Friday, June 28, 2013

Come to my Party

Invitations can be exciting. As a child, the excitement of receiving a birthday party invitation was unsurpassed. As adults we become more wary of invitations. "You are a part of an exclusive group to receive this special invitation.." begins a commercial pitch that comes in the mail. Invitations to fundraisers, no matter how worthy, may be less than welcome when money and/or time is in short supply.

How can we bring the excitement of a genuine invitation to the promoting Columbia's tot lots, pathways, and open space? No matter how much you believe that everyone already knows, or that they "should know"' the truth is, many don't.
Some may know but are just in a rut. They may look at these things and just see "same old, same old." They may need help seeing old things in a new way.

I used a photograph yesterday which combined signage with QR codes and an invitation to interact through FourSquare. How would the use of something like this lend some interest? I can see how it might add an element of gamification to the use and exploration of tot lots. It might also give some useful feedback on which spaces are the most used, and whether a program such as this influences greater use or exploration.

A less high-tech way to invite people in is the StoryWalk program. Take a look here:
And here:  I can see this as a partnership between CA, individual Villages, the Howard County Library System, and the Howard County Schools. Basically, the Storywalk is designed to encourage parents to take a walk with their child, while reading pages of a storybook posted at intervals along the way. What a great invitation to walk down a path, enjoy nature, find out what happens next in the story and --ooh--a tot lot!

Maybe tot lots, pathways, and open spaces need their own fan clubs in each village. We hold concerts and festivals in our Village Centers. We have annual pool parties, often rotating each year from one village pool to the next. If our outdoor spaces had annual events, or ongoing programs, it would be one more way to invite and engage residents to enjoy this wonderful amenity.

I'm inviting you to share your ideas with me in the comments, and over at Inspire Columbia. No salesman will call, and there is no obligation to buy.


Thursday, June 27, 2013

Looking for a Sign

Have you seen this video?

If you haven't, take a moment now. It isn't all that long.


It seems to me that this video is another step in the Columbia Association's quest to get residents to ask themselves, "Are we using the Tot Lots?" It certainly is a different approach than the one several years ago, where Village Boards were asked to evaluate their Tot Lots with an eye to closing a certain percentage of them. Period.

That came across like an edict from on high. This feels more like an invitation to engage in a "what if?" process. It's more creative, more open-ended, and has more finesse.

But neither address an issue that is central to me: if you are concerned about Tot Lot usage, why do you hide the darn things?

If your house does not back up to a pathway or open space area, you have absolutely no idea they are there. How is this at all reasonable? The entrance to the pathway which leads to the Tot Lots nearest to where I live is across the road, down the street, and completely unmarked. I lived here for years before I discovered it--by accident.

As pleasant as the video is, it still perpetuates the fairytale notion that everyone knows where the Tot Lots are. They don't. So, if CA re-purposes an area for a bocce court, or an outdoor painting space, it is still only for those who already know it is there. And so we perpetuate limited use of these gathering places.

I am happy for CA to consider a variety of uses that residents might want.  But the process absolutely must begin with appealing, inviting signage for the pathways, tot lots, and open space. It isn't so much that tot lots need to be replaced. They need the benefit of a re-branding effort, if you will.

The sign I show above is from the Singapore Zoo. I chose zoo signage because it is generally appealing and easy to read. I am frustrated by the underlying feeling that it is somehow okay to say, "Columbia:  leave it alone." Or "Columbia: out-of-towners just don't get it." Zoos imagine they are welcoming out-of-town guests, and so should we. Our goal should be to invite and engage.

Invite and engage. Imagine how much we could do with these spaces if signage looked like this?

More on that tomorrow...


Monday, June 24, 2013

Tell Me A Story

I saw something yesterday at the Food Lion that I haven't seen since I was a little girl. I'm a little bit embarrassed at how strong a wave of excitement and nostalgia washed over me.  I called Margo over and made her look as I explained what a rare sighting this was, and what seeing it meant to me. She was not impressed.

