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Purcellville Blog: Round Hill to welcome newest HeroHome recipient

Heroes Lane in Round Hill is soon to be home to it's first residents. The Davenport family will be moving into their new three bedroom home built by HeroHomes Loudoun on Dec. 22.

To survive a car fire: safety and rescue priorities

CountrySide Quilter Maureen Steiner recently returned from a college information tour with a new perspective on automobile safety.

While traveling home on Interstate 78, the Steiner family’s station wagon lost acceleration nearly 45 miles from Reading, Pa. Maureen’s husband, Alan, immediately pulled the car to the side of the road, while she began using a cell phone to request assistance from the family’s road service provider.

As often happens, her roadside call for help required multiple transfers to find someone who could summon the appropriate aid. As she was transferred for the third time, the Steiner family began to see black smoke coming out from under the car’s hood.

“That’s a fire. Get out,” she ordered.

The first question in return came from her 17-year-old son, Patrick, a senior at the Academy of Science and Park View High School.

“Can I get the gecko?” he asked.

It was not a reference to car insurance. The family was traveling with a pet blue leopard gecko that required medication. The lizard, which had come to the Steiners through a rescue agency, was about to experience a rescue of a different kind.

Patrick got the go-ahead to “get the gecko and get out.”

According to Maureen, the family was fortunate to be able to get everything of value out of the car and onto the side of the road before the vehicle was in flames.

With the luggage and family members moved a safe distance from the car, Patrick sent a photo of the scene to his sister, Caitlin, a senior at the College of William & Mary. Within minutes, the photo was on Facebook with a message that the car was burning up “at this very moment,” Maureen told me.

A number of helpers showed up unexpectedly on the roadside that day. The first was a man with a fire extinguisher, which was welcome but not much use in quenching the fire. A man driving a truck helped load the car’s contents into his truck, stayed with the family through the ordeal and eventually brought the items to a nearby hotel as Maureen made arrangements for a rental car for the trip home.

“There are good Samaritans out there,” Maureen said. “There are good souls. That’s one thing, just being there. It was so awesome for him [the truck driver] to do that and be there.”

As she thought back on the fire, Maureen had some advice for others in a similar situation. “Safety first,” she said.

“Let it go,” she added. “If you have time [to rescue things], fine. If you don’t, it’s not worth it. Prioritize what is replaceable and what is not replaceable.”

With the experience behind her, Maureen now has some recommendations about some unexpected necessities to consider, if you have the time, when quickly exiting a burning car.

Grab the papers from the glove compartment; they can be helpful when talking with the insurance company. Grab the speed pass from the windshield. And, most importantly, look for traffic before you hastily exit the driver’s side of the vehicle.

Brambleton Neighborhood Camp Out

For the third year in a row, the Brambleton Community held a neighborhood camp out at Legacy Park. Over 60 families set up camp and scattered within the 14 acre wooded park. Some people even brought their fire pits and cornhole sets. Afternoon activities provided by the Association and activities committee included a rock wall, sports activities in the tennis courts, smores kits, a family scavenger hunt and Brambleton flashlights provided by The Brambleton Group. The movie Camp Rock was also featured on a big outdoor screen. Creighton's Corner Elementary were on site selling baked goods and drinks in efforts to raise money to build a playground while Scotto's Rigatoni Grill sold pizza.

Another Doggone Day in Brambleton

Brambleton residents often look forward to an event where their canines can have fun too. At our annual Doggone Wild Pool Party, many breeds of dogs came out to mingle and enjoy a dip into the pool before it's drained for the winter. From the smallest Jack Russell Terrier to the biggest Great Dane, all dogs were welcome.

Another Doggone Day in Brambleton

Brambleton residents often look forward to an event where their canines can have fun too. At our annual Doggone Wild Pool Party, many breeds of dogs came out to mingle and enjoy a dip into the pool before it's drained for the winter. From the smallest Jack Russell Terrier to the biggest Great Dane, all dogs were welcome.

