Saturday, March 31, 2012

Flight of the Bumblebee

Busy Visitor to the Spring Blossoms Buzzes Along

A bumblebee makes its way over the pine trees.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Dare to Dream, Persist in the Dream

Dr. King Presented a Dream, One Woman Pursued it

This is part of the 'Milestone Monday' series.

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!

This Blog began with the story of Dr. June McCarroll [click to read], the inventor of pavement markings. Her story is one of overcoming opposition and skepticism... and her amazing perserverance in doing so.

Back to Ruby Beck [click to read]. She was remarkable enough in that she concieved the idea of owning her own restaurant. OK, there was a problem. She was living in the mid-Twentieth Century and Massive Resistance was in full force. No banks would loan her the money but she persisted until she found lenders at Burke and herbert willing to take a risk along with her.

She built her Boxwood House Restaurant around family recipies and her sister Lizzie Harrison joined her in the business as chef. Lizzie's cooking was famous. She cared for my Aunt Molly in her later years as a live-in caregiver. When Aunt Molly threw a family dinner it was an experience! Homemade bread! Homemade Preserves! Cornbread! You get the picture. Lizzie took these fine recipes to the Boxwood House and, with her sister, made history! In 1971 Ruby Beck won the “Virginia Small Businessman of the Year Award.” Ruby was the first woman in Virginia, the 2nd woman nationally and the first minority business owner in the South to receive the prestigious award. Pretty impressive!

Lizzie was pretty impressive in her own right. She was a lady who found joy in taking us down to the little pond to catch tadpoles. She was kind and tough -- one of the best marksmen we ever knew. Once she shot a snake out of a tree and became the family's own version of Alvin York.

We never feared for the safety of Aunt Molly and Lizzie, though they lived along busy U.S. 29. Lizzie's rifle skills were such legend that no locals would have messed with her. Our standing family joke was that out of town troublemakers would have been met by the following sound: "BLAM!!!, Who WAS that?"

Here's an Article on Mrs. Beck [click to read] from The Tuscaloosa News.
Here's an Article on Mrs. Beck [click to read] from the Afro American.

Emerging Bradford Pear Blossoms

Watching the Tree Outside My Studio Window







Here are a series of photographs taken over the past few days of Springtime through my window.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue XIII

The Ballad Of Jed Clampett

Come and listen to a story about a man named Jed
A poor mountaineer, barely kept his family fed,
Then one day he was shootin' at some food,
And up through the ground came a bubblin' crude.

Oil that is
Black gold
Texas tea.

Well the first thing you know ol Jed's a millionaire,
Kinfolk said "Jed move away from there"
Said "Californy is the place you ought to be"
So they loaded up the truck and moved to Beverly.

Hills, that is.
Swimmin' pools.
Movie stars.

The Truth About Oil

Find it on your own land and it will change your life. The 'other' weekly news magazine this week boldly proclaims: "The Truth About Oil." They acknowledge the fact that new techniques are increasing our recoverable domestic supply but are quick to point out that this will not necessarily bring the price per gallon down. True, the methods are more expensve than drilling a gusher in the good old days, but as technologies come into more widespread use, guess what?, the price goes down. Also, here is the real argument for domestic production: Those are American workers getting the paychecks. Domestic production creates domestic economic development. Money that once went overseas stays right in North Dakota or wherever the production is.

Another reality of domestic production will be price stability, allowing businesses to have more confidence in their projections because energy won't be such a wild variable. Steady costs are so much more of a boon to businesses than costs that fluctuate wildly between unrealistically low and high.

Finally, the whole matter of national security demands that we do the best job of providing for our own needs with our own resources. We need to be able to manage our own destiny apart from the Middle East.

The Second Oil Revolution

Victor Davis Hanson Reports [click to read] on this exciting development.

"Given that North America in general and the United States in particular might soon be completely autonomous in natural gas production and within a decade without much need of imported oil, life as we have known it for nearly the last half-century would change radically." -- Victor Davis Hanson


Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Dogwood Blossom on Mary Gray Mt.

On a Rainy Sunday Hike, Signs of Spring Everywhere

Fresh blossoms bring to mind a rhyme often found on old Virginia post cards in my youth.

The Legend of the Dogwood Tree

While there is no evidence to suggest Dogwoods once towered, the Legend of the Dogwood has to be one of the great stories of a land that had wonderous mountains, rolling farmland and Fairy Crosses! Here is one rendering of the legend that is oft repeated in many interpretations.