I looked at her and realized that the time had passed when such information would be noteworthy. A little piece of me crumbled. I know it is a natural part of growing up. I don't need or want to be at the center of her universe forever. But the growing up brings about so many tiny, wispy fractures in what once was as she moves on to what she will become. Stretches and twinges, fits and starts, beginnings and ends. We can't stand still as we are.

There was a time, when she was younger, when bedtime meant read-alouds and and story telling. Long after we had stopped reading three books a night, she would still invite me into her bed with the request, "Tell me a story about when you were little!" It was a request that never failed to produce at least a ten minute bedtime reprieve.  Other nights it was a story about when Alice was little, or when my mother was little. Those were the preferred stories. She was not one for dragons or princesses, talking puppies or flying ponies. Margo wanted to know the Way Things Were. 

I never thought about how validating that story-telling was for me until it wasn't wanted anymore. I miss it.  Now bedtimes are full of her telling me her ideas, her stories, and her plans.  That's as it should be. But every now and then I forget, as I did at the Food Lion, and expect that open and fascinated excitement.

I don't have any bright and shiny way to sum this up.  My moment of observation today is just that: accepting the way things are, wondering what will come next.

Oh, and do you know what I saw in the freezer case at the Food Lion?  Frost!  Lots of it!  Big hunks of sparkly white frost in crystalline beauty.  Do you remember frost in the freezer cases at the grocery? I always tried to break off some to eat, like snow, and my mother would give me dire warnings about germs. I loved the smell of it and the taste of it, the texture in my mouth. 

I remember vividly what a chore it was to defrost a refrigerator at home. So I am completely at peace with a world where frost-free is the norm.  But something happened to me when I saw that frost in the freezer case. I became a child again, full of open and fascinated excitement.  

So Margo wasn't impressed. She didn't see the magic in it that I did. She's probably already forgotten.   But, who knows? Someday it may turn up in stories she will tell. And somewhere in the magical past of our childhood memories, the stories will be waiting.

Friday, June 21, 2013


It seems that I will have to find a different routine for the summer. Our six am wake up has shifted to seven thirty or later. I'd like to get my blog post up by 8:30 am at the latest, but it is clearly just not happening.  It's time to find a Summer schedule that works for me.

Summer is the time for trying new things at our house. Today I will be attempting to make kale chips with the kale from our CSA share. Having a CSA share is new for us, too. We're splitting it up with older daughter Alice. She'll be coming over today to fancify Margo's hair with henna streaks--quite the Summer adventure. If we can keep the kale separate from the henna, all will be well.

My husband treasures his summers for the time to pursue music playing and composing. All the instruments get pulled out. He watches the Orioles while practicing guitar, banjo, ukulele, harp, mandolin. Oh, and the banjolele. Did you even know there was such a thing? One year he was practicing tuba for a show in Towson and the Orioles games were pretty exciting at our house.
And if you think "sad trombone" sounds sad

Last summer we joined Lifetime Fitness together, and it worked for awhile until school knocked us out of whack in the Fall. We're trying it again this Summer, with Margo now old enough to try the upstairs activities with us. Her excitement is good for the rest of us. (I could use some extra enthusiasm when it comes to exercise.) And of course that means pool dates with Alice and George. I have plenty of enthusiasm for those, although I wish Lifetime had more shade structures.

What do I do in the Summer? Well, I craft. I try new crazy craft ideas, often blending recyclables with materials from my craft stash. I bought a boatload of costume jewelry at the Abiding Savior Flea Market, so I'm thinking that will figure in this year's creations. I'm going to have a table at this year's Oakland Mills Cultural Arts Festival, selling fun, cute items for five dollars and under. Mostly dollar stuff. Target audience? Kids and teens who can't afford to buy anything from the professional, artisan-vendors. We don't have much for them. I'm also going to do a raffle for a barrel-full of craft supplies. That was Margo's idea, and you'll be hearing more about that here as the time approaches.

