Monday, October 15, 2018

Losing Myself

I put out a rather strange request on the Internet over the weekend.

Are there any good places in OM to collect buckeyes aka horse chestnuts?

HoCo local (and sometime blogger) Ian Kennedy made this suggestion:

I don't know of any in Oakland Mills, but there are several trees along Wilde Lake near the boat house and barn.

So I went over there yesterday afternoon and I didn’t get very far because the lay of the land looked different to me. I think I located what Ian referenced as the boathouse, but where was the barn? I’ve certainly seen it before but suddenly I felt like something had changed and I didn’t  know where I was going.

Alas, I was not feeling the joy of discovery at that very moment and I gave up and went home. It had already been a long day for me.

So here’s my question. Has anything changed over there in the last several years that would make that left hand side of the road look different to me? Construction? Landscaping? Or have I just forgotten?
I haven’t driven by in quite a while.

Very likely I would have found what I was looking for had I gone a bit further down the road. But I just couldn’t shake the feeling that I was in unfamiliar territory. If I’d had my wits about me I would have popped over to take a look at that McMansionesque house I wrote about recently.

Has this ever happened to you? When you go to a place that you feel should be familiar but for some reason it has a feeling of the unknown?

While I have you here—do you know of any good places I can find buckeyes?

Sunday, October 14, 2018

He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not

I’ve been wondering if any folks from Maple Lawn were startled to hear the current County Executive make this statement in the HoCoBiz debate:

When I was on the zoning board, I voted against Maple Lawn. We have to increase our commercial tax base, not more residential density. 

Upon reading the tweet one respondent suggested that Kittleman might have alienated numerous voters from the Maple Lawn community.

Not sure this was a good choice of tweets to “promote.” Odd to be bragging about voting against a couple hundred more high six figure and millionaire families in your county. I’d delete this if I were you.

It does feel a bit like Dad getting up at a big family event and revealing he never really wanted you.

But wait, Maple Lawn. Lest you feel unwanted and unloved, it turns out there’s more to this story. Here’s Mr. Kittleman from 2014:

I was on the County Council when Maple Lawn was first planned. We had the longest Zoning Board hearing in the history of Howard County when it was approved. It’s become such a great project because it has tremendous location, but it also has tremendous residential. It’s clearly a place that’s a mixed use development in Maryland that you can see works. It’s got everything going for it. - - Allan Kittleman

Let me get this straight. He was against it before he was for it before he was against it again. Okay. We all change our minds, right? But why publicize it in this way as a talking point in a campaign debate?

That part is easy. The current tide of public opinion has turned against development. It looks good to be able to say it. 

But that’s not exactly the same thing as telling the whole truth, now is it? 

Friday, October 12, 2018

Loose Ends

A bit of this and that this morning.

Here’s a great article about the importance of pronouncing students’ names correctly. I’ll be writing more about this soon. H/T to BOE candidate Robert Miller for noticing the hcpss mention in this piece.

Interesting conversation on Twitter which begins with County Executive Allan Kittleman saying this:

Kittleman: when I was on the zoning board, I voted against Maple Lawn. We have to increase our commercial tax base, not more residential density. #HoCoBiz Debate

Up this weekend:

Opus, in Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods. I did decide to get a ticket to see what all the buzz is about. Free tickets (and more information) available here.

Blogger Harry Schwarz writes about the North side of Blandair Park. It looks like there will be a children’s garden and a nature park after all.

Local podcast Elevate Maryland is taking a bit of a break but intend to be back soon. If you’ve missed any back episodes, now would be the ideal time to catch up.

And now, on to Friday. I’ll see you all tomorrow after a good night’s sleep.

Thursday, October 11, 2018


In one of my favorite Phineas and Ferb moments, Mom Lindana walks by one of their unusual creations and says, “I’ll never understand public art.”

Do you understand public art? Is it meant to be “understood”? Do you know that Howard County hosts a County-side display of public art each year?

