I consider it a gift that I get to cross the Boulevard Bridge every day. Yes, I pay 35 cents for the privilege, both coming and going, but I watch the seasons unfold along the James River and at Maymont. Plus, every morning I chat with toll collector Diane Clemons, who never fails to ask me how I am.
Cashier Carolyn Hicks at Pleasants Hardware is my favorite conversationalist when I purchase my two caffeine-free Diet Cokes. Whether it be the weather, her granddaughter or what her church, Walthall Baptist, is selling as a fundraiser, Carolyn fills me in.
At 8 1/2 on Strawberry Street, I am a good customer, with at least two orders of lentil soup a week and an occasional dinner pizza. Chef Lawrence DiJoseph runs the show there, and he never fails to raise his head and do a "Hey, Susan," no matter how busy he is.
Peter Solomon of WCVE-FM 's Jazz with Peter Solomon never fails to engage me and teach me something, which isn't too hard to do since my jazz lexicon is limited, at best. And he always posts his playlist with links on the WCVE website.
11:30 a.m Garnett's Café ( 367-7909 ) on Park Avenue is cozy — so cozy that you might encounter a wait if you go at noon. So I get there early on workdays and order my favorite, the Croque Garnett, a Black Forest ham sandwich slathered with Mornay sauce. 1:00 p.m. Saturdays If it weren't for my closet full of old Brooks running shoes from the Roadrunner Running Store ( 353-8365 ), I'm not sure what I'd wear on weekend errands around town. After a few months' use, the shoes are no longer suitable for running, but they're fine for other purposes. 10:00 p.m. My dry skin gives me fits. I've tried nearly every kind of facial moisturizer on earth, and I was about to give up. Then Nordstrom's Herbert Jones suggested I try EXTRA Moisturizing Balm by Bobbi Brown. I have to keep up the daily regimen (or my face will go back to its dry state), but this moisturizer works for me. 11:00 p.m. Saturdays Saturdays. After a long week, I love listening to The Lounge , DJed by Jason Matty on WRIR-LP 97.3 FM. It summons the '90s for me, when I lived in Northern Virginia, hung out in the District and heard the Thievery Corporation and other dub, acid jazz and lounge artists late into the night.
7:30 a.m. When a falling tree limb crushed part of our fence in early July, my wife, Megan, and I were grumbling about being unable to let our dogs into the yard without a human chaperone. But she called Minor's Fences ( minorsfences.com ), and they fixed it the next day. (And if we'd called a little earlier, they would've been able to get to us that day.) 8:10 a.m. After some button-crushing experiences with other dry cleaners in town, I tried HandCraft Cleaners ( handcraftdrycleaners.com ). So far, so good on the button front, and they even sent me some $2 coupons in the mail. 8:00 p.m. As the new kid on Forest Hill Avenue, Asian Galaxy ( 323-8113 ) is getting a lot of love, much of it well deserved, especially for its sushi. But when it comes to Chinese takeout after the kids are asleep, I'm still partial to Mandarin Palace (pictured; 272-8020 ). 11:55 p.m. Who was ringing our doorbell, waking me from a deep slumber? A couple of officers from the Richmond Police ( richmondgov.com/police ), letting us know that the light was on in our minivan, thus preventing a dead battery the following day.
Brandon Fox, managing editor of R•Home
I'm a little black cloud, so get your umbrellas out. I start the day with blue skies, but soon, like tears, the raindrops begin to fall as the following things disrupt my day: 8:10 a.m. Just as I drive up to the tracks, the red lights flash and the gate comes down for a train at the Hermitage Road crossing . I have children in the car who need to get to school at 8:15 a.m. on the opposite side. The train schedule is erratic, and I'm always tempted to take this route because I win more than I lose. 8:30 a.m. I go to Can Can Brasserie ( 358-7274 ) for a cup of coffee to recover because I need to feel like I'm not in train-strangled Richmond but in Paris, where people walk lightheartedly to their destinations. The coffee is excellent, but they don't give me a refill. And don't give me a refill. And don't give me a refill. 6:00 p.m. I have to go to the grocery store after work. I choose Martin's in Carytown ( 353-0676 ) because I know there won't be any lines, and it isn't until I'm in there that I remember that there aren't any lines because somehow Martin's manages to offer fewer choices in the same amount of space where Ukrop's offered more. 6:15 p.m. I contemplate Kroger ( 254-1975 ) across the street. I ponder the endless laps that I'll need to do in the makeshift construction site that is now the store in order to find what I need. I immediately dismiss the idea. 6:30 p.m. Dinner will have to come from Chipotle ( 254-9425 ). I drive into its Grace Street parking lot and then seesaw my way into one of its tiny, tiny parking spaces for the next 15 minutes. Clearly, this parking lot was designed by Satan himself. Food in hand, I then seesaw my way back out for another 15 minutes. Dinner is cold.
