Thursday, June 30, 2022

Thoughts, Sermons, and Votes


Is it possible that we have arrived once more at the time of year when locals are campaigning for votes as though their lives depended on it?

No, I don’t mean the Maryland primary election. 

Today, June 30th, begins the voting period for the annual Howard County Magazine 2022 Readers Choice Contest.

You are invited to vote daily in the following categories:







As you may have figured out, this contest is a click-fest. It is a way of showing which businesses or local figures can muster the kind of loyalty entailed in signing in and clicking daily. For businesses, winning this can be a big deal. It looks great on one’s promotional materials.

As for bloggers, well…

There was a time that winning this meant a lot to me. I suppose I thought that it would carry more clout than it actually does. In the long run, it didn’t necessarily open more doors for me or cause hocolocal notables to show me any more respect. 

It was simply a fun thing to win, and I was grateful.

This year you have three choices in the Blogger Category:

  • Scott E
  • Village Green/Town² 
  • Howard County Progress Report
I find it odd and just plain stupid that The Merriweather Post is not included. I also don’t remember a nomination period this year, because, if I had noted that omission, I would have submitted it for consideration. It belongs on this list every bit as much as the others. (Also: happy to see Howard County Progress Report in this list.)

Here’s the deal: Scott E Blog doesn’t exist anymore nor does its writer even reside in Howard County. Details like these don’t seem to matter to Howard Magazine, however. They kept putting up HoCoRising for the award for several years after it ceased to exist. Not that HoCoRising wasn’t a great blog, but…c’mon. We should be voting on blogs that still exist, shouldn’t we?

Just a thought, not a sermon.

At any rate, if you like local polls, now is the time for you to jump in and vote, vote, vote from now through July 14th. You don’t have to have a Baltimore Sun subscription to enter, and you don’t need to vote in all categories. Put a little reminder on your calendar or your phone. (Do people tie a string around their fingers anymore?)  If polls are not your thing, that’s fine, too.

Just promise me you’ll try to stop by here every morning and see what’s up. That’s the most important thing. Not because it improves my numbers, but because your presence adds to the conversation here.

And that is a sermon, I guess,

The really-o, truly-o election is the Maryland State Primary on July 19. I trust you already have that on your calendar.

Wednesday, June 29, 2022

I Told You So


I knew it would come to no good. And I was right.

In November of 2015 I wrote about the dangerous precedent  set by the introduction of on-street parking spaces in front of the Metropolitan building in Downtown Columbia.

Parallel parking. There are multiple parallel parking spaces in front of the shops at the Metropolitan. How can they do this? No one in Columbia knows how to parallel park. They've just taken it off of the drivers exam, for heaven's sake. Granted, there's only a handful of spaces, but somebody needs to take a stand now before this gets out of hand.

Last night my daughter and I headed over to Mod Pizza for dinner and were flummoxed by the sight of a car double parked with its flashers on, parallel to the parking lane. We waited for a moment to see if it might move out of politeness. 


As we passed by on our way to the parking garage we noticed two things. The car was completely empty, windows rolled down, almost as though the occupants had been “raptured” while in the act of looking for a parking space. But the pièce de resistance was the fact that it sat blocking a generously sized curbside parking space. 

These folks left the car in the middle of the road rather than attempt parallel parking. And now no one else could have that space as long as they were there.

What did I tell you? I knew this could only mean disaster. Columbians aren’t ready for the challenges of urban living.

Of course both today’s post and the original one are largely tongue in cheek. We parked in the garage, which added only a few extra steps to our trip. We enjoyed a delicious outdoor meal with pizzas made just the way we wanted them. The added bonus was the gorgeous weather and a good bit of people watching - - especially children playing on the big yellow sculpture out front.

But, for heaven’s sake, who double parks in front of an empty parking space???

If they haven’t put parallel parking back on the driver’s exam, maybe they should. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2022

Last Call

One of my favorite hocolocal businesses, From Momma’s Kitchen, will cease operations as of June 30th. Owner Monica Rogers Williams is moving on from baking to other professional pursuits.

It’s not too late for you to have one last delicious fling with the tasty baked goods Williams has been cooking up over the last eleven years. She’s offering Good Buy sampler boxes in a variety of sizes. Visit her website if you’d like to choose one. But, do it now. June 30th is approaching quickly.

From Momma’s Kitchen 

I’m not exactly sure what is coming next for Ms. Williams but I hope she will continue to follow her dreams

Monday, June 27, 2022



Yet again, local blogger Suzi Gerb has written a piece that caused me to say, “wow, I wish I had written that.”  

