For the Men on Your Shopping List

Do you find shopping for the men in your life challenging? I do. According to my husband LDB, what men want most can’t be wrapped and put under the tree. And I don’t mean a new 

Grady White center consoleGrady White center console,

or do I?

We’re not trying to add to your holiday stress before Thanksgiving. We just want to share some good product ideas to consider for any special guy in your life ~ husband, son, father, coworker ~ and hope that these suggestions make you a happier elf as Christmas approaches in warp speed. To order, click the heading or the photo to shop from or other website as noted. Purchasing the Amazon items, which you can also find in our Posse Shoppe (see sidebar to the right), helps to support The Gracious Posse, as well. Now, make your list and check it twice!

Cocktail Gator

Cocktail Gator

This is LDB‘s new best friend. It goes to tailgates, hotel rooms and the boat. When not in use, it sits at our back door ready for the next outing. The middle plastic container holds ice while its handy pop-up dispenser corrals cups. Stash cocktail napkins, corkscrews and bottle openers in the front pocket. This is so cool; it’s one of those products I wish I’d invented. From Cocktail Gator.

Jack Rudy Small Batch Tonic

Jacky Rudy Small Batch Tonic

Say goodbye to ho-hum tonic water. Mix this concentrate with soda water and make the best G&T ever. We can’t think of a better stocking stuffer.

The Yeti

Yeti cooler

Yes, it sounds like a name for a mountain-top guru, but this über-cooler raises the cold-storage bar to new heights. You’ll never worry about food safety again at a tailgate or on a camping trip or fishing expedition. It will keep your guy’s favorite Man Dip cold for days.

Cutco Fisherman’s Solution


Cutco Fisherman's Solution

Cutco makes the best knives, and its Fisherman’s Solution cleans and filets fish like it’s slicing through buttah. Of course, he may think you’ve parked the new Grady White in the driveway as the real Christmas Day surprise.


Pedometer, sleep monitor, alarm clock, activity truth-teller, all in one little wristband. Include a copy of David Sedaris’ hilarious article Stepping Out for added elfin humor.

Bose Noise-Cancelling Headphones

Bose headphones

For your frequent traveller or music aficionado, get a pair of these headphones and keep the peace on the plane and in your home. Our husbands swear by them.

Allen Edmonds Cedar Shoe Form

Allen Edmonds Cedar Shoe Form
These shoe trees are likely not the kind of gift he splurges on for himself. Go ahead and help him keep his expensive shoes in shape and fresh.

Tivolo King Cube Ice Tray
Tovolo King Cube Ice Tray

The king-sized cubes don’t dilute a special beverage. The bigger the better, right? One size fits all.

Pheasant Feather Bow Tie

pheasant feather bow tie

We just got wind of these. Dangerously dapper with rustic appeal says the website. We couldn’t agree more!

We HO-HO-HOpe this helps you with your he-man shopping list!

Got any ideas to add? 


November 21, 2014

Educator in Residence ~ Cathy McGehee, Head of Foxcroft School

Cathy McGehee is no ordinary woman. Some moms with newly emptied nests look forward to downsized parenting roles and school involvement. Not so with Cathy, former Director of the Upper School at St. Catherine’s School in Richmond. When her  daughters flew the nest, she accepted the Head of School position at Foxcroft School. Located in Middleburg, Virginia, Foxcroft is a 100-year-old boarding/day college preparatory school for girls.

Foxcroft School signage © The Gracious Posse

Even if you don’t know Foxcroft, you may have heard the buzz about it in the news recently as the recipient of the largest bequest to a girls secondary school ever. A $40 million gift does not come one’s way every day. But more on that later.

When Cathy first told me her plans to accept the position, I wondered,

Why Foxcroft School?

Not familiar with Foxcroft, located in the picturesque hunt country of Virginia, I couldn’t imagine why Cathy and her husband Read, an ophthalmologist with a thriving practice, would uproot their established lives in RVA and move to this seemingly remote setting.

