Tag Archives: virginia

Wickliffe CHurch

I took advantage of the gorgeous weather on Mothers Day to visit a mostly inactive church in Berryville: Wickliffe Church.

Bookmark and Share

Sketchbook Peek: Happy Creek

The day before Memorial Day I was supposed to go on a sketchcrawl at the National Zoo. However, I’d underestimated the traffic-snarling power of Rolling Thunder. When it took me two hours just to get to Arlington, I decided to stay west of the Potomac and wandered aimlessly down I-66 until I stopped randomly in The Plains. After grabbing lunch at the farmer’s market, I stopped in Happy Creek Coffee and Tea and tried their nitro cold brew coffee. Quite tasty, even if I did have a little bit of trouble with the proportions of my glass.

(And yes, I know it says Honey Creek. I fixed it after scanning.)

Because the cafe shares its space with Haymarket Bicycles, there was a gorgeous chandelier made of bicycle parts and coffee paraphernalia. It was quite fun to draw.

So even though I missed the sketchcrawl, I’m glad I still took the time to do a little sketching on my own.

Bookmark and Share

Sketchbook Peek: Morven Park

On a beautiful day in April, I drove out to Morven Park in Leesburg, Virginia. I’d been going through a bit of a drawing drought and I was determined to draw something. Well, I ended up taking the tour of the Governor’s Mansion, which was lovely, then wandering around the carriage museum, which was empty save for me and had no chairs and I felt like I would have been conspicuous had I started sketching. However, I did draw this one picture of a small portion of the mansion. I had to sit a bit awkwardly – most of the benches are not within sight of the house, for some reason. Anyway, it was a good time and taught me that I really need to start keeping a pencil sharpener with me at all times, because the stubby gray pencil left scratch marks.

Bookmark and Share

Northern Neck Excursion

This is my first ever crosspost between this here blog, my personal journal, and the Glue Stick Tourist blog. So if you subscribe to all three, there will be a lot of repeats, but there’s some stuff here that’s not on either of those other places.

Travel sketch journaling is a new activity for me. I’ve always kept a written journal, and more recently I’ve been gluebooking my travels (and sharing them on the GST blog), but drawing my travels is new. And I still haven’t quite managed to merge the three into a single journal – except for special journals dedicated to specific trips, and even those contain little to no drawing.

This was my first expedition where I actually spent some time sketching my experiences. I always intend to, but this time I actually did. Nothing too extravagant – I’m still a bit shy about drawing in public – but I captured the memories. Below is a description of my adventures with their respective gluebook and sketchbook pages.

I spent Veterans Day exploring the Northern Neck of Virginia, the peninsula between the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers. I’d never been, which is apparently a strange reason for visiting somewhere, but that’s what exploring is all about, right? The first page above is my entire route for the day.

The second stage comprises a few stops, including the Westmoreland County Historical Museum and Lancaster Tavern, where I stopped for lunch. The Mary Ball Washington Museum and Library was closed, but I wandered around the buildings outside a bit.

My first real tourism stop of the day was the George Washington Birthplace National Monument. The houses were closed due to some kind of mechanical failure, rendering them unsafe, but I learned a lot at the visitor center and got to see the graves and the obelisk. I also stopped by the beach, where I picked up an oyster shell, one of the eleventy billion collected in the sand. Where I grew up, rivers don’t have sandy beaches, so it’s still novel. (Okay, where I grew up we didn’t have any river, but I certainly spent more time by them than the ocean.)

Since the buildings were closed, I drew a little bit on the river, then sketched the graves and my oyster shell (which is still in the cup holder in my car). I’d been excited about the National Park stamps, but I think I went a bit overboard in my sketchbook, especially since I also stamped them on a piece of scrap paper to include in my gluebook. In the future, I’ll just put one or two in my sketchbook and leave the rest to cut out later.

I spent Veterans Day in the Northern Neck of Virginia. After some meandering, I ended up in Weems at Christ Church, one of the oldest original colonial churches in the state.

Built in 1735 by horrible people (sorry, but when you successfully petition the colonial government for permission to cut off your slaves’ toes, you don’t get any praise from me, regardless of your other accomplishments), Christ Church is a simple but very lovely little Anglican chapel. I was raised Catholic, so having the pulpit in the exact center of the church and pews in little cubicles, facing all directions, is foreign to me.