When Christ was on earth, the dogwood grew
To a towering size with a lovely hue.
Its branches were strong and interwoven
And for Christ's cross its timbers were chosen.

Being distressed at the use of the wood
Christ made a promise which still holds good:
"Not ever again shall the dogwood grow
To be large enough for a tree, and so
Slender and twisted it shall always be
With cross-shaped blossoms for all to see.

The petals shall have bloodstains marked brown
And in the blossom's center a thorny crown.
All who see it will think of me,
Nailed to a cross from a dogwood tree.
Protected and cherished this tree shall be
A reflection to all of my agony."

Restoration to Begin on Crozet Mural

Volunteers to Refurbish 20 Year Old Painting

Monacan Indians fishing in lickinghole creek using a fish wier. Detail of a mural by Bob Kirchman and John Pembroke, 1992

Crozet Artist Meg West discusses restoration with Laney Riley, owner of Laney Mural Art for Young People's Spaces. Laney, who's heritage is Native American (Cherokee), Irish and French will add her special touch to the restoration of the Monacans, the tunnel builders and Claudius Crozet in the mural.

The first week of April will see volunteers refurbishing Crozet's historical murals. Teams will concentrate on the railroad bridge murals and the Crozet Shopping Center retaining walls. Crozet artist Meg West originally painted the Shopping Center Murals. The bridge mural was painted in 1992 by John Pembroke and Bob Kirchman. Crozet Hardware provided paint and supplies.

Meg and Bob will be coordinating the restoration joined by Staunton artist Laney Riley, owner of Laney Mural Art for Young People's Spaces. The team will concentrate on stabilizing damage and repainting areas where the paint has fallen away.

Students from Western Albemarle High School originally helped with the painting of all of the murals. Crossroads Waldorf students helped paint the background in the bridge mural. Western will be closed for Spring Break, but many students are expected to participate. The bridge mural was originally financed by people donating $5.00 to have their names put in the mural. Ten dollars got your family listed. No experience is necessary, there will be a variety of tasks to be performed. Work begins Monday, April 2 at 9:30am. Volunteers will be required to fill out a waiver form.

Twenty years of exposure to the elements has caused damage to the painting which will be repaired beginning next Monday.

Bob's son joins a Monacan fishing party when the mural was freshly painted!


Monday, March 26, 2012

Mission of Hope in Santa Cruz, Bolivia

Medical Ministry Grew out of a Mother's Pain

A Milestone Monday Feature

A rainy hike on Mary Gray Mountain...

Fot the lack of $75, little Marcelo lost his leg. At the age of eleven, Marcelo developed a severe infection. His Mother took him to the local hospital only to learn that she could not afford the needed antibiotics. Marcelo's leg had to be amputated.

Charlottesville Nurse Cindy Thacker, who always had a passion for bringing healing for the suffering of those in difficult places, was moved to action when she learned of Marcelo's plight. She became Marcelo's foster Mother and enabled him to recieve much needed care and therapy.

But Cindy thought about the ones left behind. She started Mission of Hope, Bolivia [click to read] in 1996, initially hoping to improve conditions in Santa Cruz Childrens' Hospital. The group collected money, supplies and medical equipment to give to Childrens' Hospital. Sadly, when Cindy later visited Childrens' Hospital she learned that many of her donations had simply dissapeared. "One day, I made a search of every room of the hospital. A lot of the quipment I had donated was not there. I asked where these things were, and nobody could tell me."

Not only that, but Cindy learned that patients were being charged for medications she had donated.

Now seeing that only the establishment of a free hospital for the poor would make any difference, Ms. Thacker expanded her vision. When a hospital facility came up for sale in Santa Cruz, she raised over a half million dollars to buy it! Members of the University of Virginia Hospital community are regular supporters of the ministry and surgery teams from UVA regularly visit Santa Cruz to make life-saving and life-changing surgery available to the poorest of the poor.

Cindy writes: "The people we serve live in extreme poverty. Many of them have been turned away from public hospitals because they did not have money to pay. Many of them have suffered for years with their medical problems. Most of them have been treated badly by other people simply because they were poor.

Our desire is to be a blessing to these people by not only taking care of their medical needs, but also by treating them with dignity and respect. We want to be a blessing to them by showing them the love and kindness they have not experienced in their own society. We also want to share with them the hope that we have in Jesus Christ."

