Sunday, November 19, 2017

What to Do?

This morning I’m pondering this seasonal urge I have to “hunker down” this time of year. Who am I kidding? I’ll usually take hunkering down at any time of year. I’m looking out the back window where I can see beautiful blue sky and the tops of trees still clinging to brightly colored leaves. I hear the sound of wind whistling around the house. I contemplate a day of crafting, of ordering the few groceries I need and having them delivered.

The urge to “hunker” is strong.

All the more reason to read this post from HoCo blogger Mike Hartley, who is making the case for why I should Get Out. Mike writes the blog Threw Mike’s Eyez. “Get out,” he writes. “It’s a great idea.”

This morning is the last Farmer’s Market of the season in Oakland Mills. This afternoon is the Dazzle Dash which kicks off the Symphony of Lights. And another thought: when I recently asked readers what their new favorite store was in Old Ellicott City, no one had an answer. So, maybe get out on Main Street and noodle around?

There’s a Holiday Craft Shop at the Hawthorn Center in Hickory Ridge today from 2-5. And the Friends and Foundation of the Howard County Library System is having a meet-up at Hysteria Brewing Company at 4:00. There are also events at Historic Belmont and the Robinson Nature Center.

Or you can just bundle up at take a walk around the lake of your choice.

Perhaps you want to pop in to the Mall and see the Poinsettia Tree before the place becomes too crazed with holiday shoppers. Just a thought.

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A Parade by the Numbers

According to the most recent census, Howard County is:

62.2% white, 17.5% black or African American, 14.4% Asian, 0.3% American Indian, 2.0% from other races, and 3.6% from two or more races. Those of Hispanic or Latino origin made up 5.8% .

According to the HoCo Gov website, Howard County has approximately 20,000 military veterans.

You can find information about the breakdown by race/ethnicity of Howard County veterans here.

You can view photographs and video footage of this year’s Veterans Day parade in Old Ellicott City here.  This is County Executive Allan Kittleman’s Facebook page. You’ll need to scroll down past more current posts.

One thing I noticed after looking at all the videos and photographs was how really, really white this event is. Look at who is marching. Look at who is lining the streets. Look at the officials giving speeches. If one were to imagine Howard County from these pictures alone, I don’t think we’d come close to picturing the actual diversity we have here, both in the overall population and amongst veterans.

Why do you think that is? This is a genuine question. I am not ascribing any exclusionary intent here. I am not offering criticism, just an observation. 

Mr. Kittleman offers this statement about the event:

PLEASE WATCH AND SHARE:  So many great moments and memories at today's Veterans Parade in Ellicott City.  This was just the third year for the parade and the crowd was very impressive.  Next year's parade is sure to be even bigger and better and hopefully, a new Ellicott City tradition is growing right before our eyes.  If you were there, you might spot yourself in this video.

So it’s a relatively new event and next year offers possibilities of improvement. That’s good to hear. Maybe our community can find a way for this parade to bring more people together so that we are honoring and supporting veterans in a way that shows the reality of who we are as a county.

Comments are welcome here:

Friday, November 17, 2017

Not So Funny

If you were to go by Twitter mentions alone, the big news this week was the woman who broke into an area McDonalds by climbing through the drive-through window. Dubbed the “Howard County Hamburglar”, her crime has been the source of much amusement on social media.

I don’t know why, but I just don’t find it funny. It feels sad to me.

At the age of twenty-seven, this young woman believed this was a viable plan. What motivated her? What is her story? Perhaps I am more inclined to care about her story because no one was physically injured during the crime. Maybe it’s because she is not that much younger than my older daughter.

What kind of a life do you have if you think that crawling into a McDonald’s is a risk worth taking? What kind of education did you have? What kind of job opportunities are available to you? Was there one definitive point along the way that she needed guidance or a mentor and didn’t have one? Or were there a million tiny stumbles along the way that led to this giant misstep?

It’s okay if it made you laugh. Sometimes the news is so awful these days that we have to find something to laugh at. But for some reason I can’t.

Thursday, November 16, 2017


This week’s Columbia Flier is sad, just sad. As a local blogger I should probably go into detail for you explaining why. At the moment I’m too demoralized by its awfulness. Let me just say that it is not the fault of our local journalists. This problem is far bigger than they are.

Big surprise: no men commented on yesterday’s post about the lack of men engaging with posts by women bloggers. (Specifically my post on Tuesday about sexual harassment.). I know we’re all surprised about that.