For public ARTsites in Howard, all the pieces are in place  Katie V, Jones, HoCo Times

There are twelve ARTsites around the county. I wonder if anyone will take it upon themselves to see them all? I’ve already seen the one at Clarksville Commons. It is entitled Cube in Motion by Hanna Jubran. As I left the Maker Faire at Merriweather Park in Symphony Woods I thought I caught sight of another.

I’m a firm believer that the arts enrich our communities. There are probably folks who think they are a complete waste of time. Or perhaps that the arts are fine as long as someone else pays for them. But to me the arts are an expression of the human spirit,  an essential part of who we are.

Although I was raised in a family that made regular trips to art museums, I’ve always been more of a performing arts person. I think that is possibly because visual art is so difficult for me. I am the art class equivalent of the kids who felt they were never any good at singing. It is only through my education and work as an early childhood teacher that I have come to realize that art is for everyone, and that the process of creation is open to all. We are all artists. 

I encourage you to go around town and see all twelve of this year’s sculptures. Look at them in a spirit if creation and play. Or use the engineering part of your brain to consider how they were constructed and/or what you might have done differently. If you like to take photographs, add yourself to the art by creating your own interpretation of the piece through photography. If you lean towards the verbal, write a poem about one. 

Busy? Snap a pic, compose a tweet.

I’ll bet there are more ways to interact with public art that I just haven’t thought of yet. If anyone decides to go on a quest to see all twelve this year, let me know.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

The Parade is Coming!

I rarely print press releases “as is” but this is just too cool not to share. Thanks, as always, to CA’s David Greisman for keeping me in the loop.

Veterans Day parade and ceremony in Downtown Columbia on November 11

The Howard County community is invited to honor those actively serving in the U.S. armed forces and the more than 20,000 veterans who call Howard County home at a Veterans Day parade and ceremony on Sunday, November 11 in Downtown Columbia.

The parade will begin at 9:30am, starting at Merriweather Drive and continuing along Little Patuxent Parkway headed toward the Downtown Columbia Lakefront.

A ceremony will follow at 10:45am at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront, featuring comments from Howard County Veterans Foundation President Robert Gillette, Howard County Executive Allan Kittleman, and Columbia Association President/CEO Milton W. Matthews.

There will also be music by a local high school band, performances by the Columbia Center for Theatrical Arts’ Young Columbians, and Color Guard provided by Atholton High School’s JROTC.

The event will feature family-friendly activities, including a card-making station for troops and the opportunity to explore vintage military vehicles.

Hot chocolate, coffee and bakery items will be provided for free by event sponsors Clyde’s of Columbia and Whole Foods Market. Additional food can be purchased from nearby food trucks. Flags will be provided to kids by Columbia Association.

The event is organized by the Veterans Day Parade Committee, the Howard County Veterans Foundation, the Howard County Office of Veterans and Military Families, the Howard County Government, the Howard Hughes Corporation, and Columbia Association.


Reading this put me in mind of a post of mine from 2016 about the Fourth of July, when social media brought out a conversation about flags and parades in Downtown Columbia.

I sure hope those folks will turn out for this Veterans Day parade.

My second thought was of last year’s Veterans Day Parade in Old Ellicott City and how perplexingly white it appeared to be, considering the statistics for military service.

I wrote:

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.

It looks like that’s exactly what will be happening in Downtown Columbia this year.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Going Blue

Today the blog is going blue to honor the life of Grace McComas.

Learn more about Grace and Grace’s Law.

Spread kindness today.

Monday, October 8, 2018

A Pleasant Surprise

It seems that a lot of my my life these days involves grabbing dinner with my daughter before a choral rehearsal. This is how I happened to be at YouPizza in Clarksville last week. You may recall I was not entirely convinced by this establishment after my first visit, largely because of this:

With all the problems we have in our society right now around rest rooms, this is not even remotely amusing. This pizza is fine. You can get similar pizza elsewhere in town without being insulted by the restroom. Just a thought. (“The New Market”, July 28, 2017)

Well, last week’s visit was darned near perfect. My daughter and I agreed that of all the local pizza places based on this particular model, YouPizza is the best. And we both felt that was due to how good the pizza crust is. 

