Polo Benefit Promises ‘Sporting’ Good Time

September 21, 2012

The National Sporting Library’s annual Polo Weekend will be held on Sept. 22 and 23. Following Saturday’s Symposium, the Benefit Polo Match and Luncheon will be held at the Virginia International Polo Club in Upperville, Va.

Sunday’s event will begin with the gates opening at 12:30 p.m., followed by lunch at 1 p.m.; the polo match will commence at 2:30 p.m. Other entertainment will include a performance by the Washington Scottish Pipes Band and a presentation of the Piedmont Foxhounds.

For ticket and sponsorship inquiries, contact Holly Johnson at holly@webstergroupinc.com or 202-741-1294.

Founded in 1954, the NSL’s mission is to preserve, share and promote the literature, art and culture of horse and field sports. It does this through programs offered to the public that include exhibits, lectures and special events, most of which are free.

If you cannot attend the weekend, the Sporting Library will be hosting other upcoming events, such as the “Evening at the NSLM,” an open house on Oct. 18, 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. For a complete list of all events and more information, visit NSL.org.
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Murphy?s Love: Advice on Intimacy and RelationshipsSeptember 6, 2012

September 6, 2012

*Dear Stacy,
Well, here we are again ? another unceremonious breakup. This time I really thought things were going well, and even that I had overlooked quite a few issues (like his overbearing mother, his reluctance to actually plan a date) so as to make our relationship work for the last six months. But no, he now says he?s taken stock and realized that I?m just not ?the one.? I have lots of friends to take me out and listen to me complain about his insensitivity. They remind me what a great girlfriend I am, and tell me there are other fish in the sea. What I want from you is a clich?-free explanation for why this failed again, even as I tried my hardest to withhold my criticism and just make it work. What is going on with me that after 22 years of dating (I?m 37), I?m still getting dumped.
?Not the One*

Dear Not the One,
I?m so sorry you are struggling with this, but I do know one thing about your question: You aren?t the one, and neither is he. Hear me on this one, he is not ?the one? for you. Take heart in that. He wasn?t your match, and here?s why: When we meet our match, we don?t ?overlook issues,? we have the security and patience to work them through.

It is unfortunate that he realized you weren?t the Tami for his Eric Taylor before you did. But it sounds to me like you actually knew something wasn?t right, but you had already been convinced that your own judgment was not to be trusted. Perhaps you have bought into the suggestions of well-meaning friends or relatives who, when faced with the end of one of your relationships, asked whether you were being too critical about this or that. Over time ? and through 22 years of dating ? a message is sent that ?I must be doing something wrong here. So I will stop doing anything, and see what happens.?

But what happens when we don?t do anything (when try our hardest to ?withhold criticism and just make it work?), is that we aren?t being real in the relationship. This results in a pervasive fakeness, built on false expectations and interactions. Usually, the other party realizes he?s dating an automaton, and exits with one excuse or another.

So here?s my clich?-free advice: take solace in your girlfriends? positive cheerleading, and then stop taking anyone else?s advice. Set aside some time to think about who you are in a relationship ? maybe you don?t know? That?s a great jumping off point with a therapist or relationship coach. When you get clear about your needs and wants, realizing they are valid needs and wants, you will be in a better position to find a partner capable of meeting those needs and wants.

*Stacy Notaras Murphy is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. Her website is [www.stacymurphyLPC.com](http://www.stacymurphylpc.com), and you can follow her on twitter @StacyMurphyLPC. This column is meant for entertainment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to [stacy@georgetowner.com](mailto:stacy@georgetowner.com).*

Murphy?s Love: Advice on Intimacy and RelationshipsAugust 22, 2012

August 22, 2012

**Dear Stacy: **
*My boyfriend and I have been together 4 years. We have had some major downs where his drinking is concerned. I love this man with my whole heart and can see all the good in the world in him, but the fact is that he has an addiction to pain killers and booze. Though he isn?t drinking everyday, when he binges, it?s bad. Recently, he passed out at a bar and did not come home. Another time, he spent the whole night out partying with a friend. At that point, I had had it, and I packed his things. It was over. But now, I miss him so much it is making me crazy. I do love him, and I know he loves me. But is it worth it to try counseling? Or do I cut my losses and keep it moving without him? I truly have no idea how to deal with an addict. Everyone else has given up on him, and in a sense, I guess I did too by sending him away. But he is a good person, a good father to my kids when he is sober, and a good mate when he gets out of his own way.*
*?On My Own Again*

**Dear On My Own,**
Thank you for sending this and giving me the chance to use this space to walk you through this very common situation.

It is my opinion that a person can be an active, non-sober, addict and still be a good person. It is also my opinion that a person cannot be an active addict and still be a good partner/father/friend.
That distinction is really tough, because we can see the good and the potential in Boyfriend, but we cannot trust him with anything of value. I always think counseling is useful, and a session or two with him and an objective third party might help him see some of the impact of his behavior. But that?s not going to be an effective, long-term option while he?s an active addict. Whenever I work with a couple with an active addiction in the process, I require that the addict be in a 12-step program and have his/her own counselor on the side. It won?t work without such rules.