Foxhound Lane © The Gracious Posse

Not until LDB and I set foot on campus to attend Cathy’s installation as the tenth Head of School

Cathy's Installation Program © The Gracious Posse

did we appreciate the rich tradition of Foxcroft (Foxes and Hounds), the enormity of the job, and the professional opportunity to advance girls’ education that had been extended to Cathy. Not only has she achieved a career pinnacle, she has found a warm and welcoming community in which to live and work. 

views from Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

Foxcroft School Observatory © The Gracious Posse

Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious PosseCovert, residence for Head of School

Living at Covert

Built in 1930 for the school’s founder, Charlotte Haxall Noland, the original stone house was destroyed in a fire and rebuilt to its current state in 1934. As with most school homes, Covert, meaning woodland setting providing protection for game ~ in this case foxes, 

Foxcroft's Covert House door knocker © The Gracious Posseserves many constituents. It’s home to Cathy and her family and an inviting venue for entertaining students, faculty and staff, parents, and board members. Prior to Cathy’s arrival, designer Jean Perrin directed the renovation of Covert and blended the school’s existing furniture and accessories

Foxcroft's Covert House staircase© The Gracious Posse

Foxcroft's Covert House view from foyer© The Gracious Posse

Foxcroft's Covert House living room© The Gracious Posse

Foxcroft's Covert House oil painting © The Gracious PosseOil on canvas by Edward L. Chase (American, 1884 – 1965) depicting
Charlotte Haxall Noland and Daniel Sands of the Middleburg Hunt,1940,
hanging above the mantle in the living room

with the McGehees’ personal belongings.

Portrait Collage © The Gracious Posseoil portraits of the McGehee’s daughters (and the Hymnal from St. James’s Church, Richmond)

Andras Bality oil painting © The Gracious Posseoil painting by Andras Bality

corner cupboard in Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Possecorner cupboard

Haitian art in Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious PosseHaitian art from the extensive collection of Cathy’s father-in-law

The living and dining rooms open to a stately

Stone patio at Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

slate patio which is tented for large events.

The dining room with its ornately carved fireplace surround

Fireplace in dining room of Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

greets guests in its traditional yellow, blue and white motif, and Alison and I immediately gravitated to the gorgeous silver pieces in use and on display.

silver foxes at Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Possesilver foxes as focal points

silver fox cups at Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious PosseCovert’s collection of silver cups with fox head

personalized silver at  Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious PosseMiss Charlotte’s personalized silver service, complete with fox motif

Silver punchbowl Collage © The Gracious Possesterling punch bowl, given to beloved Miss Grebel in honor of her service to the school, depicting scenes of Foxcroft

Lunch setting in Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

Lunch was served on transferware which also features scenes of Foxcroft. 

Transfer ware at  Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

The kitchen received the most attention during the renovation. 

Kitchen of Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

Now big and serviceable for the school’s caterer of the numerous events held at Covert, the kitchen is very much a part of the McGehee lifestyle. Cathy and Read enjoy cooking with each other on their weekends together. The kitchen has also become a gathering  place for informal faculty and student events.

Kitchen of Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posseone of the few requests Cathy made of the kitchen renovation was an island with bar seating, used daily

The home has five bedrooms upstairs,

Bedroom at  Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

Bedroom at  Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

Bedroom at  Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

Bedroom at  Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

plenty of room for visiting family, special guests and blogger friends.

My favorite room is like no other I’ve seen. Situated on the front right corner of the house, Cathy’s oval office is filled with light,

Oval office of Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

sporting raised wood paneling,

Oval office of Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

 a well concealed door,

Oval office of Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

built-in bookcases,

Oval office of Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

a curved fireplace and French door to the outside,

Oval office of Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

as well as comfy furniture.

Oval office of Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

This unique spot provides an ideal oasis for thought, reflection and refuge. 

Working at Foxcroft

As much as there was to appreciate at Covert, Cathy couldn’t wait to show us her new campus. She has embraced this 24/7 job with conviction, enthusiasm and energy as she nurtures her new school family that includes a student body of 157 and teaching faculty of 24. Our tour of the heart of campus (the school is sited on 500 acres) included this bucolic view of the mountains.

Foxcroft School outdoor scenes © The Gracious Possenote the bronze hound (left) and fox (right) sculptures atop the stone wall

from the patio in front of the library. 

Foxcroft School outdoor scenes © The Gracious Posse

This bronze book sculpture sits on a bench in the library courtyard inscribed

For Kitty Forsyth Wickes with Love from her friend Bunny Lambert Class of 1929

(fyi – Miss Lambert later became the illustrious Bunny Mellon).

