Washington column for Sept. 1

Cooler days and . . . Labor Day

Summer is finally winding down, the farmers getting their last cutting of hay in, displays of colorful chrysanthemums for sale in the garden centers — symbols to me of the return of the chilly season, the approach of Halloween, falling leaves. I am switching gears here to welcome the fall weather, shorter days and cooler nights.

But just because kids have headed back to school and Christmas layaways are available at Walmart, we don’t have to pack up the patio grill. Labor Day is the perfect time to throw a fantastic season-ending cookout. Invite your friends and family over and have a blast.

Just remember that the highway patrol will be out in force this weekend, making sure the roads are safe for us. Let’s make sure we keep our focus solely on the road while we are traveling to and from family and friends.

Tango at Tula’s

Mark your calendars for a most delightful (and educational) evening on Wednesday, Sept. 14, when the outdoor patio at Tula’s restaurant and bar in Little Washington will transform into everything tango — starting with the full-length documentary, “El Abrazo . . . Life Is a Tango,” shot and co-produced by award-winning filmmaker (and longtime Rappahannock weekender) Mathieu Mazza, followed by dancing to the tango rhythms of Linda Heimstra and the Nethers Hot Club jazz band.

The 57-minute documentary showcases tango as a way of life in today’s Argentina, examining relationships between men and women, economic hardship and modernity, while delving into the rich Tango culture — defined rules, traditions and sensuality — in the old neighborhoods of Buenos Aires.

“The co-producer (Alexandre Marc) is an avid tango dancer and the writer (Patricia Vasquez) is an Argentine who is also an avid dancer,” explains Tracy Mazza, Mathieu’s wife and vice president of Newsgroup Communications (readers will recall Tracy playing a major role in getting the Film Festival at Little Washington up and running). “It’s basically a relaxed fun evening like you always have with an additional film element to start the night.”

Among others, Mathieu Mazza will be on hand to introduce the film, which is timed to start close to sunset (about 7 p.m.). Tula’s will be offering a discounted price on its steak dinner and feature select wines and cocktails popular with the tango culture of Argentina.

Picnic and clean up day at Bolen Cemetery

The annual picnic and clean up day at the Bolen cemetery on Pig Nut Mountain is scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 10. The plan is to meet at the parking area by 10:30 a.m. at the end of Keyser Run Road in Gid Brown Hollow and leave no later than 11:30 a.m. All attending are asked to bring something for the picnic and hand tools for the clean up. Rain date is Sept. 17. For more information, call Wayne Baldwin at 540-547-3722.

A loss for the family

My dear sister-in-law, Sandra Stoops of Marion, Virginia lost her best friend, her love, her hero, her rock, her forever, her everything, her husband, Fred Stoops, 64, on Aug. 22 of an massive heart attack. Fred loved his Lord, his family and his community, he was a good man. We just saw him back in June for the family reunion. No one ever thought he would be gone from us today. To look at him, he was a picture of good health. I know that life is something we can’t borrow and give back; here today and gone tomorrow. We just weren’t looking for Fred to leave us so soon.

Funeral services were held Aug. 25, at 7 p.m. at Seaver-Brown Chapel, Marion, with the Rev. Justin Keene officiating. Burial was the next day at Walkers Creek Presbyterian Church Cemetery.

Fred will be missed by his loving wife, Sandra, daughter, Crystal Owens and husband, Dick; son Paul Stoots and wife, Leska; granddaughter Alyssa “Scooter” as well as family here in Little Washington, and towns around us. His wife, Sandra, was born and raised in Harris Hollow, a sister to Mae Racer, Mary Gochenour, Bud and Steve Clatterbuck.

Although it broke our hearts to lose you Fred, you didn’t go alone, for part of us went with you. We love you and miss you, always in our hearts and memories.

Rest in peace, my friend.


Condolences goes out to Rhonda Sue Baldwin’s family. Rhonda passed away on Aug. 20 at her home in Sperryville. A graveside service was held on Aug. 23 at Etlan Cemetery with the Rev. Jon Heddleston officiating.

I really got to know Rhonda when she cleaned for Miss Mary Jenkins in town. She was so nice, friendly and always had a smile on her face. She would often stop by the office just to say hi when she was going to get the mail for Miss Mary. A lady that would do anything for you. I can hear Miss Mary now, bragging on how she cleans the house so good.

Have a safe and wonderful Labor Day weekend!