The hard part about addiction is that you cannot make him change. All the conversation and love and begging in the world will not make it stick. Boyfriend has to want to do it himself, and typically that does not happen until, as you note, everyone has given up on a person. ?Rock bottom? is defined differently for every person. For some, that only happens when the one person they love the most ? ?the one who never will give up? on them ? finally says, ?I can?t take it anymore.? Having him move out could be part of what gets him moving toward actual recovery. I know it?s an unbelievably difficult choice to make.

So if I?m giving advice, I?d say that you should pat yourself on your back for reaching the end of your own rope and making a decision based on the health and welfare of your heart and your kids. We can only control our own actions, so I?d say focus your energy on staying healthy, modeling good boundaries for those kids (who right at this moment are watching every move you make, and building their own foundations for what they will and will not accept in relationships for the rest of their lives).

Meanwhile, also please be gentle with yourself when it gets hard. When you miss him. When you are nostalgic. We all want to be in connection with another person ? that?s what we?re on earth to do. So please do not beat yourself up for grieving the loss of that in this person right now. That is what this is: grief. There are steps, there are stages, but at the core, the most effective healer is time and distance. Stop telling yourself this is something/someone to get over. This is more about just getting through.

We have no idea if Boyfriend will figure out his own side of this and develop into someone capable of being all you know he can be for you and your family. All we know is that you have reached a limit and that?s sacred. You have to trust that instinct and find support where you can.Take advantage of that extended family. Alanon is also a great community to help loved ones get free peer support around this exact situation. Let me know if I can help you find a chapter. Use those resources and it will get easier.

**Dear Stacy:**
*I want to get engaged to my girlfriend of three years, but I just don?t have enough money to pay for a good enough engagement ring. I know she wants something spectacular. Right now I can only afford something small. I will be so embarrassed if she doesn?t like the ring, and I know that will start us out on the wrong foot for our marriage. I want us to have a good marriage and I think that a good ring will help start us out right. I?ve looked at fake diamonds ? some of them actually look pretty good, I don?t think she would really know the difference. What do you think I should do? BTW, we are both 23 years old.*
*? Blingfree in D.C.*

**Dear Blingfree,**
Deep breath (for me). So many things are going on here that give me pause, I need bullet points:

? Ring size has nothing to do with the quality of someone?s marriage. If you believe it does, you are not ready to get engaged.

? Have you talked to Girlfriend about getting engaged? The days of shocking a girl with a ring in her champagne glass are over ? no one should be totally caught off guard when they are asked to make such a monumental decision. Therefore, no one should be afraid to talk about a ring budget before making a purchase. If you are afraid of this conversation, you are not ready to get engaged.

? Are you asking me if you should give Girlfriend a fake diamond and not tell her it?s a fake diamond? Are you also seeking advice about not starting the marriage out on the wrong foot? Can you see the dilemma here? If not, you are not ready to get engaged.

? Again for good measure: ring size has nothing to do with the quality of someone?s marriage. If you still think so, you are not ready to get engaged.

*Stacy Notaras Murphy is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. Her website is www.stacymurphyLPC.com, and you can follow her on twitter @StacyMurphyLPC. This column is meant for entertainment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to [stacy@georgetowner.com](mailto:stacy@georgetowner.com).*

Taste, Tour and Explore the Eastern Shore

August 10, 2012

With summer upon us, many District dwellers will participate in their annual early summer excursions. On long weekends—such as our gone-too-soon Memorial Day—Washington area residents retreat to their preferred fair-weather getaways. Resorts and B&Bs throughout Maryland and Virginia play host to those reveling in the year’s most vibrant and blooming weather.

When making plans, finding less conventional avenues and avoiding throngs of tourists is a recurring trend. The Eastern Shore is less than a two-hour drive from DC and promises some of the season’s best activities. Spending the weekend on the Eastern Shore is an unconventional yet unparalleled experience, one sure to enliven your season.

Talbot County, Maryland is a great escape—a world apart on less than one gas tank’s distance. The setting is rich with history and offers some of the best cuisine, family activities and outdoor activities to be found. What’s more, Talbot County presents visitors with several distinctive towns to choose from, each with a personality all its own. Guests to the area may choose to intimately explore one or town-hop for a taste of the entire area.

Oxford
Founded in 1683, Oxford is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Few towns have endured the marked phases of change that Oxford has. The landscape, once dominated by tobacco plantations and home to famous figures of the Revolution, later gave rise to oyster harvesting and packing industries. Despite the increase in tourism to the area, Oxford retains its small-town feel. It is a town that lets you feel at home almost as soon as you arrive.

Perhaps the biggest draw to Oxford is the world-class cuisine. Those looking to dine in town would do right to give Pope’s Tavern, or else the Robert Morris Inn, a try. Both restaurants provide impeccable service and dining ambiance while affording incredible views of the water.

