Posts Tagged ‘Charlottesville VA’

I’ve always wondered what people mean when they differentiate “street smarts” or “common sense” from “book smarts.” Because intelligence isn’t just a number on an IQ test, and it’s not just the ability to memorize facts. Critical thinking is essential to a well-informed electorate; the ability to understand public policy and weed out an opinion from reality.

We are a nation divided, by coastline and big cities from the heartland. And if this trend toward anti-intellectualism continues we won’t just be “America First,” we’ll be “America All Alone” on the world stage. If I learned one thing from attending many Naturalization Ceremonies on July 4th at Monticello, it’s that we are a diverse nation with almost 200 religions. And that our Founding Fathers wanted a BIG wall between church and state! And men women and children are still flocking to our shores for the promise of a better life.

For the freedom to speak their mind.

Tomorrow a reprehensible group of people will gather in one of Cville’s beautiful parks to exercise their First Amendment rights. The police have installed cameras. Roads will be blocked to traffic. There’s no telling just how many will show up from other states, but this small blue dot, the home of Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village, will be hosting a KKK Rally.

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The Klan has advertised their “Unite the Right: March on Charlottesville” for months. They burned their first cross in fact, in 1921, in front of Monticello’s graveyard.

Remnants of this Reconstruction-era white supremacist terrorist group have crawled out from under their rock to demonstrate against Charlottesville’s effort to remove its Jim Crow-era Confederate monument to General Lee. Historical preservationist organizations which support maintaining such Lost Cause relics have scrambled to voice their disavowals. One local white nationalist organizer has sputtered a feverish conspiracy theory: leftist activists must have put the Klan up to holding this July 8 event, a month prior to his own planned August 12 “alt-right” gathering at the General Lee statue, in order to tar his “legitimate conservatives” and Confederate devotees with the same ugly KKK brush. https://medium.com/@JalaneSchmidt/excuse-me-america-your-house-is-on-fire-lessons-from-charlottesville-on-the-kkk-and-alt-right-84aafddca685

And so we are to see another “Alt-Right” group come to town in August for this Summer of Hate. I must admit, I’m worried for this college town, a bright blue light of the Resistance. Our Mayor proudly calls us a Sanctuary City. And Indivisible Charlottesville has deployed many progressive activists around Albermarle County this past year. You may have read about some of my exploits here: https://mountainmornings.net/2017/01/31/busy-morning/

When the Rocker was in middle school, I was into the PTA in a big way. One day I found myself serving Chinese food to students in the cafeteria to help celebrate the Chinese New Year. I’ll never forget the look of hate on one boy’s face when he told me he didn’t want any. I coaxed a little, not wanting him to starve, and he followed up by telling me, “I’m NOT Chinese,” in a venomous voice. By 12 and 13 a world-view can be set in stone; children are taught to hate and fear “the other,” but it is possible to teach compassion instead.

Curiosity is essential to our growth and development as a people. What if Jefferson didn’t wonder what was beyond the Blue Ridge? What if Kennedy didn’t wonder if we could go to the moon? Today our President meets with Putin. What if Trump tells him what a great golfer he (Trump) is and how much money he’s making on this Presidential thing?

What if we’ve learned nothing from history?   IMG_0929


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The bitter cold is back, so I bundled up in my pink pussy hat and gloves. Today was our first day of action as a couple, and Bob and I wanted to stay warm in the wind chill of minus freezing. But first maybe I should back-up.

After the Women’s March on Washington, I was commiserating with Great Grandma Ada about the day. She really wanted to go, but I’m glad she didn’t. Being packed in like sardines for almost eight hours, in a wheelchair, would have been a bit much at 92. Or 82 even. So she listened to my excitement, then calmly told me what her book club was doing about Mr T’s agenda.

She had me Google “Indivisible,”and told me about this movement across the country to basically use the Tea Party’s strategies to further the Progressive agenda and stop Mr T at every turn. You know, the same way they stopped immigration reform in its tracks. This was way before Mr T instituted a Muslim Ban, or kicked the Joint Chiefs out  of the National Security briefings, plugging in his favorite conspiracy theorist, Steve Bannon.

You know the guy, the one who said “Islam is not a religion of peace, it’s a religion of submission.”

