For Virginia Beach resident Caroline McKinnon and her family, the beach is just a short walk or bike ride away, but for Kambria of Brooklyn, NY, the beach was something only in books and pictures.
For many, it is hard to imagine growing up never having seen a beach before or feeling the ocean water, but for lots of kids growing up in urban environments, this is the reality of their childhood. In 2009, the McKinnon family opened their home to now ten-year-old Kambria and simultaneously opened her eyes to a whole new view of the world.
“She has had many ‘firsts’ on her visits with us,” Caroline said. “First trip to the beach, first time swimming in the ocean, putting her head underwater, swimming in the pool, riding a bike, hiking in the woods, camping, picking blueberries, and visiting a farm.”
Through The Fresh Air Fund’s Friendly Town program, boys and girls ages six to 18 visit more than 300 Fresh Air Friendly Towns for up to two weeks in the summer. The Fresh Air Fund is an independent not-for-profit agency that has provided free summer vacations for New York City children since 1877. In 2010, nearly 5,000 children visited volunteer host families in suburbs and small town communities across 13 states from Virginia to Maine and Canada. Since its founding, the Fresh Air Fund has helped more than 1.7 million inner-city children from low-income communities enjoy free summer experiences in rural and suburban neighborhoods. Additionally, sixty-five percent of all children who participate in the program are re-invited to stay with the same host family, year after year.
Because of the effort of families like the McKinnons, thousands of New York City children are able to experience not only the summer, but their childhood and the world in a new way. “These are all activities our family enjoys together on a regular basis, and Kambria’s joy in experiencing these things for the first time allowed me to realize that as much as we enjoy all of these fun things, we take them for granted,” Caroline said.
The Friendly Town program is an experience in which everyone learns from and about one another. Kambria has discovered many new things and, her presence, Caroline says, has equally, “shown my children how to open our home and share with a stranger and how to build a relationship with someone with differing backgrounds and experiences.” The McKinnon children have thus begun to acquire a skill that many adults find challenging. Caroline adds that participation in the Friendly Town program “has been a blessing” for her family.
Kambria has truly come to blend into the McKinnon family and has bonded with the McKinnon children. “My children love Kambria and look forward to her visits each summer,” Caroline said. Their relationship extends into the year with occasional phone calls and Facebook messages, and the McKinnons hope to visit New York City sometime this year to see Kambria in her hometown.
“I wholeheartedly encourage everyone to participate in The Fresh Air Fund,” Caroline said. “The opportunity to grow and love and share has been priceless.” As much as the McKinnon family has done to enrich Kambria’s life, she has equally enriched their lives. Participation in the Friendly Town program is a tradition the McKinnons plan on continuing as long as Kambria is of age and beyond. “I hope Kambria will always be part of our lives,” Caroline said.
The Fresh Air Fund, an independent, not-for-profit agency, is always seeking host families to enable as many New York City children as possible to benefit from a summer vacation outside of the city. To learn more about becoming a host family, please call Heather Bell at 757-471-3729 or visit our website at www.freshair.org.
I barely have time to read for pleasure anymore, it seems, but I recently picked up a slew of books at bargain prices and vowed I would make time to read. I have missed the escape, the sense of adventure reading brings and lament that new generations tend to think words are only about instant communication. There are exceptions, I know, but most youth and young adults are consumed by technology: the bright colors, whirring graphics, and immediate gratification that modern communication offers.
Sitting in a still place with a book full of thousands of words probably seems a huge waste of time, not to mention a laborious task, to the unititated. What they haven’t discovered is how rewarding reading can be, how much you can learn about yourself and the world around you by sitting quietly and savoring delicious sentences and paragraphs.
One book I read (finally) was Under the Tuscan Sun by Frances Mayes. It’s been out for 15 years, and I’m embarrassed to admit that only now have I gotten around to reading it. It’s a fabulous memoir, perfect for enjoying as you sit outside on your deck or in your yard, listening to the sounds of nature and feeling the summer breeze tickle your skin. As you read, you will want to stop and look around and appreciate the moment—a major theme that emerges in the book.
It’s no surprise that this memoir would resonate with me. My husband is European, and we’ve traveled a lot throughout Europe, including Italy, which has its own special charm. I remember being lost in the Italian countryside—this was in the days before GPS. Peter and I stopped to ask two men walking down the road for directions. They were happy to help and started giving directions in rapid-fire Italian while pointing their fingers this way and that. I could tell Peter was barely following their instructions, but he politely thanked them for their help. Before we drove off, one man peeked in the window of the Suburban, saw Scott, Jasper, and Ross sitting there, smiled widely, and said, “Bella familia!” It’s a favorite memory and reveals the Italians’ love of family.
The author of Under the Tuscan Sun is an English professor who decided, together with her husband, to renovate an old villa in Tuscany. The book chronicles their journey through the ups and downs of renovation, as well as the immense pleasure they discover in the foods and culture of Italy. I admire Frances Mayes not only for her beautiful writing but also for having a dream and following it through. So many of us have dreams that wither and die like unplucked fruit.
Maybe now’s a good time to examine your dreams and consider ways to take steps to bring them to fruition. Of course, thanks to this stagnant economy, many of us have had to put our dreams on hold. As we bide our time, waiting for the economy to turn around, we can take advantage of this lull to create new goals that will bring fulfillment in smaller ways—like reading more books, throwing a dinner party for friends, taking a long walk in nature, or pursuing a hobby you’ve always wanted to try. This month’s cover story is about women who fish both competitively and for fun. I’m sure if you think about it, you can come up with some new goals that will enrich your life even if you have had to put your long-term goals on hold.
Take some time this month to think about what you really want to do but never seem to get around to doing. Then carve out some time to make it happen. Hopefully, among your goals, you’ll include getting more active. This month’s TW offers articles designed to encourage you and your loved ones to get out and exercise. Whether it’s throwing a Frisbee, bowling, or frolicking in the surf, physical activity not only makes you healthier, it also makes you feel better inside.
Whether it’s reading, fishing, or exercising, we all find fulfillment in different ways. It’s really about caring enough about yourself to schedule time for your own edification. You’re worth it, so start today!
P.S. Talk back! Share your comments on tidewaterwomen.com. Just add your thoughts after each article.
These days women anglers of all ages are baiting hooks, boarding boats, and sauntering down piers, tackle boxes in tow. It takes a certain natural spirit, determination, strength, and a love of the water to turn fishing into a sport, but any woman can experience the thrill of reeling in a catch. This month may be the perfect time to cast your line.
“When anyone asks me: ‘Why do you like to catch fish?’ I answer, ‘You’ve never caught one, have you?’”
That’s Dr. Julie Ball, a dentist with a private practice in Virginia Beach and one of the country’s most celebrated female anglers. Born and raised in Pensacola, Florida, Julie and her siblings learned to fish with their mom. She remembers cleaning fish as soon as she was old enough to handle a knife, sharing all they caught in family fish fry suppers. Surprisingly, she doesn’t eat much fish now, though she admits her favorites are golden tilefish and wahoo.