In the Summer I brainstorm activities for my early childhood special needs music and movement classes. I'm always looking for new music, new hands-on materials, and new picture books that go with songs. Often, I make my own picture books using scrapbook albums and printouts from the computer. I have been experimenting with creating iPad picture books as well. I have done a few using the slideshow function, accompanied by songs, with mixed success. Slideshows don't count musical beats or wait for key words, which is important to me. I have an idea for a "Wake Up" book that has been percolating all through the past school year....

Summer. Recharging. Recess. Absolutely vital. Teachers and students alike must be creators. We can't create if the well runs dry. This is how we recharge. How do you "fill your well"?

Thursday, June 20, 2013

In Medias Res

Halfway down the stairs
is a stair
where i sit.
there isn't any
other stair
quite like
i'm not at the bottom,
i'm not at the top;
so this is the stair
I always

Halfway up the stairs
Isn't up
And it isn't down.
It isn't in the nursery,
It isn't in town.
And all sorts of funny thoughts
Run round my head.
It isn't really
It's somewhere else

A.A. Milne

I thought of this poem as Tom Coale announced his candidacy for the House of Delegates on Tuesday night. Back when we were very young, memorizing poetry was an established childhood activity. I think this poem may have been the first one I ever committed to memory.

Back to Mr. Coale. Why on earth did this poem come to mind? Well, consider this:

You've seen a number of versions of this shot over the past several days, I suspect, some dark, some blurry, some much better. We all had our reasons for wanting to catch that moment. For me, the image of a political campaign (and let's face it, a political career) taking flight from smack dab in the middle of the staircase was compelling.

As a blogger, Tom has shown interest and thoughtful insight on both "Columbia" issues and "Howard County" Issues. As a Columbia Council Representative, he has been comfortable working to improve Columbia while understanding how we fit into Howard County. He clearly understands the relationships that will move things forward, make things work.

His forthrightness has made him a target for those who want to have things their own way. Clearly this doesn't bother him. Here he is, taking his place in the center of it all, to move forward in making things happen for Howard County. I dare say Tom chose this exact spot with the knowledge that it was the most central location to be seen and heard in the particular venue he selected.

If you care about clarity, you can't do better than to place yourself halfway down the stairs at The Rumor Mill. The point is made: I'm not afraid to be out here where everyone can see me. In fact, that's the whole point in a nutshell.

In politics much is made of "where I stand" or "what I stand for." On Tuesday night, Tom Coale took his stand in a position of great vulnerability--he would be viewed at all angles, all levels, all sides, and while people moved in and out of the scene from the main entrance and the kitchen. Some politicians couldn't handle that many variables. Some wouldn't allow that much lack of control.

"Proud Evangelist for Community Involvement." Consistent with this description on his Twitter account, Tom Coale chose to be in the middle of things on Tuesday night. He is clearly proud of his community, and excited to advocate for it. But the key for him is involvement.

Meaningful government involves the governed. And he wants to be in the middle of that: not making us look up to him in a high, lofty place, nor pushing us on by barking orders from behind. In A.A. Milne's poem, the central character has found a place to sit, and think, and imagine. Clearly Mr. Coale has done that, and more, as he has made his plans to run for delegate.The next step is, of course, to stand up. And he did.

If you were there, you felt the energy and sincerity of the moment. If you weren't, don't worry. If Tuesday evening was any indication, Tom will make sure to make himself and his goals accessible to the community.


Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Mrs. Gottrocks

"Success to me is having ten honeydew melons and eating only the top half of each slice."

Barbra Streisand

I grew up in a middle class family.  My father worked full time outside the home; my mother worked full time running our home. Actually, both put in significantly more than full time hours. Two parents, three children. One income.

We owned a home in the "old suburbs" and went to good public schools. We could go to the doctor and dentist for regular check ups. There were piano lessons, dance lessons drama lessons--depending on which child. My mother worked ceaselessly to economize in order to make the money stretch for that.

