Dwight Peck's personal website

Summer 2019

A photographic record of whatever leapt out at us



You may not find this terribly rewarding unless you're included here, so this is a good time for casual and random browsers to turn back before they get too caught up in the sweep and majesty of the proceedings and can't let go.

Feline martial arts, more views of Staunton, and not-Monticello

April 2019

Choupette came to us on 3 April 2019, and within a week and a half she and Melvin had worked out a non-stop sophisticated form of ritual mock combat, one that features flying ambushes from behind, acrobatic midair counterattacks, takedowns and body slams, and both teeth and claws bared menacingly but retracted at exactly the right instant. This epic battle occurred on 14 April 2019.

Choupette favors wild attacks that go in low and inverted and strike upwards at the presumed underbelly, whereas Melvin maintains his dignity and relies on his vastly greater size and weight to collapse onto his opponent and wait her out.

It has to be noted that throughout this 20-minute Combat Royale tiny Choupette was the agressor and Melvin was the long-suffering playmate.

Choupette's favored tactics become evident.

Ultimate Martial Arts: the advantages of being able to change your direction of attack in midair.

Neither has made any attempt to explain the reasons for the bagarre -- it must just have something to do with primitive instincts. But the ability to indulge those hard-wired basic instincts while never hurting anybody can't have been a learned behavior in barely a week.

Melvin appears to be urging calm, or a truce. Melvin, a Selkirk Straight, has limited vocal abilities and over the past year has scarcely uttered a sound, except when accidentally stepped upon, but since the advent of his little friend, who shouts and yammers almost continuously, Melvin has begun speaking out as well. Though with nothing like the same decibel level.

Melvin is patient, and still dignified.

The Staredown

Taking the measure of your adversary. Which one will back off?

Another chase is on.

They're both slowing down.

Melvin being solicitous and gentle. Maybe it will calm things down.

-- Do you really want to continue this to the inevitable ending?

Or are they just catching their breath?

Melvin has got the situation under control now.

The whole battle ends in a cuddle. Less than a week after this, they were actually sharing the same little fluffy catbed sometimes and grooming each other. By early May, Choupette had also become fond of 'fetch' -- where you toss a tiny cloth mouse across the room and she brings it back to you for you to throw it again -- something that Melvin will probably never learn.

Another walk around Staunton: the Thornrose Cemetery

We're proceeding farther along our street, on W. Frederick Street, 22 April

Pink and white dogwoods (we've been told) -- for the past two or three weeks they've been ubiquitous in the region, but the season for them seems to be coming to an end. The colors' are fading a bit, too.

That is, in fact, a Thai restaurant, the Ubon Thai Restaurant Inn.

Staunton architecture

W. Frederick Street is sliding down to join Staunton's high street, W. Beverley Street, on its way westward out of town, and here's the Thornrose Cemetery.

It's enormous and well-tended. When the in-town cemetery at the parish church, functioning since 1750, got filled up, this 12 acres of land was bought and laid out and opened its doors (so to speak) in 1853. As well as many of the deceased citizens of Staunton, joined by new arrivals to this day, some 1,700 Confederate soldiers are interred there, and in 1888 a memorial area was set off at the top of the main hill for those who fell at the Shenandoah Valley Civil War battles of 1862 and 1864.

This is the Confederate Civil War memorial area, apparently named 'Fort Stonewall Jackson', dedicated in 1888. Thomas 'Stonewall' Jackson (1824-1863) gained much of his considerable military reputation during his Shenandoah campaign in May-June 1862.

Kaboom, kaboom.

Fort Jackson sports a 7-meter marble statue to a generic Confederate infantryman.

The plinth is festooned on all sides with fine generic sentiments, as in this quotation said to be from Robert E. Lee, about 'the glory of duty done' and 'the honor of the integrity of principle' -- with luckily not much mention of the duty to defend the integrity of the principle of owning slaves. This would not be the place for political arguments.

The view from the top of the hill. Unfortunately for those with a strong dash of curiosity, most of the oldest tombstones, including many from before 1900 or so, are illegible, presumably because of the kind of stone used.

A very pleasant place to spend your eternal years, all things considered.

A convenient bridge with statue, and a short round tower of indeterminate purpose

And on the bridge a conventional but tasteful lady staring off into the symbolic distance

On closer inspection, however, it's not clear whether that really is a woman or . . . well, perhaps it's an angel, or something.

Family accommodations

A memorial to the various cemetery Boards of Trustees over the years. With battlements.

And a row of further family establishments, a mini-necropolis

Out the main entrance, and back along W. Beverley Street into town

This Tudory sort of thing is called 'Anne Hathaway's Cottage', with a nod presumably at the Shakespeare Centre farther along into town. We learned subsequently that it's a seasonal luncheon restaurant that is opening in mid-May.

More battlements on what otherwise looks like a former church. Or something.

Dogwoods still in bloom

Staunton architecture

A side street up still another hill

The green trolley at a stop light outside the Trinity Church

The cigar store and smoking club on the corner of W. Beverley and S. Augusta Streets

Through the lobby of the 'Old Y'

We're entertaining our first guests at the Old Y, Joellen and Emily, and today we're out for a scenic walk, 25 April. This is the venerable Trinity Episcopal Church.

Another part of the Trinity Church complex and . . .

. . . the parish administration buildings, with the labyrinth pavement

The Trinity Church was founded as the Augusta Parish Church in 1746, and the present building dates from 1855, with subsequent improvements and renovations to the present era.

Twelve of the stained glass windows are Tiffanys, dating from 1898 to 1936 -- much prized. We saw some a while ago at St Luke's Methodist Church in Dubuque, Iowa. (I'm not a fan.)

Easter flowers

The church was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1972.

Kristin, Joellen, and Emily on walkabout

W. Beverley Street

Not-Monticello

It seemed like a good idea at the time -- a pleasant half-day out with a visit to Thomas Jefferson's former home Monticello near Charlottesville. Fondly remembered by members of our party as a leisurely walk through the house and round the manicured grounds.

But that's half of one layer of the five tiers of parking lots, and the prospects are not looking good.

Having clambered up four tiers of entirely full parking lots, we're greeted, not by Monticello, but by the David M. Rubenstein Visitor Centre. The mid-18th century ambience hasn't yet had a chance to gain purchase with us.

The next bus is leaving for historic old Monticello, built in 1769, in a few moments, so don't miss it. For $31 per person, we might make it in time for the next house tour.

None of us could really face it, by this time, to be honest, so we went off to C'ville for a nice lunch instead.

We've deVolvoed near Charlottesville's lovely Downtown Mall and are making a beeline for Miller's Downtown (where last year Kristin showed up every evening for the oyster platters).

The Downtown Mall -- not oysters today, fried green tomatoes rather (and two hot dogs for one of us).

Joellen, a fan of fine old, gleaming wooden bars, in Miller's Downtown

And the heavens opened.

Next up: Staunton's Frontier Culture Museum, yippee.

Summer 2019


Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 12 May 2019.


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