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Just Ducky

Would that I had my ducks in a row on this first day of 2013. Came upon something I wrote in early Jan. 2002 bemoaning the lack of organization in these parts and our manic undertakings to improve this that and the other. Ducks have two advantages that we don’t–no email or paper to drown in. I think it might take some walking on water to stay afloat!

 

So here’s the second installment of my Real Richmond gift guide from my Twitter feed. It’s a damned good list, if I do say so myself. I think it’s a good thing my children don’t follow me on any social media platforms.

Holiday Gift Guide #8 Gift certificate to a lovely #RVA B & B! Museum District B & B is near @VMFA. Maury Place &@gracemanorinn have pools!

Holiday Gift Guide #9 A membership in @falllinefarms for local-loving folks on your list. Year-round access to excess! http://ow.ly/fKTHB

Holiday Gift Guide #10 James River Park license plates for park-lovers on your list! #noDMVlinehttp://ow.ly/i/1bEls  http://ow.ly/fIa1y

Holiday Gift Guide #11 Burger bunch! Get gift certificates to@BelmontButchery @station2rva & @burgerbach for meat-lovers!

Holiday Gift Guide #12 Introduce someone to @relayfoods and give them the gift of local food & more time to themselves! http://ow.ly/fN2Tq

Holiday Gift Guide #13 French wine from @jemersonwine @Ellwoods@barrelthief + pass to French Film Festival @thebyrdrva http://ow.ly/fOAa8

Holiday Gift Guide #14 Nick’s on Broad sells the olive oil@StellasRichmond uses! Get chorizo and feta and other delicacies!

Holiday Gift Guide #15 Jewelry from Lynalise or Julia Dent at@bizarremarket at Chop Suey Books 

Holiday Gift Guide #16 #RVA =international! Gift certificates from  La Grotta Europa Stellas, Bistro Bobette, La Parisienne, etc. 

Holiday Gift Guide #17 @station2rva Get a Growler w/ purchase of $30 gift certificate. You don’t HAVE to give it away!

Holiday Gift Guide #18 Membership to @LewisGinter +tix to Gardenfest of Lights will put a shine to the whole year! #RVAhttp://ow.ly/gaHri

Holiday Gift Guide #19: beautiful baubles, pottery and other local#RVA delights at 43rd St. Gallery in Forest Hill.pic.twitter.com/3IXwWYMq

This is called cheating and I do it with a clean conscience since it is also multi-platform blah blah blah.

Here’s week 1 of my Holiday Gift Guide from my Real Richmond Twitter feed

It makes it awfully easy to participate in the Retail Merchants Association Think. Shop. Buy Local promo Saturday Dec. 8th, don’t you think? If you fill out the form at a participating retailer, you could win a $500 gift card from one of the afore-not-mentioned retailers.

Have fun and keep your sanity and your dollars in our community!

A recap of our gift guide:

Day 1 Holiday Gift Guide #1: #RVA books from @FountainBkstore or Chop Suey: First House; Come August, Come Freedom; Oregon Hill; Built by Blacks +

Day 2  Anything from @GearhartsRVA for the chocolate lover in your life! Caramels are my fave! #RVA

Day 3  #RVA ornaments (white or mirrored) from@modartifactsrva will glam up any tree! http://ow.ly/i/1b6HT 

 

Day 4 Chihuly tix from @VMFA (and treat yourself to a @wpabakery treat from Best Cafe!) #RVA #holiday

Day 5  Eliza Askin’s 2013 calendar. It’s a classic with some of our favorite spots in #RVA Find it @FountainBkstore

Day 6  Cool recycled bike gear even if you don’t bike! In @VMFA gift shop. Perfect for @richmond2015 http://ow.ly/i/1b6W9 

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Day 7  Holiday Gift Guide #7 Tix to #RVA theater! @firehouserva@henleystreetrva @virginiarep @richmondshakes From Madeline to Max, Will to Willy!