The right to traumatize children, Suzi Gerb

I wrote a piece in a similar vein last week. I was reasonably proud of it. 

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light

Gerb’s is better. Mine leans towards righteous indignation. Hers is buoyant: gentle, even tender, while devastatingly truthful. She asks the reader to change their own perspective, to put themselves in the place of a queer child.

For an LGBTQ+ child born to a family and a culture that sees them as wicked and dangerous, the schools are all they have, all that holds them back from a lifetime of anguish.  

Ms. Gerb makes a point I hadn’t pondered enough. The parents who wish to restrict or ban affirming activities and/curriculum see themselves as protecting their “normal” children from those who are “different”. They may have no idea it is their own children who need this information most of all. 

Honestly it doesn’t matter whose children they are. None should be traumatized. But the thought that people could be doing this to their own children made it just that much more horrifying to me.

Take a moment to read her piece this morning. 

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Saturday Night at the Club


This is going to be brief. I don’t have it in me to do much more than that. - - jam


I just discovered that Howard County has a country club. I really had no idea. I can add that to the list of things I hadn’t known. They’re in Glenwood, which is in Western Howard. You probably knew that.

Cattail Creek Country Club

How did I find out? The Howard County Fire and Rescue Services Facebook page shared a notice yesterday about an upcoming fireworks display.

Reminder: TONIGHT (6/25), at approximately 9:30 pm, there will be a private fireworks display in the 3600 block of Cattail Creek Drive. Residents might hear loud noises/see smoke in the area.

This event is permitted through the Office of the Maryland State Fire Marshal and will have HCDFRS fire marshals present during the display.

So Howard County has at least one country club (are there any more I don’t know about?) and they had their very own fireworks display last night. CORRECTION: A kind reader has pointed out that Turf Valley is a country club and this is why I should not have attempted to write today. My apologies. - - jam

Country clubs mean money and exclusivity to me. I will admit I carry preconceived notions very likely rooted in the country clubs of yesteryear. Frankly it just feels creepy to me.

Of course Columbia has the Columbia Association with multiple pools and tennis courts and other amenities. You have to live on assessed property and choose to pay a membership fee on top of that, but it’s meant to be a more egalitarian concept. The Columbia model was meant to be inclusive from the start. 

Country clubs certainly haven’t always been that way. I don’t know anything about membership at Cattail Creek Country Club but I suspect any barriers to admission are probably financial in nature. You can’t legally exclude people for being Black or Jewish anymore, can you? 

For now.

Some folks might say that Columbia has all those amenities, so, why shouldn’t Glenwood have a country club? It just doesn’t feel the same to me. 

Feel free to share your thoughts.

Saturday, June 25, 2022

I Won’t Forget


This post is from March 26, 2014. My grandmother, who worked throughout her career to support reproductive health and care, is on my mind this morning. Frankly I’m glad she didn’t live to see this day.

Jen Raffensperger is no longer a blogger. She is an ordained Unitarian Universalist minister.

Heritage, or: My Grandmother the Birth Control Activist

We called her Gaga, because one of my older sisters couldn't say Grandma. She wore very colorful suits and sparkly costume jewelry. She was a pretty terrible cook. She didn't bake cookies and she wasn't very snuggly. She was, as my mother put it, a "career woman."

Here you see a mention of her passing in the newsletter of the National Council for Family Relations. 

Maternal Health. I grew up knowing that's where Gaga worked, but I had absolutely no idea what went on there. I only truly came to understand when she died, in 1978. I was almost twenty. The magnitude of what she had done began to hit me as I read her obituary. We had submitted one to the Cleveland Papers, along with a photo. When it showed up in the paper it had actually been augmented and the photo was one from their own files. 

So, what was Maternal Health?

You can see a mention of my grandmother, Hazel Cornell Jackson, in the clip above from 1938. Look to the right. A victory for birth control: books and pamphlets on birth control may now be sent through the mail and received by "persons other than physicians". 

What ever you may think the fight at the Supreme Court is about right now, just stop for one minute and remember where we come from. Remember our foremothers. Yes, mothers. Women who sometimes ended up with four children in as many years and had no choice. Women whose health was broken by multiple pregnancies and childbirths. Women whose family finances were devastated by ever-growing families they could not afford.

Maternal Health. Women's health. Reproductive Health. My grandmother was a lifelong social worker whose training included family relations, family planning, and marital counseling. She was a well known speaker in Ohio and beyond. She helped to create the first mobile birth control unit that went into poor inner city neighborhoods in Cleveland. Maternal Health, as you may have figured out, was a forerunner of Planned Parenthood.