May Trip to Finish Staff Housing/Orphanage

I will be joining a team on May 17-25 to complete work on House #3 at the Mission of Hope Complex. This house will provided much needed space for staff housing, orphan housing and day care. The complete cost for me to go is $1800. Generous friends and family have contributed much toward that. There are other team members who we would love to have on board, I'm thinking of a window expert that I know. Also, we will need to pay for materials.

If you are moved to help us, please make your check payable to "Mission of Hope, Bolivia." In the note line please write "Kirchman, May 17 Trip." Any extra funds will be used to help my fellow team members and to purchase materials. Mail contributions to: Mission of Hope, Bolivia, P.O. Box 103, Charlottesville, VA 22902

Like Journey photos? You can help finance our trip by purchasing prints of your favorites. Contact Me [click to email] for details.

...through a world of surprising colors.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Springtime Sights in Staunton

Signs of Life Seen Downdown by the Depot

Laurie Gunderson, owner of Appalachian Piecework in the old train station, welcomes visitors to Staunton.

Ox-eye Vineyards' tasting room gets a fresh sign on the brickwork.

Friday, March 23, 2012

1965 Commentary: 'If I were the Devil..."

Paul Harvey's Dire Warning for a Nation

Prophetic insight from the past Century.

The year was 1965, the New York World's Fair was about to open for its second season, promising a "Great Big Beautiful Tomorrow." "The Sound of Music" opened in movie houses. America was racing toward the Moon. Wally Schirra and Thomas Stafford aboard Gemini VI performed the first rendezvous with another spacecraft, Gemini VII, with Frank Borman and James Lovell practicing the procedures necessary for a Lunar mission. The first combat troops arrived on the ground in Vietnam. Martin Luther King was marching to end segregation... few noticed the dangerous cracks developing in our National foundation.

This speech was broadcast by legendary ABC Radio commentator Paul Harvey on April 3, 1965:

If I were the Devil . . . I mean, if I were the Prince of Darkness, I would of course, want to engulf the whole earth in darkness. I would have a third of its real estate and four-fifths of its population, but I would not be happy until I had seized the ripest apple on the tree, so I should set about however necessary to take over the United States. I would begin with a campaign of whispers. With the wisdom of a serpent, I would whisper to you as I whispered to Eve: “Do as you please.” “Do as you please.” To the young, I would whisper, “The Bible is a myth.” I would convince them that man created G-d instead of the other way around. I would confide that what is bad is good, and what is good is “square”. In the ears of the young marrieds, I would whisper that work is debasing, that cocktail parties are good for you. I would caution them not to be extreme in religion, in patriotism, in moral conduct. And the old, I would teach to pray. I would teach them to say after me: “Our Father, which art in Washington” . . .

If I were the devil, I’d educate authors in how to make lurid literature exciting so that anything else would appear dull an uninteresting. I’d threaten T.V. with dirtier movies and vice versa. And then, if I were the devil, I’d get organized. I’d infiltrate unions and urge more loafing and less work, because idle hands usually work for me. I’d peddle narcotics to whom I could. I’d sell alcohol to ladies and gentlemen of distinction. And I’d tranquilize the rest with pills. If I were the devil, I would encourage schools to refine yound intellects but neglect to discipline emotions . . . let those run wild. I would designate an athiest to front for me before the highest courts in the land and I would get preachers to say “she’s right.” With flattery and promises of power, I could get the courts to rule what I construe as against G-d and in favor of pornography, and thus, I would evict G-d from the courthouse, and then from the school house, and then from the houses of Congress and then, in His own churches I would substitute psychology for religion, and I would deify science because that way men would become smart enough to create super weapons but not wise enough to control them.

If I were Satan, I’d make the symbol of Easter an egg, and the symbol of Christmas, a bottle. If I were the devil, I would take from those who have and I would give to those who wanted, until I had killed the incentive of the ambitious. And then, my police state would force everybody back to work. Then, I could separate families, putting children in uniform, women in coal mines, and objectors in slave camps. In other words, if I were Satan, I’d just keep on doing what he’s doing.

Paul Harvey, Good Day.


The Modesty of the Great and
The Greatness of Modesty

Moses: A Model for Modern Leadership

Thoughts from Rabbi Berel Wein [click to read] in Jewish World Review

"The rule in modesty is not to prejudge others and not to assume that one somehow can be certain of G-d's true intentions. Humans are fallible. G-d is infallible. This alone should engender a feeling of humility and modesty in humans. The small alef of vayikra should remain a constant reminder to us of our relationship to our Creator and to our fellow human beings as well." -- Rabbi Berel Wein

Thursday, March 22, 2012

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue XII

What Wimpy Recovery do You Mean?