My husband is being honored this afternoon at the BOE meeting for being chosen one of School Band and Orchestra Magazine’s 50 Directors Who Make A Difference. I haven’t been to a Board Meeting since this particular board was sworn in. It will be interesting to get a feel for how things are going.

Yesterday the faculty of the Lower School where I work had a very frank discussion about not perpetuating long-established falsehoods about the Thanksgiving narrative. We were encouraged to go through our classroom libraries and make sure we weren’t holding on to old books that re-enforced cultural stereotypes. I continue to be amazed and grateful to be working at this school.

There’s some kind of celebration goin on at Black Flag Brewing Company this evening for those of you who donated to bring turkeys to those in need in our community. You can learn more here. Sounds fun but I continue to nurse this extremely tenacious cold and cough so it is probably a no for me.

Podcaster and sometime blogger Candace Dodson-Reed is pondering fascinating hocolocals to write about in her annual year-end post. I don’t know about you, but I continue to be fascinated by Ms. Frizz of @eye_on_kq . Who would you pick?

Wednesday, November 15, 2017


I noticed something interesting about the response to yesterday’s post about sexual harassment and how we raise boys and young men in Howard County.

Out of all the “likes”, only one was from a man: my husband. The comments? All women.

I have gotten used to the fact that, by and large, my blog is supported by women. I think that there are men who read it, but as far as liking, sharing, and engaging, it’s overwhelmingly women.

Yes, I know there are “some men”. Don’t @ me.

I don’t think of this blog as one that focuses on “women’s issues”. It’s a community blog. I sometimes talk about equal rights for women but that’s not my main reason for being here. And yet, year after year, I see men online engage with and promote local male bloggers more consistently. Sometimes I wonder why that is. I try not to get too hung up on it, but sometimes it really gets my goat.

Right now, especially.

When I started to write yesterday’s post, I began, “Mothers, teach your sons.” And then I thought, “Why just mothers? What am I saying here?” And so I amended it to include mothers and fathers. This is an issue that will require engagement and discussion and a change in how we raise our children.

It’s not just a “women’s issue”.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Trouble in Paradise

Mothers and fathers: teach your sons.

Teach them that it’s not okay to ask a girl to send them nudes.

Teach them that no one really wants to see a picture of their parts.

Teach them that touching without consent is an aggressive act.

Teach them that no means no.

Teach them empathy.

Teach them to love unselfishly.


Because those of us who are the mothers and fathers of daughters are really, really tired of teaching:

Be careful.

Look out.

Protect yourself.

Don’t go alone.

Be careful what you say.

Don’t laugh at him.

Don’t let down your guard.

Just smile and hope it stops. Don’t make a big fuss because that might make it worse.

Don’t make him angry.

In case you are wondering, this is a local post. It’s not directed at what’s happening on the national scene. We’ve got work to do right here in blissful Howard County.

Monday, November 13, 2017

A Bit of a Weekend

I’d like to start out the week by thanking whoever nominated me for a spot in Baltimore Sun’s Crabbies . (Formerly the Mobbies) I’m not actively campaigning this year, but seeing the blog mentioned was a lovely boost to my spirits.

Today is my eighteenth wedding anniversary, which means that I have lived in Columbia for eighteen years. Where do I go to pick up my “I’ve lived here long enough to speak out on local issues” card? Eighteen years seems weighty enough to have one’s opinions heard at a resident speak-out.

My husband and I enjoyed an early anniversary dinner at Flavors of India on Friday night. You may already know that they are under new management. The side room that was once reserved for private parties is now open and brightly lit. A little too bright, for my tastes. However, when we requested a table in the other, gently lit dining room, they rushed to comply, moving tables and chairs to make it possible.

If I have any complaints about the new Flavors of India it would be that they are too helpful. I felt like we were waited on and being checked up on by at least four different people. There was way too much “yes, ma’am” subservience for my taste. My husband thought it was sweet. It made me anxious. The food itself was wonderful, although I think the “green sauce” recipe has changed for the worse...

On Saturday we stopped by what used to be Chip Smyth Jewelers in the Ellicott City shopping center  where White Oak Tavern is. My husband wanted to get his wedding ring resized, and that is where we bought our rings all these many years ago. We knew it wasn’t “Chip Smyth”anymore, but we didn’t know it wasn’t there at all anymore. Smyth Jewelers has moved to Turf Valley.

So off we went to Turf Valley to find the jewelry store in a quaint shopping area that looks a bit like the Avenue in White Marsh. And yes, we had never had any reason to go there before. To us, Turf Valley might as well be on the other side of the planet. As we turned off of Route 40 I noted the signature tower at the entrance. A flood of memories of old Wordbones posts about Turf Valley rushed through my head. Must go back and re-read those.

