Debate ensues over winery noise levels

November 3, 2011

 

-It’s a battle fought over noise, lighting, property and business rights, with outspoken and vehement players on both sides.

And it was waged at Warrenton’s Green Building with surprising civility.

Virginia wine country residents and owners gathered in the sleepy Fauquier town Nov. 12 to debate the proposed amendment to a county ordinance outlining rights for the region’s burgeoning — and wildly successful — wine industry. Per the request of neighbors, the amended version curtails wine tasting hours to a traditional window of 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Evening events are limited to one per week with up to 60 attendees, and one per month with up to 200.

Under the amendment, outdoor amplified music is prohibited, and lighting must conform to the county’s light shielding specifications.

Neighbors say the proposal is the only way they can guarantee a little peace and quiet for themselves since the advent of the wineries over the past decade. Farm wineries are known for hosting events frequently as a publicity tool and to gather a community around their product.

Opponents of this approach denounce it as an excuse to throw raucous parties.

“The public welfare is abused by wineries when they establish a massive industrial processing
plant,” said neighbor Jack Holtz of Delaplane, who said the trucks, traffic and party noise destroy the region’s rural magic. One accuser even said — almost jokingly — that local wine quality is inversely proportional to the winery’s social scene.

Wyla Layton of Marshall called the behavior of many wineries “self-defeating,” saying that frustrated neighbors will eventually be forced to sell out to multi-use developers.

Other neighbors simply took exception to amplified music. Wayne Peterson of Broad Run, who lives near the popular Pearmund Cellars, said, “Our biggest issue is noise. We can hear everything at that winery.”

Winery owners spoke passionately in defense of their businesses, but for the most part seemed to listen closely to their neighbors’ cases.

Dan Mortland of Fox Meadow Winery said the county already has a process to regulate wineries that is underused, and further restrictions would prove stifling.

“Just use your process,” Mortland said. “We’re not interested in being a party business, but events are necessary.”

Brian Roeder of Barrel Oak Winery sought to temper some of characterizations engendered by neighbors.

“We are not industrial complexes, we are artisanal businesses,” he said, pointing out the small-sized vintages and cozy tasting rooms of each establishment. Roeder also cited sharp rises in California property values due to the farm wine industry, and said Virginia’s industry
brings in $4 million in annual revenue to the state.

“You guys are in a bind financially,” Roeder told the Fauquier Board of Supervisors, who earlier
reported a loss in revenue resulting from the economic recession. “Don’t knock down the wineries.”

The hearing served primarily as a discussion forum. Board Chairman R. Holder Trumbo said testimony would be gathered for another month before the issue is taken to a vote.

It’s Steeplechase Season!


Perhaps it was a friendly wager over a pint of ale after a rigorous day of fox hunting through the Irish countryside. No one is quite certain, and history is vague as to the outcome. What we do know is that the sport of steeplechase, with its roots firmly embedded in fox hunting, began over 250 years ago when Cornelius O’Callaghan challenged his neighbor and fellow horseman, Edmund Blake, to a match race from St. John’s Church in Buttevant to St. Mary’s Church in Doneraile, County Cork, Ireland. Taking the most direct route from point to point, or in this case steeple to steeple, the four and a half-mile contest on horseback required that the horsemen traverse challenging fences, ditches, stone walls and other obstacles found in the terrain. The sport derived its name from this early “chase” from steeple to steeple, and the obstacles that the riders had to overcome as they raced through the countryside evolved into the hurdle and timber fences we see on today’s steeplechase courses.

Steeplechase eventually made its way to the United States in the 1800s, becoming a popular sport particularly on the East Coast. Today, the National Steeplechase Association, located in Fair Hill, MD, is the official sanctioning body of steeplechase horse racing in America. Races are generally classed as either a hurdles race or a timbers race. Hurdle races usually cover a distance slightly over two miles, with horse and rider leaping over obstacles that are constructed of natural or synthetic brush-like material standing four feet, six inches tall at their highest point. Timber races, typically longer in distance and considered more difficult than hurdles, are run over wooden rail fences of varying height, which are not as forgiving. Horses participating in steeplechase must be thoroughbreds, a minimum of three years of age, and registered with The Jockey Club.

This year, more than twenty race meets and point-to-points will be run in Virginia, giving spectators ample opportunity to experience this exciting sport. Enjoyed not only for the thrill of the race, steeplechase is the perfect occasion to tailgate with friends, engage in some merry-making, and enjoy the beautiful venues that so graciously open their gates to race fans and horse lovers of all ages. For many, the races are an annual tradition that is eagerly awaited as soon as winter temperatures give way to more temperate weather.

Attracting more than 50,000 spectators each year to Great Meadow in The Plains, the Virginia Gold Cup Race Meet is one of the most popular and highly anticipated springtime events in the Washington D.C. area. Saturday, May 1 marks the 85th running of the event, which this year flaunts an impressive total purse of $185,000 that will be shared among four hurdle races and two timber races, including the prestigious $75,000 Virginia Gold Cup. While fashion tends to run the entire spectrum at most steeplechase events, the Virginia Gold Cup is renowned for its spectators looking as if they’ve just stepped out of the pages of Town and Country or been dressed personally by Ralph Lauren. Hats atop perfectly coiffed hair rival those seen at the Kentucky Derby, which, coincidentally, is run the same day. Not surprisingly, corporate events on Members Hill, as well as tailgate gatherings along the rail, often reflect the same sense of impeccable style; gourmet fare, fine linens, china, silver, and flower arrangements with every petal in place. Make sure you arrive early enough to catch the Jack Russell Terrier races and spend some time on vendor row shopping for that perfect rail-side gift.

If you prefer steeplechase on a slightly more intimate scale, mark your calendar for the 89th running of the Middleburg Spring Race Meet on Saturday, April 17. Glenwood Park, located in Middleburg — the heart of hunt country — will open its gates at 10 a.m. to welcome race fans to the oldest sanctioned steeplechase event in Virginia. Unobstructed panoramic views of the racecourse ensure that spectators won’t miss a hoof beat. Make sure you bring your camera, as you are guaranteed photo opportunities you’ll not want to miss. The Temple Gwathmey, one of the country’s oldest hurdle races and featured event at this meet, boasts a $50,000 purse this year. Six additional races — three over hurdles, two over timber, and one training race on the flat — round out the day’s total purse of $140,000. Between races, take a break from your picnic or tailgate and make your way over to the paddock area where you can check out the flurry of activity as the horses warm up and await their jockeys for the next race. This event promises a day of great racing against the backdrop of the upscale country elegance Middleburg always delivers.