Well I submit to you, Bob and I liked what we saw on https://www.indivisibleguide.com so we downloaded the entire manifesto and printed it out. We also joined their Google group; and that’s how we found ourselves sitting in a packed church this past weekend. Bob turned to me and said, “Do I really have to be a revolutionary again?” I said, “Yes!”

Which brings me back to today. I wrote a letter to our GOP Representative, Tom Garrett, about not wanting Congress to throw out the ACA without fixing it, or replacing it. I told him how the Rocker’s old friend had been diagnosed with MS and had no health insurance. Obamacare saved his life. I told him that I knew how local government works, and that health care in this country should not be politicized. We joined a few hundred in front of Mr Garrett’s office, and I hand-delivered my letter to his secretary and spoke with his Outreach Director who declined to come outside..

Meanwhile the Mayor of Cville, Mike Signer, was holding a rally on the Downtown Mall against the latest Travel (Muslim) Ban. The Gold Star father, Mr Khizr Khan was there too, as were hundreds of people to protest the ban on seven primarily Muslim countries. It was a glorious, sunny day when the Mayor proclaimed Charlottesville, VA the “Capital of the Resistance!”

Bob and I just saw ourselves on the local TV news during dinner. I must say that was weird. But I’m proud of our city, the one once called Thomas Jefferson’s Academical Village, and hopeful about the future. We have a real bully in the White House, and he poked the wrong bear.

ps – The Bride and her family marched in Nashville and they are planning on feeding a homeless shelter in April. The Rocker and Ms Cait are planning their wedding, and also visiting LAX. Thank you Grandma Ada, you raised us right.



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a familiar mystery gripped Central Virginia, where a string of young women have gone missing over the past five years, starting with Morgan Harrington in 2009.

When we first moved to this Southern enclave, the best place to retire/be happy/enjoy your golden years in a college town/ we loved it. The encircling, comforting Blue Ridge views, the non-stop cultural happenings, the historic homes and of course the weather wasn’t bad. Except for all the ice storms –  and so what if I had to learn to pump my own gas, I was still in my 50s, a mere youngster, anything was possible.

This is our tenth year in VA, it should be feeling like home about now. Seven years ago, on September 20,  we moved into our newly built house,

Niece Lucia came to visit

Niece Lucia came to visit

and yes it took us three years to find the land “with a view” and the contractor to make it happen………..

And today I’ve been invited to a Candlelight Vigil in town to “Bring Hannah Home.”

A Second Year UVA student, 18 year old Hannah went out to dinner last Friday night and was going to meet up with some friends at a party later. Her last text message was something about being lost in the very early hours of Saturday morning. More than 24 hours went by before her off-campus room mates noticed she was missing and her brother and parents notified the police on Sunday afternoon.

Before this summer came a string of cases involving young women, starting with Harrington, 20, the Virginia Tech student who disappeared outside the John Paul Jones Arena during a Metallica concert in October 2009. Her remains were discovered on an Albemarle farm three months later. No suspects have been named in that case.
Two 19-year-olds — Orange County’s Samantha Ann Clarke in September 2010 and Charlottesville’s DaShad “Sage” Smith in November 2012 — since have vanished. No suspects have been charged in their disappearances. In the spring, a jury convicted Randy Allen Taylor in the killing of Alexis Murphy, 17, a Nelson County High School student who went missing in August 2013. She never has been found.
Roberts said police do not believe there’s a connection between Graham’s case and the others.           http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/local/charlottesville-police-chief-landowners-should-check-downtown-properties-for-signs/article_9bd9be5e-3db3-11e4-9762-0017a43b2370.html

And now we are seeing video of her running past a gas station, and walking along the Historic Downtown Mall, with a man following her. This man told the police he was trying to “help” her and later he witnessed another man putting his arm around her. Bloodhounds are tracking her scent, the police have established a Tip Line, (434) 295-3851, and asked residents to check their property if they live within a certain radius of the Mall.

Our little four-square brick house, the 100 yr old home we lovingly restored to house medical students, is right down the road from that gas station, just two blocks off the Mall. Today I’ll check out the backyard. Tonight I’ll hold a candle.

When we first moved here, while I was looking for land with a view, the Cville police were looking for a serial rapist who was attacking young women in the university vicinity. Pictures of his face, drawn by a police artist, were hanging in the women’s bathrooms all over campus. It turned out he was working in the meat department of the Harris Teeter on Barrack’s Rd.