As a girl, Julie never got the message that fishing wasn’t for females. Throughout her adult life, she’s been fishing and winning trophies right alongside her brother anglers, excelling in a sport that is admittedly male dominated. Julie is the only person in the state, male or female, to earn a Level 7 Virginia Master Angler status. She has a web page, where she posts her fishing report, clips of stories about her awards, and her own articles on various aspects of fishing life, including how to deal with sea sickness and strategies for catching particular kinds of fish.
Julie admits to being very motivated to fish smarter, not harder. After many years, she is still thrilled by the chase and the catch and enjoys meeting her own goals, which she says others may describe as keenly competitve. As she won trophy after trophy, Julie not only caught thousands of pounds of fish for the record books—including 13 world records—she caught a huge amount of media attention. Her experience has led her to a new awareness of how to use her popularity.
“I discovered that because of the relationship I have with the public, not only can I teach people, I can inspire them to get out on the water and try something they’ve never tried before,” she said.
These days, you’ll find Julie giving talks to groups of women, men, and families—people of all generations. She’s very concerned about children today, tied to technology and indoor pursuits.
“I’m worried about the children not getting outside and experiencing the fresh air, what it’s like to be on the water and catch a fish,” she said. “How can they develop that love for the outdoors and those family memories that last forever when they’re sitting there playing with their iPods?”
She says that women of all builds and all levels of fitness need to know that they are capable of reeling in any size fish. In fact, she says that just being on a boat, adjusting and balancing with the roll of the sea, is a good workout. Even Julie’s mom, who’s in her 60s, was able to handle reeling in several Amberjack, fish so strong they can often make a person fall to their knees and get dragged along the deck. But women can handle these challenges, says the capable angler.
“Now, that’s what I call empowerment!” Julie said.
On her days off, Julie follows the fish, but she won’t keep all she catches. She’s learned to respect the balance of nature.
“Wherever the fish are, that’s where I am,” she said.
“A common misperception is that you go out anywhere, you put your stuff down, and you’re going to catch a fish. It doesn’t happen,” she explained. “The fish have the same patterns every year. They go the same place at the same time. They act the same way and respond to the same stimuli. They’re very predictable.”
Julie stresses that the thrill of fishing has to be balanced by being smart on the water.
“I think it’s a bad idea to fish alone on a boat. It doesn’t take much to go wrong on a boat, and you have to recover real fast,” she said. “People ask me if I fish alone, and I say yes, but not on a boat.”
In fact, fishing on one of our local piers is often the best way to start, says Julie. With an inexpensive rod and reel and a reasonable fee ($8), you can go out to the Lynnhaven Fishing Pier, where roundhead, croaker, and bluefish are currently being caught. Dr. Julie’s fishing report, updated every week on her website, is a lively piece of writing, which she hopes will encourage people to start a new hobby.
Julie says it’s smart to join a local anglers club. When she first moved to Tidewater, she joined several, such as the Virginia Beach Anglers. Fishing with friends can increase the fun.
PEACE & SERENITY
If you’re born with a love of the water and you grow up around boats, fishing becomes second nature. Two local USCG Master Captains—Anne Newbern and Bryce Thomas—have been sailing a beautiful, modern sailboat named “Boomerang” for the past two years, catching fish in tropical and local waters, taking out charters, and living the life. Anne absolutely loves to fish—in all kinds of places.
“Fishing is everything from being very soulful, very serene, as in fly fishing,” said Anne, sitting on her boat in Ocean View. “Then you get bass fishing, which is a little bit more exciting than that, on lakes and some rivers. Lastly, if you do deep sea fishing, it’s more intense with more people and it’s more involved.”
Taught to fish by her country doctor grandfather, Anne has always been an outdoors woman. She worked in the oil industry, for AT&T, and currently teaches geology at TCC. Anne recalled the peacefulness of fishing on the Soque River in the northwestern part of Georgia as she glanced through a series of photos on her laptop after a recent trip to the Bahamas. She and Bryce caught a yellow fin tuna and a marlin without expecting it, causing some flurries of excitement after hours of cruising.
“We heard the ‘zing” of the reel and everything came to life all at once!” Anne recalled. “We caught the tuna and gaffed it with a hook and put it in the net.” She admits that it’s hard to look a big fish like that in the eye, knowing you’re going to have it for many dinners.
Anne’s “crew” and friend Bryce Thomas—originally from New Jersey, where she fished on little lakes and caught lots of smaller fish—feels that the economics of catching vs. buying fish is an easy trade. She’s come up with some ingenious tricks for attracting the big fish, using items anyone would find: a party favor from the Dollar Store and even a potato chip bag, turned inside out, cut up, taped around a pink-headed plug. These shiny items attract curious creatures of the deep.
Anne adds another angling tip: apply WD40 anywhere on the fishing assemblage. It’s made with fish oil, and since fish catch scents from a great distance, it’s as if they smell another fish, and they get hungry.
“It’s like when we smell a pastry shop!” she said.
Catching a marlin off the back of their sailboat was a recent accomplishment for the women. With its long pointed, very dangerous spike, Anne was not inclined to keep it in the boat, even though it would have been a trophy fish. It was best to snap a picture, savor the catch, and then let it go.
The Boomerang, a 45-foot, center-cockpit Hunter, takes the women and their passengers to many kinds of waters. They’ve been out in the ocean, up to the Annapolis Boat Show, and over to Mobjack Bay on the Middle Peninsula. They’re thinking about joining an event called the Caribbean 1500—which Bryce describes as “a rally/cruising flotilla that leaves Hampton in November and goes all the way to Tortolla, in the British Virgin Islands. We’d be catching marlin, tuna and dorado, which is the same fish the East Coast anglers call dolphin, and the Hawaiians call Mahi-mahi.” Bryce too sings the praises of fishing off a sailboat.
“If we’re going out to the ocean, we’ll go about 50 miles out to hit the deep water, and then we’ll turn around and come back,” Bryce said. “But when you’re sailing, you’re not burning any fuel, and we’re going at the perfect rate of speed to catch fish: 5 to 7 knots.”
But Anne and Bryce don’t have to go far or take the big boat out just to fish.
“We often fish off our dinghy,” Anne said, “off Taylor’s Landing in Bay Point in a little lagoon area just for fun.” Once more, Captain Anne has her moment of peace and serenity, right around the corner from her weekend floating home.
One more way that women in Tidewater learn about fishing is through a yearly tournament called the Wine, Women, and Fishing Classic held each August, and sponsored by the Chesapeake Bay Wine Classic Foundation. The event features dozens of boats with male captains and crews carrying teams of six to eight female anglers and raising huge amounts of money for breast cancer research at Eastern Virginia Medical School.
One crew who is already planning for the event lives in the Shadowlawn area of Virginia Beach. They credit a fine man for inviting them to enter several years ago.