The Virginia Gold Cup and Middleburg Spring Races are just two of the many steeplechase events held each year in Virginia. In addition to race meets sanctioned by the National Steeplechase Association, many area hunt clubs organize point-to-point races at various locations throughout the Commonwealth. Whether your calendar permits you to attend a race meet or point-to-point, be assured that neither will disappoint.

Some things to consider as you plan for your day at the races:

• Races run rain or shine, although in cases of severe weather, they may be cancelled. Check the Web site or phone the contact number for your particular race if you are unsure as to whether the event will be held.

• Consider fashion and comfort as you determine your attire for the day. While the tendency is to consider fashion first — and understandably so — the weather, of course, should be the primary factor in determining your selection. Early in the season, when chilly temperatures may prevail, ladies may want to consider slacks and a stylish blouse with a tweed blazer. In warmer weather, steeplechase races are the ideal occasion to show off that perfect little sundress. If you’re considering heels, think wedge heels. Stilettos and spike heels will make for a difficult and unpleasant time on the turf. Hats, of course, are always in style, so go for it, don’t be shy. Men usually can’t go wrong with khaki pants and a blazer, although at particular events, some may choose a sport coat and tie. If the weather seems uncertain, remember to bring appropriate outerwear.

• If invited to a tailgate, be sure to ask your host what you can bring. Beverages and desserts are always welcome, and if by chance you’ll be engaging in some friendly wagering at the tailgate, don’t forget to bring some cash. Corporate gatherings are generally catered, so just arrive and enjoy the fun.

• Allow ample time to arrive at your destination. Traffic in and around race venues will more than likely be somewhat congested, so allow extra time.
How fortunate we are to have access to a sport so entrenched in history and steeped in tradition. Take a moment and imagine all that goes into this effort — the support of the owners, the untiring work of the trainers, jockeys and grooms, and the skill and athletic prowess of that magnificent animal we call the horse. As you raise your glass to toast a day at the races, listen carefully, and in the distance, you just may hear the steeple bells of St. Mary’s Church as Mr. O’Callaghan and Mr. Blake race to the finish.

Check out a schedule of Virginia’s upcoming races here.

Murphy’s Love

November 2, 2011

Dear Stacy,

I am writing about something that happened several months ago, but it’s not getting any better, so I thought I could use some outside perspective. Things were not going well for me. My job was stressful thanks to a jerk boss. My wife was pregnant with our first child and was having a very difficult pregnancy (uncomfortable most of the nine months, then on bed rest for the last five weeks). Our finances were stretched after we took a loss on selling our condo and moved into the bigger house that she wanted before the baby came. I was anxious all the time, had insomnia, was on the verge of panic attacks nearly every single day. I want to set the scene because I know I will look like a jerk after you hear what happened next. Basically, I was miserable and not myself at all.

Then I had an affair with a coworker’s wife. It began as a flirtation, and moved into intense online chatting and texting. When my wife went on bed rest, I began a physical affair with the woman. Long story short, my wife found out after our daughter was a month old. I ended the affair immediately and have been trying to get us into couples therapy ever since, but she won’t go. We sleep in separate rooms and only talk about our daughter’s care at this point. My wife is back to work and our daughter is home with a nanny, but nothing else is back to normal. I know that if we could only go to couples counseling, everything would be alright, but she refuses to even talk about it. I feel the distance between us growing and am worried about the holidays coming up because it will be hard to hide our problems when spend time with our extended families.

-Sorry-I-Screwed-Up

Dear Sorry,

You admit you screwed up, but the rest of your letter suggests you might really want to share the blame for the more recent outcome. It was subtle, and likely unconscious, but it sounds like you have shifted responsibility for the distance in your marriage to Wife. She won’t go to couples counseling. She refuses to discuss it. She needed a bigger house. She is only focused on Baby’s well-being.

Let me add one more to your list: She is in post-traumatic shock.

Discovering infidelity is like detonating a bomb. Baby was one month old when this explosion took place? So Wife was already living under siege, with a newborn destroying both sleep patterns and general life expectations (newborns are notoriously dictator-ish). She then learns that you have been escaping the warzone by having sex with someone else. My assumption is that Wife immediately went into survival mode and hasn’t come out yet. This is what we do when we experience trauma – we don’t come out until it’s safe, and your house (not to mention the great unknown of “couples therapy”) is not safe.

Barbara Steffens, a sex addiction expert and co-author of “Your Sexually Addicted Spouse,” likens traditional couples therapy with a sex addict and spouse to being assaulted and then being asked to sit in support of the attacker. PTSD makes us hyper-vigilant, suspicious and deeply depressed because we replay images and feelings of the assault again and again in our minds. Wife was assaulted by the reality of your infidelity; your entreaties about couples counseling are likely retraumatizing.

Instead, she needs her own opportunity to heal, within her own, separate support network. I know your instinct is to do as much as you can to fix this for her, but you cannot be her support network this time. She needs her own people: a friend, a clergyperson, a counselor. But she’s not going to pursue any of those things until she feels safe enough to let her guard down and let herself be truly aware of what has been happening in your household. There is a lot you can do to help with this part. First, you must take responsibility for your actions yourself.

Get to a certified sexual addictions counselor (they have the best info on infidelity, regardless of whether you think you’re a sex addict). Get to a 12-step meeting. Read all the Patrick Carnes books. Put parental controls on the internet at home. Give her your email passwords. Be transparent and repentant – this won’t have to last forever, but you need to make an outward and obvious demonstration of your intentions to heal yourself and then your marriage. Make this about you each being healthy first. Later, perhaps in several months to a year, you can begin the process of making your marriage healthy again.

Dear Stacy,

I’m in a sticky situation and am not sure how to proceed. I am a teacher at a private school. A student’s father recently emailed me, inviting me out for “drinks or more.” I’m happily married and wear a wedding ring. I’m not sure, but I assume the father is divorced or separated. The student is not in my class, but I have a vague memory of meeting the father at a fundraiser last year. He only recently sent me this message, making it sound like he’d been thinking about this for a while. I am both sad for him (he sounds really lonely) and creeped out. I have absolutely no interest in pursuing anything – my husband thinks the situation is hysterical, by the way – but I also don’t want to do anything that would put my reputation or job at risk in anyway. Keeping parents happy is an unwritten rule at our school, and I’ve only been working here for a few years.