As I headed back to the rest room to wash my hands I girded myself for the inevitable annoyance. Instead:

I don’t know when this happened but I’d like to say thanks. YouPizza deserves to be known for its
food, not its bathrooms. 

So, a tip of the hat to the folks at YouPizza. Oh, and if you haven’t tried them, you should. See what you think.

Sunday, October 7, 2018


This is our little plot of land, our piece of earth that we tend and till. In the Spring we cleared it and planted flowers to attract bees and butterflies. Last week on Community Day we cleared it yet again and planted...


Farmer Joe brought us a box filled with what looked like sticks. But they were blackberry plants. 

Growing Blackberries from Cuttings Blackberries can be propagated through leafy stem cuttings as well as root cuttings. If you want to propagate lots of plants, leafy stem cuttings are probably the best way to go. This is usually accomplished while the cane is still firm and succulent. You’ll want to take about 4-6 inches of the cane stems. These should be placed in a moist peat/sand mix, sticking them in a couple inches deep.

Read more at Gardening Know How: Propagating Blackberries – Rooting Blackberries From Cuttings

It was such an odd feeling to yank out all the old growth, remove rocks, break up soil, and then plant what felt like sticks, with only a bit of green showing to hint at life. The picture above is of our work completed.

It doesn’t look like much.

Today I feel like that barren and seemingly empty garden. I feel that the work of those who are good has come to naught. What good is the love and care and toil if our land is left almost naked, filled with nothing but sticks? 

I’m struggling. 

I think of the saying (rooted in a Greek poem):

They tried to bury us, they didn’t know we were seeds.

I think of the closing song from Candide:

We’ll build our house and chop our wood
And make our garden grow.

It doesn’t help.

The act of gardening holds the promise of new life but today I feel death. I feel the life force of women draining out. Women who have been damaged and harassed and silenced and betrayed. Women who have fought for the truth for themselves and their sisters. And now they—we—are cut down and broken and expected to somehow take root and rise up again.

But today we are sticks. You can barely see us. You can hardly imagine that our dreams will ever bear fruit.

Saturday, October 6, 2018


Have you ever had an experience where you are listening in to someone else’s conversation and then you realize they are talking about you? 


I had a comparable experience on Twitter this morning while following a thread about the Perkins Transformation Plan in Baltimore. It started out like any other live tweeting of a civic event.

At the Perkins Transformation Plan meeting to hear more about Perkins/Old Town/Summerset plans

.@MayorPugh50 says that Baltimore is going to make sure the residents can stay. She points out that you can go to school at the new City Springs, and then go to community college for free, and then Morgan for free. Keep people in the city.

And then, a comment.

She thinks if we make Baltimore look like Columbia, people will want to stay here. Emblematic of her lack of vision.

And another.

I lived in Columbia for a brief time. I left to move to the City.


I am not always a big fan of Pugh, but this seems like a pretty big win for Baltimore. I hope residents don't get displaced, but this is not going to get us anywhere close to the suburban hellscape that is Columbia.

Wait a minute, now. Them’s fightin’ words!

Although Columbia now has better bike infrastructure than Baltimore, so...

Columbia really isn't that bad.

Looking better every day. Like I said, they’re building bike infrastructure, we’re tearing it out.

Well. That’ll teach me not to eavesdrop. Maybe.

So, from what I can tell, some people think that Mayor Pugh is using a TIF to make Baltimore more like Columbia, which is possibly rather ironic because we know some folks think that Howard Hughes is using a TIF to make Columbia more like Baltimore.

My head hurts.

Fear not, friends, the good news from all this is that the bike people will save us.

Friday, October 5, 2018

More in the Mills

If you’re coming over to Oakland Mills on Saturday for the Fall Festival, it would be an idea time to visit Blandair Park.

Here’s a comprehensive informational piece on the park put together by HoCo blogger Harry Schwarz. Not only will it tell  you what’s  there now, it’s also a useful source of what in the works for the future.