It would seem there is a serial killer in our midst, he may hide around gas stations, or he may live and work right next door. The FBI has been called in. Our thoughts and prayers are with Hannah’s family.

Hannah Graham

Hannah Graham


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Normally, I’m not a scaredy cat. However, once my vision was affected by West Nile, I pretty much stopped driving at night. Which is why I’ll be car-pooling with some friends to see the first episode of Downton Abbey at the Paramount Theatre on the Historic Downtown Mall this weekend.

Added to my natural inclination to visit with friends and actually enjoy my Anglophile evening, is my revulsion at a local news story. A little past midnight on December 20th, a young couple leaving Millers was beaten severely right outside the Wells Fargo bank, a few steps away from the Paramount. This incident received national coverage when the victims discovered, nine days later, that the ball had been dropped by the City of Charlottesville PD. The woman took cell phone pictures of the beating and posted them to her Facebook page, initiating an investigation that has so far come up short on suspects.

The rotten part of the story is that the three attackers seemed to take great pleasure in kicking and beating the young man unconscious, and punching the woman in the head. They laughed, they joked and hugged each other. They didn’t take her purse or their money, even when it was thrown at them. The three attackers were Black and the two victims were White; which led some to call this another example of the “knockout game.”

“They didn’t want to rob us. They wanted to beat us. It was like it was enjoyable to them to beat us,” she said. “There was camaraderie to it.” http://www.dailyprogress.com/news/charlottesville-police-chief-orders-internal-review-in-mall-attack-case/article_87e5fdfa-71cf-11e3-a232-0019bb30f31a.html

This knockout game is just another example of a hate crime imho. Maybe it started when Brad Pitt made that fight club movie, or maybe it started as a gang initiation; pick an innocent victim and sucker punch them into oblivion. It’s caught on like wildfire around the country and states are trying to catch up – http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation-now/2013/12/30/state-introduce-knockout-game-bills/4249987/

It would be a shame if this news coverage served to deter people from enjoying a night out on the Mall. But calls are coming in for more widespread surveillance and a beefier police presence on the Mall. Our former Mayor Dave Norris had this to say:

…One other predictable outcome: expect another big push for a public camera surveillance system downtown. The damage done by those three jerks to our sense of community, to our sense of safety and to our civil liberties is likely to far exceed the physical damage done to their two victims. I hope none of this comes to pass and that we in Charlottesville avoid the temptation to escalate and overreact. Given human nature, I am not optimistic. I sincerely hope we find these criminals and put them away. I hope their victims’ wounds heal quickly. I hope ours do as well.

I’m not against more cameras, let’s just put them everywhere like London has done. And btw, let’s also ban guns like the Brits, and legalize marijuana like Colorado. But while we’re busy day dreaming, I wonder how our latest single parents will be coping this season?downton-abbey-season-52


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Have you ever been to any of the World Heritage Sites? The first time I heard of them was on my first ancestral homeland trip to Ireland. My Great Great Grandparents came from County Mayo, so while visiting the Lynn cousins and taking in all the brightly marked sheep, Bob and I trekked up to Ceide (pronounced CAY-ja) which means a flat land on top of a mountain. “It is a unique Neolithic landscape of world importance, which has changed our perception of our Stone Age ancestors. The remains of stone field walls, houses and megalithic tombs are preserved beneath a blanket of peat.” http://www.museumsofmayo.com/ceide.htm I loved how barren it seemed, and windswept. I could imagine the female pirate queen, Gráinne Ní Mháille (c. 1530 – c. 1603 aka Grace O’Malley) surveying her land and setting sail from this wild side of the island.

Imagine my delight to learn that my very own newly adopted city, Charlottesville, VA and Jefferson’s magnificent Monticello have been deemed one of the 10 top World Wonders by National Geographic! http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/world-wonders-traveler-photos/#/world-wonders-monticello_54484_600x450.jpg
We already knew that Monticello was a World Heritage Site, and now we feel doubly blessed by UNESCO and National Geographic! Can you name the other 7 sites in the US of A? A Hint – we passed by this famous statue on the Bride’s Bat Mitzvah boat…

And the most wonderful sight of all? Meeting my baby boy 28 years ago today. Gladiolas were in bloom and his big sister was waiting patiently to welcome him home to our house on the edge of a bird sanctuary. Happy Birthday to the Rocker, the boy who could run before he could walk. I am so very proud of the man you have become.

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