At the Robert Morris Inn, Chef Proprietor and British Master Chef Mark Salter, brings a modern British sensibility to the kitchen combined with classical feeling. A Bay resident since 1993, Salter has immersed himself in the region’s cooking and seafood bounty. A friend to local farmers, artisan producers and the seasons, Salter turns to sustainability and the richness of Maryland’s local bounty of herbs, fruit and vegetables at every opportunity. His signature dishes go well with the wide array of vintages the inn has stocked. Dine in Salter’s Tap Room & Tavern or one of two 1710 dining rooms, a few feet from Oxford’s ferry dock.

As an after dinner treat, The Scottish Highland Creamery is a choice find, offering premium handmade icecreams—some of the best and freshest you’ll ever taste. The creamery sources local ingredients, fresh milk, cream and flavorings imported from Italy. And with over 600 flavors to choose from, there’s sure to be one that suits everyone’s fancy. The Mexican vanilla, double Belgian chocolate, fresh crushed strawberry and pumpkin pie are all must-haves.

Perhaps no other event captures the spirit of Oxford like the annual Cardboard Boat Races staged each June since 1988. Launched from the shore of the Tred Avon River, the festive and colorful event begins at 11 a.m. and continues until all five races are complete. Boats are intended to be inexpensive and biodegradable, and contestants are strongly encouraged to be creative in their designs.

The Oxford Picket Fence Project is another annual treat. Begun in 2009, the process begins with 18 unpainted red cedar wood picket fence segments. Local artists decorate the posts, reconfiguring and reinventing the fence in the process. Completed fences are then placed on display from Memorial Day to mid-September., scattered throughout town in fun and surprising locations, the locations designed around a town-wide treasure hunt. This is a unique event that showcases local artists, town history, charm and beauty.

St. Michael’s
St. Michaels rests along the “Bay Hundred” stretch that runs to Tilghman Island. In its heyday, St. Michaels was a major shipbuilding center that produced such models as the Baltimore Clipper, which served as privateers during the Revolutionary War and War of 1812. Thus, it should come as no surprise that the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is one of its premier attractions.

Founded in 1965, the Maritime Museum occupies 35 buildings across 18 waterfront acres and features 10 exhibits that explore the geological, social, and economic history of the Chesapeake Bay. The museum also houses the largest collection of indigenous Chesapeake Bay watercrafts in existence.
Ava’s Pizzeria & Wine Bar and The Crab Claw Restaurant are two popular local eateries. Ava’s is complemented by its diverse selection of beer and wine. The Crab Claw has served steamed Maryland blue crabs since 1965. Also worth a look is Bistro St. Michael’s, which rounds out the town’s wide range of restaurants.

Not far off is the Inn at Perry Cabin. An elite escape, the Inn’s waterfront property offers a gorgeous panorama of the Shore at its finest. Though the inn has lost some of its exclusivity with an expansion to 78 rooms, the lavish accommodations and amenities make this less noticeable. In addition, the inn’s convenient location makes it the perfect place to stay if you plan on seeing the sights around “The Town that Fooled the British.”

Easton
The most urban of Eastern Shore towns, Easton just celebrated its 300-year anniversary, adding historic flavor to the vibrant atmosphere. But nestled just outside the town are family-owned farms, such as Chapel’s Country Creamery. Dairy cows graze its sprawling fields, attesting to Easton’s pastoral grandeur. The farm itself sells its all-natural produce on site. Additionally, many of the Shore’s best chefs use local creamers and farmers as their purveyors, strengthening Easton’s communal bonds.

One such chef is Jordan Lloyd, whose Bartlett Pear Inn recently received the second highest Zagat rating in all categories for the East Coast. Lloyd owns the inn with his wife Alice, his fourth grade sweetheart reunited by fate 10 years later. The two embarked on a journey that led from Mason’s, another local favorite, to Michel Richard’s Citronelle here in DC, New York, Atlanta, Miami, and back again. Along the way, Lloyd apprenticed with four-star chefs at five-diamond and five-star enterprises, including DC’s Four Seasons Hotel. The end result is his upscale American bistro, where classic French techniques meet contemporary plate design, in an impressive 220-year-old establishment. You can easily spend a long weekend in the warm embrace of the Bartlett Pear Inn.

Poplar Island
Known as “the island that almost vanished,” Poplar Island amounted to around 1,000 acres in the 1800s. By 1990, erosion had cut the island into three separate chunks of land and squeezed it to less than 10 acres. Today, thanks to a successful restoration effort led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, it has returned to 1,140 acres and may grow by another 570 acres before the project is finished.

For now, it’s a unique destination for eco-tourism, where visitors can charter boats around the premises, viewing wildlife and a burgeoning ecosystem in its infancy. The island is already drawing scads of wildlife—almost too much for biologists to keep track of. Ospreys, egrets, terns, herons, eagles, double-breasted cormorants, black ducks and other wild fowl have already been discovered on the island, unfazed by workers and heavy equipment that move and shape the dredge material that is bulldozed onto the island from barges. Diamondback terrapins are nesting in large numbers on the island, predominantly along the sandy beaches of the southeast.

The Eastern Shore is an often overlooked and underutilized travel alternative. Add to this its breathtaking vistas and insulated townships, and the Shore might just be among the most well-guarded vacation secret in the country—for now. Now is a great chance to see it before it inevitably catapults into the national tourism limelight.

