center fold: dj hyfi and the center.

burgIMG_2999I retired from distance running not long following the birth of my son. After 20+ years of high mileage, my body finally started to rebel: my hips got wonky, I developed a bum knee, my hamstrings would tie themselves in knots over nothing…  even my feet are… well, they’re just disgusting. Even with all these reminders of my physical limitations, I still think of myself as some  25-year-old running phenom (ha), dive headlong into new exercise programs or physical challenges (such as carrying a few dozen 40-pound bags of stone up and down the hill in my backyard), and then find myself arrogantly surprised when I get tired, or my muscles (ha) start shaking, or I’m too sore to even lie down the next day.

Thank goodness for yoga. I mean it. One, it can be as challenging as you need it to be. If you’re an elite athlete and think everything’s too easy for you, there’s a yoga for you. If you’re a beginner who needs to work on balance and flexibility, there’s a yoga for you. Two, if you tend to be a stress ball all day and need to be emotionally untangled, there’s a yoga for you. Three, if you’re an old washed up athlete who struggles to do any kind of exercise, there’s a yoga for you.

And now, if you love yoga but also love electronic music, there’s a yoga for you! Yep. Brandy, Ella, and I, along with about twenty-five other folks, recently attended a 90-minute (!!!) yoga class with a DJ, the Friday Night Live: Cool Music, Groovy Yoga class AND happy hour at The Center.

burgIMG_2933The DJ arranged his sound and light equipment at the front of the yoga studio; as we all filed in and placed our mats on the floor, I felt like I had a little subwoofer in my chest. I worried for a few minutes that the music would be too loud, but before long, the movements and the sound fused together in a way that connected all the senses. The music was so much a part of us and our movements that it seemed to both predict what we were doing and respond to it, simultaneously. I lost all track of time. It was a RAVE of relaxation, if you will.

burgIMG_2947DJ Hyfi works as a “nomadic DJ, on the road, fusing fresh beats with vinyasa.” I admit, when I saw this event come across my newsfeed, I wondered how it would work and thought it sounded strange. How would I quiet my mind in a loud environment? I still don’t know the answer to that question, but having now experienced it, it seems completely natural. Yoga is rhythmic. Breathing is rhythmic. One’s heart beat is rhythmic. Why not give those things a rhythmic soundtrack?

burgIMG_2952The session started with multiple sun salutations and warrior poses, followed by balance work.Suzanne McCahill Perrine’s instructions and cuing were, as always, impeccable. If I couldn’t see anyone to mimic his or her movements, her verbal descriptions saved me. If anyone needed help getting into a pose, she was right there. My favorite part was when the entire group formed a circle and held hands during Warrior III. I got to hold Ella’s hand and the hand of a complete stranger — what a beautiful thing! Another notable moment was how gooood everyone looks doing what I call the “pretty pose” (i.e., Half Lord of the Fishes pose) — all those whittled torsos and strong shoulders and piles of messy hair. During one of the inverted poses, I could see Brandy through my legs and Ella beyond that through Brandy’s legs, and it made me smile the way, even upside down, those two gals look so much alike.

Just when I thought I couldn’t hold any pose for even one more second, sweat was pooling in awkward places all over me, and every muscle fiber burned with constant exertion, Suzanne instructed us all to lie down. I closed my eyes and let myself be carried away by the throbbing music. I might have fallen asleep… I’m not really sure… but for several minutes I thought of absolutely nothing. When I opened my eyes, the lights were dancing all over the room, and I saw faces in the ceiling. First there was a lion. Then I saw a man with a beard, until the beard morphed into a baby, being held by its mother. To the left I saw a caricature of John Lennon, while a man and his cat sat over to the right. Brandy remarked that she had an out-of-clothing experience where she snapped out of her trance and thought she might be nakey… but then she checked and realized she did indeed still have pants on. We really did lose track of time… and space.

burgIMG_2959After peeling ourselves off the floor, we quietly emerged into the lobby of Ice House Studios, where Suzanne had arranged a buffet catered by Food Bar Food and Pale Fire Brewing. Starving from our efforts in the last ninety minutes, we devoured the delicious snacks: falafel fritters with tatziki; tofu and shiitake mushroom croquettes with Thai caramel sauce; and black bean & goat cheese hummus with corn tortilla chips. For the next hour we enjoyed chatting about the class, the DJ, and our lives, making this workout as much emotional and spiritual as it was physical. I also got a chance to check out Ice House Studios: I admit, I had not set foot in there before tonight!

