Budget public meetings in Chesterfield County, are you kidding me? Citizens fill the chairs and line the walls in the public meeting room on what I call the biggest night of the year. Even if the County was going to build a house of ill repute on every corner and tax the proceeds, it may not draw as many people to the meeting.
I’m stuck in traffic again, the guy says. “Don’t worry, I can deal with it for a while, not seeing the kids ‘til supper until the road is widened,” you’re thinking while listening to the Beatle’s “Here Comes the Sun,” on my CD player.
My daughter, Marly, had her baby on Thursday after 40 hours of labor. He is a beautiful sight to see. I am handing out virtual cigars. Grab one before they are gone. Funny thing: He doesn’t look like an alien, Winston Churchill or a cone head, although I have to admit his head does stick a bit in the back, but that’s just extra room for his brain.
It is always surprising when daylight savings time creeps up on you, especially when snow still lingers in the shadows. And, let’s not forget last year’s March snow. Lord forbid, we have such an event this year.
Complaints are arriving at a minimum of one a day here at Village News, most are about the real estate tax rate and how it’s split. Before the add-on for environmental mandates (1.6-cents) there is a 3-cent advertized rate increase that is split two ways:
Each year, we, meaning our families and governments, find ourselves in an unsolvable dilemma; taxes, doing taxes and worry about how much we have to pay or how much the infamous they are is going to return to us (good luck with that).
The bushes are laid out on the side of the slope, riding it like the wind ruffled sheet hung up to dry on the clothes line in the backyard. Other small trees follow the curves working their way up the hill from a curving base of small boulders.
Have you ever tried to balance your checkbook and you are just a couple dollars different than the balance. No matter how you add it up the money doesn’t show up on either side of the balance sheet. It’s only a few bucks, who cares, but as I was always told, if it’s a dollar off, it could be a thousand. You have to clean it up.
Golfing is not my thing. A few years ago I tried, but I spent more time looking for my ball in the weeds or the rough than I did on the fairway. Doug, who was my golfing buddy, didn’t hit his ball in the weeds. He hit straight as an arrow and right toward the pin.
What’s up with this traffic? It seems to grow exponentially by the day. All the cars on the road seem to be new, at least, newer than mine. Where are they coming from? Building in Chesterfield has been down significantly for five years. It can’t be all the vehicles coming out of the new developments.
Where did the last year go? How short was this decade? Attending college and high school seems like yesterday. I feel as if I’m a 20-year-old kid in a 60-year-old body – except, I have cut off my pony-tail and thrown out my patched jeans.
Have you ever wondered what character you would be in Charles Dickens’ “The Christmas Carol?” Is it Ebenezer who holds on to his money and watches it grow; Scrooge’s nephew Fred who embodies the merriment and sharing of Christmas or Bob Cratchit who epitomizes the financially challenged; those who work hard, but cannot reach the second rung of the ladder to success.
Not that many people remember when I took a step toward politics a couple of years ago. It was one of the most emotional experiences of my life. Two months to gather real friends and real money. Whew, I’m sure glad that’s over, after all, the world didn’t fall apart and Chesterfield didn’t slip into the Chesapeake Bay.
Black Thanksgiving, Black Friday, Black Saturday and Cyber Monday are over, although stores are continuing sales right through “Festivus for the Rest of Us,” Christmas, New Year’s and Independence Day.
Learning to save your money should start early. Even though Chesterfield Schools had to give up a class to teach it; financial management was a good mandate pushed on the county by the state General Assembly.
Rain and wind and the dark of night, moon shadows of great oaks walk across my lawn. Night-time critters are quiet and leaves whip up into whirling dervishes, the crackling stopped only by rows of bushes.
Sometimes even a blind squirrel gets a nut, especially this time of year. Squirrels collect and bury their nuts to have a good stash through the winter. We may see more squirrels this time of year compared to more southern states because some go into hibernation.
When you’re twenty-something, life is a hangover from your invincible teen years. The thirty-somethings begin to calm down and look at the future while shuttling their little ones to organized sports, dance lessons and play dates.
Have you ever been to a meeting at which the facilitator asked the group, “Tell us something the rest of us don’t know about you.” For me, the first thing that comes to mind is that I was once a rock star.
Often I hear reminisces about how bucolic a drive along some local roads was before they were widened to four or five lanes. How the trees hung over the roads. How it gave you that real hometown feel. And then came “The Invasion of the Beauty Snatchers” – concrete and asphalt.