Playgrounds for all ages at Blandair Regional Park, Columbia

My first order of business this weekend involves sleeping well past my weekday morning wake up time. After that, there’s the Fair on Saturday and the Mini Maker Faire at the Chrysalis on Sunday.

Have a great Friday doing what you love. It’s impossible not to.

Thursday, October 4, 2018


It was a lovely night at Clarksville Commons.

Everything was prepared and ready to go.

As night fell, the bonfire came alive.

The homecoming week bonfire has long been a tradition at River Hill High School. It has recently become a joint venture with the folks at Clarksville Commons. I continue to be impressed with how they are inviting community events into that space. 

Last night it was buzzing with teens and their families. Someone was handing out free glow necklaces in River Hill Blue. There was music. The Common Kitchen opened its folding doors to the evening and patrons were happily coming and going with Indian food, Egyptian food, ice cream from Scoop and Paddle, and snacks from Trifecto. Others chose You Pizza. Some parents headed upstairs to Food Plenty to give their teens some space.

It struck me that this was exactly the kind of event to show off what Clarksville Commons strives to be. It feels more like a Village Center than the actual Village Center. And that’s pretty deliberate, I think. They are making the  kinds of choices that put them at the heart of the River Hill/Clarksville community.

A few things made me smile. One was the fellow who passed by our table in the crowd and said, “Dude! There’s nobody here!” (Remember being a teenager? “Where is everybody?”) Another was the man who lay flat on his back on the cobblestones with his young son to watch the sparks from the bonfire fly up to the sky.

As we left, we spotted a small stream of teenagers heading over with food from Wendy’s. Sometimes when you’re a teenager you just want burgers and fries.

A shout out to the River Hill Parents who organized the event and to Clarksville Commons for hosting it.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Festival Facts

This Saturday is the Oakland Mills Fall Festival. This year we are celebrating the 50th Birthday Of our Village. Throughout the years it has been an international festival and a cultural arts festival but, whatever the name, it has been an annual source of community fun. There will be live music, food, vendors, kids’ activities, and the whole thing will kick off with a performance by the Oakland Mills High School Band.

There’s a lot going on in Oakland Mills right now. Have you taken a walk across the newly updated pedestrian bridge that connects us to Downtown? Or have you explored the most recent updates to Blandair Park? I’m guessing that you’ll be popping into my neighborhood more frequently once the new international market opens up. I know I’ll be bumping in to you once the Dunkin Donuts opens up...

A special shoutout to Sandy Cederbaum, our Village Manager, and Brigitta Warren (special events coordinator) for all the work they put into the Festival every year. Many thanks, too, to OMCA Village Board Chair Jonathan Edelson and the entire board for everything they do to foster a vibrant and welcoming community in Oakland Mills.

I hope I’ll see you this weekend. The fun starts at 11 am.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Them’s the Rules

A few thoughts about the Board of Ed race and the rules. I am increasingly wary of how we apply them.

It all depends. If we like a candidate, and we see misplaced campaign signs, we are more apt to say they were placed by over-zealous volunteers who don’t understand the rules. If we don’t like the candidate, we say it is a sign that this candidate thinks they are above the law and cannot be trusted. This is not exactly an even-handed application of campaign law.

If the candidate belongs to our political party, we say we find it important to know their values and have no difficulty with seeing open campaign support from that party. If the candidate is from a political party we dislike we are quick to point out the outrageousness of their being supported by a political party. They got campaign help, so that must mean they are surely taking money and that their party means to take over the Board of Education

Until very recently, it was my understanding that correct placing of political signs and running a non partisan race were the rules that all BOE candidates were required to follow. And this meant that if a candidate didn’t follow those rules, they were showing disrespect for the process. And that troubled me. I don’t want anyone on the BOE who thinks that the rules don’t apply to them.

What I have learned over the last few months is that no one can point me to the irrefutable truth of why the BOE race is non-partisan and what that means for candidates. It may very well be as simple as allowing independents to vote for BOE candidates is the Maryland primaries. To be clear, the fact that there isn’t one Really Good Explanation ticks me off. There should be.