Dina Sawyer, Kember Kane, and Dina’s neighbor Jan Anderson, shared memories of their fishing experiences on the “Victory,” a luxury power boat owned by Dina’s father-in-law, Wayne. They laughed, recalling the adventure last August that began with a 5:30 a.m. wake-up signaling the start of the long, hot summer day. These friends don’t go fishing every weekend for pleasure; they’re more likely to be cleaning the fish that other family members bring home. The Wine, Women, and Fishing Classic gives them a chance to brag—in typical fishing tradition—about how many they caught and how big they really were! Based on the number and kind of fish they catch, the crew earns points that turn into a cash prize. Dina is pleased to say that Wayne Sawyer always gives his prize back to the organization each year.
The tournament starts with a long ride out to the ocean.
“Lines go in at a certain time, usually about eight in the morning, and they come out at three,” said Dina. The mate casts out the lines, and the women do the rest of the work.
“We actually reel the fish in. That’s the hard part,” said Kember.
Every woman gets a number, and when there’s a bite, each one in turn springs into action. The challenge is keeping the fish on the hook, reeling fast enough, and not being flustered when the male crew gives directions or when your line ends up in a tangled mess—a birdnest in fishing lingo.
“When you get a catch, the captain calls in what you think you’re hooked up to, and once you reel it in, you call it in,” said Dina. She adds that some boats carry observers, just to keep the crews honest. No matter what happens, the women of “Victory” have a superstition: they have to stroke a stuffed pig before they fish for good luck and just for fun.
Georgia Kurtz, who works for Dominion Distributors, is getting ready for her third year in the Wine, Women, and Fishing Classic. She’s is part of the crew of “Backlash,” captained by Steve Richardson. Georgia is grateful for the experience because she says fishing from ocean-going power boats is an expensive sport that not many people can afford easily. And she loves the chance to get stronger.
“It can take up to two hours to pull in some kind of fish, and the mates are always saying, ‘Keep going, keep going,’” she said. “You’re straining your muscles and really working it.”
All the women in the Wine, Women, and Fishing Classic agree the event is about the camaraderie with their teammates and a chance to give back to the community. Some crews even dress up and decorate their boats on the way back to the judging area, becoming “Crazy Crews” and winning extra accolades.
And no matter what their motivation, women anglers understand something: You may go out, prepared, and not catch anything. That’s just fine.
“They don’t call it catching; they call it fishing,” said Dina with a grin.
For more info:
• June 3, 4, 5 are “Free Fishing Days” in Virginia, and you don’t need a license. For licensing requirements and more, new anglers can visit the Virginia Marine Resources website at www.mrc.va.us/index.shtm. You can also get a license at a local tackle shop.
Kathleen Fogarty writes frequently for Tidewater Women.
There are many ways to improve your health, lose weight, get into an exercise program, or improve your nutrition intake. As a busy cosmetic plastic surgeon seeing a lot of women patients (and some men), I try to help each person find a pathway to improved aging so that they will get a better result from surgery or other age-improving procedures. Requests for help vary from asking for a dietary regimen, supplement suggestions, or a good weight loss program. Often patients ask for a dietary suppressive drug to “curb the appetite” or speed up weight loss. However, it has been shown that there is nearly a 100 percent failure rate of these drugs in weight loss programs, which is the reason that I don’t prescribe them.
One of the best programs in my long experience of trying to help people in their quest for better health is to offer a pre-surgical dietary program for my patients. The motivation level to look good and heal well makes this the optimum time to enact a program like this. This dietary pathway consists of low sugar, very little flour/wheat products, reduced alcohol intake, and adding highly nutrient foods, especially fruits and vegetables, to the person’s total intake. In addition to those changes, eating a small amount of protein and fat at each meal tends to increase energy and reduce hunger pangs.
By reducing “empty” calories, increasing nutrient foods, and learning how to eat well, the postoperative recovery period becomes a more favorable one. If this pathway is maintained, you can pretty much guarantee the success of the surgical result over the coming years. As you might imagine, it gives me great pleasure to see patients who undertook this pathway 10 or even 20 years ago and who continue to look good over those years. Of course, when this pathway is working well for you, there is a tendency to always think about and do healthier things in everyday life.
We know well that there are abrupt and difficult changes that occur in women at the menopausal age, and this involves slowing of the metabolism along with loss of elasticity of skin and hormonal changes. During this time it is particularly critical to maintain your body in the very best physical condition and to look for help and advice in learning how to handle these changes. Because of this, I frequently suggest my patients seek good advice on postmenopausal hormone replacement therapy (HRT), both for true improvement in body physiology as well as quality of life. There has been a lot of information along with statistical data to really frighten you into not pursuing HRT, but in the hands and care of a well-trained specialist in this area you can begin a regimen of HRT and continue to thrive.
Every person approaches the next day, as well as the coming years, in a different manner. I recently wrote about defining your goals for a 5- or 10-year period just to help formulate a plan for how to live. If you are in your 50s or 60s, do you want to weigh the same or even less in five years, have more energy, continue your positive outlook, be sexually active, look good, and continue to be someone your children and grandchildren admire and look up to? If you do want these things, it is up to you to seek help to establish these pathways and define who you are and will be. Also, success depends on coordinating multiple efforts to come up with a complete and total approach to your life pathway.
Of all the things to know, this is the best one. You can have total control of your life as well as your aging pathway, but only if you take charge. Not everyone is able to do that, but you can start by making a plan and beginning with just one change at a time (see past articles on TW’s website: “Your 5-Year Plan,” March 2011, and “Just One Thing,” April 2011. I have seen many patients over the years who have done just that and truly changed their lives.
Some examples are interesting to consider. Jane is a 63-year-old diabetic woman who lives in Kentucky and who came for cosmetic surgery last year. After consultation, we discussed a new diet, which was compatible with and enhanced her medical diet plan. She went with the changes, had surgery, and also lost weight. Along with her new diet, she added exercise and some supplements. She lost her need for insulin and other diabetic medicines. She has recently been told by a University of Kentucky endocrinologist that she does not have Type I or Type II diabetes, but she is only “pre-diabetic.” If she gives up her diet and exercise, she could go back to a diabetic condition.
Diane is a 66-year-old woman who recognized that some of her medical problems, including diabetes, were possibly amenable to nutrition and lifestyle changes, and so she embarked on a new pathway. She lost weight, exercised, and stuck to her new vegan diet. Those changes plus some incidental rejuvenating surgery gave her newfound health, a sense of well being, and a companion whose company she enjoys.
These are examples which have been repeated in many forms over the years in my practice, and I always have a sense of admiration and respect for the women and men who have made these changes. The really nice thing about this is that you can “do it yourself.” If you need help, let us know, and it will be forthcoming.
Dr. Carraway is the director of the Plastic & Cosmetic Surgery Center of EVMS. For more information, please call 757-557-0300.
Grown-up parents are clear-eyed about having children. They know it is not a mutually respectful relationship, nor are the conditions fair. The parenting contract is more along the lines of I-give-to-you-without-ceasing, and you-give-when-you-feel-like-it. We can have expectations and socialize children, but it takes a long time for them to develop real concern for other people. Ultimately, if children get enough real empathy and respect for who they are, they tend to give back the same. By the time they are twenty-five, I mean.