Everyman loves machinery, whether he knows anything about it or not. Every doctor, lawyer or Indian chief, at one time or another, has pictured himself operating a powerful machine. I heard a kid on the news the other day when asked what he wanted to do when he grew up, he said, “a trash man.”
The chocolate soufflé is the most difficult dessert to make, I’m told. Government is like making a soufflé, brushing the ramekin, (bet you have to Google that one; I did) with butter, freezing them overnight and then melting the chocolate properly.
In the world of advertising there is something referred to as “a call to action.” The term means that the advertiser has something special to offer or a compelling reason to visit the businesses’ store, use its service or remember the name of the business or organization, which is called branding.
When I get a chance to go to the grocery store; that is when Linda will let me because I bring back a lot more than what is on the list, I away grab one of the little carts. I’m not one for the little carry around kind; I’m just too lazy to lug that thing around like a lady with everything but a hammer and nails to fix anything out of place.
I love statistics, don’t you? All the charts and graphs are so colorful. It must be the bright colors that attract me, like the dog, Dug, in the movie “Up.” Dug was distracted by any squirrel he saw. As he was padding along with his master, he would see a squirrel with his peripheral vision.
What’s the deal with the mosquitoes this year? Have you seen them in such numbers before? They’re attacking in mass, and there’s nothing you can do about it. We’ll all succumb to some sort of mosquito borne disease before the summer is over. It got so bad in my yard last weekend that my bug zapper shorted out.
I forgot to plug in my iPhone last night and sure as a Koala Bear eats eucalyptus leaves it was dead as a doornail this morning. I still had time before heading off to the salt mines so I grabbed it and attempted to plug it in. No go. So turning it 180 degrees from where I started it slipped right in.
You know how great it feels to hit a homerun? I don’t because in a real game I’ve never hit one. I was always a Pete Rose sort of guy; grounders that I hoped went through someone’s legs. No, that’s not true either; I really was more of a pop-up guy watching that ball soar toward the blinding sun.
“Welcome to McDonalds, can I take your order please?”
“I’ll have a double cheeseburger with bacon and a fried egg; a super-sized fry and I’ll need a super-sized Coke. I’d order more but I have to eat and drive.”
High school graduation is a major accomplishment for some students. For others it’s one step closer to college – two-year, four-year or professional student. I, for one, don’t remember much from my high school graduation and it’s only through pictures that I recognize any members of my class.
Golden retriever blood runs through our veins at the Fausz house. When I met Linda, she had Annie. Later we had Martha and last year one of our sons ended up with two. We adopted one of them and named her Gypsy.
Most of the things we do have some sort of payoff. May we feel lighter because we just heard a good joke, “A nun, a priest, an Irishman, a Scotsman, a rabbi and a blonde walk into a bar. “The bartender looks at them and asks, ‘Is this some kind of joke?’”
When you look under the hood, what you thought was a bargain might not always be the case. The problem is a lot of times we are blinded by the shiny finish and at times we just get in a hurry and don’t look closely at how the car runs or even the payments.
There was a time when I lived with several of my friends. There was a house in a community several miles from the farm where we and the owner’s brother would spend our time when not working. We actually didn’t work the farm much except for a little planting, tobacco harvesting and on hog butchering day.
I’m told I have the music turned up too loud when I am driving by myself. Linda says she can hear me turn in the driveway, not from the sound of my wheels on our gravel driveway, but by the music blasting from the inside of my car. But I was born and raised in an age of loud music.
I’m sure that the account managers at the public relations firm Capital Results are not sitting around a conference table at two in the afternoon sipping bourbon. These modern day “Mad Men” don’t have time to full around like those in the TV program
Chicken, pollo, poulet, chook, huhn; every language in the world has a word for chicken. Whether in some countries there is little or no chicken to go around, the population knows what a chicken is and they could show you a way to cook it. Chicken is not the “other white meat” it is the white meat and the dark.
“During times of economic bellyache, tobacco sales climb even as other sales tumble. Perhaps the uncertainty of finances makes people nervous: the nervousness causes them to smoke more. Perhaps a cigarette gives an unemployed man something to do with his hands.
As I work to get back in the saddle covering county meetings, especially the upcoming budget currently being discussed and initiated, there seems to be some disagreement with how to handle the loss of revenue from the state and federal government, as well as the mandates from the Virginia Retirement System and the Affordable Healthcare Act.
On the rectangular top of our dining-room table Linda and I constructed the pieces and parts of what would become this newspaper. It was 1998, the long hot summer was coming to an end, and Linda wanted to get back to work after a three-month sabbatical from the corporate world.