It will keep coming every day until Dec. 24th on Twitter.

and here is some of what I thought of it from an online piece for Richmond Magazine: Lincoln Premieres in RVA I’ll tell you more if you come on our Lincoln Legs: Brunch & Brushes with History tour tomorrow, Nov. 11th at 12:30 and we’ll brunch at LuLu’s in between following in Lincoln’s footsteps. I’ll also bring Dixie Donuts. I think Abe would approve. It is my dream to refight the Civil War using donuts, Dixie Donuts vs. Philly’s Federal Donuts. It is the only time I’d want the south to prevail. We’ll run Lincoln Legs again Nov. 25th, brunching at Arcadia then.

Lincoln is loved in VA

Maybe it was the Luna Bar breakfast or the realization that for the next 8 hours all I would eat was trail mix, gummy bears and Famous Amos cookies and a banana, but I had food on the brain while my butt was on a bike as I was riding the 102 mile inaugural Tour of Richmond on Saturday. The event started at RIR, where for years the State Fair of VA used to be, so I was reminded of the first and last fried pickle I ever consumed just as we were getting underway at 7 a.m. Then we rode down into Shockoe Valley, alongside the Cannon Creek Greenway bicycle path for a bit and into old timer industrial part of Richmond and there was an old building denoting T. H. Wood seed purveyor from way back which I recognized from the prints in my kitchen from the Library of Virginia gift shop.

I got mine at the Library of Virginia gift shop.

Then it was onto and through the 17th St. Farmers’ Market–where I first tasted the Holy Grail of goat cheese…back when it was a decent farmers’ market and where now some spots like Tio Pablo, LuLu’s, Arcadia, C’est Le Vin, Halligan BBQ and more are doing their part to add spice to this area. And of course, just around the corner, Julep’s is still bringing  the southern-inspired fine dining in the oldest commercial building in Richmond.

Then we crossed the river on the Manchester Bridge. I didn’t see any sturgeon, but I know they’re there. Richmond wouldn’t be Richmond without the river and the fish that frequented it when the Powhatan Indians were running the show here.

Along Riverside Drive I know there were some Paw Paws (GW’s favorite fruit), but truth be told they’ve dropped by now. Then out to Chesterfield County where I think it’s funny that the restaurants that are actually just over the line in Powhatan (Wild Ginger and Mediterraneo) say they’re in Chesterfield so people don’t think they’re too far out in the boonies. As soon as we crossed into Powhatan County, farms started to pop up: horses, cows, Fine Creek Vineyard, a sign for Manakintowne Specialty Growers–whose salad fixings and herbs wind up in some of the finest Richmond restaurants and in anyone’s kitchen if you pick them up at a farmers’ market or through Fall Line Farms, a co-op I belong to. Then we zoomed by some guys putting out signs before 9 a.m. to sell fresh eggs and pastured meat. You need to be careful about buying eggs, though–especially on the internet–some eggs are too fresh. I can’t seem to remember the name of their farm, but it started with an A. Too many things rush by on a bike to remember every durned letter of the alphabet in the correct order.  Noticed Bourbon Lane  and a tavern along the rode from 1755 and a sign noting the last place Robert E. Lee camped on his way back from Appomattox to Richmond post-surrender. (His starving men were given rations by Federal troops, so that’s how this snuck into a food heritage bit.)

At our third rest stop, the friendly Powhatan folk were promoting the Powhatan Festival of the Grape coming up Oct. 20th. Unfortunately the coolers they had still offered only water or Powerade, so that was the old bait-and-switch. Soon after we crossed the river again and were in lovely Goochland County, home to many a good farm. Further east in Goochland on Tuckahoe Plantation is where I saw my first pastured beef cattle running, yes, running in the woods. And yes, I say “my” with partly a good reason as we did purchase a 1/4 of one from Daniel and Emily of Tuckahoe Lamb & Cattle and continue to buy their beef, lamb and eggs at farmers’ markets around town.

Winding our way along the route, we wound up in a gorgeous stretch of Louisa County for a bit, which reminds me of my visits to Twin Oaks, when I wrote a piece about the tofu and hammock-producing commune in Louisa. Sadly, no hammock time on this route for us. We passed more fields and forests not yet turned into sub-divisions and not soon enough exactly, but eventually we were in Hanover County and coming back toward civilization, by which I mean Q Barbecue at the finish party at RIR.