The Day of the Flag

The Day of the Flag by Joe Motheral
The River Creek community held a muli-tone ceremony on Saturday, September 11. A new American flag went up a brand new flagpole at the entrance to River Creek following retrieval of the old flag at its original location. At the same time the community gathered to honor the fallen on that fateful day in 2001. One of the River Creek residents was on the plane that flew into the Pentagon and another resident, a pilot, was supposed to have flown that plane that same day and because he had the flu was unable to do so. His best friend went in his stead.
The original flag had been posted 10 years ago above the waterfall among some young trees that eventually grew to hide the flag. The ceremony included the Naval ROTC group from Loudoun High School. They lowered the original flag, folded it in the proper, respectful manner and retired it. The new flag was raised in its present location. An anonymous donor had given the money to purchase the 27 foot flag pole that now bears the flag you see entering River Creek. Several residents banded together, formed a committee to organize the various elements of the flag raising ceremony.
Members of the Flag Relocation Committee included Barbara Chilson, Bill Cross, Tom Flynn, Bill McDonald, Jack McNamee and Mike Landmesser.
Under a sun sheltered sky a crowd of residents gathered at the entrance to River Creek to witness the proceedings.
The master of ceremonies, Tom Flynn, himself a former admiral in the U.S. Navy and judge advocate, said simply, “It’s a great day for River Creek.” Another former admiral, Bill Cross said, “Tremendous, a great idea; a great symbol on 9/11.”
Stew Curley, president of River Creek Owners Association, made a few brief remarks, citing the community in general, “A great example of a joint committee and HOA recognizing the need for improvement to the community to allow the flag in a more appropriate location.”
top photo: Tom Flynn, Barbara Chilson, and Richard Van Antwerp committee members; second photo: attending residents; third photo: raising the flag--photos by Dorothy McDonald

Vendors wanted, Fall fundraiser, Dragon tattoo, Tree talk, MOMS Club

Vendors wanted: CountrySide is looking for crafters (flower, jewelry, etc.) and business representatives (Avon, Mary Kay, Home Living, painters, and more) to participate in the community’s annual Family Fall Festival on Saturday, Oct. 2, from noon until 4 p.m. at the Parkway Pool parking lot on Algonkian Parkway. CountrySide residents pay $10 for a display space and an additional $10 if a display table is needed. Non-residents pay $15 for a space and $10 in addition for a table. The tables are available on a first-come-first-served basis. For more information, call 703-430-0715.

Fall fundraiser: The CountrySide Women’s Club is accepting reservations until Friday, Oct. 1, for its annual Fall Luncheon and fundraising raffle. The event takes place Friday, Oct. 8, beginning at 11:30 a.m. at the Belmont Country Club. The guest speakers are David Van Nevel and his daughter, Keara, who will talk about raising dogs intended for training as guides for the blind. The luncheon cost is $27. Bring extra cash to buy plenty of tickets for the high-energy, surprise-filled fundraising raffle that follows lunch. For more information, call 703-430-2776.

Dragon tattoo: The Cascades Women’s Book Club meets Wednesday, Sept. 22, at 7 p.m. at Mimi’s Café at Dulles Town Center to discuss “The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo” by Stieg Larsson. New members are welcome to attend the meeting, as are those who haven’t finished reading the book. For more information, call 703-421-1060.

Tree talk: The Loudoun County Master Gardener Tree Stewards present “Shady Business: Invest in a Tree,” a tree-talk-and-walk on Sunday, Sept. 26, from 3:00 until 4:30 p.m. at the Vestals Gap Visitors Center at Claude Moore Park. The session includes a 45-minute talk on the benefits of trees in a residential landscape, as well as how to site, select and plant a tree and provide basic tree care. A walk around the Claude Moore property between the Visitor Center and the Farm House will help participants learn about common trees in the Loudoun County landscape, tree identification basics and trees as part of the ecosystem. Attendees will receive a resource packet that includes “Common Native Trees of Virginia” from the Virginia Department of Forestry and a “Tree Owner’s Manual” from the U.S.D.A./Forest Service. For more information, see http://www.loudouncountymastergardeners.org.

