Front Porch

Ted Schubel: Talk of the Town

Front Porch Magazine
August 2015, pg. 8

Rarely does a person choose a career at a very young age and then follow through with it. From the time he was a kid with a radio glued to his hands, Ted Schubel has known he wanted to be on the air.  Though other interests came and went, radio remained a constant.  Schubel studied English and journalism in Ann Arbor, Michigan.  His first local gig was at a Christian radio station and later with B101.5, where Schubel has hosted Town Talk ever since the first episodes aired in 2003.  Focusing on local organizations, the arts, people of interest, and politicians, Schubel views Town Talk as a vehicle for weaving a tighter community through revelations of its commonalities and humanity.  

Neat Eats: Meal Planning Made Easy

Front Porch Magazine
August 2015, pg. 15

We’ve all done it.  Every year, we solemnly vow to be more health conscious, to feel better, to get more exercise, and to pay attention to what we’re putting into our bodies.  We know it’s the right thing to do, and we glow with pride as we extol our resolve to our friends.  Then the work of doing it sets in – the daily tracking of food, slogging to the gym at zero-dark-whatever, and the limits!  The limits to our easy-going, carefree, eat-whatever-the-hell-we-want lives.  Being healthy can feel like a real buzz-kill; however, there are those among us who have discovered a way to have it all.  People like Stefanie Root, a guru of gastronomy, who has found that healthy living not only enhances one’s experiences in life, but can be easier and less costly than the life we thought we relished.

Tim Snyder's 360 Degree View

Front Porch Magazine
June 2015 (pg. 3)

Each of us develops our uniquely perceptive eye attuned to our own experiences of the world around us.  You may have recognized your own in a glimpse of light chasing dust through a dim window, or in a moment of brilliance along a green highway in the springtime.  For some, it’s movement – the fast-flung arms of a dancer or the snaking flow of a river.  For photographer Tim Snyder, it’s the electric spiral of the stars, the pop of red peppers on a cutting board, and the grind and flight of a skateboard in midday light.  For nearly ten years, Snyder has been framing and capturing shots that reveal a unique appreciation for the unassuming activities that make life extraordinary.

Photos by Tim Snyder

Mammoth Jockeys: A Creative Collaboration

Front Porch Magazine
May 2015
  (pg. 19)

A traditional view of the student-teacher relationship is one in which teacher leads and student learns; however, modern theory promotes a more complementary role between the two, where teacher becomes a facilitator, and student takes ownership of knowledge.  In the best of these relationships, the two also become collaborators.  Such is the case with author and high school English teacher James Noll and his former student Grant Ervin.  Their collaborative efforts will culminate over the next year with the release of Ervin’s video game, Mammoth Jockeys.

Mammoth Jockeys Composite provided by Grant Ervin

Body Language

Front Porch Magazine
February 2015 (pg. 28)

One of Fredericksburg’s most endearing characteristics is that it is a city that embraces positivity, innovation, and ingenuity.  Whether through the arts, through education, through business, or through medicine, Fredericksburg attracts people who foster community engagement, health, and wholeness.   One such group is located off Lafayette Boulevard at Alison Sullivan & Associates.  The brainchild of therapist Alison Sullivan, a licensed clinical social worker with fifteen years experience in the field, is comprised of a team of professionals including Sullivan, certified massage therapist Janet Bradshaw, certified nutritional specialist Beth Austin, and certified yoga instructor Holly Ryan.  

Photo by A.E. Bayne - Beth Austin, Alison Sullivan, Janet Bradshaw

Natalie and Ray Davis: Love, True Love

Front Porch Magazine
February 2015 (pg. 8)

When we hear the word love, a plethora of clichés comes to mind.  It’s many-splendored, everlasting, and eternal.  Love ignites, consumes, inspires, heals, and breaks.   It lifts us up and sometimes aches.  At times, it even bites; but through all its many personifications, love – the kind you find in partnerships, in friendships, in marriages, and in familial relationships – relies on a basic foundation to endure and thrive.  Natalie and Ray Davis’ 51 years as a couple exemplifies this foundation.  They’ve been traveling the road of love together for longer than many have been alive, learning that in its simplest form love has few rules, but many opportunities for growth and wisdom. 