The docents were marvelous. I appreciate anyone who thinks of me as “young,” but given that these women were easily twice my age, that’s their prerogative. The one who gave me the tour of the church was especially funny. She mentioned that the Carsons – the folks who built the church – had their own special cubicle of pews directly across from the pulpit, within which the pews were two inches deeper than the rest of the church. The docent whispered to me, “We think the Carsons had big butts.”

She also kept asking me where I was staying for the night, and didn’t seem to understand that driving home that night wasn’t a big deal. I was roughly two hours from home, and it was only midafternoon. But I guess when you’re older that becomes a very long drive.

It was getting pretty gloomy and rainy by that point, so I drove out to Windmill Point, snapped a quick photo, then headed across the bridge on Route 3 (shown in the second page above). Oi, Virginia river bridges are terrifying. I don’t generally have issues with heights, and this wasn’t nearly as scary as the Bay Bridge, but the two-way, no-median traffic was a touch unnerving.

I drew the light fixture from the Lancaster Tavern. I thought about drawing my food, but it was already getting cold as I ate it, so I’m glad I didn’t take any extra time. The pulpit from Christ Church was drawn from the brochure; I didn’t feel comfortable stopping to draw while my tour guide was there. This is one of those times when it’s good that the sketches and the collages aren’t in the same book, since my sketch is clearly inferior to the photo included on the gluebook page.

As a bonus, one more sketch page. The next evening, we journeyed into DC to see Amanda Palmer, who was on tour promoting her memoir, The Art of Asking.

We had dinner at Rosa Mexicano, home of some of the best guacamole ever, before heading to the show at the Sixth & I Synagogue, which was gorgeous. The main design on the page is a detail from the ceiling. As usual, my husband took tons of great pictures.

All in all, a truly lovely 48 hours. And utterly exhausting, but sometimes that’s just how it goes.

How do you record your memories?

Bookmark and Share

BookCrossing BackStory

I was recently asked how I discovered BookCrossing and got to the point of being so involved as to be on the planning team for an international convention.

Jeez, I dunno. I guess I’ll start from the beginning.

Once upon a time, I had a subscription to Yahoo! Internet Life magazine, a publication which highlighted assorted interesting websites. At the end of each issue was a pull-out list of all the URLs mentioned. As I read the stories I’d circle their entries on the list, and then bookmark the sites for later perusal. It could (and often did) take years before I got around to actually visiting the links, but from time to time I’d browse my “check it out” bookmark folder, remove the dead links, and re-file anything I wanted to keep. One of these links was for Photo Tag (or maybe Foto Tag), a project where one leaves a disposable camera out in public with instructions for the person who uses the last exposure to mail it back to the owner. The owner then develops the photographs and posts them online. (Astoundingly, some of the cameras were actually returned!) I can no longer find this site anywhere; I suspect it’s either defunct or I am misremembering its name.

Anyway, one of the links on that page for similar projects was BookCrossing. (WheresGeorge was another, IIRC.) I admit, my first thought when I discovered BC was, “Free books!” I did a little hunting, not realizing that most wild-released books are picked up within hours or even minutes. It took about two months to get my first wild catch, a truly exhilarating experience.

After a while I started attending the monthly BookCrossing meets at St. Elmo’s Coffee Pub, organized through Meetup. I met some lovely folks this way, but the group was fairly small since it was held on Thursday nights and nowhere near a Metro stop. Once Meetup started charging group organizers for events, the whole thing fell apart: who wants to pay to chat in a public space? Disappointed, I started a Yahoo! Group, but clearly wasn’t disappointed enough to actually plan any get-togethers. The group was very quiet for a long time.

Enter Cookie, recent transplant to the DC area. In July 2007 she held a meet in Waldorf, Maryland. Remembering how much I loved the gatherings at St. Elmo’s, I drove over an hour to attend. I’m glad I did. Almost single-handedly, Cookie re-energized the group, and slowly we gained momentum and members. Soon our group had free-book tables at local festivals like Kensington’s Day of the Book, the Carroll County Book Fair, and the Gaithersburg Book Festival. We held annual joint meetings with local Librarythingamabrarians each fall at the National Book Festival. We met monthly at various locations in Washington, Maryland, and Virginia, plus occasional additional meets with BookCrossers visiting the area.