burgIMG_2925 burgIMG_2940burgIMG_2966 burgIMG_2978The space houses both The Center and Breathe Pilates and Yoga. There are two yoga studios with mats, bolsters, blocks, and blankies. The Pilates room contains mirrors and ample equipment, while the Barre room offers mats and balls to its users. Large windows and soft lighting contrast the concrete columns and exposed block walls throughout the old factory. There’s also a terrace — you can make yourself a cup of tea in the lobby and enjoy it outside.

burgIMG_2944Ice House Studios also hosts services provided by several other professionals: Four Seasons Harmony Massage Therapy and Healing Arts; Mary Straub Pargas Yoga Therapy and Holistic Coaching; Kate Miller’s “Be” Bodywork, Yoga, and Aromatherapy; Blue Heron Healing Arts owned by Grayson Pritchard; and Becky Bartells Massage Therapy.

And, the merchandise. You can find beautiful jewelry by Rhoda Miller of Rhodarts, Lily and Laura bracelets made by artisans in Nepal, colorful tote bags, essential oil kits, and candles. Body products, journals, mats, socks, and headbands. Icehouse, Breathe, and The Center shirts and other crucial apparel, just in case you arrived without something.

And if you’ve never really explored the Ice House in entirety, you can take a class or get a massage at Ice House Studios, grab a perk-up at Black Sheep Coffee, shop for clothing and jewelry at The Yellow Button and Hugo Kohl’s, eat dinner (or breakfast or lunch, for that matter) at Pure Eats, and then savor a beer at Pale Fire Brewing. Too bad you can’t just move in there. Oh wait, YOU CAN.

Ice House Studios are located on the second floor of the Ice House, which is located in downtown Harrisonburg on Liberty Street across from Turner Pavilion. Coming up on April 30, it’s the return of Detox Retox — an outdoor yoga class in the circular drive of Pale Fire Brewing! Click to see the classes offered at The Center and Breathe. See you there!
burgIMG_2949 burgIMG_2962burgIMG_3008Copyright © 2012-16 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

freezer burn: pale fire brewing.

burgPaleFire29After months and months of waiting, viewing mouthwatering photos of what’s to come, and receiving countless tantalizing updates, the day is finally here: today is the day that Pale Fire Brewing officially opens for all to patronize, covet, admire, and dream of, and it couldn’t have come soon enough. Anticipation is one of my favorite sensations: looking forward to a fun trip, the aroma of a simmering meal, excitement about a visit from an old friend, knowing a rare book I ordered is en route via UPS and will be on my doorstep soon. So I have thoroughly enjoyed savoring the delicious weeks leading up to today’s grand opening. But you know what else is a great feeling? My butt in a chair on a sunny patio, enjoying the company of a fresh, cold beer. That first sip is the exact moment when anticipation fuses with the present and everything is perfect.

burgPaleFire18So, wait no longer! Go today! Go tomorrow! And go every single chance you get – here’s what’s waiting for YOU, as Brandy and I discovered when we got a sneak peek earlier this week:

These beers, as described by the brewer himself:
Deadly Rhythm Pale Ale – 4.8% ABV – 45 IBU
~ American two row malt, Maris Otter, Munich, Crystal
~ Warrior, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook
Deadly Rhythm, by its very name, creates a graceful balance between Pacific Northwest hops and a blend of American and English malts. Floral and fruity hop aromas provide the introduction to the lightly toasted malt backbone of this beer. This American pale ale finishes dry with a smooth but lingering bitterness.

Salad Days American Saison – 7.0% ABV – 40 IBU
~ American two row malt, Rye, Wheat
~ Warrior, Cascade, Amarillo, Simcoe
American two row barley and malted rye provide the canvas for pungent Amarillo, Simcoe and Cascade hops to mingle with our house Saison yeast. Notes of grapefruit, peach, and bubblegum dance out of the glass and mellow into a refreshingly tart, dry finish.

Saving Grace Table Beer – 4.2% ABV – 26 IBU
~ Pilsner malt, Wheat, Carapils
~ Northern Brewer, Czech Saaz
Saving Grace is based on the Belgian “patersbier” which Trappist monks used to brew for sustenance that would allow them to continue to work during the day. This low-alcohol farmhouse beer is brewed with Pilsner malt, Czech Saaz hops and our house Saison yeast to provide a satisfying end to a long day of hard work.

Double India Pale Ale – 8.0% ABV – 100 IBU
~ Maris Otter, Crystal, Wheat
~ Warrior, Summit, Amarillo, Simcoe, Citra, CTZ
Double IPA is intensely hopped with six hop varieties that offer a cornucopia of aromas ranging from passion fruit, peach, and pineapple to grapefruit and lemon zest. We use English Maris Otter to balance the intense hop aromas producing a malt-balanced East Coast version of a Double IPA.