Photo by A.E. Bayne - Natalie and Ray Davis at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Fredericksburg

Made in Fredericksburg: WM Mason II Violin Shop

Front Porch Magazine
January 2015 (pg. 28)

Amati, Guarneri, Stradivarius, oh my!  Bill and Elaine Mason run Wm Mason II, a full service violin shop specializing in lessons, bow rehairing, repair work, and now, violin design and craftsmanship.  Together with six interns, the Masons hope to put Fredericksburg on the map as a premier location for affordable, handcrafted violins, violas, and cellos.   

No novice luthier, Bill Mason spent four years in Pennsylvania under the tutelage of master makers Ed Campbell and Nelson Steffy, followed by another year with master maker Oded Kishony.  Mason is on the board of the Southern Violin Association and is on the new professional program committee with the Violin Society of America. While area music teachers and musicians may know of the Masons’ shop, many locals are unaware of the evolution it has undergone since opening seven years ago.  Elaine Mason describes the shop’s progress, “We started off with repair work, and then we added the rental program.  Two of our interns approached us about making instruments, and that’s what led us to developing our own line of violins that we make here in the shop.”  Bill Mason continues, “We have started The Violin Making Studio of Virginia where we’ve put together a program that allows interns to spend three years making five instruments.” 

Photos by A.E. Bayne

The Grace Oughton Cancer Foundation’s Legacy of Hope

Front Porch Magazine
January 2015 (pg. 31)

It is often in our darkest hour that we experience true selflessness from those around us.  So it was for the Oughton family between 2005 and 2007, when their youngest, Grace, was diagnosed with Neuroblastoma, a rare cancer that most often strikes children under five years of age.  It was during these two years, amidst leaving jobs and moving closer to specialty centers in Boston and New York, that the Oughtons experienced an outpouring of kindness from Alec’s coworkers in Henrico County, the likes of which they had never expected.  This culminated in the establishment of The Grace Oughton Cancer Foundation.  

Grace Oughton Cancer Foundation Mobile Lab - Photo provided by Alec Oughton


Steve Watkins: Ghosts of War YA Literature

Front Porch Magazine
December 2014 (pg. 8)

Steve Watkins has made a lasting impression on me with his ability to develop characters with authentic voices.  Certainly, his stories are well researched and written with a keen and dynamic fluency, but it is his cast of young characters that have the same interests and conversations as my own teenaged students that has captured my interest.  In each of his previous books, Down Sand Mountain, What Comes After, and Juvie, Watkins has extended a level of respect to his young protagonists that is lacking in many young adult novels.  His characters have overcome realistically serious conflicts, and Watkins has proven through their development that he trusts them to be up to the challenges.  

When Watkins revealed last year that he would be writing a paranormal war series for Scholastic, I was eager see the concept come to life in the first installment, Ghosts of War: The Secret of Midway.  Watkins says he was honored when Scholastic approached him to write the series.  With only a couple of pages of notes as starting point, he developed a longer treatment and has since worked on four of the volumes, the fourth of which involves The Battle of Fredericksburg.  

Race Relations Coalition: With Open Minds and Open Hearts

Front Porch Magazine
November 2014 (pg. 11)

Protests in Ferguson, Missouri this summer prompted many people to closely consider the realities of racial inequalities within their own communities.  Ferguson showed us that all is not well, that fear is still a factor in our interactions with one another, and it inspired some toward positive action in our own area.  The Fredericksburg Area Race Relations Coalition, in partnership with Virginia Organizing, will hold its first Town Meeting on November 15, 2014, between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m. at Shiloh Baptist New Site on Sophia Street in Fredericksburg.  The event is free to the public, but registration is requested.

Photo provided by Lee Criscuolo -  Eunice Haigler and Lee Criscuolo

Jackson Harlem: The Gospel, Pt. 2

Front Porch Magazine
November 2014 (pg. 6)

In the beginning, there was music - music that moaned low and traveled up his spine, dividing his mind.  On the one side swayed the Delta Blues, immersing Jackson Harlem in Southern roots and baptizing him to his future occupations; on the other, a plethora of pop culture rocked and rolled.  Bowie, The Beatles, Michael, and Prince jammed with B.B. and Little Richard, mixing it up and breaking it down.  Today, Harlem trains his ear to all of them, following in the footsteps of music’s great visionaries as he presses his first single, “Beat it Up,” set to release this month on iTunes. 