9:00 a.m. Lamplighter Roasting Company ( 728-2292 ) makes ginger syrup from scratch, boiling ginger roots down to a liquid that they add to club soda and garnish with a lemon wedge. I'm considering buying the 12-ounce mason jar of syrup that they sell for $7, and taking owner Zach Archibald's suggestion of adding whiskey to it. Maybe not at 9 a.m., though. 1:30 p.m. After four hours spent hunched over my desktop, I sometimes feel like I'm ready to snap. That's when my chiropractor, Dr. Bill Roodman at the Advanced Wellness Center ( 673-9355 ), swoops in to the rescue. Ten minutes and a few cracks and pops later, and I'm ready to conquer the rest of the afternoon. 5:00 p.m. It's always a treat to stop off at Joe's Inn ( 355-2282 ) on my walk back from the office. I usually get there with only one of Joe's three happy hours to spare (the specials last from 3 to 6 p.m.), but that still gives me enough time to enjoy my favorite Belgian wheat beer, Hoegaarden, for just $2. 7:30 p.m. The Party Liberation Front , a wonderfully eccentric group of fire and circus art performers, organizes a monthly spectacle outside of Gallery 5 on First Fridays. Fire spinners, fire hoopers, fire eaters and more make this funky night of fishnets and flames something every Richmonder should see for themselves.
Harry Kollatz Jr.,
The GRTC ( ridegrtc.com ). My walk to the office starts somewhat later than it should, so I often pick up the 3 or 4 bus to get carried away. I can read, contemplate the impending day or gaze upon the city stirring toward its workday.
The Empress ( 592-4000 ). Since I tend to stumble from my house breathless and breakfast-less, there is a fine place near the office where I can get a fully loaded crepe or biscuits, and coffee that exceeds our office variety. The only downside is that maybe I go there too much.
Scuffletown Park ( enrichmond.org/partners/friends-of-scuffletown-park ). Weather and time permitting, I'll take my lunch, often a big salad from Strawberry Street Market, in this pocket park. Scuffletown Tavern stood here from the late 18th century until development cleared the site in 1910. I tend to consider it one of the origins of the Fan.
The Boulevard . This being Richmond, it's not just any avenue, it's The Boulevard. We can take the architectural variety for granted, thinking that every town has an urbane urban avenue like this one, but trust me, they don't. Beyond the superb aesthetics and history, I also rejoice in its revival during the past 15 years thanks to residents and stewards such as the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the Virginia Historical Society, making it a must-see showplace.
6:30 a.m. One of the first things I do in the morning, after feeding the cat, is brew some coffee and turn on NBC12 ( nbc12.com ) to see what's going on in my town. Everyone else in my house might be snoozing, but thank goodness meteorologist Andrew Freiden and news anchor Heather Sullivan are up and ready to help me start the day. 12:00 p.m. It's like Sunday dinner with a family of 80. Potluck fellowship meals at my church, First Mennonite of Richmond ( 264-3200 ), are truly something to look forward to, with fresh-from-the-garden salads, comfort-food casseroles, and homemade breads and desserts, side by side with exotic dishes made by attendees from Taiwan, Haiti, South Africa and Colombia — and great company, of course. 3:30 p.m. For an afternoon pick-me-up, I like the honeydew and mango frozen-yogurt flavors at SweetFrog ( sweetfrogfroyo.com ), topped with fresh blackberries, kiwi and strawberry slices, almonds, and granola. There's usually a line at the Carytown store, but it moves quickly. 7:30 p.m. In the heat of summer, evenings are the best time to be outside. So far this season, I've seen the Squirrels play twice, heard Nanci Griffith at Lewis Ginter Botanical Garden and the Monkees at Innsbrook , and watched King Lear at Agecroft Hall . But I think my favorite series of events is the fantastic (and free) Dogwood Dell Festival of the Arts ( 646-3355 ), which continues in August with Hairspray, the Robbin Thompson Band and Movies Under the Stars.
I stop to get coffee at Lucky's ( 739-4141 ) in Woodlake, and the moment I step into the convenience store, I feel like I have a personal shopper. The owner/manager stocks junk food just for me, this time those caramels with vanilla-cream centers. After watching me pick through trays of loose candy to find them, he has put a whole jar on the front counter. "I got them for you," he says, beaming.
I like to listen to the chatter of the waitresses at The Republic ( 592-4444 ), where I always order a spinach salad and a Diet Coke. They're young — no kids, no mortgages, maybe even no car payments — so they have refreshingly light conversations. Like the other day, they were debating the relative coolness of different kinds of sunglasses.
Even if it's been a bad, bad day, I can't ignore the indomitable cheer of Annette Brown , who works in the far-right, full-service toll booth on the Powhite Parkway, just after you get slip away from I-95 in Richmond. I can't help but smile back, and as I pull away from her booth, she says, "God Bless!" I feel much better.
Baseball practice is over, and I am driving my 13-year-old son, Connor, and his friend home. As usual, we must cross the small bridge over the Swift Creek Reservoir . I see a pair of geese and their goslings, a whole bunch of them tottering around. "Oh, look at the geese, boys!" I squeal. "How cute are they! No, really, boys, really! Look at them!! They're soooooo precious!!!" It's payback for Connor's terrible twos and the highlight of my day.