She did this at a time when it was scandalous, when even sending pamphlets through the mail was considered an act of pornography. She did this so that women would no longer be enslaved by a lack of choice in matters that had huge consequences. All I knew was that she wore "business suits" and went to an "office" in the city at a time when all the other mothers and grandmothers I knew stayed home in the suburbs.

Yesterday Jen Raffensperger, also known as local blogger Examorata, posted the following:

@examorata: Outside the Supreme Court, demonstrating on Hobby Lobby oral argument day. #religiouslibertyforme… 

Jen was there as a woman of faith--the Unitarian Universalist  faith--to support the rights of individual women to decide on matters of their own bodies, rather than assign religious rights to a corporation as a means to controlling individuals. Funny--Gaga was a Unitarian, and so were my parents. When I grew up and embraced Christianity I dismissed Unitarianism as the absence of faith. As I get older I realize how wrong an assessment that is.

So, the story in my family is that when I was born, my grandmother was beside herself. My parents already had two children, born three years apart. I was an "oops", who came along six years later. Here was my grandmother, promoting birth control to help couples plan reasonably-sized families, and her own son and daughter-in-law had three children! 

She loved me anyway. She took me to see the Christmas lights at NELA Park, and she took me to the downtown department stores to see Santa. She let me drink iced tea at the Hot Shoppes at the mall even though Mother said no. She had me over for countless sleepovers. She let me sit at her antique vanity table and play with her fancy costume jewelry.

Today, and every day, I honor her and the work that she did. I can't believe that we are fighting these battles all over again, but fight we must. I love you, Gaga. I won't forget.





Friday, June 24, 2022

Rage, Rage Against the Dying of the Light


“It's easier to fool people than it is to convince them that they have been fooled.” – Mark Twain.

We need to talk about the rabid onslaught of misinformation surging through social media and erupting at school board meetings across the country. It has a catchword: grooming.

The term “grooming” is being used to mean something it absolutely does not mean, with the purpose of attacking and stripping away any programs and/or materials that support LGBTQ + students and families. It’s not just that “grooming” isn’t happening in our schools in any coordinated way. It’s that the word is being used over and over again to mean something it does not.

To paraphrase that old viral meme: That’s not what that means. That’s not what any of this means.

The success of bad actors to use a word that has a frightening connotation - -  that most people only know just a little bit about - - to fan the flames of outrage is alarming.

I spent my entire career working with children in educational settings. I have been through many mandated trainings about child sexual abuse. This is what grooming means:

Child grooming is a deliberate process by which offenders gradually initiate and maintain sexual relationships with victims in secrecy.

Grooming allows offenders to slowly overcome natural boundaries long before sexual abuse occurs. On the surface, grooming a child can look like a close relationship between the offending adult, the targeted child and (potentially) the child’s caregivers. 

- - From Darkness to Light: End Child Sexual Abuse website

Grooming is a very private thing which depends on secrecy. That’s the opposite of what is going on in public schools. Parents are invited to learn about curriculum materials and programs in a variety of ways every year. They are welcome to observe classes, come to school workshops, review materials, read curriculum on the school system website.

The door is always open for parental involvement.

Not grooming.

In fact, addressing human sexuality in a developmentally appropriate way, such as helping young children understand their right to say no to unwanted touch, for example, is a vital defense in fighting child sexual abuse. Supporting student questions about LGBTQ+ families shows students that open discussion is safe and that they and their families are safe. Having books available in school libraries should any student wish to seek them out helps to meet individual student needs.

Not grooming.

The abuse of children thrives in an atmosphere of ignorance and secrecy. The children who are most vulnerable to abuse are those who have been “protected” from things that adults around them don’t want them to know and don’t want to talk about.

What I see happening right now in the Howard County schools is a commitment to putting valuable information and support out in the open. There’s no secrecy here. The backlash is from people who don’t want sunlight to shine on things they are uncomfortable with or disapprove of. They want secrecy and control, plus the ability to censure others with school approval.

They are advocating for the very environment which puts children at the most risk for abuse. For being vulnerable to grooming.

Real grooming.

Not only do their actions threaten and hurt our LGBTQ+ students, whose well-being is so precarious already, but they endanger all students. 

All students need to be supported with accurate and affirming information about themselves, relationships, and families from their very early years. Much of this will be student-driven. Children are naturally curious. This kind of learning can occur organically through discussions about literature, in science lessons, or in social studies. It can be supported through well-researched curriculum and materials, as well.

This will never preclude family involvement. Parents have the most important role in supporting their child’s growth and development. And parents who partner with schools will find they have added resources to help them navigate this process.