Then Cookie got a crazy idea.

As one of the largest and most active BookCrossing groups in the country, she suggested we put in a bid to host the annual international convention. Bids are put in two years in advance, so in 2008 we bid to host the 2010 convention. We lost to Amsterdam, but when we bid the next year we won – which was better in a lot of ways, since it meant we got to celebrate the 10th anniversary of BookCrossing. It was during the 2008 bidding process that the name BCinDC was born and one of our members designed the lovely logo we used for the convention.

I have absolutely no idea how I ended up on the convention planning team. It started out as a totally informal thing, then somehow it turned into massive brainstorming sessions on Google Docs, quirky book-collecting sprees, a series of well-researched blog posts, and marathon meetings that lasted long into the night. I nearly had a mental breakdown, to be perfectly honest. As awesome as the convention was when it finally happened, those two years of planning involved a lot of stress and heartache. There were times when I wanted to quit the site entirely. I’m glad I didn’t, because the convention was so totally worth it.

BookCrossing is a lot of fun. It’s fun leaving books in random places for folks to find, it’s fun when the right book finds the right person, and it’s fun to discover new books I never would have come across otherwise. But in the end, it’s the people that keep me coming back. BookCrossers are the most generous people I’ve ever met. It’s not just books (though they are almost aggressively generous with those!), but everything. For example: each year an event called “Holiday Gift Giving” is held on the forums. Basically, you post your wish list, no matter how simple or outrageous, and people can choose whether or not to fulfill any of them. There is no obligation to give and no guarantee to receive, and yet people do both. Whenever I travel, I post on the forums and there is almost always someone who would like to meet up and welcome me. On Sunday morning of the convention, when we had to pack up the book buffets, attendees enthusiastically took on the job without even being asked. I could keep going, but I think you get the gist. We’re connected by a love of books – and not even the same books! – and this nutty hobby of giving away the very books we love. And yet somehow that is enough to form lifelong friendships. I certainly have.

My sister suggested once that BookCrossing is my “tribe.” I think she may be right.

Bookmark and Share

Unexpected Cemetery

Old Graves

I have a confession to make: I’m not actually all that interested in history. I am an active member of Markeroni, and yet I don’t generally read the markers I snarf until much later, if at all. What motivates me are 1, fierce competition with a good friend (okay, so it’s not actually even remotely fierce), and 2, an excuse to explore. See, history happens everywhere, and I have found that the more remote the location, the more likely it is to showcase its history (mostly because it lacks any other claim to fame).  A few weeks ago I decided to blow off the SketchCrawl in Washington, DC, in favor of wandering the northwestern reaches of Loudoun County. My route took me all around the Virginian countryside. I photographed several markers and historic properties, but the most memorable parts of my day were the stops not on my map.

Outside looking in

On my way to Mt. Olive Methodist Church in Gleedsville (now a Unitarian church), I passed by a tiny sign pointing the way to Gleedsville Cemetery. I love cemeteries. I find them endlessly fascinating. So after snarfing the church, I turned onto the “road” which was actually just two graveled ruts between overgrown trees. I hastily declared my Honda Civic to be an all-terrain vehicle and prayed I wasn’t actually traveling on a private driveway.

As seen from the entrance

But no, the path eventually opened up into a large field lined with headstones. It was an odd mix of old and new graves, including some clear sites (that is, the ground was decidedly sunken) that were completely unmarked. Most of the center of the clearing was completely empty of stones, and there was a lone wooden cross just to the left of the entrance with a trampled metal marker with decals (the sort one would put on their mailbox) spelling out the name of a man who died in the 1930s. This was not the first time I’d seen something like this, but it was by far the oldest grave labeled thus.

One of many sunken, unmarked graves

I didn’t know at the time that Gleedsville was actually a rather important settlement by ex-slaves from nearby Oatlands Plantation, many of whom would probably not have been able to afford a stone marker. There is a good chance that the open space in the center of the clearing is full of graves, their signs long gone.

One last look

Bookmark and Share

© 2010-2017 kate weber All Rights Reserved -- Copyright notice by Blog Copyright