

...which initially created a decline as businesses left the street. Today a vibrant new culture of commerce has returned. The Mall is a popular place.

Moonlight over the Mall.

We enjoyed a pleasant walk along Charlottesville's Downtown Mall that evening. My wife took some books into a used book store and returned with some cash! She was obviously pleased with her side of the sale. Sunday morning we visited Trinity Presbyterian church for worship and were encouraged with a message on how G-d is close to us in our times of grief and suffering.

The text was the story of how Lazarus was raised from the dead. Our Lord knew he was going to raise Lazarus and yet he wept. He wept along with Lazarus' sisters Martha and Mary. He made their grief one with his own. Life can be hard and confusing, but G-d is not finished with the story. Still, He would comfort us and share our sorrows. It was a message I needed to hear and a further confirmation that this weekend was a gift from Heaven.

We walked around Jefferson's Academic Village and enjoyed his architecture. We drove out of town through Crozet and enjoyed the last light of evening at Mint Spring Park, grateful for the gift of unexpected blessings.

The columns of the Rotunda are draped in black in rememberance of Yeardley Love and Morgan Harrington.

Pavilion X has been restored to the colors Jefferson originally used to suggest classical stone architecture.

The Middle Lake at Mint Springs.