Schoolhouse, one of the oldest buildings on campus, houses the Head’s office.

Foxcroft School academic scenes © The Gracious PosseCathy at work on Miss Charlotte’s 100-year-old desk

Foxcroft School academic scenes © The Gracious Posseneedlepoint fox and hounds director’s chair, a gift from the Board to Cathy, charms a corner of the office

Portrait of Miss Charlotte © The Gracious Posseportrait of Miss Charlotte by Susan Byrne hanging in the entrance to Schoolhouse 

The library hosts the thrice-weekly morning gatherings for students.

Foxcroft School’s flying staircase in library © The Gracious Possesitting on the library’s flying staircase during morning meeting is a senior privilege

The stables and riding arena captured my heart. Home to 54 horses, with 40 owned by the school, the riding program is the bedrock upon which Charlotte Noland founded the school. She considered riding to be most beneficial to girls because it teaches decisiveness, courage, fitness and responsibility.

Foxcroft School barn © The Gracious Posse

Foxcroft School riding ring © The Gracious Posseindoor riding arena 

Foxcroft School tack room © The Gracious Possestudents’ tack room

Throughout our tour Cathy constantly greeted students by name, a priority for her to learn in her first months on campus.

Foxcroft School senior captains © The Gracious Possestudent leaders of the Hound team wearing their prized leaders’ caps, which are passed down from one leader to the next each year, in anticipation of the upcoming Fox/Hound field hockey game 

 Now, What About That $40 Million?

Foxcroft School outdoor sign © The Gracious Posse

On October 28 Foxcroft School announced a bequest made to the school by alumna Ruth T. Bedford ’32. This Standard Oil heiress wanted to leave a lasting mark on the school that had made a huge impression on her life. No doubt Cathy and her Board Chair Reggie Groves are the envy of non-profits nationwide. It’s been the topic of conversation for Cathy, but she is quick to say the Board designated the majority of the gift to strengthen the endowment where it will do the most to benefit Foxcroft over the long term. Two million dollars are designated for the current capital campaign, and a portion will honor Ms. Bedford through scholarship funding and support of the Theatre Arts program.

To the current parents of Foxcroft students, faculty, staff or alumnae, congratulations on your choice of new Head. We know you couldn’t have found a better person to lead your impressive school.

Cathy McGehee in front of Foxcroft's Covert House © The Gracious Posse

We appreciate the hospitality shown by all we met at Foxcroft. To our dear friend Cathy, we wish you and your family all the best in your new home. Godspeed, Mrs. McGehee!


November 19, 2014

The Low Line, RVA’s Newest Riverfront Park, Is Taking Shape Just in Time to Welcome the World

The earliest European explorers established Richmond on America’s founding river when the James River’s rapids prevented them from navigating farther inland. Later, entrepreneurs built the Kanawha Canal to move raw materials and products in and out of Richmond’s rapidly growing industrial center. As industry flourished along the James, residents turned their backs on the waterway, unfazed by its increasing pollution and oblivious to its existence unless seeking a bridge to cross it.

Richmond as seen from the James below the fall line © The Gracious Posse

For over twenty years, I lived in Richmond barely aware of the James River because views of and access to it were so limited. Not until we acquired private access and purchased a boat did my family finally appreciate the beauty of this magnificent river. While two city riverfront parks, the Pony Pasture and Belle Isle, draw loyal visitors, their locations hinder access to the everyday citizen.

view of Rockett’s Landing from the northwest © The Gracious Posse

Over recent years, outdoorsy types have embraced the one-of-a-kind urban whitewater rapids that roll through Richmond. Extreme races take place regularly on Brown’s Island and its surrounds, and bikers somehow manage to navigate their way through our narrow cobblestoned roads. Sports enthusiasts have so embraced the hidden treasures of Richmond, starting with the James, that Outdoor magazine named RVA the Best River Town in 2012, and the UCI selected Richmond to host its bicycle racing World Championships next September – the first time that it has chosen a US city in almost 30 years.

view from Chapel Island to Rockett's Landing © The Gracious Posse

So outsiders love our city, but how do the non-extreme sports-types amongst our residents get to enjoy the river? Enter Capital Trees and two adjoining waterfront parks near Church Hill, Richmond’s first neighborhood. In partnership with the Virginia Capital Trail Foundation, which is building the 50+ mile bike trail between Richmond and Williamsburg, the City of Richmond and private businesses, Capital Trees has worked its magic to welcome us regular folk to see the James River and the Kanawha Canal like we never have before.