-Embarrassed/Harassed in Northwest

Dear Northwest,

I am with you on the “creeped out” part. Although you didn’t provide the entire message, it’s hard to read “drinks or more” in any other way than that Mr. Inappropriate is propositioning you.
I wonder if you might have a school handbook or something from orientation that might give us a hint as to how the higher powers might look at something like this. If you feel comfortable with your direct supervisor, I’d suggest starting with that person before you craft a response to Mr. I. I understand your concern about your reputation and position, but I guarantee that your school’s “unwritten rule” about keeping parents happy does not demand that you date any dad who asks.

Meanwhile, Mr. I’s method of pursuit (faceless email) may suggest one of two things: A) he is embarrassed and hiding behind the web, waiting to see what you might do with the ball he just forced into your court, or B) he has done this before, and perhaps has asked the same thing of other teachers who may or may not have come forward yet. In either event, providing too much sympathy could be read as a sign that he should continue the chase. After talking with a higher up about school policy, I’d recommend a brief reply that shuts down the entire conversation without any name-calling (e.g., don’t address it “Dear Mr. Inappropriate”). Make the message clear: you are not interested and this was unacceptable.

Stacy Notaras Murphy is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. Her website is TherapyGeorgetown.com. This column is meant for entertainment only, and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. We really do want your questions! Send them confidentially to stacy@georgetowner.com.

The Washington International Horse Show

October 24, 2011

At this moment, equestrians worldwide eagerly await a letter bestowing the honor of competing in D.C.’s 52nd Annual Washington International Horse Show (WIHS). For many riders, the summons will not come. Yet, between October 26th and 31st, 500 elite-level riders will enter the ring at the Verizon Center, vying for prize and prominence.

The last indoor championship horse show to be held in a major metropolitan area each year, WIHS has been months in the making. Only recently has the deluge of numbers from qualifiers across the country ceased. Now it’s up to show officials to invite only the best riders based upon points and money won in previous competition over the last 12 months.

As WIHS CEO Eric Straus puts it, “Many people want to come and compete at Washington, but you’ve got to earn your way in legitimately.” This requires a tremendous commitment from the most skilled of riders.
“Most of our competitors will have competed at a minimum of 20 shows [in the last year] to try and get qualified,” says Straus. “In most cases it’s going to be closer to 30.”

That’s a remarkable amount of effort considering the horse show lasts six days, but WIHS is one of the last shows of its kind. Indoor metropolitan championships have been on the wane for years now, largely due to their failed business models — reliant upon wealthy patrons for funding. Additionally,
shows such as Madison Square Garden’s National Horse Show are municipal in name only, with the actual event occurring in Syracuse, NY.

The fact that WIHS still manages to have a $7 million impact on the District each year, according to a report by Dr. Stephen Fuller of George Mason University, is a testament to Washington’s enduring equestrian tradition. Straus raves, “It’s vibrant. It’s alive. D.C., Maryland, and Virginia have a huge equine competition population.”

While the surrounding region serves as the backbone for the pool from which riders are pulled, WIHS attracts star riders from across the globe. Last year’s competition included amateurs and professionals from five nations, some of whom were Pan American, World Cup, and Olympic champions.

Jockeys and their Horses

It’s often easy to forget that there are two athletes in the ring at any given time. But like any sports star, a horse’s abilities must be developed through rigorous training. While light work can start as early as age two, international rules stipulate that a horse cannot be entered in open international
competition until the age of six. This is done to protect the bones in a horse’s knees, which, much like an infant’s developing bone structures, are not fully fused until it has matured. However, with proper stable management and care, horses have been known to compete well into their 20’s.

Rodrigo Pessoa, a talented Brazilian show jumper and Olympic gold medalist, was in attendance at last year’s competition. Additionally, show jumper and Olympic gold medalist McLain Ward was a contender. Hailing from Brewster, NY, Ward and his horse Sapphire are known to steal the show. Just two weeks ago, they topped the richest prize money class in the United States, the $1 Million Grand Prix. Their partnership, says a pensive Straus, reveals how beautiful the bond between horse and rider can be.

The Main Events

Interested parties, keen on witnessing this spectacle firsthand, need not worry about lacking horse show experience. WIHS is bound to have something for everyone. Some basic information for the amateur observer is that WIHS features two types of jumping horses. Hunters emulate foxhunting
with their visually appealing routines and are judged subjectively on performance, style, manners, and way of going. Jumpers, on the other hand, are judged objectively based upon whether or not they jump clean (no faults), and time serves as the deciding factor, according to class specifications.

WIHS also features a class unique to the show, known as puissance, which means “strength” in French. Time is not a factor in this high jump class, where riders start with six fences in the ring. With each clear round, jumps are eliminated until two remain. One of these, the wall or vertical, goes as high as seven feet. WIHS holds the North American indoor record for rounding the wall, set in 1987, with an astonishing jump of nearly seven feet six inches. Feel and timing are critical, as neither horse nor rider can see over the wall. Puissance is a perilous class to compete in, but an exhilarating class to watch.

Barn Night

Aside from the actual competition, WIHS has various side events scheduled to take place throughout the week. Thursday night is Barn Night, which has become something of an institution in Washington.

The evening is designed to draw crowds from Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Virginia, as well as the District. Groups will compete in contests, including Best Costume, Best Banner, and Largest Group by state. Divided into several parts, the evening will feature a parade of group representatives, the Gamblers’ Choice Class, a speed class for jumpers, and autograph signings and photo opportunities to bring things to a close.

Kid’s Day

Saturday is Kids’ Day, which will run from 10:00 a.m. – 2:00 p.m. Expect pony rides and plenty of games in addition to photo opportunities with the new WIHS mascot, Major, and characters from the newly revived television series, My Little Pony. That evening, WIHS will host the Caisson Platoon Therapeutic Riding Program.

The Charity

On top of being a world-class horse show, WIHS functions as a charity that has raised $2 million for its partners in its 52-year existence. This year, WIHS has partnered with the Tragedy Assistance
Program for Survivors (TAPS), Operation Silver Spurs, and ThanksUSA, while highlighting the Caisson Platoon. The platoon operates out of Fort Myer and performs honor burials at Arlington Cemetery. Moreover, their horses are used in equine-assisted therapy at the Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda. The work the platoon does with the nation’s wounded warriors and amputees is under-publicized, according to Straus, and their exhibition is intended to promote their cause.