But schools also have a responsibility to be the place where questions are answered and ignorance is dispelled. That’s what schools are all about. You might even say that Education takes us from darkness to light.

I will not speculate on the motivation of those who are fighting to keep children in the dark. But, after more than thirty years as a teacher, I can assure you that what they are demanding is dangerous and will bring children to harm. 

Please do your research on candidates for the Board of Education. I’d recommend that you start here:

CARY Candidate Survey Results

Thursday, June 23, 2022

Thursday’s Top Ten


There’s no lack of local things right now to write about. There might be too many, I suppose. But the little light switch that goes on in my head to allow me to write is malfunctioning this morning. Perhaps it’s a lack of sunlight. Perhaps there’s just too much to assimilate. 

Here’s a sampling:

  • The current political season 
  • The County Executive’s announcement of an LGBTQ+ Commission
  • Upcoming Independence Day festivities in Columbia/HoCo
  • Final days of the old Talbott Springs Elementary School
  • New restaurants opening
  • CA Board meeting reviews on The Merriweather Post: citizen journalism?
  • Upcoming girls and boys Nike National High School Lacrosse Showcase at Blandair Park, to be televised live
  • The Board of Education race
  • Local attitudes towards renting vs owning 
  • Why e-scooters?
That last one: not a criticism. I’m just curious.

Bonus question today comes from the Columbia Conversation account on Facebook:

Do you consider Columbia a city-like suburb or a suburb-like city? Why?

I’ll be back tomorrow with F ³: Free Form Friday. If you have opinions on any of the above local topics, or  have any topics of your own to suggest, please chime in here:

Wednesday, June 22, 2022



So it turns out that yesterday was National Selfie Day (who knew?) but I’m pretty sure that the photo I featured in yesterday’s blog does not qualify. This one: 

But, while I was contemplating what a picture of Columbia looks like, the Columbia Association was gearing up for a different kind of photo project. From their website:

Become the Face of Columbia Association

The best thing about Columbia is YOU!

We’re making updates to the CA website to make it:

Faster to find facility information

Clearer to learn about programs

Easier to get involved in Columbia’s best activities

We need you!

… to help us show the places and spaces that make Columbia unique. And you get access to the professional photos of you and your family for FREE.

Volunteer to be part of our upcoming photoshoots.

Everyone is invited, everyone is welcome


Groups of friends


Whole families

What’s involved?

Come and enjoy our programs and facilities – have fun, no matter your membership level

Sign a photo release form (so we can use the images on the CA website and other marketing and communications materials)

Get copies of the photos that you feature in – share them with your friends and family!

Does this invitation spark your interest? Do you enjoy having your picture taken? Follow up at this link: Face of CA.

Years ago I was included in a Columbia Association promotional video while doing my job as an afterschool care provider. So I’ve had my two seconds of being the face of CA. Now it’s your turn. I can think of some folks right off who’d be perfect for this, but, I’m not going to name any names. 

Maybe it will be you.

Tuesday, June 21, 2022

The Picture of Columbia


A reminder from the Columbia Association that today is a red-letter day:

Lookin' cool at 55! Happy birthday Columbia, we couldn't be more excited about your future.

#HappyBirthday #ColumbiaMD #ColumbiaAssociation #DowntownColumbiaLakefront

It doesn’t seem that long ago that we were celebrating Columbia’s 50th does it? A lot has happened since then.

I had a few thoughts as I looked at this photo. It is, of course, Columbia founder Jim Rouse’s statue at the Lakefront. It occurred to me that this close-up does him no favors. It reminded me of the times my mother would see someone famous, or someone she had known long ago and say, “My, he’s aged.” 

Really, his “skin” is looking pretty terrible. Most of us wouldn’t look a whole lot better if photographed at this distance. It’s hardly flattering. 

It made me wonder how Columbia itself would look in this kind of (metaphorical) closeup. Original buildings have aged, of course. Some are gone. New buildings have been pushing up towards the sky and changing Columbia’s landscape. Organizations like Village associations and CA itself have aged as well, sometimes expanding or contracting. They reflect the nature of the New American City in middle age.

The truth is, I wouldn’t have used a photo of Rouse to celebrate Columbia’s birthday. If I were to focus on any one thing, it would be the People Tree, dedicated on the day of Columbia’s founding: June 21st, 1967. But the Columbia Association doesn’t own the People Tree anymore. The statue and its likeness are owned by the Howard Hughes Corporation. Perhaps that’s why we don’t see it here.