MOMS Club: The MOMS Club of Sterling-East meets Friday, Oct. 1, at 10:30 a.m. at the Cascades Library for a discussion of options in prenatal care, childbirth, and well-woman care. Margie Brandquist, CNM, a practicing midwife since 1997, will be on hand to provide information on the midwife option. For more information, email .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

Five things I learned from Barbara Holland

My friend Barbara Holland, a resident of Bluemont, passed away on Sept. 7 at 77 years of age after an extended illness.

In retrospect, we probably should have seen it coming. The numbers seem to indicate a cosmic game of “21,” a realization that most likely would have made Barbara’s face light up with a wryly delighted grin.

Barbara was an author and essayist of uncommon wit and accomplishment. She wrote 15 books and a wide scattering of magazine articles. Her newest book, an updated and revised edition of her bestseller, “Secrets of the Cat: Its Lore, Legend and Lives,” will be released by Harper Paperbacks on Nov. 23, 2010.

The Loudoun Times-Mirror article on Barbara’s passing can be found online at: http://www.loudountimes.com/index.php/news/article/local_author_barbara_holland_dies_at_778/.

I wrote the following short piece to accompany Barbara's obituary in the print edition of this week's Times-Mirror:

Five things I learned from Barbara Holland

As might be expected, time spent with Barbara Holland was filled with humorous stories and sharp observations. I often thought I should be taking notes.

Our conversations touched on everything from ridiculous speculation to tips for practical living. To this day, I remain sorry that I never did write down some key information on goat-keeping that came up one hot summer afternoon at a table under tall trees at Lowry’s Crab Shack in Hamilton. Sadly, this observation has vanished completely from the memory of everyone at lunch that day.

When I learned of Barbara’s passing, I decided to make a list of some of the more memorable information I’d gathered during our time together. The following is a handful of the many things I learned from her, in no particular order:

1. Never give up when looking for a mailbox on a mountaintop. Sometimes your mailbox may be located down the main road a bit – and in the next county.

2. Keep some sturdy scissors in the car. As you motor up or down the driveway, you can always open the car window and use the scissors to trim back any suddenly overgrown branches that pop into your path.

3. If you live on a mountain, don’t leave a bowl of apples or other food near open windows in the summer. The scent could lead a bear to wander indoors by climbing through the window. This might force the animal to land on – and destroy – a new and very large microwave oven. The bear may then look around the kitchen, grab a roll of paper towels by biting squarely into it and leave – all while you’re in another room shouting “Hello? Hello? Hello?” After the bear leaves, you may be entitled to an official permit to kill as many as two bears.