See also David Barth, Peak Sounds VA

Jackson Harlem

Primavera: It's Like Family

Front Porch Magazine
October 2014 (pg. 6)

On the corner of William and Liberty Streets sits a restaurant with a humble facade, but walk through its green wooden doors and you’ll find yourself awash in conversation, laughter, and community.  It’s a pizza joint, a neighborhood joint, a family joint.  It’s a place for birthdays and graduations, for lunch hours and Friday night take-out on your way home to the kids.  For the past eight years, Primavera has earned a word-of-mouth reputation that makes it one of the city’s culinary success stories.  

Photo by A.E. Bayne -  Rami Hamrouni checks on the Platt family as they enjoy their first Primavera pizza.

Recovery in Motion Gains Momentum

Front Porch Magazine
October 2014 (pg. 31)

Mental health has been at the forefront of many of our minds in the wake of beloved comedian Robin Williams’ death in August.  And how often have we been shocked to hear of a favorite performer, like Phillip Seymour Hoffman, succumbing to a substance abuse disorder?  While some may seem immune from these issues, many of us, the majority really, know that these systemic problems not only happen on the front pages of the entertainment section, but occur within our own lives either personally or through the struggles of friends and loved ones.  Fortunately, there are success stories for every tragedy, but any promising outcomes are best supported by further therapy and counseling.  Recovery in Motion is an area nonprofit that trains adult peer counselors to provide support to fellow adults following a mental health or substance abuse crisis.  

Elizabeth Seaver: A Clowder of Cats

Front Porch Magazine
September 2014 (pg. 8)

When an artist instinctively creates something unique, there is a recognizable spark that transfers through the end of the brush to the work.  So believes Elizabeth Seaver, an artist with an instantly recognizable style who reveals her spark through anthropomorphism and whimsy, color and collage.  A fixture of the Fredericksburg arts community since her residency and show at LibertyTown Arts Workshop in 2009, Seaver reveals the secret lives of cats in her latest series on display at Bistro Bethem.  

Elizabeth Seaver's show at Bistro Bethem

Editorial: Personal Histories

Front Porch Magazine
September 2014 (pg. 4)

If it has not happened already, there will come a day when you’ll be struck with the realization that life has its own designs, that the place you thought you would be at 30…50…80 is not exactly as you had pictured it, and you will reflect on your story looking for the sweet spots, the turning points, the common chords where it veered from your plan to bring you to this day.  The people with whom you’ve interacted, the places you’ve visited, and the choices you’ve had to make, these will be your history.  In retrospect, the circumstances will give you pause, and the minute choices that have shaped your life will make you dizzy. 

Like many, my personal history includes being a transplant to Fredericksburg, though after many years here I claim it as my home.  I was born in Georgetown Hospital in Washington, D.C., and I grew up comfortably amidst NOVA’s suburban sprawl.  When I was a kid, my father and I often rode our bikes along the W&OD Trail from Falls Church to Reston and back.  We walked to 7-Eleven across the mud fields that would become the Westmoreland Street exit of Route 66, and we traveled to National Airport to eat white chocolate and watch the planes fly in and out over the Potomac River.  My mother and I caught movies at the Vienna Theater on the weekends and wore holes in our shoes shopping at Tysons Corner. As a teen, I navigated the Metro with friends and mastered the Beltway ballet of Route 495 in my first car, a Mercury Topaz.  After moving to Blacksburg for college, after my boy was born at the end of my final year there, and after a short period of living in Kent, Ohio, I moved to Fredericksburg to support my mother and spend time with my father as he battled esophageal cancer.  That was 1998.  That was sixteen years ago. 

Since that time, I’ve made a career of teaching English to middle school students in public school.  Of any job I have ever had, teaching has by far provided me with the most opportunity to change lives, and in return my own has been altered as well.  If you want to experience life’s penchant for steering the course, become a teacher, because every day is a surprise.  For thirteen years I have spent close to 135 hours with my students over the course of each year.  I am keenly aware that I am a part of roughly 1,800 histories, for better or worse, in a small role or large.  It’s quite a responsibility that we have to each other.  But then, shouldn’t it always be so?