This week the 'other' weekly news magazine is asking "why the recovery is wimpy?," at THYME we're asking "what recovery?"

The Beureau of Labor Statistics says: "The number of unemployed persons, at 12.8 million, was essentially unchanged in February. The unemployment rate held at 8.3 percent, 0.8 percentage point below the August 2011 rate.

Among the major worker groups, the unemployment rates for adult men (7.7 percent), adult women (7.7 percent), teenagers (23.8 percent), whites (7.3 percent), blacks (14.1 percent), and Hispanics (10.7 percent) showed little or no change in February. The jobless rate for Asians was 6.3 percent, not seasonally adjusted. The number of long-term unemployed (those jobless for 27 weeks and over) was little changed at 5.4 million in February. These individuals accounted for 42.6 percent of the unemployed. (See table A-12.) Both the labor force and employment rose in February. The civilian labor force participation rate, at 63.9 percent, and the employment-population ratio, at 58.6 percent, edged up over the month.

The number of persons employed part time for economic reasons (sometimes referred to as involuntary part-time workers) was essentially unchanged at 8.1 million in February. These individuals were working part time because their hours had been cut back or because they were unable to find a full-time job.

In February, 2.6 million persons were marginally attached to the labor force, essentially unchanged from a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) These individuals were not in the labor force, wanted and were available for work, and had looked for a job sometime in the prior 12 months. They were not counted as unemployed because they had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey. Among the marginally attached, there were 1.0 million discouraged workers in February, about the same as a year earlier. (The data are not seasonally adjusted.) Discouraged workers are persons not currently looking for work because they believe no jobs are available for them. The remaining 1.6 million persons marginally attached to the labor force in February had not searched for work in the 4 weeks preceding the survey for reasons such as school attendance or family responsibilities."

But even as the employment rate "falls" America's long-term unemployment problem isn't going anywhere and the BLS statements above say so between the lines. By the end of 2011 4 million people had been without a job for more than a year according to the Pew Fiscal Analysis Initiative.

Although discouraged workers are often mentioned they are not always counted. Some estimates have real unemployment anywhere from 11% to 17% based on the tendency of unemployed workers to dissapear, either into underemployment or they just stop looking.

Some of us never really make the statistics though. I own my own company and am still here even when there is no work. In 2005 I had all the work I could handle. By 2010 I was working part-time for the Census to supplement the much more meager workload. Last year at this time there was a brief surge in our workload that lasted throught the Summer but I was still "supporting" this business by contract work for another small business person.


So I am inclined to view the above chart from [click to read] as more representative of the reality that my colleagues and I are actually seeing. A lot of the reality behind the "better" numbers has to be nothing less than "creative survival." Americans are pretty good at "creative survival!"

What's it All About? Algae?

Additionally, we are faced with rising energy prices and an administration that 'tilts at windmills' while denying permits that would allow our country to become more energy independent. In fact, forget the windmills, the POTUS is now telling us pond scum is the fuel of the future and that nasty old oil is the fuel of the past. Fine, but we haven't mastered the technology to fly a jet powered by pond scum yet. Market forces are providing alternatives to fossil fuels and helping us gain more efficiency with them, but they are still important.

New methods offer safe ways of bringing large amounts of North American oil and gas to market and using them with ever increasing efficiency. We were supposed to have run out of oil in the 'Seventies but a convergence of technologies sees us entering the second decade of the Twenty-first Century with reserves to spare (North American natural gas is being sold to China).


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

"Do Not Ask For Whom the Bell Tolls..."

"We'll See in One Another, the Loving Image of You!"

The scene of the Toulouse school shooting.

"The believer is neither a pessimist nor an optimist. To be either is illusory. The believer sees reality not in a certain light but as it is, and believes only in G-d and G-d’s power towards all and over all that is seen." -- Dietrich Bonhoffer

Jackie Evancho's lyrics are haunting as we learn of the Toulouse shooter's al-Qaida connections. The 24 year-old, who had spent time in Pakistan and Afghanistan, opened fire on a Jewish school killing three children and their Bible teacher, claiming he did it to "avenge Palestinian children [1.]." A photograph circulating the internet of a bloodied Palestinian child turns out to be in actuality one of a 2006 traffic accident [2.], yet it is being used to incite outrage, people against people.

