Dwight Peck's personal website

Winter 2018-2019

Let's see if we can squeeze through another Year of Trump!

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.

Welcome to the Great State of Virginia (we hope)

Up sticks and off to the New World, like so many before us

What a nice day in Ollon, a village not far from the southern end of Lake Geneva, as this truck bundles up the last of our very valuable Worldly Stuff to vacate the territory, presumably forever. It's not a terribly pleasant moment.

We're taking the good stuff with us, and our colleague upstairs is inheriting the rest of it, including 600 or 700 books that didn't pass the full-container test.

After 42 years in this country, and 5 years in this flat, walking out is not a moment of unalloyed joy. The TV (wrong voltage for us henceforth) and the cute red Ikea thingie are staying behind.

And the cat-climber attached to the wall, and my favorite old chair (cf. the full-container test)

This was formerly the Ollon doctor's consulting rooms, more recently our combination livingroom/bedroom/TV room, now to begin a New Chapter under new management.

The laptop is the last to go -- the screen, printer, scanner, and speakers will remain (wrong voltage). The Birra Moretti, one's personal favorite because of the label, has recently been conveyed up from northern Italy, and will be discarded once emptied.

A last night in Nyon, 2 March 2019, poised near the Geneva airport at Joe and Teny's flat, we're off to dinner at the Hostellerie 16th century. We will surely miss them so much.

The USA -- for Better or for the More Likely

Safely landed at Dulles Washington -- a welcome surprise; it was on United -- we're staging at a friend's flat in a gated community near Leesburg. A welcome respite, and beer's already cooling in the fridge.

The next day, 4 March, we've got hold of our new (used) Volvo, and with Melvin the Doge romping in the wayback, we're off 2+ hours on the freeway to Staunton, Virginia, in the Shenandoah Valley.

A huge, solid block of a building, The Old Y Condominium -- no one can trouble us here, surely -- except tax assessors, code inspectors, condo fee-collectors, and Trump's assault on Medicare.

We're in the original theatre -- we've been told that most townies over 40 have witnessed spectacles in this venue! (the public librarian told me the other day that she'd attended rock concerts in here in the 1990s) -- and Melvin needs to have another reconnaisance since his September visit, before he'll be able to sleep comfortably.

That's what we've got to see us through until the container arrives, along with the various furnishings left for us by the former owners, enough for getting on with.

The stage -- or rather (now) the kitchen. The 'Old Y' was a YMCA building built (we've heard) in 1914, financed by Cyrus McCormick the industrial worthy, and renovated in more or less recent memory.

'Camera Disdain Syndrome'

Kristin and Melvin bonding in the kitchen

Up on the mezzanine, this is likely to remain the 'TV room' (a new TV will presumably be a high priority) (preferably with a ten-foot HDTV screen -- possibly curved)

A bracing walk in the neighborhood, 6 March -- the temperature is hovering at 0°C (32°F). Welcome to the American South. (According to the otherwise very good Wikipedia article on Staunton, its climate is classed as 'humid subtropical'.)

A light lunch in the home of organicness

A makeshift study or office on the mezzanine, with a fancy new wrap-around monitor

Out for another walk, 7 March, looking for the branch post office

'Office space available' (disconcertingly, there are quite a few vacant shop fronts in town)

Staunton, a city of about 24,000 souls, apparently can boast one elaborate church for every four residents.

And scores and scores of fancy houses. The city's won all sorts of awards for Beautiful Towns and, especially, 'Historic Towns', both well deserved (though the historicity dates from about 500 years later than the sort of Centro Storico we're used to).

These things are all over town. There are said to be five Historic Districts, with scheduled walking tours, trolley tours, etc., but so far we've seen few parts of town that aren't pretty special. Except out by the malls and fast food shops, etc.

Staunton emerged from settlers in the 1830s to become an established crossroads in the Shenandoah Valley for trails leading east-west over the mountains as well as north-south down the valley. In the 1850s the railway went in, and during the Civil War the town was a key trans-shipping point for supplying the southern armies. Nevertheless, even during the North's Shenandoah Valley Campaigns of 1862 and 1864, it suffered blessedly little war damage. (We'll probably have the chance to learn a lot of this Civil War stuff in future. Less time for Chris Wickham's Medieval Rome: Crisis in Rome AD 900-1150.)