Those little stinkers, they sneak around, multiply, and although we try to eradicate them by stomping them, it’s to no avail. The stink after you squash them remains for more time than you are prepared to handle. These stinkers proliferate during the winter in January and February and awake to begin their real havoc on July 1.
Austerity. That word has sure been used a lot over the last few years when the question the politicos liked to ask was, “Do you want to end up like Greece?” Have you been to Greece? It’s actually pretty nice there.
How great is it meeting and talking with people. You have to open your ears and discover what they are enthusiastic about. I have heard many people communicate how they feel about something by the way they move their body.
The movie was long and full of details. The collection of clues that would lead to the final death of Osama bin Laden started long before President Obama made the decision to allow the operation to begin. Zero Dark Thirty reached back 10 years; collecting information that finally led to tracking down bin Laden, taking him out.
Notice the curled and brown edges of my column this week? That’s because it’s a week or so old and newspapers and newspapermen age quickly. Just a short time ago, I had dark brown hair, a bounce in my step and wasn’t staring 60 square in the face.
While I usually wait until Christmas Eve to do my Christmas shopping, when the crowds have finally cleared, ah huh; this year I started a little earlier on Saturday, when I thought the crowds would be a little less daunting. Wrong.
Bah-dum, bah-dum, buh-dum, buh-dum… It could be the backbeat of the Beatles’ “Revolution 1” or it could be the beating of your heart the first time you fell in love or just your tires bumping over the cracks in the highway. But maybe the beat isn’t so steady.
What is this raising county taxes thing I read about? I’ve been a little out of the loop lately but nevertheless, I read in the Richmond Times Dispatch last week that Chesterfield’s Chairman of the Board of Supervisors, Dan Gecker, said we should be raising taxes next year. That’s not what I heard a year ago.
Although some people pretend to find work the most satisfying part of their lives. Or if their pursuit of happiness jumps from ballgame to ballgame or one hunting outing to another, It seems that all their endeavors come back to one thing – people.
Over dinner, on our way to tour a couple of Frank Lloyd Wright homes in Pennsylvania, Linda and I began wondering about why Roquefort dressing is now called Blue Cheese dressing. Our assumption was that the goat’s milk cheese with the blue veins of mold fungus, originating in Roquefort, France, was something that was not an everyday salad sauce until the name was changed to Blue Cheese.
Something has to be done. There’s a flaw that has to be dealt with. I don’t understand why this aggravating failure has continued for so long. Why do we put up with it? It seems so easy to fix; to change the policy, the design. Has no one lodged a complaint? Well, I’m mad enough to call them on the problem.
“OK,” I said. “I can remember and you don’t have to make a list – milk, tomato sauce, green pepper, some of that green stuff and eggs, right?”
“Yeah, some of that green stuff,” Linda said. “How are you going to find the green stuff if you don’t know what it’s called? And, you forgot two more things that we need.”
My daughter Marly returned last week from a trip to Morocco, so over the weekend we spent hours looking at pictures and videos from her trip. Hot air balloon rides, four-wheeler tours, cooking classes and beautiful vistas of sand and sun and sun and sand.
During the balmy summer of 1970, I attended the first two concerts of my life. I was in high school and one of a cadre of teenagers who chased music all of the time. That summer, our gang of four, led by a buddy, saw Janis Joplin, Grateful Dead, Mountain, Ten Years After, Alice Cooper, Grand Fund Railroad and Bob Seger among others.
The door leading from our small screened porch, built over a deck with soft rattan chairs and a somewhat rickety wooden storm door is friendlier than it sounds. There’s an antique kitchen cupboard in one corner and a couple more chairs, I call company chairs, sitting against the wall.
In about 1964 my family had our kitchen remodeled. My stepfather designed this dark-maple Brady Bunch sort of thing with an oval table and a lazy Susan in the center, which matched the rest of the cabinets. It was something any suburban housewife, of the time, would have killed for.
Add cayenne pepper to the seed. That’s what I read on the web; today’s Encyclopedia Britannica. You see, Linda enjoys feeding the birds, I mean squirrels, and we have beautiful birds, same ones as you have, but maybe few more of them.
Throughout U.S. history there have been uprisings. The only demonstration of distrust in government in my adult life is Vietnam. Certainly in our time, demonstrations and general outrage over the Vietnam War was about the closest to an uprising that had meaning and pressed the Nixon regime to take the steps necessary to end the war.