I’ve had to come to terms with the fact that my entire way of looking at a non-partisan race is something that I assumed, based on my own reasoning of why there should be a non-partisan race in the first place. It’s very idealistic, and some think it’s naive. Perhaps so.

I still think I am correct in wanting to avoid a board member who thinks they are above the rules. But I am less and less certain as to whether these two particular rules are useful yardsticks by which to measure this. Why? Because they are applied so haphazardly and based very often on who we like and who we don’t.

Do me a favor. Don’t tell me why your candidate doesn’t have to follow the rules while skewering
the other folks for violating those same rules. It doesn’t make me like your candidate any better, and
all it does is render those rules meaningless.

And now: back to the issues.

Monday, October 1, 2018

A Very Small Local Story

I’m having a serious case of the Mondays.

As I cast about in my mind for topics, it seems that I have written about them all before.

I’m having a hard time thinking beyond what is happening with Brett Kavanaugh and the future of the Supreme Court.

Those interesting local stories just aren’t leaping out at me. Well, maybe one.

Friday night my husband had a craving for bangers and mash so we headed to Union Jack’s. I hadn’t been there for quite a while. It was lovely weather, and early enough to be light outside. Their outdoor patio was bustling with life. Mostly young people. A few families. There was live music. I had a feeling of, “Oh, this is where the young folks are going on Friday nights!” Followed by, “Look—young folks!”

It had a lively ‘downtown’ vibe. Which I wouldn’t have glimpsed if we hadn’t gone someplace we don’t usually go. We sat inside, but the doors were all open so we could still hear a bit of the outdoor music.

I should take a moment to mention that we had excellent service, the food was great, and I felt that the value was good for what we got. Their menu has expanded since the last time I was there, and I had more to chose from.

But this is not a restaurant review. It’s more of a community review. Things are happening on a Friday night in Downtown Columbia. You may have already known that. You may be a part of it all. For me, it was a positive note at the end of a rough week.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

A Big Deal?

It has been a while since I have linked to Columbia Patch. But, here goes:

Wilde Lake Mansion Listed for $1,150, 000


Why, why why?

Why is this house in Columbia? I’m not going to go on a rant and say it’s an outrage but it is kind of ridiculous. Maybe it’s actually in an outparcel?

It’s not my position that all houses in Wilde Lake (or in Columbia, for that matter) should be exactly the same. But it would be nice if they were mildly harmonious. One wonders what Kate Wagner of McMansion Hell would think of this particular example.

The article says that this house was built in 2005, so that would be before the recession. It would be interesting to know (but none of my business) who has actually lived in this house and how active they have been in the Wilde Lake community. Does one buy a house like this and send one’s children to the public schools? Leave the light on for trick or treaters? Go to the Wilde Lake Old Fashioned Picnic?

It isn’t a requirement to live in Columbia that one must “get involved” in one’s neighborhood or Village. There are plenty of folks who wish to lead quiet lives that focus more on family, work, or hobbies. But, on the other hand, a house like this hardly screams shy and retiring. More like “Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous”.  How does that play out over the long term?

This structure had to go through the complete approval process to be able to move forward. I wonder if anyone felt uneasy about it. Perhaps not. Perhaps I don’t understand how these things work. But I wonder what happens when you add a building to a neighborhood that is so clearly not of the neighborhood. (See a more typical house here.) Is there a long term impact? Does it essentially create a “hole” in the neighborhood?

Yes, friends, I may have backed myself into a corner here wondering if this house has ripped a hole in the space time continuum. I feel certain that I will hear from some of you that this is not that big a deal.

Saturday, September 29, 2018


Yesterday morning I sat downstairs while everyone else was asleep and I gradually became aware that the upstairs toilet was flushing. And flushing, and flushing. I didn’t hear any footsteps, so it didn’t appear that anyone was actually in the bathroom. But it was odd. Why would the toilet keep flushing itself?

Did I go upstairs to check on it? No. It was annoying and weird but it didn’t really seem like a big deal. Eventually my husband got up and did something and the perpetual flushing ceased.