Some years we had a family vacation. Most years, though, we did day trips to the beach or amusement park. We didn't go out to eat very often, and if we did, it was often to Howard Johnson's, not a fancy place.  My mother scanned the weekly grocery ads, clipped coupons, made every penny count.

We were not rich. My mother used to use the moniker  "Mrs. Gottrocks" to describe what rich people did. Rich people, not us. This was not to denigrate our position in life, but to remind the kids that this is where we we are, so be realistic.
You are not going to boarding school, or getting the enormous stuffed pony you can ride on from FAO Schwartz. Getting treats from the ice cream truck is for rich people.

I say all of this to adequately prepare you for this announcement: today, I am rich. I am rich because I can now afford to stay home in the summer when I'm not teaching. We can afford to join Lifetime Fitness in the summer and work out and swim whenever we want. I am rich because, once in awhile, I can go out to dinner and have the steak, loaded baked potato and the lettuce wedge with blue cheese dressing, $1.00 extra. And Margo can go to two session of summer camp--what riches!

We are going on a family vacation to the beach for five whole days.  These are the things of riches, to me.

I was raised by a frugal mother. This means that sometimes I stress over whether I can afford to buy the name brand product in the grocery, or whether it is okay to buy new clothes for myself when the family might need something more. It also means that I struggle to believe I have money to put in the collection plate.

But, when it comes the bar I set for being "rich", it means I am easily pleased. Sure, it would be awesome to win the lottery and buy that million dollar-plus home with room for an in-house arts space. But, give me time to spend with my family, a refreshing swim on a hot day, with a little money left over for the ice cream truck, and I am rich beyond my childhood dreams.

I am, in fact, Mrs. Gottrocks. Because it's all in how you look at it.

Friday, June 14, 2013

An Oakland Mills Farewell

It is the last day of school.  My husband is finishing his eleventh year as a teacher in the Howard County School System. I have just finished ten years teaching music and movement in the Howard County RECC Program.  Margo is finishing sixth grade, her first year in Middle School.

All of us are looking forward to the rejuvenating days of Summer vacation. I don't know what we would do without the time to recharge.  For some reason, the past school year has felt incredibly long. We have been inching towards the finish line.

I have worked on an academic schedule for my entire professional life.  Until recently, that meant getting an additional job for summers. Through all of Alice's childhood, I had a church job as a paid chorister year-round, as well.  Still, working on a school calendar has always meant certain seasonal rituals for me: end of the year activities, parties, farewells.

I have just learned that Oakland Mills Middle School will be saying farewell to Principal Shiney Ann John. She is being transferred as Principal of the new Middle School, known at present as Middle School 20.  We have only had one year to get to know her, but from my experience I can tell you that she has done a brilliant job at OMMS, and she will be missed.

Principals can make or break a school.  They set the tone for how the school operates. They set boundaries for how staff interact, how students are treated, how parents can be involved in their children's educational experience. Yes, the school system sets the overall goals, but the principal carries them out, either well or poorly.  Ask any parent or teacher; I am reasonably certain they will concur.

I pray that the new principal for OMMS will have the most important quality of all: that she will appreciate our school and its population, that she will be happy to be here. It would be easy to see our school as a set of problems to be overcome, or a rough spot in one's professional life that one must survive. How can we welcome her to our school and our Village in a way that will start her tenure on a positive note?

Farewell--may you fare well. Goodbye--God be with you. Interesting origins of words we use so often. Adios, Adieu--also a touch of the Divine. Hasta la vista--until we see each other again. A bientot--see you soon. As Mrs. John moves on to her next assignment, all are appropriate.

As we put this school year to rest, though, we may need a different word or phrase. We have faced our challenges, completed our work, and tied up loose ends. We are ready to let this year go, and carry the best of what we have learned with us as we move on. Perhaps it is best said as an exclamation of joy and relief.

Roll on, Summer!