Just an ordinary HoCo weekend. With a celebratory feeling.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

A Frank Rejection

As I had hoped he would, the County Executive had something to say about the recent hateful posts referencing Democratic candidates. To be honest, I’ll admit I had thought he would remain silent and hope the issue would go away. That appears to be the preferred response of HoCo Republicans.

So, I must give Mr. Kittleman credit, he took the political risk of standing up to the bully:

Recent social media memes referencing several local candidates, including my opponent, over the past few days are disturbing and totally unacceptable.  As the son of a Howard County civil rights leader, and as someone who has worked to support equality for all people, I denounce the use of race or sexual orientation in any way to attack or discredit anyone.  No matter how much we may disagree on a topic or issue, these personal attacks are hurtful, insulting and have no place in Howard County.

I certainly don’t mind be shown to be wrong when it means that people are being braver and truer to a moral code than I expected. Go ahead, show me up. Be your best self. Make me look foolish. It’s a win-win as far as I am concerned.

I don’t know if you recall, but earlier this year a nasty little page with the puzzling name of Howard County Hate Watch started spewing hate speech about local Republicans in reference to the CB-9 Sanctuary legislation. The page was anonymous; at the time no one knew who ran it. Local Republicans were sure it was a coordinated effort by the local Democratic establishment.  (It wasn’t.) And despite the fact that he had no idea who it was, Council member Calvin Ball stepped in and publicly repudiated the page and its statements:

Being a welcoming, compassionate community where all residents feel safe is not a destination but a constant journey, which requires vigilance and reliance upon our values. Over the past few weeks, we've seen supporters of CB9 derided and mocked on social media. As an elected official, I expect that kind of attack, but I find it completely unacceptable when targeted at private citizens. Now, I see those aligned with this bill using those same tactics, which may feel good, but does not help our cause.

I too am very concerned about disrespect and hate in our community. I am very glad that we have courageous citizens who will stand up and speak up. To whomever is running the "Howard County Hate Watch" page, please stop posting anything negative or posts attacking others. We may disagree with some, but these are our neighbors, even when we disagree. I strongly urge us all to model the empathetic kindness which makes our community great!

Taking a stand against bullies and refusing to remain silent is not going to be a “one-and-done” in this campaign, I fear. Sadly, there are those in Howard County who are hungry to consume that kind of racist rhetoric. It will continue to be up to the candidates and both parties to maintain focus on the real issues and reject any attempts to steer public debate into the gutter.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Next Up on Humans of #OneHoward

In case you’ve been wondering what’s up with #OneHoward lately, I did a little online research for you. It turns out that one of the most ardent users of the #OneHoward hashtag on Twitter is the man who created this:

And this:

And this:

I must admit, I have been wondering if the #OneHoward initiative was creating any real enthusiasm out there in HoCoLand, but clearly it has. The creator of these images is practically foaming at the mouth to let us know what #OneHoward means to him. And he appears to be backed by some group called PUSH HoCo. The race for the next County Executive wasn’t even 24 hours old and he just couldn’t help himself.

Can’t wait for the next episode of Humans of #OneHoward. This one’s going to be a doozy.

Friday, November 10, 2017

Pictures from an Announcement

Calvin Ball declared his candidacy for County Executive last night at Kahler Hall in Columbia and I was home in bed, sick.


Thanks to the magic of photographs on social media, however, I can almost feel as though I was there. It’s not the same, but it helps.

Let me tell you what I see from looking at the pictures: the diversity of the people gathered in the room.

 I think that Howard County is best served by public servants who empower the disenfranchised, lift up those who are often ignored or taken for granted. If we are on a journey to face our own implicit bias and dismantle institutionalized racism we will need to be willing to have uncomfortable conversations and listen to people who are different than we are.

That’s what will ultimately bring about a sense of “One Howard”. Sure, it’s messy, but it’s the real deal. Discussions of diversity amongst the comfortable and privileged look nice, but they can’t possibly change the status quo.

Why does this matter?

Whoever leads Howard County should be leading for all of its citizens. Good government is inclusive. All the good intentions in the world can only take you so far if your message is innately attractive to the white and privileged more than anyone else. It’s just common sense.

Both candidates have a body of work in public service upon which they can be judged. The public is welcome to review their actions and decisions on behalf of constituents. Diversity is not the end of the conversation when evaluating Dr. Ball and Mr. Kittleman. It is, perhaps, a lens through which we can evaluate how they work, who they work with, what they take risks to support.