The truth about children is that they are here to meet their needs, not ours. Kids balk at a deal in which you get everything you want, and they don’t. Many times parents think that out of love and respect, children should be willing to act directly against their self-interest, give up what they want the most, and do what the parent asks. When the child reacts like any self-respecting person would, by refusing or sneaking around the rules, parents often feel betrayed. By being so disobedient, it seems their child does not really love them. But this is not about love; it is about the power differential that causes anybody in a subordinate position to nod affirmatively to a boss figure, while plotting a way around it. Children are just as full of human nature as we are.
You never know what you are going to get in the kid lottery, but it is for sure that children are going to test every bit of your resolve to be a good person. Those little guys push every button and are so staggeringly egocentric it can take your breath away. The developmental high points for selfish behavior are especially vivid in the six-year-old, the thirteen-year-old, and the college freshman. You would think their agenda is to expect full support while simultaneously demanding we pretend we don’t exist. That can be hard to take for a parent. But it is especially hard on parents who have not had their emotional needs met in childhood.
Parents who have been emotionally neglected can equate their children’s attitude with that of their disinterested parent. People who have been over-controlled or even abused might see their children’s normal limit-testing as disrespect or even malevolent intention. Instead of understanding that a kid will naturally try to get what he or she wants, it is seen as a rebellion to overthrow the parent’s government.
No healthy child wants to overthrow his or her parent. Where would he be then? But if the child is a normal human being with normal human self-interest, he is never going to take a hit to his pleasure without protest. The parent who has not been too mishandled in her own childhood can see the child’s reaction as such, instead of a challenge to authority.
Parents always have the strategic advantage over a kid. Children just are not complicated. They are lousy at long-range strategy. They react very predictably. They have simple buttons you can push and pretty much get what you want. But you have to be smart about it and use what works. Good parenting books tell you all the juicy, manipulative ways you can work with a child’s simplicity and ultimately get their cooperation. I say ultimately, because nothing is instant in child-rearing. It is all about repetition, repetition, repetition.
When a parent tries to get instant capitulation from a child, whether through coercion or guilting (another form of coercion), they will get blowback instead. Sometimes the child will not fight back overtly, but will slide into passive-aggressive disengagement where the parent has no power at all. If parents expect a child to have the sensitivity and frustration tolerance of an adult, they will create rage or withdrawal instead of compliance.
Children want the same positive relationship with their parents that is found in a good marriage. If they get that, they ultimately (there’s that word again) turn into nice people who can see our point occasionally. Children just need a few things. They need their parents to be prepared to wait forever to see some sign of good judgment and responsibility in them. They need their parents to have the unconditional love of a bodhisattva and zero needs for affirmation or validation from their child. They need their parents to wait forever for them to grow up and show some initiative. And finally, they need their parents to expect so many mistakes and selfish behavior it would make you swoon.
Somehow, out of that witches’ brew of parental frustration and incessant disappointments, kids develop real self-esteem, and they even start showing concern for other people. I don’t know who designed it so that they have to start out so maddeningly egocentric and oblivious, but there it is.
Maybe kids arrive to stir up our old childhood issues for one last look-see. When our child is ignoring our wishes or challenging our authority, maybe it is our chance to heal what we went through with a disengaged parent or an over-controlling one. If our problem with our child has to do with feeling disrespected, maybe it is a big pointy arrow showing how much we may have suffered as children from not being treated with consideration. Instead of demonizing the little devils, we can wonder if we are subconsciously expecting our kids to be the caring, attentive supporters we wish we had had a long time ago.
The truth about children is that they bring our own childhood back. When they push our buttons, they are always hitting replay. Our child’s necessary egocentrism will trigger the places where we felt devalued by our parent’s self-absorption. Then we have a chance to finally mourn it and make it a part of our history, not an ongoing part of our present. Maybe those buttons they are pushing have been the right ones all along.
Lindsay Gibson, Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist in practice in Va. Beach. For information, call 757-490-7811.
I recently saw a bumper sticker that read; “Real women don’t get hot flashes. They get power surges.” It’s good to see that some people can find the humor in the symptoms of aging. Unfortunately, for many women, hot flashes or flushes are no laughing matter. Understanding the causes, symptoms, and treatments for hot flashes can help many women deal with this common symptom of menopause.
In North America, hot flashes are common with 3 out of 4 women experiencing some degree of symptoms with perimenopause, menopause, or surgically induced menopause. For some women, hot flashes are a minor annoyance that is well tolerated. Other women may experience more severe symptoms and may find them to adversely affect their quality of life. The exact cause of hot flashes is not completely understood, but it is believed that during menopause, fluctuating estrogen levels interfere with the hypothalamus. The hypothalamus is the part of the brain that regulates body temperature.
Hot flashes are most usually experienced as a temporary feeling of heat that is centered on the upper chest and face and last two to four minutes. Sweating, sometimes a rapid heart rate, and an anxious feeling accompany hot flashes. Afterwards the hot flash is often followed by chills and shivering. Many women will experience these symptoms during sleep, which are referred to as night sweats. The duration of symptoms can last from a few minutes up to a half an hour. Some women may only experience hot flashes a few times a week, while others may have them repeatedly throughout the day. Women can be awakened by night sweats, and some women may have trouble getting back to sleep. For some, hot flashes and night sweats may be severe enough to disrupt a woman’s quality of life.
If you feel that hot flashes are problematic, you should seek the advice of your health care provider. Depending on the symptoms and your medical history, he or she may offer a myriad of options for treating hot flashes. Women with mild symptoms may benefit best from simple modifications to their habits. For instance, simply dressing in layers can let a woman quickly remove clothing if she becomes too hot. Some women find that certain foods or drinks like spicy foods or hot beverages or alcohol bring on their hot flashes. Limiting or avoiding these items can help to minimize hot flashes. Woman who smoke experience more severe hot flashes. So add hot flashes to the already long list of reasons to not smoke. Additionally, obesity is often associated with higher incidences of hot flashes. Shedding excess weight can help to minimize the number of hot flashes. Many women find that exercise and relaxation routines help to reduce the number of hot flashes. Yoga, deep breathing, and walking are great ways to reduce stress, lose weight, and control hot flashes. Exercise can also help to reduce insomnia often associated with night sweats.
When preventive measures and life style changes don’t seem to mitigate hot flashes, your health care provider may recommend hormone replacement therapy, which can be a very effective treatment particularly if your symptoms are severe. Depending on your personal and family history, including your risks for certain cancers or cardiovascular disease, a regime of estrogen, progesterone, or a combination of both might be effective. Your health care provider is the best source of information when deciding which therapy might work best for you. Estrogen works well for women who have had a complete hysterectomy, which includes removing the ovaries. A combination of estrogen and progesterone may work better for other women to reduce the risk of uterine cancer. Still other women may be recommended to take only progesterone therapy because of increased risks of breast cancer or blood clots. Any recommendation for hormone replacement will come after a complete physical and history to establish your personal health risks. Your health care provider can explain the benefits and risks associated with all treatments and help you decide if hormone replacement is right for you.
