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.
The Ben Cline Gala
Since returning to the USA, we've noticed a vague sense that we ought to become a little more involved in civic participation, like good citizens. So, after striving mightily to prevent (apparently successfully) a loony development project last October that would have ruined the historic downtown, today, on a rainy 16 January 2021, we're back out front of the Augusta County courthouse to call for the resignation of Congressman Ben Cline.
One has never actually met Congressman Ben Cline, but, assuming that such a person really exists, his reputation has preceded him. And it's not all good.
In a kind of inverted homage to Congressman Ben Cline, we're presently getting a long list of his putative malefactions. Most of them sound remarkably trivial -- not a major force on the political scene, this fellow, by the sound of it -- but the gentleman did participate in the attempt to invalidate the November 2020 elections and overturn the will of us voters. That's enough for me! What a wanker.
Today's orator has taken the trouble to emphasize the solemnity of our efforts to save democracy from the tyrants by kitting himself out as one of the Founding Fathers, or George Washington, or something. (That is apparently a gentleman called William Walker.)
Let Congressman Ben Cline live with this photo for the rest of his career, however long or short it may be.
The list of malefactions really is a long one, and the drizzly rain isn't letting up.
Spreading our message to the passing traffic, if any.
There is a general feeling that, had it not been for the chilly drizzly rain, we might have got several thousand participants out this morning.
Kristin is absorbing every word.
The dogs, however, are keeping a wary eye on each other.
'Make the 6th district great again' -- well said! We infer that we must be in the 6th district now.
Another speaker (to be honest, I haven't understood a word any of them have said; that's age in a nutshell)
For example, I missed the part about the LIES and will need to do my homework on the Internet.
The crowd looks like it's thinning out now, but actually it's just a thin crowd. [The local newspaper estimated 50 or so.]
One hopes that we're not impeding the progress of the non-political passersby taking the kids out for a rainy Saturday morning excursion.
From time to time, a passing car toots its horn in sympathy, agreement, or ridicule.
We're reaching out to a whole busload now.
Not all political demonstrations have immediate results, but it's the principle of the thing.
George Washington explaining the state of Ben Cline affairs to a local journalist. There was a prompt response to our demonstration purportedly from Ben Cline himself, in which he is quoted as having written: 'Peaceful protest is a cornerstone of our republic [the vote is too, you wanker!], and I respect our First Amendment and those who exercised their right of free speech today outside the courthouse in Staunton,' he said in the release. 'I will continue to support civil discourse while condemning all forms of political violence. Only through reasoned dialogue will we find lasting solutions to the important issues facing our Commonwealth and our nation.' [Staunton News Leader, 20 Jan. 2021, page A2]
So there's that.
Kristin searching about for her devoted companion. Time to go home and dry out.
It's never a good idea to disturb Choupette when she's dozing off.
She's liable to hold a grudge for hours.
All the kitties gathered for still another long nap.
Another Staunton midwinter walkabout
It's 26 January 2021, chilly but not too bad, and we're out for a tiny peregrination through the historic Gospel Hill district of Staunton, VA, specifically along East Beverley Street.
In several districts of downtown Staunton, nearly every house is an open-air museum piece.
Many of them date from the turn of the 20th century, under the direction or influence of the architect T. J. Collins.
Verandahs, round towers, oriel windows, prominent gables . . .
. . . even the multi-family dwellings from the post-WW1 housing shortage -- they're all interesting. On the outside, anyway, probably on the inside as well, who knows? (Well, the inhabitants know, but we don't. We live in the Old YMCA.)
That's the back of Woodrow Wilson's birthplace, part of the present site of his presidential library complex along N. Coalter Street.
And that's the back of our house, looming on the left, and, with all the stairways, that's a secondary building of the Frederick House, an elegant 'small hotel' with seven adjacent buildings.
Negotiations? Apologies? An ultimatum? A meeting of the minds, if any?
Snow day (that's a big event round here)
31 January 2021, at last, a little snow outside. It's not the Alps or northern Wisconsin, but it's something.
But it's not much, and it was virtually all gone by the next day. So we'll try to enjoy it while we can.
It's embarrassing. But we knew what we were getting into . . . The South!
We're out for a plod up N. Augusta Street (pretending we're on our French TSL snowshoes).
That's the Old Y down the street, with one of the many local Presbyterian churches behind it. We're in the construction zone along Central Ave, which is receiving a welcome makeover.
A desolate cityscape
Looking along West Beverley St., seen from East Beverley St. Sort of a post-apocalyptic vision.
Except for the odd snowplow pile, this was all gone the following day. But . . .
. . . Another Snowfall -- O frabjous day! Callou! Callay!
Not two weeks later, 11 February 2021, we've rushed out to wallow around in the new snowstorm promised by both Accuweather and Weatherbug. It should be along any minute now.
Here's the snow, just getting going now.
Disappointingly timid snow falling onto Bankers Row
Urban Renewal with a vengeance. Some years ago, Staunton City (with Virginia Supreme Court approval in 1965) demolished 'a thriving and vibrant business and residential district, many owned or occupied by African Americans' (Staunton News Leader, 12 March 2020) between N. Central and N. Augusta Avenues, in hopes of attracting a fine big mall in mid-downtown; when no mall developers took the bait, we fetched up eventually with four nearly identical banks in a 250-meter row, all with continuously empty parking lots.
This additional bank, with its defensive security tower covering the entrance, is not one of the Bankers Row Four -- it's about 50 meters up Frederick Street to the west. (There are nearly as many banks in town as churches; perhaps no coincidence?)
Further buildings of the St Francis persuasion on N. Augusta St.
And a little farther up N. Augusta, 'Religion Row', three sacred establishments in a compact bundle: one Methodist and two Baptist (Ebenezer and Mt. Zion). We're blessed with blessings round here.
A new all-weather greenhouse in a beautiful garden just on the other side of the creek alongside Central Ave.
Newly-created garden features, attached to the magisterial Stratton House (1894) in the background.
This little creek comes along from Gypsy Hill Park and joins the larger Lewis Creek beneath the carpark near the rail station -- it came out of its banks in the floods last August 2020 and destroyed some businesses, including the popular Salvadoran restaurant, Gloria's Pupuseria, now reopened farther up the street.
(The agnostic's admonition: 'Stop, pause before proceeding. Is this really the best way forward?')
A house of a certain vintage, in desperately thin wet so-called snow
The impacts of Mr Trump's Virus have been especially hard on the hospitality industry.
Our promised snowstorm, like so much else these days, has come to nothing but a chilly wetness.
Look there -- snow near the sidewalk
Our studies are interrupted by the sound of Melvin's eerie squeaking (Melvin's carefully engineered Selkirk breed is incapable of meowing).
Sometimes, when he's feeling insufficiently appreciated, he marches out along the ledge and frightens us halfway to death. (So far he's always relented and come back to watch the telly with us.)
Another Choupette ambush