MURPHY?S LOVEJuly 25, 2012

July 25, 2012

**DEAR STACY:**

*I married a man who I knew had different political
views than I did. For a long time ? 10 years
? that didn?t seem to be an issue, he had his
opinions (conservative) and I had mine (more to
the left). I actually used to find our debates to
be a turn-on. But now we have two little girls
and I am worrying that their dad?s increasingly-
Tea Party-like opinions about things could have
a lasting impact on them. I avoid social events
because I?m afraid he?ll say something embarrassing.
It used to be that we were from different
political viewpoints, but it?s starting to feel like
we have different values. Is this a good enough
of a reason to get a divorce?*

*? On the Left, Afraid of the Right*

**DEAR: LEFT,**

Are we looking for a ?good enough of a reason?
to divorce?

You are not the only spouse married to someone
with a differing viewpoint who is feeling
a little more pressured at this time of year (or
is it this time of every four years?). Thanks to
an unrelenting news cycle and lots of blinking
outlets for information, the regularly scheduled
arguing might just seem a little louder this time
around. But you just jumped from political debates
being a turn-on, to them being a reason for
divorce. That?s an enormous vault. Let?s look a
little more before we leap.

You aren?t too specific about how Husband?s
opinions could have a lasting impact on your
daughters, so I would rather not make assumptions
about the details. If you are worried about
their safety, then you absolutely should make arrangements
to keep them secure. But if you are
concerned about having their feelings hurt simply
by being exposed to a certain set of ideas,
remember that you can always be the personification
of the counter argument. In fact, together
you can teach those girls how to see various
sides to any issue. Not a bad thing to learn at
home.

But my suspicion is that your daughters? egos
are just a ?better? reason for you to get serious
about a rift between you and Husband. Have
you noticed other differences in recent years ?
thoughts on childrearing, conflict styles, interactions
with family members ? that also reflect
a shift in values? If so, please take the time to
talk with him in the presence of a third party
(clergyperson, couples counselor, etc.), before
making a decision about divorce. Being calm
and curious about his changes might help him
feel safe enough to really consider what?s driving
his evolution in the first place. Who knows
what you both might learn if you take some time
and start working on this together?

**DEAR STACY:**

*I live in a summer sublet apartment and my
roommate?s parents are visiting AGAIN in early
August. They were here for FIVE DAYS in June
to move her in. They came back to ?bunk? with
us for 4th of July, and now they?re planning their
third trip for ? fun? before they come back midmonth
to move her out. They stay in her room
when they visit, but they really take over the
whole apartment, not to mention MY LIFE for
4-5 days each time. I?m all for close families ? I
love my parents and talk to them on the phone
weekly ? but this is INSANE. I was expecting
a fun summer with lots of interesting stories,
but all I seem to have are details (and I mean
DETAILS) of their visits to all the Smithsonians
because they share them with me every minute
I?m home.*

*-Mommy and Daddy Issues*

**DEAR ISSUES:**

WOW. You don?t say anything about the size
of your sublet, but I?m assuming it?s not big
enough for you and a family of three on a biweekly
basis.

I feel for you, but really, you must know what
I?m going to say? All together now, Have you
said anything about this directly to Roommate?
If not, stop reading this and give her a call. Right
now. Just go.

This behavior is baffling, to say the least, but
perhaps Roommate has no idea how uncomfortable
this makes you feel? Maybe she feels just
as uncomfortable and would just LOVE an excuse
to get them not to make the drive into town
next month? Or she might have a good reason
for wanting all this Mommy/Daddy/Daughter
special time. Be calm and ask her to clue you
in. Let?s give her the benefit of the doubt and
see where that leads you. If she fails the ?Dude,
seriously?? test, then you can just meet them at
the door next time with a prorated bill for their
share of the rent and utilities, and chalk it up to
learning a life lesson about the right questions to
ask any future roommates. ?

*Stacy Notaras Murphy is a licensed professional
counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist
practicing in Georgetown. Her website is www.stacymurphyLPC.
com, and you can follow her on twitter @StacyMurphyLPC.
This column is meant for entertainment
only and should not be considered a substitute for
professional counseling. Send your confidential question
to stacy@georgetowner.com.*

Historic Garden Week in Virginia

July 18, 2012

The Garden Club of Virginia will continue to nurture Virginia’s deeply rooted history during Garden Week, April 16 – 23, showcasing some of the finest properties the state has to offer. For the 78th year, Virginia’s Historic Garden Week will feature dozens of walking tours, winding through privately owned estates and renowned historic landmarks.

From 17th century plantations to state-of-the-art gardens, the Garden Club presents a vast array of botanical beauty in over 250 homes and gardens, much of which coincide with restoration work that has been ongoing since Garden Week 1929. Proceeds from the tours of “America’s Largest Open House” have financed the restoration of more than 40 grounds and gardens as the Club strives for conservation and preservation of Virginia’s scenic landscapes.

Charlottesville and Albemarle County

The area that Thomas Jefferson once called home will be highlighted in a four-day tour featuring historic estates, including Monticello and Jefferson’s University of Virginia.