Women who have not had success with preventative measures and choose to skip the hormone replacement route may find relief from symptoms with several other medications or dietary supplements. While the efficacy of HRT has been well studied, there are fewer studies of supplements and medications that are used “off label.” For instances, some women find that low doses of antidepressants like Paxil, Prozac, or Effexor help relieve some hot flash symptoms. Likewise, a medication called clonidine, which is traditionally used to treat hypertension may also work to lessen symptoms. Neurontin is another medication designed to treat other conditions but has shown signs of helping some women with hot flashes.
When taking any prescribed medication, a woman should confer with her health care provider to discuss possible side effects and decide whether it may be a good option for her. While most dietary supplements do not require a prescription from your doctor, it is still vital that you share information about any you might be taking. Many over-the-counter products can still have side effects and interact with any prescription medications you might be taking. Currently, there is limited information about the effects of supplements like Black cohash or soy-rich products for helping with hot flashes, but some women seem to experience a diminishment of symptoms.
Hot flashes eventually subside as your body readjusts to the hormone levels established in menopause. However, there’s no need to suffer. Your health care provider can partner with you to find a solution particularly if your symptoms are severe. Whether it’s limiting triggers, getting more exercise or relaxation, taking medication or supplements, or just keeping a good sense of humor, next time you feel a power surge coming on, call your provider—right after you turn the air conditioner on!
Dr. Hardy is a solo physician at Atlantic Ob/Gyn with locations in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. For more information, please call 463-1234 or visit www.atlanticobgyn.com.
Heidi Gibson wears no veil on this cool, spring morning, as she peeks inside two honeybee hives nestled behind several young pine trees at New Earth Farm in Virginia Beach.
One hive is hers, and the other belongs to organic farmer John Wilson. After feeding her own bees a sugar-water mixture from a mason jar, she pulls on the hood of her sweatshirt and looks into the farm’s hive and is pleased to find plenty of honey in the top frames, nourishing the young bees that made it through the winter.
Women are responding to the call of the bees. Perhaps they feel an affinity with these queen-centered insect communities. More likely, they understand the bees’ struggle to survive. In the last twenty years, bees have been battling mites, hive beetles, and the mysterious Colony Collapse Disorder, all of which have resulted in a 50 percent decline in the bee population. For gardeners and farmers, it’s another case of “the canary in the coal mine”: a sign that Mother Nature needs our help.
SWEET, GOLDEN BOUNTY
“I have always loved bees,” said Heidi, who moved to Virginia Beach from Kentucky two years ago. Heidi grew up on a 300-acre farm in the 1960s, but there were no beehives on her family’s or neighbors’ farms. Bees lived in the woods, her childhood playground, and in the clover. Heidi recalled, “We couldn’t walk outside barefoot because there were so many bees.”
After raising her family in Louisville, Heidi bought a homestead in Henry County in 1999. By that time, there weren’t so many wild honeybees anymore. She became a beekeeper the next year. “I always respected the bees when everyone else was trying to get away from them,” she said.
As Heidi gained skill as a beekeeper, she entered her honey into Kentucky State Fair competitions. From 2003 to 2007, she won ribbons and cash prizes for her honey and her bees.
Now that Heidi lives locally without a farm of her own, she keeps bees at Wilson’s farm and assists him. Heidi believes that beekeepers are more aware of the problems associated with pesticides, typically used by conventional farmers. So keeping bees on an organic farm is a win-win. The bees pollinate the organic fruits and vegetables grown on the farm, and everyone shares in the sweet, golden bounty.
“The honeybee is the only insect which makes more honey than it needs,” Heidi said. “Because we’re taking care of them, giving them that extra space, we can take some honey.”
Heidi is concerned about how queen bees are being raised in recent years, a topic that draws much discussion among beekeepers.
“They are being raised in the shop, in tubes, you might say,” she explained. “The purpose of that is to establish a queen that is immune to everything. But the last three years in Kentucky, I just let the hives re-queen, and I had more honey and the best hives than I had ever had before.”
Heidi Gibson learned much about beekeeping by paying close attention to her bees and following the example of beekeepers in rural Kentucky. Locally the Tidewater Beekeeper’s Association has shared the joys of beekeeping for more than twenty years. At first, the members were mostly men with a few wives. Now the group has a roster of nearly 200 members and meets monthly in Chesapeake to share information and connect potential beekeepers with mentors.
In recent years, the club has welcomed more females to their membership. But C.E Harris, an elder in the club and one of the most respected beekeepers in Virginia Beach, says that women beekeepers are not a new phenomenon.
“My great-grandmother kept bees and passed her knowledge and equipment down to her daughters,” he recalled. “My grandpa never went into the bee yard. He would stand with a bucket, and Grandma would bring the frames over to him to carry into the honey house.”
When the hives are full of honey, one box—known as a super—can weigh as much as 70 to 90 pounds, and many couples share the work of beekeeping. Carol and Floyd Watkins of Knott’s Island, North Carolina, had a wasp eradication business and helped gather honeybee swarms for many years. They kept hives on their farm for their kiwi crop and tended hives on local farms in Virginia Beach and North Carolina. Last fall, after Floyd died, Carol honored a beekeeping tradition known as “telling the bees.”
“When a beekeeper passes on, it’s said that the new beekeeper should go around to each of the hives and let them know that a new person will be taking care of them,” Carol explained. “I thought, ‘Okay, I’ll do that.’” She told the “girls” that Floyd had gone on to heaven, and she’d be their new beekeeper.
With the help of TBA members, Carol has made good on her promise. Last month, a group of club members came to her farm and helped Carol get her hives in shape for the spring. Carol is especially pleased because she is experimenting with a new Styrofoam hive, purchased before Floyd died, which she can see from her kitchen window.
TBA member Karen Zablocki and her sister Terry have been keeping bees for more than ten years. The sisters are so buzzed about beekeeping, they convinced their retired parents in New York to start some hives and are working on their cousins in Detroit. Karen says the explosion in women beekeepers is closely related to their growing awareness of what’s healthy for their families, including fresh, local food. The women keep hives on farms owned by Pungo farmers Mike Cullipher and John Cromwell, helping their crops and giving the bees a good place to live. The bees on those farms make lots of honey, which sells out as fast as the jars land on Cullipher’s farm stand.
“There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t get a call from someone who wants local honey, mostly people with allergies, and I have to tell them I’m not going to pull any honey until May,” Karen said.
Karen admits that women are simply different as beekeepers than their male counterparts. While men may ponder how to build better hives, she thinks women approach the bees in an almost maternal style.
“When I work my bees, I talk to them, even though that sounds crazy to most people,” she said. But Carol Watkins doesn’t think so, especially when she sees a healthy hive.
“I just tell them: ‘Okay girls, you’re doing fine!’” Carol said.
On a radiant Sunday in April, Pam Fisher of the Beekeeper’s Guild of Southeastern Virginia gathers a group around several hives at Virginia Tech’s Agricultural Research Education Center on Diamond Springs Road in Norfolk. Fully suited up in white cotton clothing, gloves, and headgear with mesh covering their faces to prevent stings, they look like astronauts or a religious order, standing calmly around an open hive. Pam removes one rectangular frame, searching for the queen, who is larger than all the other bees and the mother of every one. When Pam finds her, the queen actually lays a few eggs while the group watches. Later Pam described the process.