In 1961, Jackie Kennedy commissioned Tiffany’s to create the President’s Cup, the only equestrian cup with the President of the United States’ seal. As the old guard, charged with protecting the President, the Caisson Platoon exhibition precedes the presentation of the President’s Cup.

A military ticket program and the introduction of a new trophy, the Armed Forces Cup, are among WIHS’s other charitable endeavors. WIHS has stated that, for every clear round over six-foot-three, a donation will be made to the three military charities.

Vendors

For those still feeling left out, there will be plenty of vendors hawking their wares on site. Saratoga Sadderly & Outback Survival Gear specializes in Australian oilskin coats and Pikeur. Stablecloth will be supplying custom riding apparel, and Vogel Custom Boots offers made-to-measure boots and shoes. Vandermoore Jewelry is among the higher-end vendors available, and for those with a sweet tooth check out Lady Ann Candies. These are just a sample of the medley of vendors that are sure to be present throughout the week.

The WIHS is sure to be a success, in large part due to the individuals helming it and their dedication to the District. Said WIHS Director of Community Relations, Diana Hosford, “What I bring to the show is different than what [WIHS horse experts] bring to the show, but we’re basically trying to create something that the equestrian world will love and that the local community will embrace.”

WIHS President Juliet Reid, who is responsible for assembling the team that includes Straus and Hosford, has lived in Georgetown with her family for 10 years. “I assumed the role of President last year because my daughter rides,” said Reid, “Washington is our home, and while we travel to shows all over the country, Washington is very special.”

Lifelong equestrians like Straus do not shy away from promoting their sport in and around Washington. Having grown up in Texas, Straus recalls traveling to Middleburg and the Plains to purchase horses. While he no longer rides, he still officiates and urges: “If you’re a young person or an adult who wants to start, you need to find a barn that specializes in beginners. Because everyone needs a good foundation. There is a multitude of barns in the Maryland and Virginia area that provides that.”

If you’re still not convinced that the Washington area is an equestrian mecca, visit the Verizon Center during the Washington International Horse Show. As Reid put it, “Something magical happens for six days in downtown D.C. at the end of October — Streets become stables, and the country comes to the city.” [gallery ids="99199,103409,103430,103414,103426,103419,103423" nav="thumbs"]

The Magical Bond

October 19, 2011

On a cool fall morning last year, my daughter was out for a routine hack on her event horse when they had a fall. Taking a chicken-coop about half the size she usually jumps in competition, her horse stumbled on a loose rock and brushed the top of the jump with his knee. He fell and she came off with half of the reins in her hand. The horse got up first and ran frightened, bucking with the remaining reins flapping around his knees.  After a short distance, he realized my daughter was no longer with him and stopped. As she sat on the ground watching, he calmly returned, putting his head down to make sure she was okay. What is this bond?

We live on a gravel road that curves along a ridge between two rivers northwest of Charlottesville. The northern river comes out of the mountains nearby and is cold, stony and shallow. The southern river is formed over a long stretch of the county and fed by springs and streams until it reaches my farm where it is slow and sandy. For almost two centuries the shallow and rocky soil of this area was home to farmers, moonshiners and loners. The 1970s gas crisis eroded their already narrow profit margins and the farmers welcomed and sold first to the hippies and then those who could pay real money.

Even with rocky soil, care of the pastures on these hills made sure they were robust. The horses that had done the plowing were replaced by the horses of pleasure, foxhunting and sport. In many ways the area looks the same as it did in the 1950s when my wife rode her ponies through the countryside to the country club to get a hot dog.  

My family has a long history with horses including my father, who grew up foxhunting in Orange. When he returned from WWII he kept his hunting mare, Vixen, in the paddock behind my grandparent’s house on Main Street. He rode with Mr. Carter’s Hounds, a private pack in the Rapidan area. Mr. Carter would call to say he was going out and my father would abandon his real estate duties (oh, the days!) and ride down Main Street to join the pack and hunt all day. He admired how little the countryside around my house had changed and I like to think it reminded him of those days with the Carter hounds.

By the time my wife and I met, she had spent a decade in Europe trading the forward seat of her pony days for the more secure, deep-seated riding of the classicists. With this background, we bought our 3-year-old daughter her first pony. Within months, lead shank in hand, I walked alongside as our daughter rode her pony over the rivers and up and down the hills around our home. My wife rode her old horse, and the three of us would be gone for hours. The stories we share are too numerous for this article, but thus began my daughter’s special gift of communication with horses. These little jaunts grew into long truck rides up and down the East Coast, and I have listened as she shared her observations.

Horses are animals of prey and abrupt sounds and unexpected disturbances below their belly still frighten them. With the evolution of the horse from a dog-like size to something that resembles modern structure, the advantages of domestication became readily apparent to our human ancestors. Thus began a successful partnership that changed the history of man in ways more dramatic than the industrial revolution. War, work, trade, sport and even spirituality were changed forever. Think mounted, armor-clad knights facing foot soldiers, the travel of silk and spices to new markets, the emotions stirred by Secretariat (younger readers, check out YouTube) and witness the reverence of cave drawings for freedom and power represented by the horse.

But just like people, horses are different, not just in their size, color or the cadence of their canter but in how they learn and how they return communication. As my daughter moved from ponies to horses, a neighbor and old Swiss cavalry officer insisted she ride many horses to understand these differences. To ride many is the holy grail of an education in horses. With deep-seated technique and balance developed over years of riding cross-country, the use of reins is diminished dramatically to be replaced by subtle movement of the legs and core complemented by verbal command. The untrained horse genetically knows its ancient proud heritage and responds positively to the respect of this effort.

Being an animal of prey, the horse seeks the protection of command and answers the love of human care with incredible devotion demonstrated by my daughter’s horse on that fall day in the woods. He returned to make sure she was all right. Together, they walked quietly home over the rivers and up and down the hills.

Joe Samuels is the broker/owner of Jos. T. Samuels, Inc., Realtors in Charlottesville, Va.  He is an equestrian only through the pocketbook. He is a lousy groom but a pretty good truck & trailer driver.  As an amateur historian, he has contributed to local publications. His essay on Fiske Kimball and “Shack Mountain” can be found on his website and in the library at Monticello.  His daughter, Kate, rides at the advanced level in the sport of three-day eventing. [gallery ids="100301,107587,107582,107577,107596,107572,107600,107604,107567,107608,107592" nav="thumbs"]

In Between the Sheets: Dating is Like Job Hunting

September 13, 2011

Living in D.C. is a lot like living under a rock and living in the public eye, all at once. It is eight square miles surrounded by reality and brimming with some of the most talented people in the world. And while many of the people in D.C. are definitely boyfriend/girlfriend material, finding the one that’s right for you is possible but not necessarily easy.