Where was it that I finished last week? I feel that I blabbered on about me and my career too much. So this week I want to take up where I left off; not more about my life story, but something about possibly a strange civic passion of mine – sidewalks. Pedestrian mobility engagement that is one of my highest priorities.
During college I was able to get into a work-study program that placed me in at a rendering company. No we didn’t draw the façades of building. Their operation was to pick up the scraps of meat left over at meat-packing plants, dead animals on farms and used grease from restaurants.
Every year we say, “We never get any spring around here; it goes directly from winter to summer.” We can’t complain about that, but if you’ve come here to read, you know that if we can’t complain about this wonderful spring we’re having, I will find something to harp about.
Covering Chesterfield’s Board of Supervisor meetings for 15 years, I’ve watched the advancement of cash proffers from 1990 through today. I recall the “midnight massacre,” when in the eleventh hour 30,000 lots were zoned before cash proffers were put in place.
Home is where the heart is, right? If that is true, my heart has been held up on the sofa for the last few weeks. Books, TV and a few articles written with the help of the phone and thank God for the internet streaming Board of Supervisors meetings.
“Everyone is suffering from golden age-ism, yearning for anything but what we’ve got,” wrote David Rothkopf in his recent blog. “But what if the premise is wrong? What if these are actually the best of times? What if we are living in the best moment in U.S. history and we are not even enjoying it?”
The advice from attorneys, advertisements and caregivers these days are to make a living will. A declaration as to how you want your life to end if you’re in a situation in which your life is in dire peril and there is not much to do but pull the plug.
I heard the door close in the outer office with its usual jingle from the dollar store Christmas bells tied above the window. A little chat followed and then Maria was in my office doorway telling me I had a visitor.
I didn’t attend kindergarten. The kid’s that were my age, 50 years ago, as the cold war was well below freezing; as Ringo joined the band and Stan Musial scored his 1,869th run, a new NL record, attended school prior to first grade were few. Many of them did so in church basements.
Just a month before I was born in Newport, Ky., the newspaper, Louisville Courier-Journal, got a tip that one of the gambling joints, in the town where I would live until I was five, would be raided. Just one of the 60 or 70 dining-drinking-gambling-prostitution nightclubs was about to be one of the first establishments controlled by organized crime to be busted in Newport.
I was talking with one of the managers from Colonial Honda the other day and being in the automotive business, she mentioned the condition of Virginia roads. We compared the condition of Interstate 81 south of Petersburg with what Route 288 was before the state began work on it.
Do you know what has been an extremely useful and exceptional invention? Ziploc® tops, now the go to container, for anything from lunch meat to rice.Once opened and some of its contents consumed, you can squeeze out the air, zip it back up and place it in the storage area of your choice.
These days people are so busy. It takes two incomes for many families to make ends meet. In addition to raising children, taking care of their home and just being worn out, many people don’t have the chance or don’t have the time to care, or work to understand, a document such as Chesterfield’s draft countywide comprehensive plan.
Do you remember class trips from childhood? The excitement leading up the the big day; studying what the destination had to offer. And then the big day came. Your mother made sure you had a packed lunch and the money for admission to the venue.
I have a friend, Colby, who is into everything. He’s involved in some sort of woodworking club - they get together and swap tips about projects and types of wood and so on. He’s in a service club. His wife plays Bunco with the neighbor ladies.
I can’t seem to concentrate this week, my head is either too full or too empty to hold any one thought for any amount of time. It’s been working like one of those conversations that bounce all over the place.
As Linda and I were driving out of the Southern Area Transfer Station, otherwise known as the dump, there was quite a line of vehicles on their way in. Pickups, pickups with trailers long and short and a SUV stuffed full were in the queue waiting to pay and unload those things that definitely wouldn’t work for them in 2012.
I play guitar. Sort of. I’ve been picking at it for some 35 years on and off. I play by ear, at least that’s what I say. I can pick up a melody rather quickly and then the chords, although my speed is like the service sit-down restaurant versus that of a drive-through.
We are all children at Christmas. We, as adults, claim it’s better to give than receive. While that is true, there is also a little piece inside of us that says I hope that I receive, too. And not just receive, but receive something with meaning, a gift with some thought behind it.
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas, when you find yourself shopping at Short Pump. I know we’re supposed to shop local, as in Chesterfield or in our own little villages, but we can’t always find what we need or want right here.
Over the weekend something appeared on West Hundred Road as it passes through Chester’s historic village – Christmas wreaths. The wreaths were placed on about six streetlight poles, and they make the village just a little bit more cheery.