Smoking Scottish – 5.6% ABV – 20 IBU
~ Maris Otter, Victory, Roasted Barley, Crystal, Beech-smoked malt
~ Perle
Smoking Scottish is a legacy beer from Calhoun’s, Harrisonburg’s first modern brewpub. This Scottish ale features a complex blend of English Maris Otter, roasted and caramel malts for a rich malt backbone. German Perle hops add a clean bitterness to balance the toasted caramel flavors from the malt.

Get a tissue – you’re drooling.
burgPaleFire09 burgPaleFire28You can also anticipate a large, blonde, modern bar in the taproom with plenty of seats, in addition to several bar tables.

burgPaleFire16A spacious and inviting patio becomes one with the inside once the large, glass garage doors are raised.

burgPaleFire12 burgPaleFire11burgPaleFire06A cozy (and by that I mean comfortable, not small) lounge area centers around a functioning fireplace and a Little Free Library, AND a turn table and record collection for Album Night. (From what I understand there’s also a secret TV hidden behind a secret panel in some secret section of the bookshelves.) Seriously, it feels like home. I wonder if there’s a way I can make a little house in the secret compartment and hide in there.

burgPaleFire08 burgPaleFire07Expect to be astounded by the amazing view from the taproom into the gleaming brewery itself, with its perfectly polished vessels and pale fire floors. And a happy, relaxed staff waits ready to shake your hand, share a laugh, and pour something perfect.

burgIMG_8077And if you haven’t toured the rest of the Ice House yet, give yourself a little time to do that today, too. You can visit the Yellow Button at their new location, stop in at Black Sheep Coffee, browse vintage jewelry at Hugo A. Kohl’s shop, and check out Breathe and The Center which now share a space called Ice House Studios.

Winter’s finally over, a Pale Fire is smoldering, and the Ice House has permanently thawed. Grab a friend and go get warmed up today!

burgPaleFire17burgIMG_8066burgPaleFire24Copyright © 2012-15 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

luxury sweets: 3rd annual chocolate walk.

Copyright © 2012 – 2013 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Written content by Katie Mitchell. Photos by Brandy Somers.This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

come rain and come shine no. 25: first friday.


‘Twas the First Friday in June and all through the city
the stores and establishments were decorated all pretty
with artwork created by talented locals.
So I grabbed my umbrella and put on my bifocals.

The clouds rolling in at us taunted and frowned,
but they didn’t keep people from walking around.
I parked in the deck and briskly headed for one
of my favorite stores, The Yellow Button.

A rumble here, a sprinkle there would never prevent
us from hosting our first I Love My Burg/Brandy Somers Photography event.
Seeing all the photos finally printed was such a delight,
and really, for me, the best part of the night.

Brandy’s photos were hung by the stockings and dresses,
each one a testament to her camera successes.
My attention meandered for a sec, I admit…
when I saw this green frock and said, “I’ve GOT to have it.”

Sweet truffles from Zest! sat on a tray
next to iced tea, pretzel chips, and guacamol-ay.
And just as we’d hoped, just a bit after five,
the first of our customers began to arrive.

First was Sarah Murphy, who swept into the shop
carrying three naked baguettes–a strange photo op
for three modest girls in poses of debauchery…
then I ripped the bread in pieces: my kids were hungry!

Distracted by what sounded like a serious scuffle,
I had to diffuse my kids’ fight over a dropped truffle.
While Sarah and Brandy were fencing with bread,
in strolled Amy from Many Nights Ahead
with her friend Bailey, who’s a photographer, too.
I was thankful the fight scenes were finally through.

People came, people ate, people drank and got stickers.
They dressed up in outfits that were truly ridickers.
And then Brandy quickly took all of their pictures.

We saw Ellie from Zest! and Brent Levy from RISE,
with his playful wife Natalie in a crazy disguise.
Valeri managed to traverse the treacherous three feet
between Ten Thousand Villages and Miranda’s retreat…
She just really, really wanted something sweet.

Oh, and Seth Crissman–the knight in soggy armor
who retrieved wife Theresa from the front of Explore More.
He gallantly showed that chivalry exists,
sheltering from the rain his wife and two guests
and still dressing up silly with very few protests.

At seven p.m., the rain had not at all abated,
so the kids sat out back and silently waited
for me to dart through the flooded downtown
and get to the car, and drive it around
which I did, so we could see Elliott Downs.