Thursday, June 13, 2013

Summer of Neighbors

Bill Santos of Columbia Compass suggests using social media to let the community know about how you are celebrating this summer, by using the hashtag #summerofneighbors.  He gives some examples; I'll share a few here:

Girls night out and dancing under the people tree - #summerofneighbors

Monday movie night at #lakekittamaquandi.  Mr. B is awesome #summerofneighbors

Impromptu house party last night, I <3 living in #Longfellow #summerofneighbors

I am intrigued by this idea. I can't wait to see how it unfolds. But when I woke up this morning, I realized that I have a problem.  My tweets would invariably look like this:

Family Game night with take-out from Maiwand. #summerofneighbors

Cooking up a storm with A. after picking up CSA share. #summerofneighbors

Finally meeting up with the ice cream truck at Hopewell Pool. #summerofneighbors

Notice anything? A complete lack of neighbors. I spend almost 100 percent of my social time with my immediate family. I'm happy about that. I love my family. But somehow I don't think that spending the summer encased in the familial bubble was what Mr. Santos had in mind.

So, I have a challenge. Put a little more neighbor into my Summer. I'm really good at being shy and a homebody. Plus, I tend to withdraw into a shell during times of high heat and humidity. But the journey of a thousand miles begins...well, with a walk to Walgreen's. (Now, that's another story altogether.)

I'm determined to give it a shot because I am even more interested in what happens after the #summerofneighbors. Aren't you?


Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Hashtag ColumbiaMD

Seen on Twitter...

According to the following tweets, the Harpers Choice Tuesday Morning store is closing. As of this post, it may already have closed. Have you ever been there?  We used to love noodling around there before a trip to Maiwand or Rita's. When Margo was little, it was a great source for an inexpensive toy or a stuffed animal.

@ingloriousBOH: Per Tuesday Morning employees, @Kimcorealty's longstanding neglect of maintenance issues is why they...are closing. #ColumbiaMD

@ingloriousBOH: Easy to believe, if you've been to @KimcoRealty's #HarpersChoice Village Center. The store has buckets all over the store to catch leaks.

@ingloriousBOH: Maybe that's why stores and restaurants rarely rarely start up in west #ColumbiaMD: @KimcoRealty owns WL/HC/HR, & runs them like slum lords.

I don't know much about Kimco. But I do know that the Harpers Choice Tuesday Morning has been plagued by leaks as long as I have been going there. It's absolutely true about the buckets.  It always struck me as odd that a store in a Columbia Village Center would be in such bad shape.

I'm not an investigative reporter; I'm a curious community blogger. I know there must be more to this story. But I do think it is too bad that the store is closing, because it was a refreshing change from the usual village center fare. Bargain hunters will move on to similar stores in strip malls like Ollie's, Big Lots, Tuesday Morning...a loss for the Village Center model, indeed.


Tuesday, June 11, 2013

See You at the Movies

Yesterday my daughter watched five movies at school. Five.  She is a GT student in the sixth grade in Howard County. Four of the movies were educational, and they were required to do worksheets while watching them. The fifth was Chicken Run, which was shown at lunch.

I have read various complaints online about how the end of the year at school amounts to "babysitting."  I have thought a lot about this. As a teacher and a parent, I wonder how it has come to be like this.

Since the advent of No Child Left Behind, the pressure put on teachers to get results on high stakes standardized testing has been immense. Every year more emphasis is placed on test results, and less time is left for creative teaching. More paperwork, more data, less teaching. Teachers are belittled, interfered with, condescended to, and judged by people who know absolutely nothing about education.

So, once the testing and assessments are over for the year, what's left?

I would love to see experiential, hands-on learning activities. It would make the end of the year something to look forward to. And kids would carry those memories through the summer, because multi-sensory experiences are the ones you remember. But, if you don't encourage teachers to work like this, how can you expect that result? Our system is not set up to reward teachers for creativity.

If you don't foster it, if you don't reward it, it won't happen.  Look at health care, where the rewards have been based on doing more billable procedures, rather than patient interaction and wellness. You get what you reward.  By this time in the year, teachers are completely wrung out from jumping through all of the administrative hoops they are required to complete.