Not to over-anaylze it–squiggly, wiry, metallic and free-form.  Note the juxtapositions. (There are always juxtapositions.) Is it an Alexander Calder mobile rip-off? A caricature done in coat hangers with a nod to irony? Symbolic of Virginia hanging onto its blue state ways?  A way to avoid ironing shirts that are supposed to be no-iron but look like wrinkly crap when they come out of the dryer? The best way to showcase my cobalt blue kitchen and laundry room cabinets? A poor excuse for a blog post? You decide. My artistic output for the day.

If you read Dear Abby even rarely, you’ve come across a Pennies from Heaven anecdote. Somebody dies. Somebody who misses the dead person lives and finds a penny. Maybe the penny is from the year of the dead person’s birth, death or wedding–first kiss–last barbecue–you name it. The finder feels connected to the dead person, sure that somehow s/he put the penny there for him/her to find. Um, no comment. I’m more of a believer in Cigarette Smoke from Hell. I’m in a restaurant or an outdoor concert or walking outside any government building and the scent of cigarette smoke overcomes me. I know who that’s from, oh yeah. For some reason, Dear Abby hasn’t printed one of my charming stories.

Just glanced at a list I made for a recent trip:

checkbooks

legal pad of joy

knitting

That pretty much sums it up except I forgot the checkbooks, I knit perhaps 3 rows the entire weekend and the legal pad had a few more worry lines added to it. Par for the course. Perhaps I was knitting my brow more than the blanket I can’t quite finish. But I did enjoy the margaritas on a deck in St. Michael’s with old friends and the massage at the nearby inn. It cracked me up that when I told the masseuse my last massage had been 2 years ago, she tsked tsked and said, “We recommend one once a month.” I’m sure you do!  I think I’ll start doing that with my food tour customers: When was your last tour?!  Oh, dear. You’re going to have to do better than that.

I just finished reading Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver, with assists from her husband Steven Hoppe and daughter Camille Kingsolver. It’s the sort of book that makes me feel smug and superior compared to people who eat at McDonald’s and slovenly and inferior contrasted to the farm folks–depending on the sentence. She’s a beautiful writer and I wish I could do half of what she is somehow able to do in a year. Or perhaps I wish she would just do it for me. It’s possible I just have the wrong friends–few of whom would be all that helpful processing turkeys. It pissed me off to read that for her 50th birthday everyone brought her plants that she put in their front yard. That is a damned good idea. For my 50th birthday everyone bought me a dozen cupcakes. That was a pretty good idea, too, since I wasn’t hosting legions of friends–just a few–so I didn’t have to share so much.

I shop at farmers’ markets and have joined a food co-op to get more local produce and pastured eggs and meat and chicken. I do this and I don’t do that. I buy local and almost never darken a chain restaurant’s door. I like pulling basil out of my small kitchen garden to make pesto a few times a summer. I’m a big believer in weeding by hand, rather than by chemical and I have shrunk our lawn considerably over the years. I’ve made mozzarella twice and liked the results once. I’ve even eaten twice in one weekend at the farm-to-table restaurant Kingsolver and her husband started in Meadowview, VA, The Harvest Table. All good. I’m sure you’re tired now so I won’t tell you all the bad I’ve done–the plants I’ve killed with neglect, the plastic containers of organic spinach I’ve bought–that sort of thing.

Back to the nature

This tomato plant came from the Meadowview Farmers’ Guild General Store, adjacent to the Harvest Table. I am a neglectful gardener and as I sow so shall I reap. And perhaps weep. I want the plants to be independent. I think they should tie themselves to posts as they grow. Figure it out. Water themselves. That sort of thing. Forgive me, Mother Nature, for I have sinned. But I also bought a Twin Oaks hammock at the General Store, so somehow that works out so that I can feel smug and superior and supportive of the local little guys while I nap in the shade. I haven’t made my hammock, but I can still lie in it. Living la vida loca…

Why are tiny things so appealing? Miniaturized things? In the case of dollhouses, it can only be that one doesn’t have to clean the toilets. In the case of this display from Brookside Gardens in Montgomery County, MD, where I grew up (and pretty much the best thing in Montgomery County), it must be that there are no weeds that need pulling or no deer chomping on the azaleas.

Tiny is about control. If my garden consisted of a potted plant, I might be able to deal with it. Perhaps that is why writing picture books and poems for children appeal to me more than longer forms.

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