Thursday, May 24, 2018

Sumer Is Icumen In

Pools open this weekend. Graduations will be happening at Merriweather.

Sumer Is Icumen In

Strawberry picking at Gorman Farm. Restaurant patrons choosing the outdoor tables. Soon the snowball stands will be open.

Sumer Is Icumen In

People are looking at the lineup at Merriweather for the summer and choosing their concerts. They’re finalizing summer camp and childcare plans for their children, family vacation plans, too.

Sumer Is Icumen In

Local gardeners are tilling the soil at “the allotments”. Children and parents are gearing up for the CA swim team season. Teachers are crossing the days off their school calendars. 


Svmer is icumen in
Lhude sing cuccu
Groweþ sed
and bloweþ med
and springþ þe wde nu
Sing cuccu
I’m putting a call out for a future post: what are the things that mean summer in Columbia/HoCo to you? Add your thoughts here:

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

This. Means. War.

Yesterday I witnessed the Great Columbia Grass-Cutting War. It wasn’t pretty.

On a Facebook page entitled “Celebrating Columbia Maryland and its Future” the topic was anything but celebratory. A disgruntled resident was pulling out all the stops to shame any and everyone she perceived to be responsible for one of the great horrors of our time:

Too bad the Columbia Association, the Harper's Choice Village Board, and Enterprise Community Homes are all refusing to take any action to mow the grass at Harper House, which is now hip high. Apparently Columbia Association mowed this area in years past but now says the property owner Enterprise Community Homes should mow this area at the corner of Harper's Farm Road and Cedar Lane. Gridlock because each party is refusing to mow this grass and it looks terrible. Maybe Howard County needs to get involved!

Her post was accompanied by (twenty seven eight-by-ten colour glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explaining what each one was to be used as of the approach, the getaway, the northwest corner the southwest corner and that's not to mention the aerial photography.) multiple photographs of the offending site.

What followed (53 comments-worth) revealed that the complainant had already gone the same route on NextDoor, emailed multiple folks at the Harper’s Choice Village Association, and probably made multiple phone calls. Now I don’t know why the immediate removal of the grass was a life or death issue for her. Perhaps she dropped a contact lens or is missing a small dog.

But it was quite clear from responses to her tirade that, every step of the way, she had been receiving honest and forthright answers from Her Village Association, and she just didn’t like it. She chose to misrepresent what was actually going on in order to get more people stirred up on social media. It was the ultimate in “I want to talk to a manager!”

A highlight (?) was the person who thought it was high time that Howard County used some our tax money on taking care of Columbia, instead of relying on the Columbia Association to do it. Yet another example of people not understanding what Howard County Government does vs what CA does. Sheesh.

A (long-suffering?) gentleman came forward to re-iterate the steps that Harper’s Choice was already   taking to address the situation.

Do you guys think that if someone violates a covenant we can immediately sue them? These processes take time. Would you like me to go to your house, find all of the issues, and then give you 7 days to fix them all before I start fining you by the day? Probably not. That is why the process is civil. The grass sucks but it will get cut. We are on it.

And then, he shared a bit of golden information:

The new owners didn’t know their responsibility. This town is very complex. People don’t realize. The village center itself is owned by over 4 entities. This town is confusing.

Amen! This town is confusing. Maybe I should make that the new slogan for my blog. 

Village Green/Town² - - this town is confusing

God bless that poor man. This is probably not his first go-round with angry citizens demanding instant service. From what I can tell, he’s a board member. So that means he volunteers his services to   make Harper’s Choice a better place. You, sir, are my hero.

In the meantime, a bit of insight from another entrant into the fray:

Do people really care how tall some grass is?

Dear friends, in the Great Columbia Grass-Cutting War, let there be no more casualties. Let them hammer their swords into ploughshares. Or maybe lawn mowers.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

The Women’s Question

Meanwhile, at the MPT forum...

Candidates for governor were asked:

Next question on the economy: look into your crystal balls and tell me where do we go?