I learned of a graphic designer in Israel who is attempting to help Israelis and Iranians "see" each other through photographs [3.] This is a good thing. I remember when my Mother was teaching at Howard Community College in 1979. One of her students was a young Iranian man and Mom became his friend in those dark and turbulent days.

But it is important to confront a stark reality here. In parts of the world children are being taught to become human bombs and are being forced to fight the wars of their elders. No amount of goodwill between Iranian people and Israelis will blunt the rantings of a Mahmoud Ahmadinejad. In our past Century, Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer was faced with the dilemma of what to do when confronted by unmitigated evil in the world. Hitler and the National Socialists did things that demanded a response.

If Boenhoeffer's life raises questions that are anything but simple, that is a healthy thing. His writings and sayings speak much of the relationships between people. He humbly considers how one should relate to enemies and thoughtfully navigates the realities of life with eyes wide open.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer felt compelled to join the resistance and was later executed. He left behind a legacy in his sermons and his writings. It is hard to find a single line of his to sum up his life and thoughts, but perhaps this one comes close:

"When we come to a clearer and more sober estimate of our own limitations and responsibilities, that makes it possible more genuinely to love our neighbor." -- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Letters and Papers

Rockets into Roses: Artist's Response to War


Think your daily commute is bad? Three Nepali girls cross a river on their way to school. Photo by Lokendra Achayara, ht/ Lee Baker.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Jackie Evancho Sings 'To Believe'

Eleven Year-Old Vocalist Honors G-d with Her Talent

"...and we'll see in one another, the loving Image of You!"

Nanny State Update

School Principal Declares: "Happy O'Green Day"

I reported earlier how a child in a Staunton, Virginia was 'busted' for bringing a Wendy's lunch to school [1.]

The Ultimate Politically Correct Holiday Renaming!

Now they're not hanging men and women for the 'wearin' of the green' at Wilbraham, Massachussetts' Soule Road School, but school principal Lisa Curtin has banished the celebration of St. Patrick's Day. Students now celebrate "O'Green Day." Although it sounds like an occasion created for encouraging pupils to drink O'Doul's (non-alcoholic beer), students will actually be encouraged to eat green vegetables in the cafeteria (why am I not surprised)?

In fact, I'm expecting whole lesson plans designed to encourage students to pester their parents into buying Chevy Volts, Priuses and other activites designed to save the planet. Why not a unit on endangered snake species while we're at it. Instead of kissing the Blarney Stone, let's have a film by Al Gore on Global Warming. That would help define 'Blarney' to a whole new generation! Yes, I think O'Green Day will be celebrated all-out by certain people!

And while we're at it, let's confiscate any gold foil wrapped choclate coins the kids have to further protect the government school lunch monopoly! Leprechaun food is 'competitive food.' [2.]

Valentine's Day at the school has been renamed to "Caring and Kindness Day," say parents at the school. Fox News [click to read] has more on the story.

Surprise visitor: A green-headed mallard in the back yard.

The Wearing of The Green

by Dion Boucicault (1820-1890) [3.]

O Paddy dear, and did you hear the news that going round?
The shamrock is forbid by law to grow on Irish ground;
St. Patrick's Day no more we'll keep, his colours can't be seen,
For there's a bloody law against the wearing of the green.
I met with Napper Tandy and he took me by the hand,
And he said, "How's poor old Ireland, and how does she stand?"
She's the most distressful counterie that ever yet was seen,
And they're hanging men and women for the wearing of the green.

Then since the colour we must wear is England's cruel red,
Sure Ireland's sons will ne'er forget the blood that they have shed.
You may take a shamrock from your hat and cast it on the sod,
It will take root and flourish there though underfoot it's trod.
When law can stop the blades of grass from growing as they grow,
And when the leaves in summer-time their verdure dare not show,
Then will I change the colour that I wear in my caubeen
But 'till that day, please G-d, I'll stick to wearing of the green.

But if at last our colour should be torn from Ireland's heart,
Our sons with shame and sorrow from this dear old isle will part;
I've heard a whisper of a land that lies beyond the sea
Where rich and poor stand equal in the light of freedom's day.
O Erin, must we leave you driven by a tyrant's hand?
Must we ask a mother's blessing from a strange and distant land?
Where the cruel cross of England shall nevermore be seen,
And where, please G-d, we'll live and die still wearing of the green!