The Morven house and garden, a 7,378-acre estate built in 1820, still holds its 19th century ambiance. Oriental rugs, documentary reproductions and elegant wallpapers keep the estate true to its Jeffersonian era.

The grounds are filled with unusual trees including Osage orange, Chinese chestnut, and a dove tree. The gardens boast thousands of tulips, pansies, forget-me-nots, lilacs, wisteria, spireas, deutizia and a rose garden. Owned by the University of Virginia, Morven will be featured on the Historic Garden Tour April 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Travel to the Farmington neighborhood and stroll through the Periwinkle home and garden owned by Donna and Albert Ernest, evident art lovers who have decorated their home with 18th century décor. A number of paintings line the interior of the home designed by Marshall Wells in 1939.

The garden’s two-acre landscape boasts an English-style cottage garden filled with roses and peonies. Eden roses climb up to the dormer windows. An American boxwood garden, formal rose garden and a kitchen garden makes up with a backyard enclosed by apple trees. A small stone chapel, designed by the owners, gives way to a path leading to a secret garden. The Farmington tours take place April 17 and April 18.

The Cielo Rosso estate, comparatively modern for the Farmington neighborhood, was built in 2000. The house, inspired by the owners’ Italian travels, features handmade French tiles on the roof and extensive exterior stonework.

The three-acre garden is filled with atlas cedars, honey locust, blue cypress and mature cryptomeria trees. An herb garden sits outside the kitchen and a Roman swimming pool occupies the backyard not far from a boxwood garden, sitting below a fish-filled fountain with a vanishing edge that cascades downhill. The garden is open April 17 and 18.

Near Farmington is the historic University of Virginia. The University’s Pavilion Gardens, restored by the Garden Club of Virginia, will be featured during Garden Week, along with the University. The Colonial Revival gardens, designed by Colonial Williamsburg landscape architects Alden Hopkins and Donald Parker, are also on the campus. University tours April 19 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Pavilion Garden tours 10 a.m. and 1 p.m.

Jefferson’s lifelong passion for botany can be enjoyed at his Monticello home. The gardens and orchards have been restored to their appearance during Jefferson’s retirement years by the Garden Club of Virginia. Here you can see a vegetable garden that stretches 1,000 feet long, winding flowerbeds, two orchards, two vineyards, and an 18-acre ornamental forest, which resembles the foliage grown by Jefferson himself. Monticello is open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with special events April 16- 19.

Alexandria

George Washington’s Mount Vernon estate and gardens feature a distinctive replica of Washington’s 16-sided barn and displays of his farming tactics. The plantation’s bowling green has been restored by the Garden Club of Virginia. Mount Vernon is open 365 days a year.

George Mason’s Gunston Hall Plantation consists of a brick mansion furnished with colonial period décor. The estate was built around 1755 and is open from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Eastern Shore

The Cedar Creek Farm is opening up its three-story home for the first time. The rich wood interior adds warmth to every room throughout the house and beloved hunting dogs lounge on the wide screened porch as Mr. and Mrs. A. Thomas Young welcome visitors to their estate April 16, 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.

James River Plantations

The Brandon Plantation dates back to the beginnings of English settlement. Its beautiful grounds lead from the grand, historic mansion to the James River. Old boxwood and a series of garden rooms are some of the plantation’s featured attractions. Today, the 4,000-acre property functions as a working farm with 1,600 acres still being cultivated. During Garden Week, self-guided tours are offered April 18-23 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Louisa County

Fair Oaks’ recently restored house sits atop a hill at the area’s highest point of elevation. Purchased by Mrs. Nancy Daniel in 1997, the house has undergone two major renovations. Osage orange trees, each 150 years old, stand in front of the house. Woodwork on the stairs and most of the flooring is original heart pine. The house is open for the first time April 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Petersburg

Centre Hill Mansion, built in 1823, is now a museum in the City of Petersburg showcasing aristocratic 19th century Virginia. The house has been updated and restored after a number of ownership changes. During the Second World War, the property was a Red Cross headquarters. The museum’s grounds, restored by the Garden Club of Virginia, will be open April 16, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Warrenton

The Orlean house, a late 18th century stone and clapboard home, sits on a beautifully landscaped park. The woodland garden, bursting with spring bulbs, faces the swimming pool outlined by a rocky hillside. Mr. John Krumholtz and Mr. Kevin DiLallo own the house, of which several barns and servants’ quarters make up the estate. Open April 20, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and April 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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Murphy?s Love: Love, ActuallyJuly 9, 2012

July 9, 2012

**DEAR STACY:**

*We just had our first baby and I have zero energy for anything. My husband and I are fighting all the time. I have a sharp tongue when I?m angry, and it hurts his feelings. After the argument is over, I usually realize that I jumped to a conclusion or was overreacting to whatever he had said or done. I feel so guilty but I am able to admit when I?m wrong. I apologize and we move on. But I would really like some tips on how to keep from getting so angry in the first place! We never used to be like this. Things used to be very simple when we disagreed about anything. But these fights always seem to take place in the middle of the night, when our son is up screaming. I don?t want to keep having the same argument all the time. What can I do?*

*? Suffering and Sleep-deprived*

**DEAR SUFFERING,**

I know it?s cold comfort at this point, but we?ve all been there. Anyone who has brought a child into a once-simple household and seen the almost immediate carnage can relate to your situation. We also can tell you that this, too, will pass. Okay, enough with the unhelpful clich?s.