An art school, very nice gables. They say that during the American Revolution, in 1781, when the British troops were running around the countryside, the Virginia government decamped to safer climes from the capital, Richmond, and ran the government from here for several months.

The Trinity Episcopal Church, founded in 1746 with this building dating from 1855

This is the lovely trolley operated as a regular bus service throughout town by the Brite company.

The cigar store on our street, N. Augusta, at the intersection of the high street, where East Beverley becomes W. Beverley St.

Welcome to the American South!

9 March -- in the Alps and the Jura, more snow is always welcome. Here, not so much.

Baja Bean, a sort of Mexican restaurant -- we've been twice, not bad, but virtually empty on the high street side. Here, around the back, and separated, the entirely legal smoking-encouraged branch of the same restaurant is always Jam-packed and Jumping.

The SunTrust Bank, a bank building with its own history -- we're here to open a checking account and apply for a credit card. That last part won't be easy -- already a company called Citibank has 'declined' my application on the grounds that some other company reported that I have a 'limited credit history'. Well, duh! I've been overseas for more than 40 years. And had great credit there. Sort of.

That's the downtown Masonic Building -- boy, these Freemasons aimed high. We saw the Masonic Building in Dubuque, Iowa (don't ask) two years ago, and it was similarly unsubtle. (I think my grandfather might have been one of these; we inherited a bunch of ridiculous but expensive robes and hoods and some very ornate swords.)

The Masonic building

Inside the Masonic building, this is a small bookstore on two floors, wedged in amongst business and legal offices.

A Masonic stairway

The Brite trolley (though it doesn't say so, I'm convinced that it's a 'Hometown Trolley' made in Crandon, Wisconsin; I'll ask them about it some day.)

Dated 1894, presently an outlet for the Shenandoah Brewing Company

The complex, called 'The Wharf', of the old rail station with buildings from the 1850s to early 1900s, in a district dominated by renovated and repurposed warehouses for all the freight passing through here back in the day.

There's still freight passing through regularly, and Amtrak passenger services a few times a week, we're told.


The old railroad buildings have been repurposed into burger bars, etc., and, in the centre, a homemade quilt shop (which evidently donates homemade quilts to the homeless through the Valley Mission).


Facing the Wharf district -- Pufferbellies

More shops and restaurants all over the old downtown -- way fewer residents, though. The usual mall and bigbox culture has hollowed out a lot of the daily-living sort of commerce, leaving boutiques, eateries, and specialties, and there has been a worrisome participation in the nationwide Airbnb epidemic, converting rentable residential apartments all through the downtown into more lucrative overnight tourist digs.

We stopped in at this place last night (13/03/19), very good, way more than any normal human could eat at one sitting. (Perhaps we're meant to take the rest away for a week's reheated lunches.)

The Augusta County courthouse

'All are welcome', it says, but it's not clear what this place is, or was. Perhaps a cinema. It's called the Dixie.

East Beverley Street, the main drag

The replica Blackfriars Theatre of the American Shakespeare Centre, one of the mitigating reasons for which we've come here. Not really in my price range, but perhaps we can get some conjugal help with that.

This year's programme: I am so sorry to have missed Arden of Faversham, the English theatre's first 'domestic tragedy', and especially Etherege's Restoration-era comedy The Man of Mode featuring Sir Fopling Flutter.

The high street, E & W Beverly, in the rain

Our building in a vintage print

The city park up the street, called the Gypsy Hill Park, 12 March 2019

The Gypsy Hill Duck Pond

And fish pond

A miniature railroad, the Gypsy Express (seasonal)

I can't wait.

St Francis of Assisi, across from the closest free public parking to our little private theatre in the 'Old Y'

And one of our nearest neighbors (nothing a good coat of paint couldn't fix up)

No huge expensive containers have arrived yet, and won't for a while, but we're making do all right in the meantime.

A sort of preliminary study or office, with a view out over the 'historic' rooftops

This part of the condo, at least, is starting to feel a little like home.

Summer 2019

Next up: Tiny Choupette joins the Parade

Feedback and suggestions are welcome if positive, resented if negative, . All rights reserved, all wrongs avenged. Posted 15 March 2019.

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