No, scratch that. The men were asked that. The two women candidates, Ervin and Vignarajah, got something different.

Also, the two women on stage got a different question, both of them asked what to do about boosting entrepreneurship for women.  The men just got questions about boosting the economy.

(Information shared here comes from the twitter feed of Erin Cox @ErinatTheSun)

May I just take a moment to bang my head on the desk here?

This is right up there with the early days of women in journalism where men were assigned straight news stories and women were limited to articles about cooking, home decorating, and the society pages. It’s 2018 already, folks. We have two women running for Governor and you have to ask them “women questions”?

Does this mean that there were also especially tailored questions for candidates of color, or for the candidate who is gay?

No, when it came to economy, there were two questions: one for the men, and one for the women.

I don’t know much about the moderator for this event. It seems unlikely that this was a deliberate attempt to marginalize the women candidates. It’s probably just unthinking stupidity. But to frame a separate question in this way absolutely does marginalize Ervin and Vignarajah as candidates whose interest and capabilities are limited to the “women’s sphere.”

Do moderators submit their questions in advance to any sort of panel for feedback before the event? If so, were there any women on that panel?

Everyday sexism at work. And from public television, no less.

Please tell me we can do better than this.

Monday, May 21, 2018

In the Darkness

My thoughts are very dark today. More school shootings, more toxic masculinity that cannot abide rejection. More ridiculous posturing from those who take money from the NRA. We have become a culture which requires the ritual sacrifice of our young.

I am sick to death of it.

But it is Monday, and we are all beginning this week together. There’s got to be a bit of light somewhere. Here is the full text of Bishop Michael Curry’s address at the royal wedding on Saturday.

I’ll leave you with this:

Think and imagine a world where love is the way. Imagine our homes and families when love is the way. Imagine neighborhoods and communities where love is the way. Imagine governments and nations where love is the way. Imagine business and commerce when love is the way. Imagine this tired old world when love is the way.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Raining on Prom Night

Friday night I was on pizza delivery duty for the GSA all-HoCo party at my daughter’s high school.

They were tight on money so restaurant delivery from Anthony’s wasn’t in the cards. Having Mom bring it on over from Little Caesar’s was the more affordable option.

It was raining, not heavily, but when hasn’t it been raining lately? When I arrived at Little Caesar’s in the Oakland Mills Village Center there were only two other customers: a young couple in evening finery. The fellow, in a whimsical move, was wearing his date’s handbag around his neck by its gold chain handle. Her dress was red, satin and lace, but understated. Quietly elegant.

“You guys look fabulous!”




Another gentleman came in from the rain. Around my age, maybe older.

“Where’s your prom?”

“B & O Railroad Museum, in Baltimore.”

“Oh, that’s gorgeous. You’re going to love that,” he said. I shook my head in agreement.

All the while the young couple is waiting on their order, and I am waiting for fifteen assorted pizzas and five orders of cinnamon bite things. I begin to carry my order out to the car. The young people leave, carrying a pizza. The young man stops.

“Do you need some help carrying that to your car?”

“Oh, heavens. No, I’m fine. You go to your prom and have a fabulous time!”

They smile and walk away. The clerk from the pizza place comes out carrying the rest of my pizzas.  It is an altogether satisfactory experience.

Some of our kids in Howard County pose for photographs by the family pool and head off to dinner in fancy restaurants before the prom. These kids were heading off with a humble pizza from Little Caesar’s and they still had the human kindness to offer help to someone in the rain.

It turns out that it was the Wilde Lake prom they were heading to. I checked the arrival photos in the Sun but didn’t see them.

I hope they had a truly wonderful time.

Saturday, May 19, 2018

Everything But the Kitchen Sink

I woke up to a world awash in the royal wedding. More coffee, please. No criticism from me; I just didn’t have it in me to get up that early. If Twitter is any indication, I should be running the text of  Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s address in place of a blog post today. It’s not available yet, from what I can tell. Perhaps tomorrow.