You are asking for tips on being less reactive in the moment, a moment which usually takes place in the middle of the night, obviously without the benefit of a fully-rested mental state. My first tip is: Please don?t expect too much of yourself under those circumstances. If you can muster a little self-empathy it will go a long way to helping curb your reactivity. Next, try to notice what happens in your body when you start to get angry. Does your breathing get shallow? Do you feel tension in your neck or stomach? Make a mental (or physical) note of these indicators so that when they appear, you will know what is about to happen and you may be more capable of getting a handle on your anger before you lash out.

Next, breathe ? humor me and just do it. With practice, deep breaths (instead of nasty retorts) can become your automatic reaction to when you feel your body start to tense up. This process will clear your mind, or at least help you bridge to the point where you can see if you might be jumping to that wrong conclusion.

Then mirror what your husband is saying. Give it back to him, word-for-word, without interpretative voice inflection or attitude, and ask, ?Did I get it?? This serves two purposes. First, it lets him know that you heard him, calming his own anxiety in the moment while making him more receptive to your views. Second, it allows him to hear what he said ? he?s likely sleep- deprived as you are, and we all say things we don?t exactly mean at those times. Your husband can hear what he said, pause and decide if that?s really the message he wants to send. He can revise it or not, but I promise you he will be less defensive if you use this technique.

All of this is to help de-escalate the conflict in the middle of the night. Mirroring will not solve a disagreement about co-sleeping or how many blankets Baby needs. But it will buy you some time, and build up some goodwill between you. This will help avoid the tired routine of recognizing you were wrong, feeling guilty, and apologizing the next day, when it?s even more likely that you haven?t had much sleep again, either.

**DEAR STACY:**

*My husband got a new cell phone and started using a passcode to open it. He didn?t keep his old phone locked this way and I never found anything to worry about when I looked through it, but now I am starting to be suspicious. What should I do?*

*?Phone-Focused*

**DEAR PHONE-FOCUSED,**

So you have a habit of reading Husband?s texts and emails when you start getting suspicious about him, and now you are frustrated that you can?t get a quick fix to calm your anxiety? I wonder … Could this habit have something to do with his decision to get a new phone?

We don?t know from your letter if Husband?s job requires him to lock his phone (many do) or if you have talked to him about your doubts (probably not). What you do provide is some insight into how you may be managing your anxiety about your relationship: you check up on him and then breathe a sigh of relief. His new technology has removed this coping mechanism, and so you need a new one. Let?s celebrate that you wrote to me requesting relationship advice, and not to a techie forum requesting tips on how to hack into his device. That shows you are interested in improving your partnership overall ? a very good start!

I?m going to invite you to do a very honest inventory of whether you have a good reason to be suspicious about his activity. If he has been unfaithful before, how did you get through it? Did you work on your relationship together, or push the hurt and disaffection under the rug? Consider airing it out again (for best results, with a trained professional).

But if Husband has not given you a concrete reason to be distrustful, continue your honest inventory by looking at yourself ? your history, parents, friends, etc. If you are worried that Husband could become a jerk like So-and- So?s ex, perhaps you could explore your fears in a manner that is more healthy and life-giving than playing Nancy Drew.

Whenever we find ourselves doing something unconscious (which is what all that phone- patrolling really is) to allay our fears about a relationship, the faster and easier path to wholeness usually is becoming conscious about our motivations. Not an easy choice, but much more satisfying in the end. ?

*Stacy Notaras Murphy is a licensed professional counselor and certified Imago Relationship therapist practicing in Georgetown. Her website is www.stacymurphyLPC.com, and you can follow her on twitter @ StacyMurphyLPC. This column is meant for entertainment only and should not be considered a substitute for professional counseling. Send your confidential question to stacy@georgetowner.com.*

79th Annual Historic Garden Week

June 29, 2012

This is for people who wake up, head outside, take a deep breath and say, “I love the smell of mulch in the morning.”         

This is for the poetic hearts who get smitten and blown away by the sight of rows upon rows of red and yellow tulips, gardens so beautifully arranged that they marry both art and history. 

This is for the traveler who loves nothing better than to be embraced by the historic, as if every outing were a road map to an American Brigadoon.

In short, you don’t have to be a gardener to love gardens, you don’t have to be a researcher or a historian to want to drop by the  homes of our Founding Fathers. Stop by at Mt. Vernon, Monticello, Montpelier and say hello again to George, Thomas and James and their kin, and yes, visit their gardens.

This is for you, this being the 9th Annual Historic Garden Week in Virginia, April 21 to 28, spread out to all the historic, elegant, spring-kissed, history-touched places, towns, homes, villages, cities and wayward inns and stopping points along old coach routes and battlefields, and forested acres of land for fox hunting and horse raising.