Great Shiplock Park

view from end of Kanawha Canal to Rockett's Landing © The Gracious Posse

Last year, in the area where the locks control the water depth of the Kanawha Canal,

Kanawha Canal locks at Great Shiplock Park © The Gracious Posse

Capital Trees beautified Great Shiplock Park by planting riparian gardens to clean storm-water drainage before entering the river

portion of the riparian gardens planted at Great Shiplock Park by Capital Trees © The Gracious Posse

and creating an inviting entry to Chapel Island, which marks the southeastern starting point of the Kanawha Canal. With other volunteers, Capital Trees helped clean up invasive plants that had been choking out natives on this tree-filled island that long ago was home to the Trigg Shipyard.

Chapel Island on a beautiful autumn day © The Gracious Posse

How amazing to find a true fishing hole

Chapel Island fishing hole © The Gracious Posse

so close to downtown businesses and Shockoe Bottom nightlife. Whether you are a mountain biker,

mountain biking on Chapel Island © The Gracious Posse


Ellen and Tex on Chapel Island © The Gracious Posse

or budding waterman,

fishing in the James River from Chapel Island © The Gracious Posse

Great Shiplock Park welcomes all to a peaceful refuge near the heart of the city.

Low Line

site of the Low Line between the Kanawha Canal and Dock Street east of RVA's flood wall © The Gracious Posse

Even more inspiring is the current transformation of the five acres of land running northwest of Great Shiplock Park along the banks of the Kanawha Canal and separating it from Dock Street. Much of this land lies under CSX’s elevated railroad tracks and has been covered in high brush for as many years as anyone can remember. The Virginia Capital Trail Foundation installed a biking trail from the flood wall along this narrow strip five years ago, but no one could see the waters of the Canal that lay just beyond the weeds and overgrowth.

covered walkway to historical description at Canal bank © The Gracious Posse

This summer Capital Trees hired graduates of the Richmond City Jail’s new work-study landscape program to clear the debris, and the metamorphosis was swift.

historical marker at Canal bank © The Gracious Posse

You can now see the Canal as you drive along Dock Street.

afternoon view of Canal from Dock Street © The Gracious Posse

The juxtaposition of industrial and natural makes this a perfect place to celebrate Richmond’s past and future,

trestle cross-supports along Canal bank © The Gracious Posse

and with the blessing of the City, which does not have the means to do it alone, Capital Trees and its partners are planning to turn this swathe into the Low Line.

Canal boat cruising away from downtown © The Gracious Posse

Its name gives a nod to New York City’s inspirational High Linewhich sits on top of abandoned railroad tracks.

a fragrant piece of New York's High Line © a follower of The Gracious Posse

The timing for the Low Line seems serendipitous. Portions of the UCI World Championships will be raced in Church Hill, and the Low Line is perfectly situated to welcome the thousands of expected race spectators.

lone paddleboarder by the Canal boat shed © The Gracious Posse

Funding, though, to complete the first-phase of the Low Line in time for plantings to withstand the crowds is critical.

current simple wildflower plantings © The Gracious Posse

Capital Trees needs to raise about $1,000,000 by early spring to transform this unique spot into a memorable location for our visitors.

Palmer and Tex awaiting the transformation and the crowds © The Gracious Posse

I have lived in and loved Richmond for nearly 30 years, but in that time I have never felt as excited about what is bubbling up in our area as I do now. RVA’s reputation is rising meteorically thanks to the culinary, artistic and medical talents of our fellow residents and the natural beauty of our historic location.

planting beds awaiting bulbs to be planted by Capital Trees volunteers © The Gracious Posse

A project like the Low Line is one more highlight for us to share with our fellow Richmonders and the world, not just in 2015 but for years to come. You can help make it happen. Visit Capital Trees outstanding website to find out how.

Make it gorgeous and they will come; keep it that way and they will help you.

~Lynden B. Miller from Parks, Plants, and People: Beautifying the Urban Landscape


November 17, 2014