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Blossoms on St. Patrick's Day

Bradford Pears and Perriwinkle Abloom



It seems like everything is coming alive today. Look who was visiting the perriwinkle!

Blossoms on St. Patrick's Day

Magnolia Soulangiana Coming Out Strong



The Japanese Magnolias seem eager to celebrate Ireland's great Saint this morning!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Thoughts for the Atheist and the Agnostic...

"What About Those Who Don't Believe in G-d ?"

Vertical section of the human dna.

Ravi Zacharias and Francis Collins. ht/Joy


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Rebuilding Lives and Communities

Boaz and Ruth Ministries in Richmond, Virginia

A Milestone Monday Feature

A formerly condemned house is now home to five people restoring their lives.

Firehouse 15 Cafe and Catering provides employment and training for food service careers.

Sunny Days Thrift Clothing draws students from University of Richmond on shopping outings.

"Dino" stands watch outside Harvest Thrift Furniture.

It was a bright sunny day in early February and I was off to Richmond to begin a project with one of my favorite clients. We would be creating a visual representation of the vision Martha F. Rollins has for her little corner of Highland Park. Taking its name from the redemptive story of Boaz and Ruth, this unique ministry seeks to Restore lives, restore communities and restore relationships for people coming out of the prison system.

Knowing that many offenders simply fall through the cracks, and neglected neighborhoods become areas of high crime, Boaz and Ruth have set out to reclaim the street and the people. I visit Harvest Thrift Furniture where restored furniture is offered for sale. In a room behind the sales floor two young men sit intently at computer screens learning how to write resumes and check job listings.

I have lunch with Martha in the Firehouse Fifteen Cafe, enjoying a delicious stuffed chicken breast which is the day's special. The staff is friendly and attentive. Boaz and Ruth currently provides about 100 paid positions. They have their own construction crews and have renovated eleven properties to date. People move on with proven skills after employment with the organization. Nearly 30% of ex-offenders in the state of Virginia and 5o% nationwide return to prison, but at Boaz and Ruth less than 12% of their graduates have returned to prison!

But Boaz and Ruth has an even bigger vision -- to take back the street! I'm shown the spot where a fifteen year old boy was shot to death in front of Harvest Thrift Furniture, and a dream is shared for creating a street full of start-up businesses. Saying: "The establishment of positive commercial activity in Highland Park is needed to provide jobs and draw resources from across the metropolitan area," Boaz and Ruth has plans to remake Meadowbridge Road as a safe and thriving center. The Kirchman Studio is pleased to have a part in painting the vision.

Jim Depasquale's design of Martha Rollins' vision for Meadowbridge Road in Highland Park. Rendering by the Kirchman Studio.

Peaceable Kingdom Animal Playdate...

Rio the Dog and a River Otter are Best Buddies

Here is a very unusual friendship. ht/Lynn

Deer and dog enjoy playing together too!

THYME Magazine

Citizen Journalism with a Better Flavor

Volume IV, Issue XI

One's True Value isn't Reflected in Their Pay

"Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies. The heart of her husband doth safely trust in her, so that he shall have no need of spoil. She will do him good and not evil all the days of her life. She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her hands. She is like the merchants' ships; she bringeth her food from afar. She riseth also while it is yet night, and giveth meat to her household, and a portion to her maidens.

She considereth a field, and buyeth it: with the fruit of her hands she planteth a vineyard. She girdeth her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms. She perceiveth that her merchandise is good: her candle goeth not out by night. She layeth her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff.

She stretcheth out her hand to the poor; yea, she reacheth forth her hands to the needy. She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She maketh herself coverings of tapestry; her clothing is silk and purple.

Her husband is known in the gates, when he sitteth among the elders of the land. She maketh fine linen, and selleth it; and delivereth girdles unto the merchant.

Strength and honour are her clothing; and she shall rejoice in time to come. She openeth her mouth with wisdom; and in her tongue is the law of kindness. She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness. Her children arise up, and call her blessed; her husband also, and he praiseth her. Many daughters have done virtuously, but thou excellest them all.

Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised. Give her of the fruit of her hands; and let her own works praise her in the gates." -- Proverbs 31:10-31

This week the 'other' Weekly News Magazine [click to read] tells us that women are increasingly outearning men and becoming the breadwinners. History tells us that the industry and influence of women have always enriched families and cultures. Proverbs 31 stands as testimony of that fact. Time concludes that the rise of women as wage earners is a good thing for everyone.