The catch is that most of the people in this city are so focused, so business-minded, and so dedicated to their jobs that they rarely have opportunities to get out and socialize. Not to mention the fact that, because of the nature of some of the occupations in this city, some people can’t/don’t drink in order to not get sloshed and spill national security secrets. In some cases just being seen out in social bar-type environments can be detrimental to one’s public image (we won’t even discuss the risk of being caught tweeting pictures or cruising Craigslist!).

Now, not everyone in D.C. has a public image. I’d imagine that half of the staffers and interns on the hill can be found on U St. or H St. or prancing around Dupont Circle in the late hours, and you’d never know who they were or what they did. But generally speaking, at least 80 percent of the people in this city are quality people, even though they may be hard to find at times.

Like a strong company looking to hire the perfect employee, there is someone out there looking for someone like you. The downside is the same for both dating and job hunting: competition is fierce and you may have to go through a lot of interviews before you land that dream job…I mean boyfriend/girlfriend.

The keys to finding the perfect partner are the same you would use to find the perfect job: dress for success, get your name out there, and call in favors from friends. Also, do what you love to do and you’ll meet people with similar interests. If you like to bike then join a bike group, if you enjoy museums then visit museums, etc.

Start by meeting new people, even if just for fun. There are TONS of online resources for groups to join and things to do in this fabulous city. Ask your friends and coworkers for suggestions on social events, happy hours, and networking opportunities. And don’t be afraid to start a conversation with someone at the grocery store or on the Metro. Your two-second interaction could lead to dinner and a bottle of wine!

Dr. Dorree Lynn is a psychologist and life coach committed to helping people have better relationships & fulfilling sex lives. Dr. Lynn is a contributing author for The Georgetowner, AARP’s “Sexpert” and has appeared on “Good Morning America,” MSNBC, CNN, PBS, & other national programming. Her book, “Sex for Grownups” is available on Amazon. Follow Dr. Dorree Lynn online: www.DrDorreeLynn.com or www.Facebook.com/DrDorreeLynn.

Murphy’s Love: Advice on Intimacy and Relationships

August 24, 2011

Dear Stacy:
First the good news: we got engaged! Now the bad news: both sets of parents are already starting their own campaigns to control the wedding ceremony.

We’re a mixed faith couple and both sides have certain things they absolutely will and will not allow in the service. My parents are being very passive aggressive about the whole thing. Phone calls include many “suggestions” and not-so-subtle remarks about her parents’ wishes. Her side, on the other hand, is holding us hostage about the venue – it’s their way or nothing at all. It’s only been a few weeks and I’m already fantasizing about ambushing my fiancée after work and just eloping.

It’s a complicated situation because my future wife’s still a grad student, so we are definitely relying on our parents to help fund the event. How do you keep everyone happy when so many different interests are involved?

-Imagining Eloping in Georgetown

Dear Imagining:
First the quick answer to how you keep everyone happy: You can’t (come on, you already knew that, right?).

Now the longer answer: I agree, this is complicated. A wedding is “supposed” to be a wonderful, family-focused celebration of two people coming together. It’s “supposed” to be about asking your community to support that union. But most of all, it’s “supposed” to be about you and Future Wife, not about one side shoving its traditions down the aisle. Unfortunately, when it comes to religious faith (and the U.S. Congress), compromise can be a dirty word. That’s when you and Future Wife must get honest about what you really want.

You make no mention of your own hopes for what a mixed faith ceremony (and marriage) might look like for the two of you. Let’s figure that out before trying to get the parents on board. Once you’re clear, sit down with both sets and be honest about what you have already decided. See how I did that? “What you have already decided,” because it’s your wedding. Minimize the lectures on how petty they’re all being, but if you must, let them know that your wedding (and marriage, because that’s where this is heading) is not the place for either faith’s charismatic tent revival.

If they don’t buy it, then don’t let them buy your silence by funding the wedding of their tone-deaf dreams. While elopement is a fine choice, you can always have a small civil ceremony for yourselves and plan a nonreligious reception with both families involved.

Dear Stacy:
Should I get therapy?

-Frustrated and Anxious

Dear Frustrated and Anxious:
While that’s not a lot to go on, I actually do get this question all the time. And your signature does give us some clues.

I usually describe frustration as a surface emotion, most often covering up deeper feelings of fear, loneliness, helplessness, etc. In small doses, anxiety actually is a motivator that helps identify what is most important to us and helps us focus. When it overtakes our thoughts – keeping us up late at night, resulting in physical symptoms – then anxiety stops being functional and can serve as the body’s alarm system, alerting us that there is something unresolved that needs our attention. If any of this resonates with your situation, then I’d agree that therapy could be a good place to get clear about your emotions and learn some relief strategies.

Now please indulge me with the chance to make up a story about your decision to ask such a succinct-yet-loaded question. I wonder if you might want to hand over the authority on your situation to someone else? Maybe you’re so exhausted by the events that got you “Frustrated and Anxious” in the first place, that you’d like to put someone else in charge for a while? That makes total sense, but before you make an appointment, here are a few ideas about what you should not expect from therapy.

Please don’t go to therapy if:
…you expect the therapist to read your mind.
…you expect the therapist to tell you what to do.
…you expect your treatment to take a certain amount of time and have a specific outcome.
…you expect the therapist to make you feel better.

It may seem counter-intuitive, but the best therapists help us understand the deeper motivations in our own behavior; they don’t impose their own agendas on our lives because, frankly, that never works. Think about it, did it work when you were a teenager? When you came across your first tyrannical coworker? When your spouse tried it? No. And paying someone by the hour to put you back in that situation is a recipe for resentment, anger, and feeling even more misunderstood.

Good therapy is about helping someone put words to the cognitions that may have never been named aloud. It is about describing our thought processes, holding those up against our goals, and then deciding if one matches the other. This is an internal restructuring that takes some heavy lifting on the part of the client. Yes, the therapist is there to walk you through it, but not to pass judgment on where you’ve been and decree what you should do next. If you are curious about how your past informs your present, and want to feel better in the end, then therapy can be one way to get there.