“She puts her front feet out and sticks her head into each chamber, measuring it to see if it’s the size for a drone (male) or a worker (female),” she explained. “Then she backs in and deposits the egg.”
The bees themselves drew Pam into beekeeping. In the 80s a swarm landed on a dogwood sapling in her Chesapeake yard. She called a beekeeper to collect them, but he groused that his wife didn’t want him to bring home any more bees. Pam offered to buy the bees and their hive. She and husband Rick were newly married with about 50 dollars in the bank. She spent half of it on the beehive. “What was I thinking?” she said. It was the beginning of a passion.
After years of experience, Pam passed a test administered by Virginia Tech and became a Qualified Beekeeper, the highest designation in the state at this time. This winter she spoke at the North American Beekeeping Conference in Texas, sharing the guild’s practice of creating nucleus colonies or “nucs”: groups of bees from local hives. Generous with her knowledge and possessed of great kindness and patience, Pam is the mentor beyond mentors to a number of the Guild members. They meet once a month, also in Chesapeake, and offer a winter beekeeping class; there were 75 eager students this year.
“We chose the word “guild” because that indicated that we wanted to teach, as in the old guilds, where you move up from apprentice to journeyman to a master,” Pam said.
Guild newsletter editor Barbra Hickey, who has kept bees since 2008 and is also a Qualified Beekeeper, gives Pam Fisher a lot of credit. Since Barbra lives in Norfolk, where it’s illegal to keep bees, Pam and others helped Barbra find havens for her hives in Chesapeake and Virginia Beach. She got two hives started, and then her son won another one. In the beginning, Barbra says she didn’t manage swarms very well.
“That first spring, we went from 3 to 7 hives in one day,” she admitted.
Another guild member, Heidi Pocklington, began keeping bees in the late 1980’s, but after about five years, she lost all her bees to mites, which were decimating bee populations all over the country. She stopped keeping bees during a pregnancy, but renewed her interest when a swarm came to her yard, too. She decided to “dig out all her equipment” and start over.
“I had always liked bugs and didn’t want anyone to kill them,” Heidi said. “So one day, my son came home from school and there was a box in the front yard, and I said ‘Guess what?’” Heidi continues to keep bees and is still as fascinated by them as she was almost twenty years ago.
A self-described “lazy beekeeper,” ESL teacher Kate Rogers and her sister, Opal, were looking for a new hobby and took a weekend beekeeping class at the John C. Campbell Folk School in North Carolina. They loved it.
After six years keeping bees, Kate is now a mentor to a man with four hives and lots of book knowledge, while she has the experience to help him interpret the goings on in a hive. She likes the give and take, working with her new mentee.
“Beekeeping is a science and an art. I think men tend to look closer at the science while we women kind of lean towards the art of it,” Kate said.
Gender issues in beekeeping bring up lots of playful discussion. Women who are learning about the bees’ community structure relate easily to the worker bees.
“In the hive, the women do all the work, while the men, the drones, they just eat and fly off to have fun with the queen and come back and eat some more,” said Heidi.
In the late summer and fall, the female bees drag the drones out the front door of the hives and don’t let them return.
While Pam has sympathy for the male beekeepers, who take a lot of ribbing for that particular hive behavior, Barbra Hickey makes a point of using it at home.
“I’ll often say ‘Come on boys, don’t be a lazy drone. You know what happens at the end of the season!’”
FOR THE GOOD
As they become midwives to the hives, women beekeepers realize a closer connection with the earth itself. Their work is central to the survival of our food system; nearly half the food we eat comes from plants that are pollinated, and beekeepers are trying to offset the loss of nearly 30 percent of hives every year.
The best beekeepers—male and female—are calm, quiet, thoughtful, and have the ability to move slowly. They learn to treat the bees with respect.
“It takes you out of yourself,” Pam Fisher said. “It’s truly an amazing thing, seeing all the bees working together for the good.”
“It calms my spirit,” Barbra Hickey said. Heidi Pocklington agreed, saying, “You get into a state of meditation when you work.”
“Beekeeping gives you such peace of mind,” said Carol Watkins. “Once you are used to the bees, there’s a tranquility you feel, even when several thousand are flying around you. It’s a feeling that’s hard to express.”
For more information:
• The Beekeeper’s Guild of Southeastern Virginia: beekeepersguild.org
• The Tidewater Beekeeper’s Association: tidewaterbeekeepers.net
• See the documentary “Queen of the Sun: What are the Bees Telling Us” at The Fellowship of the Inner Light, 620 14th Street in Virginia Beach on May 21, 2011, at 7 p.m. For more information, call
Kathleen Fogarty, a honey fan, writes regularly for Tidewater Women. She lives on a farm in Virginia Beach with her husband, John.
The Virginia Beach Garden Tour has a statewide reputation for its talented arrangers who are keenly conscious of how a floral arrangement complements and transforms a room, like any work of art. On April 20, front doors and garden gates will open for guests to tour five beautiful waterfront homes and gardens in the Birdneck Point neighborhood. The homes will feature fabulous floral arrangements artfully placed to showcase each home’s unique and personal interiors. Adjacent to each arrangement will be a note card listing the plant materials selected by the arrangers for guests to view.
Flower arrangers from the Princess Anne and Virginia Beach Garden Clubs have compiled a number of their design and arranging tips and favorite spring garden plants for Tidewater Women readers. In trying some of them, you may find a new or regained passion for enjoying your gardens—both indoors and out.
Mirrors can expand and exaggerate the particulars of flowers and greens.
• Place a suction cup on a hanging wall mirror to hang a flower arrangement; a pair on a bathroom mirror will create sconces of flowers.
• Place a framed mirror on your dining room table and elevate it to create “feet”. Center the floral arrangement on the mirror for a stunning creation.
Single blooms can be artfully displayed.
• A large bloom, such as a single tree peony bloom, floated by water in a clear vase along with floating candles is simply gorgeous.
• Similar vases can be grouped together with single stems such as gerber daisies placed in them—simple and understated for a bedroom nightstand.
• A trio of glass wall vases filled with seteria grass that has been bundled and tied with bear grass adds a wild yet chic element to a contemporary setting.
• Orchid blossoms can last for a month or longer! Using a single plant or collection of plants, arrange in a basket, bowl, or urn and place Spanish moss around the base of the plant. Remove the plastic stake and replace it with a decorative twig or branch such as curly willow or pussy willow and place out of direct sunlight.
• Bring the outside garden inside by having plants in the same color scheme as the interior near a window view. Fill a bird bath or large container with a combination of ferns and annuals.
Leaves of many plants can be very versatile in arrangements.
• Fatsia leaves are great for lining a clear container. They camouflage the oasis and other mechanics securing the flowers. They also are beautiful on a table used as place mats.
• Aspidistra leaves, commonly known as Cast-Iron Plant, can be rolled up by curling the stem around the leaf front and literally poking the sharply cut stem end through the leaf. Used this way, they fill out empty spaces very nicely. They last indefinitely in water and can even be salvaged from one arrangement and used in another.