Neither of the candidates is the Devil incarnate. But their visions are quite different. It will be interesting to see which vision is endorsed by our community.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Going Negative

Howard County Republicans had much to say during the last election for County Executive about what they perceived as negative campaign tactics from the Democrats. They were shocked, just shocked. Republican Allan Kittleman was touted as the Nice Guy candidate.

I guess they are done being shocked because this week they released a little video portraying County Councilman Calvin Ball as being, more or less, the Devil incarnate. (All that development you don't like? It’s all Dr. Ball’s fault, they say. All by his lonesome.)

Now Ball hasn’t even announced he is running for anything, so perhaps the Republicans can coyly say this isn’t negative campaigning. Then what is it? Character assassination? This move, clearly planned to appear during the same week that Dr. Ball is believed to be making his announcement to run against Allan Kittleman for County Executive, is the height of “negative campaigning.”

They may have been “just shocked” in the last election. Now they’ve come out slinging mud with no apologies. Feels hypocritical to me.

Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Holiday Mash-Up

I was running an errand over by the Chrysalis yesterday, so I thought I’d stop by and see how she was doing. (Are buildings “she” like ships?)  As I drove up the hilly drive off of South Entrance Road I saw signs of the upcoming Symphony of Lights lining the roadway. I have so many happy family memories of driving through the lights. Those candy canes feel like old friends.

When I reached the parking lot there was a definite change in mood. The decorations from CarnEvil were still on site. I went from Christmas to Halloween in seconds. Move over, candy canes. The skeletons are holding the fort at the Chrysalis, at least for now. The late afternoon light gave an eerie feeling to the scene. I fully expected zombies to emerge from an abandoned tent.

I should have taken photographs but I’m not sure I could have done the juxtaposition of Christmas/Halloween justice. It was truly creepy. It made me wonder if those work trailers are populated with Nightmare Before Christmas types who only come out when no one is around.

Soon the transition to holiday splendor will be complete. The Symphony of Lights will welcome drive-throughs, walkers, strollers, even pets for another year of one of my favorite Columbia traditions. What are your favorite holiday activities in Columbia/Howard County?

Share them here:

Monday, November 6, 2017

Call It What It Is

I didn’t need to read about this on Patch. My teen daughter had already told me. The headline from the story by Elizabeth Janney reads:

Racist Social Media Post at Oakland Mills HS Under Investigation

 The school principal is quoted as saying the post was “racist in nature.” The article states that police, as well as the school system, is involved. That’s because the post wasn’t merely racist. It was violent. Yes, I’ve seen it. No, I’m not going to share it. And, folks, just because they say that Snapchat posts disappear doesn’t mean that they do. Screenshots are forever. Students are sharing it to call out and condemn it. I’m going to ask you to take my word for it.

Every time this happens it makes it harder for parents of students of color to trust that their children will be safe at school. Can they receive the best possible education if they are continually defending themselves from the million tiny cuts of micro aggressions or recoiling from racist, violent threats? Don’t just call this “racist in nature”. It’s a direct threat to the ability of the targeted students to receive the education they are guaranteed by law.

Saturday night my daughter and I went to see the Oakland Mills High School play, “Peter and the Starcatcher.” I remember thinking how beautifully diverse the audience was. It was another one of those moments when I was proud to live in Oakland Mills. In that auditorium were people of many different backgrounds and many different shades of color. They were all there to support the students on the stage and to enjoy live theatre.

I’m not proud today. And I don’t know how Oakland Mills could produce a young person with these kinds of views. It makes me both angry and sad. 

Sunday, November 5, 2017


This upcoming event at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center caught my eye.

As you may recall, Heather Mizeur is a former member of the State Legislature who ran unsuccessfully to be the Democratic candidate for governor in 2014. She recently launched a new website called MizMaryland: Soul Force Politics. This event is clearly a part of her new venture.

When I first took a look at the photo above, it brought to mind the Halloween years ago when my fourth grade daughter wanted to be Xena, Warrior Princess for Halloween. Despite the fact that I had no particular costume-making skills, I lovingly recreated a Xena outfit from materials we had on hand. I knew that fourth grade is the peak of a young girl’s confidence before it is often eroded by the challenges of puberty. If she wanted to be a warrior, so be it.

Many failed political candidates reappear on the scene as inspirational/motivational speakers. That is nothing new. What is new is this particular invitation to women with a strong (s)heroic bent. Will people find it powerful or silly? Will her message connect with the people she is trying to reach?