On the local front, today is Oakland Mills 50th Birthday kick off celebration. The events of the day have been adjusted due to inclement weather. I think the most updated schedule of events can be found here.

Wine in the Woods will be squishy this year, on account of the weather. I know from past experience that this will not deter devotees of our local rite of Spring. I also know it’s going to rip up the grass something fierce. Can’t wait for that new pathway system to go in...

County Council member and candidate for County Executive Calvin Ball did have an event scheduled for this afternoon but it has been moved to June 9th. I’d say that’s a good call.

There’s going to be a free community square dance happening today at Clarksville Commons from 3 to 5 pm. That event will be happening rain or shine. Learn more here.

Something to plan ahead for: the Building Families for Children Agape 5K.  

Building Families for Children is anon-profit Christian organization that provides family stability services within a 50 mile radius of their office in Columbia. This includes foster care, therapy services, material assistance drives, and volunteer family coaching/hosting services through Safe Families for Children. The Agape 5K is their major annual fundraising event. From their Facebook page:

Register before 5/25 to reserve a free athletic race t-shirt!
Use promo code 1MONTH TODAY ONLY to save 10%!

✔ Athletic Agape 5k T-Shirt
✔ Chip Timing (Racine MultiSports) 
✔ Raffle Prizes & Swag Bags
✔ Convenient Early Packet Pickup (Road Runner Sports)
✔ Delicious Post-Race Snacks (bagels, donuts, bananas, muffins, and more!)
✔ Awards & Prizes (top 3, age categories, largest group)
✔ Supporting Programs That Help Maryland's Most Vulnerable Children Thrive in Families! 

Already signed up? Invite friends to join your team!
We still need 40 VOLUNTEERS! Sign up on the event page. 

Yeah, there’s that Preakness thing happening in Baltimore again. I’m just hoping that wet conditions don’t cause serious injury to any of the horses. The people on the infield will need to fend for themselves.

In closing, I can’t let the day go by without sharing this local story:

“Was there a part of you that was like, ‘This isn’t real. This could not happen at my school?’” the interviewer asks.
“No. There wasn’t,” Curry replies, with a bitter laugh.
“Why so?”
“It’s been happening everywhere,” she shrugs. “I’ve always felt it would eventually happen here too.”
It. Will. Happen. Here. Don’t want it to be a local story? Do something.

Friday, May 18, 2018

No Thanks

Dear political people, especially men: do not hug me if you don’t *really* know me. Ok?

I posted this on Facebook last night after coming home from the campaign kick-off event for Jen Terrasa. (I’m not a big fan of political events but it was an easy decision to come out for Ms. Terrasa.)   At any rate, I was surprised at how many folks responded to my statement.

First of all, I want to clarify that I love hugs, from people I know well, and with whom the expression of affection through hugging is appropriate. The act of pressing a hug on someone you’ve never had more than a two minute conversation with is creepy to me, especially if it is in the service of forwarding a political campaign.

“I want something from you. So I’m going to hug you as a ritualized symbol of a familiarity we don’t actually have. Now, vote for me.”

No thanks. Being a political candidate is a bit like being a door-to-door salesman. One is not required to hug the Fuller Brush man.

Let’s face it. A hug is an intimate physical act in which one must lower one’s defenses to participate. Yes, there are many more intimate physical acts than this, but still, pressing your body against someone else’s and squeezing should at the very least require consent. If you want to show you have a positive connection with someone, then take the time to actually forge that positive connection. Otherwise it comes across like marking your territory.

A sad footnote to this is that I received a private message from an old friend worrying that he was the source of my complaint. The reason he is a friend is because he actually cares what I think and feel, and has taken the time to get to know me. He isn’t the sort to carelessly violate boundaries. It’s people like this that one can trust with a hug.

I felt this way before the the #metoo movement, by the way. I’m just surprised that men running for office haven’t gotten the message that consent and respecting boundaries are front and center this year. My goodness, I hope they stay front and center forever.