I would also love to see activities that encourage kids to make the most of their summers. It's great that the library comes in to promote the summer reading program. So, what else could be done to get kids thinking about making interesting connections during the summer? Teachers could help students begin a journal, create their own blog or website, design a building project or write a proposal for an environmental project. I can imagine ways to kick-start long-term activities in math, science, music composition, art, service, language arts, foreign language...

Just one thing: there probably are some teachers out there doing this. Despite rigid requirements, pressure to teach to the test, humiliating rubrics for evaluation, there are some teachers who are putting it all on the line for their students. I know because I have worked with them, and I am married to one. The bad news is that our system is set up to chew them up and spit them out.

Teachers want to teach. They want to make those connections and share their talents to help students. The more they care, the more likely they are to burn out. And that's what movies are for at the end of year, folks.

When do we stand up and say "No more" ?


Monday, June 10, 2013


Good morning, Monday. I'm sick. I was up all night coughing and I have two days left to teach. So I'm tossing this one out to you, readers.

Take a look at Frank Hecker's blog post from this weekend and see what you think.

A good part of creativity comes in combining things that haven't been put together before. A Whole Foods in the Rouse Building. An Arts Village in Symphony Woods. Central Library at the Mall.  I love it.  I love the combinations that will bring new energy and new ideas to our community.  In these ideas we see not a desire to destroy, but to transform.

What are some other combinations that would transform Columbia?


Friday, June 7, 2013

Out of Shape

I woke up this morning and my blog didn't fit. I mean, it was all tight and bunchy and it just didn't feel right. Okay, so it's been creeping up on me here and there, but I just didn't want to pay attention to it.  I mean, it's the only one I have. I don't have time to go out and get a new one.

I was starting to think of myself as a lean, mean, blogging machine, and now this. I feel intellectually flabby, out of shape, lethargic. My nouns and adjectives are listless, and don't even get me started on my verbs...

You take one day off and boom! there goes your focus.

I'm thinking I need to get out and have more local experiences. When Alice was growing up in Baltimore, we went to:

Towson at Night concerts at the courthouse
Towson farmer's market
Bolton Hill Festival
Fireworks at the Inner Harbor
Flower Mart
Maryland State Fair
Storytelling at the top of Baltimore's World Trade Center
Honey Festival, Oregon Ridge
BSO Fourth of July concert at Oregon Ridge--/with fireworks

Yet I have lived in Howard County since 1999 and I have never gone to:

Howard County Fair
Wine in the Woods
Lakefront Fireworks
Clyde's Craft Beer Festival
Family Fun Thursdays at the Mall
Columbia Foundation* Spring Party
Columbia Archives Walk About
Dancing Under the People Tree
Sheep and Wool Festival

No wonder I'm feeling flabby!  It's all good being a homebody until your brain breaks down and your blog looks like a bowl of jello...

Summer vacation is almost here and I'm feeling adventure calling. A healthy balanced diet of local experiences should get me back on track. I'm going to start this weekend. Tonight's the Damon Forman Concert in Oakland Mills, and tomorrow's the annual Abiding Savior Flea Market. Sunday morning is the OM Farmer's Market.  I'll be back in shape in no time.

For now, though, I think I'll curl up in my comfy chair and have another cup of coffee...


*Yes, I know they changed their name.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"Big Shoes to Fill"

I had the opportunity to meet one of my blog readers yesterday, at Dennis' memorial service. Among the subsets of guests at yesterday's event were the local bloggers. It was like a family reunion of Hocobloggers. Dennis was our brother, our father, one of us--only bigger and better of course, because he was Dennis.

And so Mr. Schwarz, referencing a post by TJ Mayotte of Rocket Powered Butterfly, said, "you have big shoes to fill."

He didn't mean me, personally. He meant that we, as a blogging community, now have the responsibility to step in and take up the work Dennis has done.