Stacy Notaras Murphy is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. Her website is www.therapygeorgetown.com. This column is meant for entertainment only, and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. We really do want your questions! Send them confidentially to stacy@georgetowner.com.

Fall Foliage

July 26, 2011

It’s finally autumn. At least that’s what the calendar says. Despite our region’s exceedingly hot and dry weather, the days are shortening and the leaves have begun to change color. In fact, there are only a few weeks until the autumn foliage reaches its peak. This season, the peak is expected to be shorter than usual because of the dryness during the growing season. Hopefully our recent rains will plump up the leaves a bit.

So it’s time to pile the family into your fuel-efficient minivan and hightail it to Skyline Drive to look at the leaves. Right? Just drive straight out route 66 and hang a left on Skyline Drive.

That might be a good plan if you feel like sitting in traffic going five miles an hour along the drive. To be sure, the vistas can be astonishing, and it’s understandable that each driver wants to savor each eyeful. But it can be the Shenandoah equivalent of the gridlock along the Tidal Basin when the Cherry Blossoms bloom. And once you’re on the drive it isn’t so easy to exit in all that traffic. So should you give up on your plans?

The answer is a resounding no! There are numerous ways you can enjoy the spectacular vistas
without crawling along with the kids clamoring to go home. The foliage can be enjoyed from the ground (walking, biking, ATVing, hiking or driving), the water, and the air. The options are near endless. There are myriads of websites and publications to help you find your own wonderland.

By Screen

As we do live in the electronic age, I’ll give a nod to armchair enthusiasts. The National Park Service web site updates the color changes and leaf volumes at various park hotspots weekly (Check it out here). There is an accompanying link to the Leaf Color Cam. With the cam, you can observe real-time color change in multiple areas in the park. Talk about virtual autumn. Grab your Octoberfest beer and your laptop—or better yet, your internet-wired big screen TV—and you’re set.

By Foot

For walkers, hikers and campers, the Shenandoah Valley offers a rich system of trails maintained by national, state and volunteer agencies. Many of these trails join with the Appalachian Trail and can be accessed from within or without the National Park. The National Geographic Society publishes a multi-county map of the Shenandoah Valley replete with hundreds of trails of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty.

As beautiful as it is looking at the panorama of autumn from the Skyline Drive, walking through the woods with the leaves changing and coming upon an amazing lookout is a magnificent way to appreciate nature. With minimal work you can find a trail to suit your stamina and senses. There are trails for meanderers, skilled technical climbers and everyone in between. Here are a few suggestions that are off the beaten path.

William Melson is geologist emeritus at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History. I spoke with him the day after he led a group of local Shenandoah residents along an easy trail atop Powell Mountain, one of the tallest peaks (2000 ft) in the Massanutten range in Woodstock, VA. At the top of the peak is the Woodstock Observation tower, from which one can see for miles into the Shenandoah Valley and take in the snaking seven bends of the North Fork of the Shenandoah River cutting through the valley landscape. Just a few hundred feet past the trailhead for the tower is Melson’s trail. It goes 70 miles in either direction, is an easy walk, and takes you to the spot below the observation tower where the hang gliders jump off. Both trails can be previewed at: www.HikingUpward.com/GWNF/WoodstockTower

Closer to DC, Melson recommends the Bull Run Conservancy Trails off of Rt. 66 in Broad Run, VA. Trails range from .2 to 1.75 miles, and many of them connect so you can create a trail of your own. Maps of the conservancy site are available online.

Folks who have spent most of their lives in the Shenandoah Valley and around the George Washington National Forest know what a jewel Fort Valley is. It is a 23-mile valley to the west of, and paralleling the Skyline drive, surrounded on both sides by arms of the Massanutten Mountains. At the northern end is Elizabeth Furnace, site of one of the most productive pig iron furnaces in the 1800s. The southern end is notable for the site of Camp Roosevelt, the first Civilian Conservation Corps camp created during the depression. Recreation sites and campgrounds are located in both places and trails of all kinds originate in the recreation areas.

I interviewed residents of the Shenandoah Valley, National Park Service personnel, and veteran
hikers. Each individual had his or her own favorite trail, but they all then went on to mention the website HikingUpward.com. I used it to find a trail in the George Washington National Forest. It is a terrific site for locating hiking trails in the Shenandoah Valley. It has detailed topography maps, trail descriptions, hiking tips, guides for identifying flora, pictures along the trail, driving directions and hiking directions. You can click on an area of the map, and it will show the hikes in that area. Truly a remarkable hiking site that is free to the public to use.

By Sea

If driving and hiking don’t pique your interest, you might seriously consider enjoying the outdoors
from a canoe. Out on the water, nature surrounds you on all sides. The sounds are limited to the bubbling and rushing of the water, the calls of the birds and waterfowl, the sounds of the animals in the surrounding forest and your own laughter. Eagles, hawks, herons and ducks are bountiful. The trees form a colorful cathedral over the narrower parts of the river. The recent rains have raised the water levels in the North and South Forks of the Shenandoah River, and it’s running somewhat fast with plenty of small rapids. Information regarding river outfitters is available on the web. If you decide to canoe, make sure you bring along a change of clothes in a waterproof bag. The water has cooled, and if you should capsize…well, it could be a bit chilly!

By Air

If the goal of traveling along Skyline drive is to appreciate the vast vistas of the mountains giving way to deep valleys, then the best view is from the air. However, unless you own your own small aircraft, the options are limited. There are two licensed balloon operators who work the Shenandoah Valley: Shenandoah Valley Hot Air Balloons, and Balloons Unlimited. Both fly just after sunrise and two hours before sunset—the daytime air is too turbulent. It is a bit pricey ($200 per passenger), but it is an amazing experience.

The liftoff is so gentle, and the ascent so gradual, that even those patrons who are afraid of heights will be overwhelmed by the beauty. Except for the roar of the propane burner needed to lift the balloon, it is absolutely quiet above the landscape. The colors dazzle. Add a little bubbly, and it turns into quite the experience.

And finally, there are those truly intrepid adventurers who not only want to see the panorama, they want to be a part of the experience. They strap on their hang gliders or paragliders, launch from a rocky outcropping, and ride the thermals with the birds. It takes time (and money) to become a safe and successful hang glider or parasailer. The equipment is expensive and there are not many schools locally. Start planning now for an adventure next autumn. Until then, the hang gliders can be watched launching from the outcropping below the Woodstock Observation tower. They are a beautiful sight to behold.