• A collection of pillar candles can be wrapped with aspidistra leaves and tied with bear grass for a casual or outdoor table setting.
For more information, visit http://www.vagardenweek.org/schedule-vabeach.php
When they say women’s work is never done, they are not talking about the dishes. Women have a unique way of approaching life that results in their hardly ever being off-duty. Their mental effort is geared toward things that don’t stop at five o’clock. Women burn vast amounts of energy looking beneath the surface, thinking about other people, and trying to do everything right.
Women think in global, complex ways. If men tend to think in black and white, women simultaneously see all the various outcomes and their potential effects on different people. Women’s brains seem designed to pay attention to many things at once. In one experiment, researchers had men and women listen to recordings of several different stories being read at the same time. The men were able to focus on one story and tune out the rest. The women, however, were soon tearing off their headphones, complaining that the multiple demands on their attention were driving them crazy.
This attention to a multiplicity of inputs gives women an edge in social and emotional realms, where things can quickly become staggeringly complex. For a woman’s brain, nothing is ever as simple as it seems. And that is good, because reality is the same way. Women see levels upon levels of meaning and interlinked chains of cause and effect that would blow a man’s mind. She knows that socially one gets away with nothing and that hurt feelings or perceived slights can have far-reaching consequences. The complexities of relationships and social loyalties are transparently obvious to many women, and they navigate carefully so as not to make enemies of the people they value. Women are not pleasers; they are social realists. They know how upset other people get.
Psychologists have called this attentiveness to other people’s feelings “emotional work.” Any service or sales job also requires this kind of vigilance to other people’s reactions. Raising children or keeping peace at the office means that a woman is often using huge amounts of brain glucose on an hourly basis. She involuntarily notices small reactions and reads faces and posture like writing on a wall. Women are natural psychologists. They wonder what makes people do things and what caused them to be the way they are.
When situations are conflicting or otherwise stressful, women do even more emotional work, involuntarily focusing on the inner states of the people involved. If things at home or work are not happy, a woman can easily become emotionally exhausted, just from constantly monitoring the emotional temperature of the interactions around her. Her emotionally vigilant mind also sets her up to anticipate tension between people before it ever happens, so she worries not only in the present, but for the future as well.
The motivation for this emotional work lies in women’s amazing tendency to identify with other people. They vividly feel the inner experiences of others. This does not mean that women do not have interests of their own or that they neurotically live through other people. It just means that their capacity for identification allows them to feel the other person’s emotions as their own.
Due to a woman’s capacity for identification, supporting others can feel almost as good as doing it oneself. A woman needs to be aware that vicarious satisfactions could take the place of her individual fulfillment. A woman can intend to be the star of her own life, only to find she has landed a supporting role in someone else’s. Nothing wrong with that, but it is important to ask if that supporting role is truly satisfying or just a vicarious life hijack caused by a too strong identification with another person’s issues.
One reason why a woman might pull back and let another person take the lead is that many women get overly concerned with doing things correctly. If a man’s motto is “Git ‘er done,” a woman’s is “Do it right.” If you look at the headings on many women’s magazines, you will see the same theme promoted: here’s how to do it better. There’s a collective improvement society going on out there amongst women, and the popularity of women’s magazines capitalizes on it. (Do you see many men’s magazines in the check-out line that promise to help men drop ten pounds in a week or get better deals by shopping a certain way? No? That is because men aren’t interested in finding little ways to improve themselves and others.)
Unfortunately, this desire to do things the right way can turn into perfectionism. Women often hold themselves to overly high standards, leading to despondent thoughts when they feel they should have done something a better way. This trait has helped women to be agents of socialization, but it has also caused women unnecessary shame as they self-evaluate negatively. It does not occur to them that their self-expectations are out of whack; they just focus on how they were less than perfect.
A woman’s urge to make sure things are done in the best way can also cause irresistible impulses to correct other people. When women lose perspective and give other people the “do it better” treatment, it can sink the other person’s desire to do it at all.
Never in history has women’s work been so important. Her ability to sense emotional complexity and interpersonal consequences could make the difference for the future of the human race. Never before have emotions and troubled relationships had the power to annihilate so vastly. If we are going to have a peaceful world, then a woman’s ability to identify with others is crucial. A woman’s skills are a rising stock on the world stage of survival. She has a starring role coming up, and we will need her willingness to lead, not just correct.
Lindsay Gibson Psy.D., is a clinical psychologist. Reach her at 757-490-7811.
At the Virginia Beach oceanfront, Laura Habr of Croc’s Eco Bistro Resturant is in high gear before the tourist season begins. Starting this month, she’s participating in an EPA study, recycling pre- and post-consumer food waste.
Every week hundreds of people flow in and out of the most energy-efficient, large-scale building in this region: the Virginia Beach Convention Center. It’s the nation’s first convention center to receive LEED Gold Certification for existing buildings.
What does it mean to “go green” in Tidewater? Starting gardens, planting trees, and using environmentally safe cleaning products are part of the answer. Beyond those efforts, builders, designers, city planners, and business owners are realizing how smart it is to be energy efficient—and how necessary for our earth, air, water, and health. Being green includes sustainable practices in our houses as well as our buildings. And in this region, many women are leading the way.
Rebekah Burke is the chair and co-founder of the Hampton Roads Chapter of the National Green Building Council (HRGBC), head of the Green Homes committee, and an architect with Clark-Nexsen. She says builders in our region are turning to greener practices because of a desire to be more energy efficient and cost conscious. While big green projects like Virginia Beach’s Platinum LEED Certified Renaissance Academy draw applause, the green scene is becoming part of more families’ conversations.
“I find that people are really taking a look at what’s going on in their own homes,” Rebekah said. Some of that is prompted by students coming home from school and asking their parents, ‘Why aren’t we recycling? Why don’t we try to do an energy audit?’”
The young architect grew up in Campbell County, Wyoming, where clean water and air were birthrights. When Rebekah graduated from the University of Wyoming, and moved east, she became distressed by what was happening to the Chesapeake Bay. Her education in architectural engineering was filled with math and computer models. Yet she began to concentrate on the environmental impact buildings have on the planet and shifted her focus to the human beings inside.
“We do a lot of work for the federal government, and there are tremendous energy-saving policies right now,” Rebekah said. “Once federal does it, nobody else has an excuse. It’s great to see that transformation, and there’s still a lot of education that goes along with it.”
The HRGBC is in the early stages of planning its fall Solar Homes tours on the Southside and the Peninsula. Rebekah and her committee are adjusting things this year.
“We’re really reaching out to everybody who has done any kind of green technology and expanding the tour to become a ‘Green Homes’ tour,” she added.
Being green doesn’t always mean tearing down an old structure and building a new one. In the case of an existing home, it may take the form of repair and restoration. That’s what happened when Claire Liebert hired contractor Gayle Johnson, who owns EcoBuilders of Virginia. You could say Gayle has recycled her life by following her passions. She is a classically trained harpsichordist and former director of the early music group Capriole based in Williamsburg in the 80s and 90s.