"I think we're going to have to tag-team it," I said. He nodded.

We both knew that all of us together couldn't make up for the writing of that one, wonderful man.

"Go where Dennis would go, do what Dennis would do."

In the shock of losing someone who ought to have been granted so much more of life, we look at ourselves. What will we do with the life we are so lucky to keep on living? It is the same life we had yesterday, and the day before, but now it is different. It is different because now we want to give a piece of it to someone whose loss changes the world for us.

Shock fades over time, sadness lessens. The overwhelming weight of the life we keep on living lightens. It becomes easier and easier to live the same old life without challenging ourselves to do more. But if you don't allow yourself to be moved and changed by love, how alive can you really be?

We'll need to tag-team it. To keep ourselves honest, to keep ourselves alive. And you, as readers, may need to remind us from time to time.

It's about exploration and the joy of discovery. About shining a light so others may find their way. Allowing ourselves to be moved and changed by love.


Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Finding Our Way

Yesterday, at around ten forty am, I was traveling between Bollman Bridge and Running Brook and my route took me along Little Patuxent Parkway. Symphony Woods was to my right, the Mall to my left. I was thinking about the morning's big announcement, wondering if there would be any trace left of all the people who had converged on our "Town Square", if you will. I glanced to the right as I passed the old Rouse Building. Everything seemed in order. Just as I was about to turn my attention back to the road, I saw a small sign.

It read, "Lakefront."

This made me smile. I have often puzzled as to why so many of Columbia's beautiful vistas are hidden. I do know that many Baltimoreans hate to come here because they always get lost.  So when I saw that sign, it struck me as an acknowledgement. I imagined hordes of out-of-towners driving round and round the Mall in frustration.

"They said it's at the Lakefront."

"What Lakefront?"

I've had some discussions on this topic with Bill Santos of Columbia Compass. He tells me that part of the intrinsic plan for Columbia was to promote exploration and the joy of discovery. And when you want to walk the pathways for recreation, and go for a Sunday drive just to see what's out there, this concept holds up well. However, if you want to walk to work or to shop, or to find a location by 8:45 am, it's nothing short of frustrating.

Columbia: we hide our light under a bushel. And you have to come and find us. Are you worthy of the quest?

I wonder if it is a little difficult for Ken Ulman to explain his Columbia roots to outsiders. It's rather like having a quirky, eccentric family and having to introduce them to your college friends, or a future spouse. "Well, they're just not like everybody else..."

Placing that little sign by the side of the road was a smart thing to do. It was an invitation. It said, "It matters to me that you find this place. I welcome you."

I love the idea of exploration and discovery. Let's add to it the desire to shine a light so that people can find their way. It's not surprising to me that these are all things that Dennis Lane did, in his life and through his blog.

We'll be remembering him today.  Please join us.


Monday, June 3, 2013

A Big Event

How do you feel about politics?  There are some people who enjoy the thrill. I'm not one of them.  I have friends who do good work, aspire to do greater things, and I support them.

I realize that I would have done much better if the CA Rep. position had been one I needed to apply for, like a job. I was willing to do the work. I was willing to make my case as a qualified applicant. But the politics of it?

That was a whole different story.

I'm not an aggressive self-promoter. I had a team of wonderful people who worked hard and pushed me to do better. I know I was a challenge to them. What do you do if you want to get the job done but you don't like politics?

Write a check, maybe. Volunteer. Serve on a committee. Write a blog.

This morning someone for whom I have great respect is beginning a new phase of his political career. It's a big event. But when I think of the whole thing: the carefully planned event, significant location, local electeds who will be there for the requisite 'photo opps', I get that familiar pain in my gut.

Like Charlie Brown sitting in the school office, waiting to see the principal, my stomach hurts.

For those who enjoy politics, and who have the natural skills to flourish, I salute you. I'm especially glad that there are good people, who really care, who are willing to engage in this process.

Thank you. Rock on for a #BetterMaryland.