While we’re speaking in historic terms, a little history is in order.  The Historic Garden Week is the offspring of the early members of the Garden Club of Virginia, who in 1929 wrote to their friends and suggested they go on a sort of  “pilgrimage” of historic homes and gardens in Virginia, of which there are multitudes.  The first tour lasted 11 days and produced a guidebook costing the grand sum of two dollars. As such projects sometimes go, the Historic Garden Week flowered, grew like dandelions do, lasted as the sturdiest of all-weather flowers, and was held annually ever since. There was a brief interruption during World War II when the Garden Club of Virginia sent help and money to England where folks were hard pressed to keep up their beloved gardens while under attack and preparing to invade Europe along with a few chaps from America.

This is the sort of thing that is a boon to the tourist industry of any state, because it encourages visitors to visit the whole state.  This is a region and state where people for centuries have named their houses, it’s where homes aren’t just a numbered address but an identity as in the Manor or Oakwood, Edgewood, Poke and Woodlawn Farm, to name four Middleburg attractions on the tours.

To take in the whole of the Garden Week, you will tramp across battlefields from the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, visit mansions, plantations, villas, inns, presidential homes, churches and residences dating back to colonial days.  You want history; you’ve got history. 

In the interests of history, the Garden Club of Virginia and its members turn the proceeds from the tours that are part of Historic Garden Week into restoration projects, including Mount Vernon, Monticello and the grounds of the Executive Mansion in Richmond.

Nearby Old Town Alexandria and Arlington provide part of the tours of Historic Garden Week, which also include Albermarle County, Ashland, Chatam, Clark County, Danville, Eastern Shore, Franklin, Fredericksburg, Gloucester-Matthews, Harrisonburg, Lake Gaston-Bracey and Ebony, Lexington, Lynchburg, Martinsville, Middleburg and Upperville, Middlesex County, the Middle Peninsula, Newport News, Hampton, Norfolk, Northern Neck-Lancaster County, Orange County, Petersburg, Portsmouth, Richmond, the Ampthill/Wilson area, the Boulevard and Three Chops/Westhampton of Richmond, Roanoke, Staunton, Virginia Beach and Williamsburg.

The week will consist of more than 31 separate tours held over eight days, featuring 191 homes and private gardens, an army of 3,400 volunteers, and a reported 15 tons of mulch — in the morning and other times.  All of this will be garnished, emblazoned, trumpeted and made as stunning and beautiful as a good-weather day at Eden by 2,000 floral arrangements and the presence of an estimated 5,730 tulips and other flowers, daffodils among them.

Close to home, Old Town Alexandria will take part in the Historic Garden Week on Saturday, April 21.

Old Town, with its weekly market, waterfront, city hall and Christ Church, cobbled streets, from where you can move right ahead to Mount Vernon,  has history as its daily companion and can have the pace of colonial times.

In Alexandria, two gardens clubs have partnered with six additional properties, including a half-dozen townhouses and gardens dating back to the 18th and 19th centuries.

On the tour that day will be the following residences and gardens:
– The Capri House and Garden at 117 South Lee Street
– Mrs. Wright’s garden at 212 South Fairfax Street, archived by the Smithsonian
– The Spar’s House and garden at 206 Wolfe Street
– The Boteler’s house and garden at 320 South Lee Street
– Ms. Scarborough’s house and garden at 613 South Royal Street
– The Jankowski’s house and garden at 215 Jefferson Street
– The famous Lee-Fendal House Museum and Garden at 614 Oronoco Street at North Washington Street
– The Carlyle House Historic Park at 121 Fairfax Street
– Mount Vernon, which was also a restoration site of the Garden Club of Virginia
– Woodlawn, 9000 Richmond Highway
– Gunston Hall Plantation at 10709 Gunston Road in Mason Neck

Arlington will hold its portion of the garden week tour on April 24, emphasizing homes built to create neighborhoods that would become one Virginia’s first suburban communities.
 
While Mount Vernon is closer to D.C., it might also be interesting to visit Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello, where the observance of the garden week will include a two-hour tour of Jefferson’s revolutionary garden April 21 and April 23.

Also of note is the tour at Ashland, April 21, which the Ashland Garden Club redesigned after the August 2011 earthquake in Louisa County damaged its centerpiece property.

For additional information and schedules, visit www.vagardenweek.org or www.gcvirginia.org. [gallery ids="100591,100592" nav="thumbs"]

Sisters’ Sojourn, Halfway Around the World


My sister Molly recently moved to Singapore from Sydney, and for me it proved a great excuse for a trip. So I took off January for a sisterly visit, to explore a region I had never traveled: Southeast Asia. The non-stop flight out of Newark Airport lasted 18 hours – and when I landed it was two days later.

On the equator, the island nation of Singapore, with its tropical rainforest climate, is continually hot and humid and enjoys sunrises and sunsets at 7:00 every day. The orderly country afforded me the chance to visit two big museums in one afternoon. And the shopping is beyond abundant. And because of the heat, everything is in a mall: shops, fine restaurants, nail salons, grocery stores, doctors’ offices, condos, museums . . . everything. It’s sort of bizarre. You never have to leave the air conditioned hallways. Everyone speaks English, the currency is in Singapore dollars and there is a Starbucks on every corner. So far, it didn’t seem to have much of an Eastern vibe. But I hadn’t sampled the food yet.