However you decide to appreciate the miracle of autumn, definitely put it on your calendar for a week or so down the road. Check with the NPS website for the predicted peak days. Once the peak is past, the leaves will drop and the branches will be bare. Then we can all begin to complain about the winter to come.

Photographer Roshan Patel, whose images grace the ‘Fall Foliage’ special, is a wildlife photographer based out of Williamsburg, VA. His focus is on environmental education and bringing perspectives of local ecosystems to the public. He is currently working on a project highlighting biodiversity in Virginia.To see more of his photography, visit his website at www.RPPhotoGalleries.com [gallery ids="99207,103460,103456,103449,103453" nav="thumbs"]

Celebrate Spring in Easton, Maryland


In the streets of Easton, Maryland, leaves are unfolding and residents and local businesses are warming up for spring, a spectacular season in this 301-year-old historical town. Boaters, bikers, fishermen, hikers, hunters and avid outdoor diners alike are anticipating warmer weather and the explosion of activities in Easton that come along with it.

Events

The Bay Bridge Boat Show April 28 through May 1 on Kent Island kicks off Maryland’s boating season, featuring every kind of vessel from kayaks to yachts. This year, the Maryland Saltwater Sportfisherman Association will provide a fishing tournament weigh station and AllTackle will hold casting challenges and “guess the fish’s weight” competitions. For a full list of events and show information, visit USboat.com.

To get your own taste of the open waters, you can rent boating equipment and gear at stores such as T.I. Marina Rentals LLC, which typically open their doors in April. If you’d rather sit back and let others do the sailing for you, the Selina II, which will take to the water April 23 at St. Michaels Marina, offers relaxing sailboat rides for up to six passengers.

April 29 through May 1 marks the annual WineFest at St. Michaels, 15 minutes outside of Easton. This outdoor streetscape event celebrates local food and wine and supports six local charities. The festivities will include wine dinners, wine tastings, and chef demonstrations among many other events. For more information visit WineFestAtStMichaels.com.

Also just outside of Easton, the town of Oxford will be holding its 17th annual Oxford Day Celebration on April 30. The festival will feature a parade beginning at 11 a.m., a dog show, live bag pipers and other music, a Civil War reenactment, and five and ten kilometer runs. The day will also celebrate the 327th anniversary of the Oxford Bellevue Ferry, the nation’s oldest privately owned ferry service.

Markets

While you’re in Easton, explore Easton Market Square with its numerous shops and cafés. On April 17, Easton’s Farmers Market will reopen for the summer season, setting up its tents and rolling out its fresh, locally grown produce. The Market will be open Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Wednesdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Harrison Street. The Amish Country Farmers Market is also a wonderful place to find fresh produce and handcrafted items. This indoor market is open year-round on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

Museums

Like Easton’s markets, its galleries and museums are also not to be missed. Begin at the Historical Society of Talbot County, where you can pick up a walking tour map of the area and enjoy the Society’s museum, historic houses, and surrounding award-winning gardens.

The Academy Art Museum features national, regional, and local traveling and residential exhibits. It also hosts concerts, performances, and workshops. Through April 10, the museum will be featuring a private collection of European paintings titled “Old Master Paintings: Narratives for Inspiration.” Visit AcademyArtMuseum.org for details on events and exhibitions.

Just outside of Easton, the Oxford Museum’s 2,500 artifacts chronicle the cultural history of its historic hometown. The Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels is also a wonderful place to visit, celebrating the history of the Chesapeake Bay’s culture, boats, and seafood. Its fleet of floating historic watercraft is also the largest in existence. In the warmer months, tickets to ride aboard the Skipjack H.M. Krentz can be purchased here.

Art Galleries

If you find yourself in Easton on April Fools’ Day, take some time to visit the area’s fabulous art galleries because April 1 also happens to be a First Friday featuring a Gallery Walk. From 5 to 9 p.m., shops and galleries will be open late and many galleries will be offering discussions and refreshments.

The newly refurbished South Street Art Gallery in Easton features a steady rotation of new artwork by gallery artists in a casually elegant historic Victorian home. Nearby on Dover Street, Gallery 26 will be featuring the work of photographer Robert Cavelli in his first-ever East Coast showing through March 30. April 1 through May 31, Troika Gallery will be holding its Spring Group Show featuring most of the 35 artists exclusively represented by the gallery, which is also a work studio.

Entertainment

If living art is more your style, get tickets to a performance at the Avalon Theater which provides a huge variety of entertainment from comedians to symphonies. The theater also showcases The Met: Live in HD, which streams operas and plays taking place live from the Metropolitan Opera. The play is projected in HD onto a movie theater-sized screen at the Avalon Theater, which is the only viewing location in the area. On April 30, the theatre will show the live production of Verdi’s Il Trovatore.

The NightCat café rests comfortably on the border between good food, good drink, and good entertainment. This small, intimate setting offers a nightly soundtrack of up-and-coming artists over the clink of glasses. On April 7 the club will present the indie sounds of Erin McKeown who has been featured on shows like “The L Word” and “Gilmore Girls” as well as in People Magazine. NightCat will break up its routine on April 16 when it hosts Raymond the Amish Comic.

Dining

March 20 through 27 is restaurant week in Easton, celebrating the fine dining that is to be found in the area. Many gourmet restaurants in the area will be offering two-course lunch menus for $20.11 and three-course dinner menus for $30.11.

Out of the Fire Café and Wine Bar offers delicious Mediterranean-inspired cuisine, and a large part of its menu is cooked in the stone hearth that is the center of its open-air kitchen. Scossa Restaurant and Lounge serves its patrons authentic northern Italian dishes created by Chef Giancarlo Tondin, who began his career in the famous Harry’s Bar restaurant in Venice. During the WineFest at St. Michaels, Tondin will demonstrate how to make one of his signature dishes.

Warming weather is also an excellent reason to check out the many alfresco dining options in Easton. One wonderful option is Mason’s, where you can dine in the courtyard of what was once a grand family home. Chef Daniel Pochron serves up rich French cuisine for lunch and dinner. For desert, buy a box of Mason’s signature chocolates or get a pick-me-up in their luxurious coffee bar.

Bed & Breakfasts

The Bartlett Pear is both a renowned restaurant and a beautiful place to spend a few nights. The 220-year-old home is owned by Jordan and Alice Lloyd, who met at Mason’s restaurant. The gourmet menu was created by Jordan Lloyd himself, who is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and has 15 years of experience in restaurant management. Lloyd will also demonstrate one of his recipes at the WineFest, showing attendants how to make his tomato and ricotta salad.