We were wet, we were cold, and we were dog tired,
but, by golly, we were also truly inspired
by the number of dripping wet fans that we saw
Still walking through town to gaze in quiet awe,

Not caring that their wet jeans felt like wool,
or that their hair looked really uncool…
Seeing them participate no matter what
reminded us what a cool town we’ve got.

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

gettin’ pretty in the city no. 18: the yellow button.

As I sat down to write this entry, I remembered a children’s book by Anne Mazer called The Yellow Button. I’m not sure if Miranda named her store after the book, but its ideas certainly apply. It’s about a yellow button that sits in the pocket… of a dress… worn by a girl… who lives in a house… and as the short tale progresses, it demonstrates how everything–even a small, insignificant yellow button–has an important place in the universe, and how we are all–every one of us–connected by that commonality.

If Miranda is the girl with the yellow button in her pocket, she’s definitely established her place in our little corner of the universe, and in doing so, provided another way for folks to connect with each other and our city.

Miranda’s store, which sells clothing, accessories, shoes, handbags, and jewelry, is gorgeous. Beautiful artwork and stylish furniture fill the space, honoring the charm of downtown. For such a small shop (which by the way has expanded since opening), she has an ample treasury of clothing for all occasions.

Brandy and I were actually shopping that day with a specific occasion in mind–we were being interviewed by FOX News Richmond about the blog and our love of Harrisonburg. So we came to the Yellow Button to pick out a new dress. Brandy narrowed it down to a little purple floral number and a light blue dress with frilly cap sleeves. I tried on several as well and sang along to Radiohead obnoxiously in the dressing room (I have a knack for remembering lyrics). I reeeeaaallly liked this green floral dress a lot, but at the last second I swerved and chose a cute sleeveless dress the color of coral.

Just for fun, I tried on a couple of long dresses. One was red with a band of purple fabric at the bottom, and I felt like Medea, the character in the ancient Greek play who kills her kids to get back at her husband, Jason. It also reminded me of dresses my mom would wear to the neighbors’ on Bridge Night in the 70s. I wanted it. The other was a light sea foam green and it was gorgeous and SO SOFT. I wanted it equally as much.

Anyway, the next day we donned our new duds and went to the Hardesty Higgins House (which I, in my pre-TV nervousness, kept calling the Higgy Hardy House–geez!–and the rest of the afternoon, we could NOT stop saying, “Nana nana nanana, gettin’ Higgy wit it.”) And after standing in a chilly wind for a couple of hours and making a zillion bloopers and wondering if those poor guys got any footage worth a hoot, we finished our first I Love My Burg television interview. It airs this week on Fox News Richmond, and in case you don’t get that channel (cuz’ we don’t), we’ll post a link to it later this week. Watch for that!


Thanks, Miranda, for helping us solidify our little sliver of the universe, too. The Yellow Button is located at the corner of South Main and Bruce Street and is open Monday-Saturday 11:00am-7:00pm and Sunday 11:30am-4:30pm. Go get pretty!

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.

treasure hunt in the burg no. 16: first friday.

When I thought of the title for this post, I got all excited about the pirate jokes I could make. But I don’t want my corniness to get on everyone’s nerves, so I’ll just say a few words and then leave it alone: Booty. “Mate.” Poop deck. Ho. Spanker. There–what a relief.

No, this post isn’t about swashbuckling ruffians who pillage innocent communities; it’s about a bounty of people who, through their unique vision, give to our community in beautiful ways.

Brandy and I attended the first First Friday of the season on… well, the first Friday in April. It also happened to be MaCRoCk weekend, so downtown was very much alive and swarmy. Throngy. But in a festive way, not in a Walmart-the-day-before-Thanksgiving way.

First Friday is a free and family-friendly celebration of culture and community hosted by the Arts Council of the Valley. From 5 – 8pm on the first Friday of each month, you can stroll through downtown Harrisonburg and enjoy numerous art exhibits and performances. What results is a treasure hunt of sorts, seeking out the art featured at various locations. What we also discovered, however, is that the artists themselves are local treasures.

Friendly City Food Co-op
Meet Pat Jarrett–a guy who would make any self-respecting pirate quake in his boot. Why? Because he’s the president and founder of the Beard and Mustache Society of the Blue Ridge. (It’s true, people–it’s on Facebook.)