Singapore is famed for its food, and I was lucky to sample a lot of it. Food stalls stand in an endless array (many in the malls, of course), inexpensive and for the adventurous of palette– as you are never quite sure what you are getting. Black pepper crab is a national favorite, and nothing like our Chesapeake Bay crustaceans. One spicy crab will feed a family of five. And it is delicious.

Strangely, all the big-name American chefs have restaurants here. We dined at Wolfgang Puck’s super-expensive steakhouse, Cut, which was a surprising treat.

Green space covers half of this tiny country, which has a botanic garden with 66,000 orchids and an amazing tree-top walk over a forest. It also has the second largest casino gambling market in the world. I loved that there weren’t a lot of sightseeing must-dos, which allowed me to explore the city at my own pace and interest.
Then, our serious adventures began. Molly and I spent a week in precarious paradise: the Maldives, southwest of the tip of India and Sri Lanka. Fortunately, we left before the recent government upheaval, but the country was truly breathtaking.

It is hard to describe the magnificence of these islands in the Indian Ocean. It felt like Disneyland come true. The water was the clearest of blues, the sand pearl white and fine as baby powder. The territory of the Maldives, of which there are 200 inhabited islands (90 of which are individual private resorts), is ninety-nine percent ocean, and we hopped from island to island by boat or plane.

Upon landing at the capital city of Male, we took a seaplane to the Anantara Kihavah Resort Island. It is one of the larger resorts in the Maldives, and yet it only takes about 15 minutes to walk the perimeter. Our villa was stunning and opulent, right on the beach with two outdoor showers, a bathtub that would seat six (if we were so inclined) and our own swimming pool. The staff came from all over the world.

We did a lot of snorkeling on the reef about 100 yards from our door. The fish were otherworldly. We went to the spa – each treatment room is perched above the ocean with a glass floor so that you can watch the fish swim by while you are getting a massage. We ate and drank and ate some more. One of the five restaurants at the resort is like a reverse aquarium. It is a glass room fully submerged in the lagoon. While you are eating your fish, you can see his cousin swimming on by. I was completely rejuvenated by the time we left, wishing only that we could have stayed another week.

Next up, we flew to Thailand to celebrate Chinese New Year. Our first stop was Chiang Mai, Thailand’s second largest city, located in the north, between Laos and Burma. The weather was a little cooler than Singapore and the Maldives and extremely pleasant by contrast. We had only four days here but made the most of them, as we rode elephants and ox carts and sailed the Ping River on a bamboo raft. We did some power shopping at the Night Market, a huge area of the old city where the streets are closed off on Sunday night for thousands of vendors to set up stalls, selling everything from silk scarves and jewelry to fried fish heads. We experienced everything from gorgeous temples to restaurants in rice paddies. The Thai people are the world’s most hospitable hosts.

From there, I headed (sans sister) to Koh Samui, where I attended a four-day yoga retreat on the beach. While the water wasn’t as blue and the sand not as white as Maldives, I muddled through. I practiced at least three hours of yoga a day in a gazebo overlooking the Gulf of Thailand, had three massages, read a couple of books and ate the most healthful, delicious food.

For a final hurrah in Singapore, I rejoined Molly before boarding that 18-hour flight back home. While sad to leave, I know I’ll return. As they say in Singapore, “Onward.” [gallery ids="102435,121479,121483,121470" nav="thumbs"]

Between the Sheets

June 18, 2012

I couldn’t stand my husband’s terrible snoring another minute, so I’ve been sleeping in the guest room. I love the peace and quiet, but now we rarely see each other. How can we keep the romance alive?
– Betty, 57

An estimated 20 percent of American couples do not sleep in the same bed. This is not necessarily a sign of a poor relationship. With age, people are willing to experiment and create their own comfort zones. Some people find that they need more alone time or that their partners’ snoring or rolling
around in bed really troubles them. There is a difference between sleeping apart because you just don’t like each other anymore and choosing to sleep separately for comfort’s sake. If it’s the latter, it’s important to make the time and effort to meet, greet, and connect with each other for sharing, intimacy, and lovemaking. Even when you sleep in the same bed, if you go to bed at different times, it helps to make a conscious effort to bond with each other for the sake of your relationship and sex lives. Find some time each day to cuddle and connect in bed, with or without sex.

One way of keeping passion and sex alive is to consider making love in new places, like a night in a hotel, or for those who are adventurous, remembering the passion of your youth on the living room floor, or in front of the fireplace, or maybe even on a kitchen table. If a new environment is a turn-on for you be creative, and find new places to keep sex alive.

If you can only do one thing to make your bedroom an oasis for you and your partner KEEP STRESS OUT. If possible put computers and work papers someplace else, and above all save all stress-producing conversations (about money, children, sick parents, grandparents, illness, and whatever might raise your blood pressure) for outside the bedroom. Once you enter your special space try to protect yourself and your partner from all sex-chilling stress of any kind.