Another B&B that’s bound to please is the Inn at 202 Dover, which was recently named one of the top 11 romantic restaurants in America by Destination Travel Magazine. Earlier this year, the bed and breakfast was also voted to be one of the top 10 romantic inns in America by Historic Inns of America. With such a ringing endorsement, a night at this elegant and stately home is sure to be the cherry on top of any stay in Easton.
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Fall’s Delicious Bounty


 

-The coming of fall is symbolized for each of us by different events and moments: the first turning of leaves, a bracing snap of cool air, rediscovering a favorite sweater, children returning to school, the palpable shortening of September and October days.

For me, one of the harbingers of autumn is the huge array of beautiful vegetables, such as winter squashes at my local farmer’s market. Squash, technically a fruit, comes in a dazzling array of sizes, shapes and flavors. Butternut is one of the most popular, flavorful and nutritious.

Winter squashes, particularly butternut, are far richer than the summer squashes and zucchini in terms of taste and nutrition because of their deeper color and higher carbohydrate and nutrient content. The most potent squashes are the more deeply colored varieties, especially pumpkin and butternut. Their color is provided by one of the most powerful nutrients: beta-carotene.

Characterized by a chubby bowling pin shape, a buff, beige color on the outside, and a deep orange on the inside, the butternut is an exceptional source of beta-carotene, an antioxidant which converts to vitamin A in your body. Beta-carotene is critical for your immune system, skin, vision, bones, reproductive systems and more. Studies show that people who eat foods high in beta-carotene and people with high blood levels of beta-carotene have a lower incidence of certain cancers. But you will not get the same results with a beta-carotene supplement. Study after study has shown disappointing
results with the supplements. So only the food will do! But that’s a good thing for us squash lovers.

Each squash is a bustling little factory of nutrients and phytochemicals the plant compounds
into potent, potentially healing properties. When acting synergistically in a food, these nutrients pack a more powerful health punch than the individual nutrients alone. Some of the most important nutrients in squash are antioxidants, such as beta-carotene, alpha-carotene, and vitamin C, which are substances believed to reduce inflammation, improve immune function, and help prevent heart disease and certain cancers.

But there are other good reasons to eat butternut squash and other similar winter squashes. They are a great source of fiber (good for your gastrointestinal system), potassium (important for your heart and lowers blood pressure), magnesium (important for improving muscle function, the heart and bones, while preventing blood clots and diabetes), manganese (important for metabolism and bone formation), and calcium (important for your heart and bones). Another big plus — they are low in calories, with only 82 calories per cup of baked squash cubes.

Speaking of low in calories: broccoli is especially delicious this time of year and can be found in abundance at farmers markets. Broccoli belongs to the family of food called “brassica,” which has extremely high nutritional values and contains high levels of antioxidants and nutrients such as vitamin C, selenium, calcium, potassium, folic acid, and choline, as well as soluble fiber, which reduces cholesterol and helps level blood sugar. Brassica, a huge category of foods including cabbages, mustard seeds and greens, also contains potent anti-cancer compounds which help detoxify carcinogens in the liver before they continue to circulate in your bloodstream. These compounds also aid your immune response with antiviral and antibacterial properties.

Broccoli Soup with Carrots, Potatoes and Thyme

Makes 6 – 8 servings
Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 Cup Chopped Sweet Onion (about 1 medium)
1 Clove Garlic, crushed
½ tsp dried Thyme or 1-1/2 tsp fresh Thyme (or more)
5 Cups Chicken Broth (or Vegetable Broth)
6 Cups Fresh Broccoli, Chopped (about 1 medium head)
2 Cups Wax Potatoes, Sliced (about 2 medium)
1 Cup Carrots, Sliced (about 2 medium)
Salt (1/8 to ¼ tsp) and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste
Optional Garnish:
Top each bowl with a 1 Tbsp dollop of fat free, plain yogurt, salt, and pepper

Heat oil in large iron skillet or dutch oven (soup pot) on fairly high heat. Add onion, garlic, and thyme. Saute until golden. Add 4 cups broth and the rest of the vegetables. Cover, lower the temperature, and let simmer about thirty minutes, or until vegetables are tender. Let the mixture cool down a bit, add the rest of the broth (2 cups) – or milk – then puree in a blender or food processor.

NOTE: Instead of using the 2 cups of broth for the puree, you could use 1% milk or buttermilk for a “creamier” soup (this only adds 200 calories to the whole pot of soup, but adds protein and nine essential nutrients!).

The entire pot of soup makes about 8 cups and is about 650 calories (850 with the milk).

Butternut Squash Soup with Curry and Ginger

About 6 servings
Ingredients:
1 Butternut Squash
4 Cups Water
2 Tbsp Canola Oil
1 Cup Chopped Sweet Onion (about 1 medium)
1 Clove Garlic, crushed (2 cloves, if you like it spicy)
1 tsp Curry Powder (2 tsp, if you like it spicy)
1 Tbsp fresh Ginger, about 2 inches, grated (2 Tbsp, if you like it spicy)
1 Cup Chicken or Vegetable Stock
Salt and Freshly Ground Pepper to taste

Cut Butternut Squash in half, lengthwise. Scoop out seeds. Place squash face down in baking pan with 4 cups water. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes or until soft when pierced by a fork.

While the squash is baking, prepare the aromatic vegetables and spices: Place the oil in a large iron skillet or soup pot on medium-high. Add onions and garlic, and fry until golden. Stir in curry powder, ginger, and a pinch of salt, and simmer on low for a few minutes.

When the squash has cooled to the touch, pour the water in which the squash was cooked into the skillet and stir to scrape up the bits of aromatic vegetables and spices. When squash has cooled, scoop out the butternut squash meat, leaving the skin, and stir into the mixture in the skillet. When room temperature or cool, puree the vegetable and spice mixture in a blender or food processor with the broth.
NOTE: Adjust seasonings by adding more salt, pepper, or spices if desired. Adjust consistency by adding more water or broth. Also, any similar winter squash will work well if Butternut is not available.

The entire pot of soup makes about 6 cups and is about 500 calorie.

Nutritionist, Katherine Tallmadge, M.A., R.D. Author, “Diet Simple: 192 Mental Tricks, Substitutions, Habits & Inspirations” www.KatherineTallmadge.com