There are some sounds that cause you to spring into action. The sound of breaking glass, for example, or a crying child, or the sound of a pet beginning to wretch (so I’m told). The sounds connect to a place in our brain that this is an emergency and we must act now. Other sounds, even if unexpected, don’t rise to the level of immediate action.

I have read a lot recently about how everyone agrees that over-development and school overcrowding are the main issues that voters in Howard County are concerned about this election season. For a variety of reasons, these are the things that have risen to emergency level status for many HoCo residents.

Masked by the din of of these issues is something deeply concerning that doesn’t get as much “airplay”: racial inequity. Specifically, I am talking about de facto segregation in where people live which leads to segregation in our schools. Allowing these systemic problems to continue without concerted intervention damages students in the here and now but also has an ongoing negative impact county-wide, far into the future.

(An aside here to explain what I mean by long term damage: if there had been women in positions of power everywhere through Brett Kavanaugh’s upbringing, and young women were empowered and defended in ways that put them on equal footing with young men, we would not be dealing with the overwhelming wave of men who believe that superiority is their birthright. What you grow up with, who is in your neighborhood, your schools, your social groups, who your authority figures are: all these things shape you for life.)

Many people whom I admire and respect are deeply concerned about over-development in Howard County and see a strong connection to school overcrowding, This is the emergency sound for them. They hear it and they spring into action. The continuing issues of racial inequity enters their consciousness as something troubling but not an emergency. Like the odd sound I heard upstairs in my house: sure, it was rather troubling and I would at some point have to do something about it. But I did not jump up and run to address it.

I’m including myself when I say that the mental triage that many white people unconsciously engage in is one that puts largely white issues at emergency status and those that affect people of color in the “we’ve got to get around to that...” category. And these are what most of us would call well-meaning people. Howard County also has a significant chunk of folks who aggressively deny issues of racial inequity. But if the end result of both groups is to do nothing, how much difference is there between the two?

If we are saying to our black and brown neighbors “I hear you” but they know full well that we are also saying  “but your concerns are not an emergency for me” then we harm our community relationships. We make our county weaker. And we make our future weaker.

Friday, September 28, 2018

A Musical Interlude

Today’s post comes to you from the musical “The King and I”. We’ll talk tomorrow.

When I was a boy, world was better spot
What was so was so, what was not was not
Now, I am a man, world have changed a lot
Some things nearly so, others nearly not
There are times I almost think
I am not sure of what I absolutely know
Very often find confusion
In conclusion, I concluded long ago
In my head are many facts
That, as a student, I have studied to procure
In my head are many facts
Of which I wish I was more certain, I was sure
Is a puzzlement
What to tell growing son?
What for instance, shall I say to him of women?
Shall I educate him on the ancient lines?
Shall I tell the boy as far as he is able
To respect his wives and love his concubines?
Shall I tell him everyone is like the other
And the better of the two is really neither?
If I tell him this I think he won't believe it
And I nearly think that I don't believe it either
When my father was a king
He was a king who knew exactly what he knew
And his brain was not a thing
Forever swinging to and fro and fro and to

Shall I, then be like my father
And be willfully unmovable and strong?
Or is it better to be right?
Or am I right when I believe I may be wrong?
Shall I join with other nations in alliance?
If allies are weak, am I not best alone?
If allies are strong with power to protect me
Might they not protect me out of all I own?
Is a danger to be trusting one another
One will seldom want to do what other wishes
But unless someday somebody trust somebody
There'll be nothing left on earth excepting fishes
There are times I almost think
Nobody sure of what he absolutely know
Everybody find confusion
In conclusion, he concluded long ago
And it puzzle me to learn
That tho' a man may be in doubt of what he know
Very quickly he will fight
He'll fight to prove that what he does not know is so
Oh, sometimes I think that people going mad
Ah, sometimes I think that people not so bad
But not matter what I think, I must go on living life
As leader of my kingdom, I must go forth
Be father to my children and husband to each wife
Etcetera, etcetera and so forth
If my Lord in Heaven Buddha, show the way
Everyday I try to live another day
If my Lord in Heaven Buddha, show the way
Everyday I do my best for one more day
But is a puzzlement

—Oscar Hammerstein, Richard Rodgers

Thursday, September 27, 2018

One Event Two Ways

I got some great responses to my post yesterday about Opus. Two stand out. From Philip Dodge, Executive Director of Downtown Columbia Partnership:

Good morning - I saw your blog post re: OPUS. Here's my response.