My son’s personal history has been written in Fredericksburg. With the exception of yearly visits with his father in California, every milestone has taken place here from the time he turned three years old.   When we first moved, we lived in a townhouse on the corner of Amelia and Prince Edward streets, allowing us to walk everywhere.  We frequented favorite kid-friendly shops, like the sorely missed FUNdaMentals, Jabberwocky Books, and what my son referred to as “the train store” (officially Quilts and Treasures).  His childhood in Fredericksburg wouldn’t have been complete without visits to the soda fountain at Goolrick’s for milkshakes and grilled cheese sandwiches, or the corner Cards and Cones for hard-packed ice-cream.  We often ate at Roma, which is now Poppy Hill, whose spaghetti marinara contained so much minced garlic that we would wake up the next morning smelling like bulbs mashed into the ground.  We would grab slices of pizza at Castiglia’s and read our Sunday Post at Hyperion, much like I see young parents doing today, sharing hot chocolate and muffins or cookies.  He’s been in college for a year now, writing his own history, rolling in life’s waves.

Like my family, each of you has a story to tell, whether to your inner circle or the wider public.  Each is a piece of our community’s history.  Such a simple, seemingly obvious thought at first, but the intricacies of our interactions are nothing to scoff at; though subtle, they are far-reaching.  The stories recorded in Front Porch Magazine over the past eighteen years have impacted multiple histories – those of the subjects, of the writers, and of the audience.  Front Porch has introduced us to each other in unexpected ways, encouraging empathy, spotlighting commonalities we share, and broadening our perspectives beyond what was written in our past.  Front Porch sends us into the community in pursuit of new adventures to add to our stories.  Whether those adventures go as planned is not always up to us, and where they will take us next is what makes life exciting. 


On the Porch Selfies

Service without Paws: Animal Assisted Therapy

What qualities come to mind when you think of those who serve others?  How about altruism?  Intuitive interest?  Selflessness? Maybe you think of enthusiasm, determination, and action.  The therapy dogs in our area, along with their dedicated human partners, embody all of these qualities along with a myriad of others.   Bonded and sharing a common goal, area teams ease the suffering and anxiety of the youngest to the oldest among us.  

Beate Jensen: Grow with the Flow

Landscape gardeners often lament the coming of July and August, a season of dormancy for many of the ornamental plant varieties that color the landscape in spring and autumn.  Traditional fescue grasses grown on lawns across Virginia can be particularly hard on resources during the dry months, requiring mowing for maintenance, which pollutes the air, and massive quantities of water.  Beate Jensen, Belmont’s Grounds Preservation Supervisor, offers some landscape solutions to help homeowners beat the heat and sweeten the deal for area wildlife.  

GoodSkills at Goodwill

Front Porch Magazine
July 2014 (pg. 7)

It is easy to turn a blind eye to the problems in our area.  On the surface, ours is a burgeoning community, abundant in the arts, often affluent, and teeming with informed citizens at ease in discussing the latest local and national debates.  What some may not know is that according to data collected by Rappahannock Goodwill Industries, there are roughly 36,300 adults in our area who face a barrier to meaningful participation in our community’s shared goals, a barrier to education, and a barrier to employment that would allow them to earn a living wage and attain the comfort that so many of us take for granted.  That barrier is illiteracy.

Regina Bogomolova: Raising the Barre in Education

We often hear of teachers taking two jobs out of necessity, but rarely does that second job provide the benefit of pursuing a lifelong passion.  By day Regina Bogomolova is a high school chemistry teacher in Prince William County, and by night she satisfies a lifelong pursuit of dance as owner and instructor at Classical Ballet of Fredericksburg on Lafayette Boulevard.  Bogomolova says this paring of athleticism and intellect are the perfect complement to one another.  

Eyes in the 'Burg: Seeing is Believing

Front Porch Magazine
June 2014 (pg. 1)

The first thing you notice is a subtle, fresh fragrance: white tea and figs.  It’s a signature scent that Dr. Sandra L. Grossett, O.D., chose to soothe her visitors in the waiting area at Eyes in the ‘Burg, located off Cowan Boulevard.  In fact, every aspect of the retail space in the front of her practice has been selected for sensual enjoyment, from the earthy palette brushing the walls, to soft lighting, to the unique displays of eyewear featuring Fredericksburg’s premiere textile, painting, and ceramic artists.  It feels like a spa.