“When I was in college, I went to Prince Edward Island and visited a home that was off the grid. I was very inspired,” Gayle said. “Then, in Seattle when I was becoming a proficient harpsichordist, I did a passive solar addition to a 1920s bungalow because I always wanted to live in a passive solar house.”
Gayle worked for a while for a non-profit called “Citizens for a Solar Seattle” and continued pursuing her music studies. Twenty years later, she is taking the skills she employed in directing Capriole to managing life-changing house projects, beginning in 2006 when she did a complete rehab of her mother’s older home. All her subcontractors were impressed with Gayle’s organizational skills and encouraged her to become a contractor herself. She did.
“You have a vision of what you’re going to do, and then step by step you get there. You pick the right people, the right materials, value people’s time, and put the puzzle together, and just like a concert, you know it has to be ready, that day.” she said.
“This is holistic work,” she added. “It’s not just someone coming in an putting insulation in your attic. We come and look at the energy system as a whole.”
Gayle is a LEED accredited professional with the U.S. Green Building Council. Claire Siebert’s home is the first project EcoBuilders completed as part of a program called Next Step, which helps seniors stay in their homes. The program is funded partially by the federal government under the auspices of the Green Jobs Alliance, which is seeking to create new, green jobs. The federal government pays one fourth of the cost of renovations, once the contractor turns in evidence that energy use in the home has declined at least 15 per cent. The homeowner only pays 75 percent to the contractor.
In addition, the government pays $250 towards a home energy audit, in this case conducted by a company called Star Energy, which performed tests of all the ducts and evaluated the furnace in Claire’s home. The furnace was only working at 67 percent efficiency.
To expedite the changes needed to help Claire’s house, Gayle hired Leisha Bond, a former federal procurement agent for the military. “On Ms. Seibert’s house, I’ve crawled in, under, and over it,” Leisha said. “I did all the ducts, the insulation, some electrical work, the crawlspaces under the attic, and the hot water heater.”
Because of the repairs, which took only four days, Claire’s house has been re-evaluated. According to the airflow tests, her house is very energy efficient, with all air circulating as it should. Claire was overjoyed.
“They’re great. They clean up,” she said, laughing. “I think anyone who can do it should do it. I can’t wait to see the changes in my power bills!”
When the city of Virginia Beach built the new convention center in 2007, it used state-of-the-art materials and design and the “footprint” of the old Pavilion. An early client in the new building suggested that the system could be greener. It is now.
At first, the Convention Center’s former assistant general manager, Lori Herrick, now the energy administrator for the city, worked to get the building rated with various LEED systems.
“When I first got into the building, I created a review plan and we partnered with Energy Star, a free program with the EPA,” Lori said. “We were charged with saving at least 10 percent of our energy costs and tracking consumption.”
Lori learned how to switch to more energy-efficient practices and found it cost less to recycle than to dump trash. The convention center saved paper and postage charges by switching to Adobe software for communications and saved over 400 thousand dollars in the first two years the building followed the Energy Star guidelines.
“It was a win-win situation,” Lori said.
Now Lori has taken her passion for energy efficiency to the entire city, looking at where the city’s kilowatt hours are being spent, learning about off shore wind energy, and meeting with representatives of cities all over the state. She wants Virginia Beach to be the greenest city on the East Coast.
At the convention center, Kimberlee Dobbins, who worked hand in hand with Lori, is the sustainability coordinator. She’s proud of the fact that the center is one of a hundred state-certified “Virginia Green” locations in the city. The Shamrock Marathon was designated the first “green” event in the state.
“It includes how they market the event online as well as how they deal with waste,” she said. “We have all the recycle bins set up, and they capture all those paper cups and water bottles from the runners and then we recycle them.”
The Convention Center saw some increases in gas and electric costs this very cold winter, following one of the hottest summers. But the HVAC equipment can monitor internal temperatures and make minimal changes, saving energy. This year, lights are being converted to compact fluorescents, and parking lot lighting is on a seasonally adjusted schedule.
It’s a big job, and it comes with lots of learning and upgrading of data. But Kimberlee says sustainability is very important to her, a mother of two.
“Sustainability is all about conserving our resources so they’re still here for future generations,” Kimberlee said. “I love what I’m doing here, and the people I work with are great. They get it.”
QUEEN OF GREEN
If you want to visit the epicenter of green living near the oceanfront, go no further than cozy one-story, Croc’s 19th Street Bistro. That’s where you’ll find owners Laura Wood Habr and her husband, Kal, exploring new ways for their business and the city to become environmentally friendly.
Not only did the restaurant go through a green facelift several years ago—installing low-flow toilets and new carpeting made from recycled materials—they also feature local seafood and produce, organic beverages, and Virginia wines. Croc’s is also home of the Old Beach Farmer’s Market in its fourth year. From Memorial Day to Labor Day, farmers and food vendors sell local goods. Croc’s is also host for gatherings of eco-conscious folks at monthly Green Drinks events.
Croc’s also participated in an energy audit, discovered where the building needed energy saving repairs, and received funding towards the purchase of a new Energy Star rated air conditioner. They’ve also applied for funding for a solar hot water heater and hope that comes through this year.
But Laura sees a bigger picture beyond the dining room of her family’s restaurant. She’s a member of the Resort Advisory Commission, which advises Virginia Beach City Council.
“We were a grass roots group—including Kimberlee and Lori at the convention center—and now we have been invited to have a place at the table,” Laura explained. “And we have recommended to the council that we expand recycling beyond the boardwalk onto the beach.”
Laura and her team made the case by doing two “waste audits” last year, donning protective gear and sorting through trash. They found that more than 50 percent of oceanfront trash was recyclable.
Tourists get a positive impression of the city when they see the recycling containers along the streets, Laura noted.
Starting this month, Laura and several other restaurants are partnering with the Virginia Aquarium in a grant from the EPA, sorting and collecting the pre- and post consumer food waste and having it delivered to a composting site outside Waverly.
Laura mentioned one more green practice at her restaurant: the Chesapeake Bay Stingray is now on the menu. Local stingrays—not an endangered species—feed on oysters and clams, so catching them will result in an upswing in the mollusk population.
“Have you heard the commercial ‘Eat a ray, save the Bay?’” asked Laura. “They taste like catfish!”
Beyond the beach, the whole region is ramping up. The Ernie Morgan Environmental Action Center at the Virginia Zoo in Norfolk—the home of “Keep Norfolk Beautiful” and the Norfolk Environmental Commission—serves as a model for green building techniques.
At Old Dominion University, new dormitories are using 25 percent less energy for cooling, and government buildings throughout the region are performing energy audits and seeking LEED certification as we realize the benefits of saving energy. School gardens are cropping up at our elementary schools.
Communities of seniors are enjoying green upgrades, like Russell House Senior Apartments on First Colonial Road, where all the bathrooms and kitchens have recently been upgraded to ensure water saving. Everywhere you look, it’s getting easier to be green!
Coming up April 21: Green Drinks at Croc’s features Gayle Johnson and other “Green” women from this article