Short version: Yes. You should attend.

Long version: We're trying to explain that while OPUS is cutting edge and brings artists from all over the world to Columbia, it isn’t intimidating and it has something for everyone.

OPUS provides a forest-full of opportunities for discovery, including seven new commissions and an array of dynamic art installations and stages spread across the entire fifty acres of Symphony Woods.

It’s like visiting the MoMA, Guggenheim, Bilbao, and Venice Biennale all in your back yard:

• Explore the wonders of art, technology, and music
• Dance under a piano drum canopy
• Walk inside a laser cathedral
• Taste your way through the expanded Culinary Village
• Bask in a soul cleansing bath of color
• Behold a sixteen foot tall talking owl

From blogger Frank Hecker:

For maximum enjoyment it helps to understand what Opus actually is: it's an all-ages avant garde art and music event: they take a sampling of trendy artists from NYC and elsewhere and bring them to Columbia for a day. If you like that sort of thing (or are open to liking it) then you will have fun at Opus. Otherwise, not so much. Me, I thought it was great last year and am looking forward to this year.

Forgot to add: the target audience for Opus isn't really Columbians, it's hipsters from DC and Baltimore--basically the sort of people Howard Hughes is trying to attract to live and (especially) work in the Merriweather District. It's a signal to prospective office tenants who have relatively young workforces and are concerned their employees won't want to work in the middle of suburbia.

So, knowing all that, what do you think? Avant garde music festival? Walk-through special effects party experience? It sounds like there’s more than one way to approach the event.

One unifying theme is a sincere hope that the weather will stop being a party pooper and cut it out with the continuous drenching we’ve been getting.

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

The Return of the Thing

So, this October 13th might be dubbed “The Return of the Thing” in Columbia. What thing? This thing:

Opus Merriweather

I had tickets last year but as I recall we couldn’t find parking and went back home. I’m wondering if it’s worth trying to go this year.

Did you go? Did you enjoy the experience? Would you recommend it?

Convince me.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

On Four Letter Words

A few words today about my new most unfavorite four-letter word: smug.


  1. having or showing an excessive pride in oneself or one's achievements.
    "he was feeling smug after his win"

    synonyms:self-satisfiedself-congratulatorycomplacentsuperior, pleased with oneself, conceited
    "he was feeling smug after his win"

We are all worn out by the angry rants and accusations in the political arguments of campaign season, and rightly so. There’s just only so much venom and bile one can either generate or endure. Or both. But my personal pet peeve right now are the folks who proclaim their superiority by arching one eyebrow, a tilt of the head, perhaps, an artfully intellectual turn of phrase. A gif or meme that only the cool kids will get.

Even if your political views have merit, that’s no reason to succumb to smugness. For one thing, it’s repellent. For another, it’s a deterrent to taking in new ideas and points of view.

I realize that I am once again drawing attention to what an earnest, possibly naive sort I am. So be it. If I am looking for wisdom I believe it will come cloaked in humility and thoughtfulness. Sometimes there will be righteous anger, I get that. But self-satisfied, self-congratulatory, complacent, superior?


I just can’t bring myself to be a member of that club.

Monday, September 24, 2018

Shut it Down

Yes, I am wearing black today. No, I cannot walk out because you can’t actually walk out on four year olds. Weather permitting, we will already be outside. On the playground.

Sexual harassment and sexual assault may be in the national news right now, but the response from all over the country speaks of how local these problems really are. Right here in Howard County  there are #MeToo stories. Even in our school system.

Highly recommended is this thread from Kim Weeden which concludes:

It’s a telling statement about the prevalence of sexual violence in America that women who have never been raped feel like we won the damned lottery. 