His colorful photos hung throughout the store and included subjects such as Swiss chard, peaches, apples, bread, cows at night, and a guy named Steve wearing plaid flannel and manhandling a carcass of some sort. But my favorite was the photo of the guy holding his rooster, next to a description of the Low and Slow philosophy of meat cooking. I’d say holding your rooster against your body until he’s cooked is plenty slow. Seriously, Pat’s eye for the sumptuous beauty of daily life is what makes him a local treasure.

Ten Thousand Villages
I’ve seen several of April Sedeen‘s paintings before–usually large, striking portraits with bold lines and colors–but I was not expecting to see framed “doodles” (as she calls them) when I entered Ten Thousand Villages. Yet there they were, all lined up in rows and columns along the wall. Who knew this jewel-eyed lass was soooo funny?

So I sat on a giant stack of rugs and laughed my butt off at her doodles. Like the one that’s just a dot, entitled “Modern Art.” Or the one of the king standing next to a toilet–“Royal Flush.” Or this one, where the veggies are eating humans.
I wanted all of them, displayed in my house just as they were that day. If you want daily doodles (and, I mean, who doesn’t??), you can like her Facebook page Doodle Du Jour.

Wonder
The next local treasure we encountered was Sarah Murphy. That woman supports everything in this town. I see her everywhere. For three years, Sarah has organized the Art Auction for Haiti–a sale of local art that benefits St. Joseph’s Orphanage in Gonâve, Haiti. Artists donated their work, others bid on it, and as there were no costs associated with the auction, all proceeds–nearly $1000–went straight to the orphanage. Everyone involved–Sarah, the artists, and the buyers–are treasures.
A side note: The art was displayed in this hallway that runs the length of the store. I never knew that was there! Ya learn somethin’ new… Brandy managed to win Kevin Edwards’ “Turd Piece” (sorry, Kevin, that’s the information I got) AND, Elliott Downs has opened a record shop inside Wonder (post forthcoming!). I saw sooooo many good albums there, including the Molly Hatchet one I had in 5th grade. Why did I like them? Because they look like pirates. Or Vikings. On horses.

The Yellow Button–post forthcoming!
Meet Nicole Martorana, a writer/photographer/videographer who’s dabbled in just about every art-related line of work, including stints at Harrisonburg Tourism, Court Square Theater, the Arts Council of the Valley, and now the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance. Still she finds time for her photography, beautifully displayed at the Yellow Button.

Her exhibit included pieces from an ongoing project called Show Your Face. During each exhibit, she takes polaroids of people who’ve come to see it, asks them to write short descriptions of themselves, frames the snapshots, and adds them to the collection for future display. If you’d like to see or participate in the exhibit, you can find Nicole at the RubyRed Shoe Boutique on Friday, May 4.
The Lady Jane
And there was Sara Christensen, the lovely, knowledgeable proprietor of The Lady Jane, who could tame an entire fleet of scallywags with one batch of brownies and sew a Jolly Roger better than any wench in town. Her exhibit was unlike the others in that it was not only aesthetically pleasing but also instructional. It reflected what she does for a living every day. She called the exhibit a “Mood Board,” and it was a collection of design elements (fabrics, colors, pictures of furniture, etc.) that revolved around a certain theme or style (in this case it was Rustic Vintage meets English Cottage). It’s a simple way to teach design to customers, and she even provided handouts containing advice and other resources.

Mint
Alas, our treasure hunt is nearly complete. But Harrisonburg would not be the treasure trove it is without Denise Kanter-Allen. You know how when you’ve been indoors in the air conditioning for several hours on a warm day, and you’re starting to get a little chilly, how good it feels to get in your warm car? That’s how it feels to be around Denise. Warm. Welcoming. Relaxed. She’s always open to collaborating with others and supporting other artists–she’s done joint art shows with Brandy, Elliott Downs, and Lynda Bostrom, to name a few. And she and Brandy are responsible for Harrisonburg’s first Art Lotto.

Her gorgeous collection of paintings called Leap is still on display at Mint, through the end of the month. All of the paintings feature people jumping for some reason… Brandy’s daughter Ella jumping on the trampoline, Denise herself jumping into the Aegean Sea (no doubt to welcome the pirates ashore), among others, all of which convey beautiful grace and movement.


And that concluded our search for hidden treasure; the next First Friday is Friday, May 4. We came home with a chest full of precious memories, lasting impressions, and meaningful encounters… all given freely by our priceless Harrisonburg.

Harrisonb-ARGH. Ha.

Sorry.

Copyright © 2012 · All Rights Reserved · ilovemyburg.com. Photos by Brandy Somers. Written content by Katie Mitchell. This material may not be copied, downloaded, reproduced, or printed without express written consent. Thank you for respecting our intellectual property.