4. Fencing is good exercise – and mental and physical preparation for the unexpected.

5. You can never have too many oysters.

Lifeguards from Bulgaria, Poland and Ashburn

Lifeguards from Bulgaria, Poland and Ashburn by Joe Motheral
As the summer draws to its end, swimming pools will be closing and those essential beings of every swimming pool, the lifeguards, will be packing up and returning home.--some to faraway places.
Magdalena and Kamil, ages 21, came to Northern Virginia from Northern Poland and have been the lifeguards this summer at the Harper Clubhouse pool in Lansdowne Town Center. Both are university students and have experienced their first trip to the United States. Magdalena says, “It’s different, really nice and the people are helpful and friendly.” Our main difficulty says Kamil is getting around on our bicycles. “It takes us 30 minutes or more to get here from where we are staying in Ashburn. Everything is so scattered.”
Both recounted that they had had no serious pool crisis. They did have to assist a couple of kids who had jumped into water too deep.
After the Labor Day closing of the pool, both have travel plans, “We will go see New York and then to Miami before returning to Poland.”
On the other hand, Ivo, age 24 and Simon, 21 from Bulgaria who have been the lifeguards at River Creek have a job to secure the swimming pools for the season in the Leesburg area before returning to Sofia. They do plan to spend some time in Washington. They said they like Loudoun County because, “Not many buildings and good natured people. A good place for life.” Simon is a student majoring in computer technology and Ivo is studying organic chemistry technology.
They recall their critical moment came when they had to pull an infant from the pool after he had escaped from his dad.
Jessica, an 18 year old lifeguard at the Lansdowne Resort, was trained by the Red Cross and lives in Ashburn. She attends Stonebridge High School. Her crisis moment came when a seven year old girl wandered into the deep end of the pool. Jessica was able to rescue her and keep her from drowning.

Yes, it can be easy being green

Last weekend, I spent a good chunk of Sunday afternoon wandering around the Cascades Green Expo in search of some straightforward tips for a green home life. I left with a bundle of facts and figures, some ideas for additional research – and a few new friends.

The event provided many suggestions to help the environment, some of which fit the season perfectly.

According to Boyd Church, Loudoun’s Senior Stormwater Engineer, a key thing to remember is to “Fertilize in the fall, if at all.”

“First, take a soil test," he said, "to find out what’s needed. You can save money by not using unneeded chemicals.”

Barbara Bailey, representing the Loudoun County Master Gardeners, explained that it’s easy to set up a test. Soil testing kits from the Virginia Cooperative Extension’s Virginia Tech Soil Testing Laboratory can be found at area libraries, farmer’s markets, the County Extension office in Leesburg and Lowe’s near Dulles Town Center (every Saturday, from April through October).

The test kit comes with clear instructions. Once samples have been taken, the kit is mailed to the lab for analysis. The cost, based upon the selected tests, varies from $10 to $17 for in-state residents and $16 to $37 for out-of-state testing. The test results are usually available in two weeks.

The Green Expo included an information table featuring a wealth of resources gathered by the Cascades Green Team, including an extensive two-page offering titled “Where to Recycle What Your Curbside Recycler Won’t Take.”

One of the most entertaining highlights of the event was the first “Treasure-from-Trash Artwork Celebration” featuring work by young artists. Two entries were submitted this year, both of which had a technology theme. Ethan Huchler, age 7, titled his work “Rocket Blast from the Trash.” Henry Hall, age 12, put “Mr. Robot” on display.

The Cascades Green Expo is a free event open to the public. Plan to attend next September and find out how you can celebrate Earth Day every day.

Yard sale alert: CountrySide holds its annual Fall Yard Sale on Saturday, Sept. 18, beginning at 8 a.m. and continuing as long as the sellers feel like selling, rain or shine. A map of yard sale locations will be available from the CountrySide Proprietary and online at http://www.countryside-va.com on Friday, Sept. 17. To get on the map, call 703-430-0715 by Thursday, Sept. 16.

The annual fall Cascades Community Yard Sale takes place Saturday, Sept. 18, from 8 a.m. until noon. The rain date is Sunday, Sept. 19, 8 a.m. until noon. A list of yard sale locations will be available online at http://www.cascadesva.com and at the Lowes Island Community Association on the day of the sale.

This green week: According to the Cascades Green Team, some environmental events to think about this week include the International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer (Sept. 16), Clean Up the World Weekend (Sept. 17 – 19, cleanuptheworld.org) and Zero Emissions Day (Sept. 21, zeroemissionsday.org).


Saturday, October 2nd marks the 11th annual South Riding Octoberfest, held at our “Town Green Biergarten”. You may want to skip breakfast to sample the bratwursts and knockwursts along with the cold Oktoberfest ale. Several Virginia wineries will be on hand sampling and selling their best.
If you'd like to participate as a sponsor, winery or volunteer -- contact .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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