And that would be me. Sure, I’ve been catcalled and harassed but I’ve never been the victim of sexual assault. And that is not because I’m a nice girl, or a good girl, or wore “appropriate” clothing or made sure to only engage in “appropriate” behavior. It’s just luck. It’s nothing I did or didn’t do.

What kind of a life is that, living with the knowledge that at any moment you could be a victim but you just have to hope it’s the other girl and not you? Why do we treat these events as something unavoidable like the weather instead of as the outright crimes they are? And why do these particular crimes bring with them the suggestion that they were brought on by the victim?

I suspect that it’s because the rules in place are made by the powerful. And the powerful are those who want to perpetuate the notion that they are not responsible for their actions if it pertains to something “sexual”. Everyone knows you can just blame that on the woman. 

From generation to generation: blame the woman. 

And here we are again, looking at a position on the highest court if the land, and we are playing “blame the woman” once again. Enough. Enough, enough, enough.

It’s time to make it abundantly clear that the people who think this behavior is okay are not the ones who should be in a position to make the rules.

Sunday, September 23, 2018


My husband brought me a bit of Delft-ware. The small and perfect piece was wrapped carefully in his suitcase and made it home from the Netherlands in one piece.

He made a side trip to Delft from Den Hague. To see old churches, he said. And, knowing him, old churches were definitely on the agenda. But somewhere on that day he found the time to think of home, and of me. And to find a perfect treasure to bring back.

Today all the controversies will have to wait. The Board of Ed race, HoCo development, school redistricting, a fix for Old EC. They’re not going anywhere. They’ll be there tomorrow.

At the end of what has seemed like the longest week ever I’m savoring the feeling that we are all here. Everyone is home safe. A perfect piece of Delftware is a treat. The greater treasure is that my husband made it there and back again unbroken. In perfect condition, one might say.

Sightseeing and souvenirs add much to our views of life outside the bubble. But, to my mind at least, nothing beats that first hug of homecoming.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

A Few Weird Things

Two unrelated things on my mind this morning:

I was surprised to see a thread written by the venomous Twitter troll account “mjm not super” turn up word for word on Facebook as written by a gentleman named Thomas Edward Garb. For one brief second I thought our troll had revealed himself. No dice. Thomas Edward Garb appears to be a made-up account that doesn’t link up to a real identity, so our school system’s toxic troll remains a mystery.

This blog post which focuses on BOE candidate Sabina Taj left me scratching my head. The blog itself, entitled RoCo in HoCo, is described by its author as follows:

So it’s meant to be satire? Or it’s meant to be informative using a fictional premise? It has been hard for me to ascertain the sweet spot that the author is going for.

The piece about Ms. Taj is cloyingly sweet and, if I were she, I’d be embarrassed. In fact, it borders on being creepy.

We sat down to chat about Sabina’s bid for a spot on the BOE. I feared it would be hard for me to focus because Sabina’s big, dark eyes, intensified by her silky tresses, set off by her cafe-au-lait skin, draw you in and won’t let go.

I’m not sure if this piece was meant to “humanize” Ms. Taj who has recently been accused (unfairly, I believe) of unkindness and divisiveness or if it is purely meant to amuse the folks who support her already. In my opinion voters would best be served by attending a meet and greet with Ms. Taj and skipping this blog post. 

RoCo in HoCo as a blog is lovely and gushy and fun. There’s nothing else like it on the local scene. But I strongly question using this particular device for wading into the BOE race. I don’t know that it serves the candidate or the voters. It also sexualizes its subject in a way that detracts from the very real issues at play in the BOE race.

Friday, September 21, 2018


Weekend. I need one. Several, in fact.

Do yourself a favor and go see one or both of these local events this weekend.

“Into the Woods” at Oakland Mills High School, Saturday night. Info here. This production is a fundraiser for the OMHS Fine Arts Programs.

The String Queens performing at the Chrysalis on Sunday.

     3:00 Chrysalis Kids performance for kids and families
     7:00 Chrysalis Cabaret for the grownups

More info here. Be sure to watch the video!

See you here tomorrow after a good night’s sleep.