Often politicians trade in a sort of hero-worship mentality. “I’ll be your champion. I’ll fight for you.” The message here is different. “You are powerful. You can find that power within yourself.”

Why is that important? In particular, why is that important for women? Well, Harvey Weinstein, anyone? Zero women on health care legislation committees? Persistent lag in pay rates for the same work?

Or what about this? From the Baltimore Sun:

Howard County Police Capt. Mary Levy was promoted to one of the agency’s three deputy chief positions on Monday, becoming the first female officer to attain the rank of major.

The Howard County Police Department (the way we know it today) was created in 1952. It’s 2017 and we have just now appointed the first woman to the rank of major. Oh. My. Word. Why did this take so long? 

It is no wonder that Ms. Mizeur is inviting Maryland women to embrace their own inner power. Certainly equal treatment and representation under the law is more than a long time in coming. 

Comments are welcome here:

Saturday, November 4, 2017

Crabby and Bloggy

So I just discovered that the Baltimore Sun celebration of blogs, etc, is no longer called the Mobbies. It’s called The Crabbies.


You can read more here. They are in the nomination phase right now. Wondering if there is a category for best independent Baltimore City coverage killed by a union-busting corporate entity?

One year I suggested we ought to have a local version of the Mobbies called The Hobbies. Not sure we have enough blogs anymore in Howard County to support such a contest, though.

Recommended reading this week in the local blogosphere is this heartbreaking post from BonneVivanteLife.

Fun story in Sun would be this piece about Gunther Miller and his camera in Howard County Magazine.

Finally, a big cheer and congratulations to AnnieRie on the six year anniversary of her blog, AnnieRie Unplugged !

Friday, November 3, 2017

Weekend Update

It’s going to be peak Oakland Mills around here this weekend. Consider adding one or both of these events to your calendar.

“Peter and the Star-catcher” is the fall play at Oakland Mills High School. They opened last night and there are two more performances, tonight and Saturday at 7 pm. Tickets are ten dollars and you can learn more about the play here

Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm is the annual Oakland Mills High School Craft Fair. Check out their website here. From the OMHS PTSA:

Come shop, socialize, & grab a bowl of chili for lunch! We have expanded this year & will have vendors in the cafeteria too! Get a jump on holiday shopping!

Be sure to stop by and visit the From Momma’s Kitchen table for some delicious baked goods while you are there. It’s an Oakland Mills business started by a former Talbott Springs Elementary School Teacher. Buy some dessert for yourself or a snack to keep you going while you shop.

Hop on over and see some of the best my village has to offer this weekend.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Another Model for Local Journalism?

Today’s post takes us out of the bubble to Chestertown. Harry Schwarz of HoCoMDcc first told me about the Chestertown Spy. Take a look here.

You’ll also notice this link takes you to information about an upcoming play in Chestertown. It’s worth the drive. I know because I’ve seen it. ”A Time To Speak”is a dramatic adaptation of the story of dancer Helen Lewis and her experience during the Holocaust. Adapted for the stage by Sam McCready. Acted by Joan McCready. They knew the author and were determined to tell her story.

They’re also my inlaws. (Truth in advertising.)

So, read the article. Take a look around the Chestertown Spy while you’re there. What do you think?
And one more thing. If you know of a local organization that would like to bring “A Time to Speak” to Columbia/Howard County, let me know.

Right now feels like an important time to speak out about the Holocaust.

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

Light for Some

Today a light is going out and henceforth there will be a little more darkness in the world.

This is the cover of the last issue of the Baltimore City Paper.

The Baltimore Sun bought it, then killed it. Way to go, silencing independent views, Baltimore Sun. It seems odd that they decided to shut down what was a profitable enterprise. Perhaps not so odd when you realize that the City Paper newsroom employees had just voted to unionize.


You can read the Sun’s write-up here but there’s absolutely no mention of the unionizing issue. It seems that the Sun wasn’t interested in covering all sides of this story. That doesn’t feel very journalistic of them.

Losing an independent voice is local journalism is a loss for Baltimore. The City Paper has been the source of some important reporting and an outspoken editorial voice through the years. Every time one of these small papers ceases production a light goes out. The Washington Post reminds us that democracy dies in darkness. The Baltimore Sun claims to have light for all. Now the world is a little darker.

And don’t forget that the Baltimore Sun owns the Columbia Flier/Howard County Times. Food for thought.

If you want a taste of what the City Paper was all about, here is a link to some stories by Brandon Soderberg, the former editor in chief of the City Paper.