But looking at Proverbs 31, we run the risk of cheapening the true value of a person if we reduce her to simply a wage earner, albeit a powerful one. A while ago I asked a young artist to help me in the studio. I told her: "I'm not going to pay you what you're worth, I'll pay you what the job is worth. If I had to pay you what you are worth I couldn't afford you." That distinction comes to mind as we ruminate on the value of our wives and daughters to our family and society. Every now and then someone will try to assign a number value to the service of a women who takes care of her home and family (not working outside the home). It is always in six figures and that calculation makes a great point. There are many great people who's influence far exceeds their monitary earnings and society is the richer for it.

Here's the catch. This great value and service is most evident in the traditional supportive structure of family. Another darker statistic is the fact that most single female heads of households are living on the verge of poverty. Kay S. Hymowitz, a contributing editor of City Journal, has added further evidence that suggests that as young men prolong their adolescence, women take up added burden as members of the productive sector and parenting the children sired by these children.

Ms. Hymowitz's article Child Man in the Promised Land [click to read] details this trend and its long-term cost to society. The New Girl Order [click to read] follows it its wake. Inner City Pastor Tony Evans [click to read] regularly speaks of the lost influence of young men who are sidelined by perpetual adolescence. In an article entitled Fleeing from Fatherhood [click to read], Suzanne Fields also addresses the trend.

"But as with any momentous social change, the New Girl Order comes with costs—in this case, profound ones. The globalized SYF upends centuries of cultural traditions. However limiting, those traditions shaped how families formed and the next generation grew up. So it makes sense that the SYF is partly to blame for a worldwide drop in fertility rates." -- Kay Hymowitz

As young people increasingly defer marriage and children, the developed world faces the very real possibility of a population dearth. Who will maintain the engines of growth and pay the taxes to support the benefits for the present generations as they grey?

No doubt, a more wholistic way of valuing ourselves will need to be embraced if our society is to survive long term.

Recently a thirty-year old law student from Georgetown University made the news when she testified to a Congressional subcommittee. She essentially demanded that Georgetown University pay for her contraception, which she claimed cost her thousands of dollars per year! Aside from the religious liberty implications (Georgetown University is a Catholic institution and such a demand infringes on their religious teachings), there is another observation to be made. Societies have traditionally supported families and the need to raise children. Tax breaks for caring for dependents have long been accepted practice. It is assumed that it is in society's best interest to support parents in educating and providing for their offspring.

The demand that the 'New Girl Order' now be subsidized runs counter to that way of thinking. Indeed, here is someone who's earning potential is in the upper stratosphere, asking that someone else pay for her to not have children while she enjoys her upscale life. Mr. Obama may think her parents should be proud of her but might I humbly suggest that they read some of Ms. Hymowitz's writings before bragging to the neighbors.

Tony Evans plainly states that both men and women are essential parts of a larger dynamic and when either neglects their place society suffers. Some of Evans' best messages include a discussion with his wife, Dr. Lois Evans, who has her own ministry to women. Like a modern-day Priscilla and Aquila, the Evans would offer this definition of true success: “Success is not what you have done compared to what others have done. Success is what you have done compared to what you were supposed to do.” ― Tony Evans

Pond on Elliott's Knob.


Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Falls Hollow on Elliott's Knob

A Quiet Mountain Hollow Stream Awaits...

Falls Hollow
Falls Hollow, pictures taken in September of 2009.

Falls Hollow

Falls Hollow

Falls Hollow

Falls Hollow

...and a Rugged Hike Awaits as Well

One of my favorite places to hike is the trail up Elliott's Knob [or Elliott Knob]. I'm pretty sure I saw it as Elliott's on a Jedediah Hotchkiss map so I'm sticking with it. The trail makes its way up Falls Hollow along this little stream.

Here are More Pictures [click to view] taken along the trail up Elliott's Knob.

Road to the Top
Coming out of Falls Hollow, hikers find a rugged mountain road to the top.

Fire Tower
Abandoned fire tower at the summit.

Fire Tower
Looking up at the fire tower.

Almost to the Top
Almost to the top, where a view awaits...

Elliott's Knob View
...of the Valley and the Blue Ridge Mountains in the distance.

Elliott's Knob
Elliott's Knob as seen from Little North Mountain.