At this point the image of Columbia that actual Columbians hold in their heads is probably not one defining image. For some it is the time-honored Lake Kittamaqundi vista. For others it is in the new settings of the Merriweather District. Green space and the enjoyment of pools, parks, and pathways maybe be the first images that come to mind for some folks. That is their quintessential Columbia view.

After 55 years maybe there is no one image that symbolizes Columbia. It is appreciated best in a big picture view, like one of those overhead drone film sequences. Take an imaginary flight over Columbia: what do you see? Village Festivals? Concerts at the Chrysalis? Fourth of July fireworks? 

As we note Columbia’s 55th birthday in the midst of continuing transformation and no small growing pains, I’m interested to know: what is your picture of Columbia? 

Monday, June 20, 2022

Uniquely American?


On the Federal observance of Juneteenth, I have a few thoughts. Yesterday I saw a social media post which began: 

Juneteenth is a uniquely American holiday…

And why is that, do you suppose? Because it is uniquely American to build an entire country on the labor of the enslaved? We should be deeply troubled as white people to reckon with the concept that Juneteenth is a uniquely American holiday. 

Something worth celebrating would be if a Juneteenth had never been needed. That’s not the path that colonizers chose. Imagine all the different choices and all the different attitudes that would have been necessary for that to be so.

I thought a lot about this quote yesterday:

Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it. – George Santayana, The Life of Reason, 1905. 

We are facing an angry wave of anti-history sentiment right now in this country. People don’t want to remember the past or learn things about the past that they did not know. They don’t want to acknowledge that the history of the oppressed has been suppressed. Why? They don’t want to feel uncomfortable. They don’t want their children to feel uncomfortable.

If we believe in Democracy we must fight this. If we support public education we must fight this. We cannot learn and grow and work for a better future if we don’t learn and reckon with the truth of our history. 

People who want to control how you remember the past are planning to take away your power in the future. 

That’s enough of my voice today. Take a minute to read Local Howard County Juneteenth Stories researched by HCLTR and their recent intern, Lindsey Bloom. 

Sunday, June 19, 2022

Big Kids Little Kids


Dan and Claudia Zanes

We were there for it, as the young folks say, from the moment the announcement was made and we snapped up our tickets.

@macsmom (yes, that's me)  Just booked my tickets to see @danzanes and @claudiazanes at the Chrysalis! So excited! The Chrysalis Kids series is back at @InARTrust !

Bonus: getting a retweet from Dan Zanes himself.

I first learned about Dan Zanes from an interview on Public Radio, around the time that his Parades and Panoramas CD was released. I went home and told my husband how cool he was. We bought the CD and were immediately hooked. From there it was a quick jump to his kid-centric, all ages music - - we did have a young daughter at the time. And, of course, I taught preschool music. 

Songs like Jump Up, Mairi’s Wedding, All Around the Kitchen, Wonder Wheel, Catch That Train, and so many more became frequent companions in our lives. Good friends, even. When I began doing my kid’s dance parties at the Chrysalis, one song in particular always made an appearance. Yesterday, before the Dan and Claudia Zanes concert, I wrote:

The song that always indicates that my kids dance parties at the Chrysalis are beginning is: “Hello, Hello” by Dan Zanes. Today *he’ll* be on the Chrysalis stage. 

Maybe he’ll sing it.

They didn’t sing it, and that was just fine, because they opened with a newer song inspired by the life of John Lewis, “Let Love Be Your Guide.” They invited the audience to join in the singing. 

There’s something I must tell you now

Let love be your guide

The longing of the human heart knows how to 

Let love be your guide

I stood among you and I knew

Let love be your guide

It was clear what you were here to do

Let love be your guide

Be your guide when you’re weary

Be your guide when you’re unsure

The winds of change are on your side

Let love be your guide

History tells us this is not new

Let love be your guide

Yesterday’s lessons still hold true

Let love be your guide

The nightmare it was deep and long

Let love be your guide

Now the wind is troubled with the sweetest song

Let love be your guide

I may not be with you when the day is done

Let love be your guide

But I know you’ll be marching ’til the peace is won

Let love be your guide

- - Dan and Claudia Zanes 

Dan and Claudia are a perfectly balanced duo. Their musical collaboration is brilliant and joyous. You feel their love of music and for doing what they do. They speak to children and families with humor, warmth and respect. 

Yesterday I sang, danced, learned some hand motions, and some American Sign Language. I clapped, and tapped, and engaged in one of my favorite past times : watching children dancing on the lawn.

Thank you to Nina Basu of the Inner Arbor Trust and to all the folks at Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods for making this free concert happen for kids in our community. 

And for me. After all these years I’m a still kid at heart. 

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Saving a Life


Remember how hot it was yesterday? Our former neighbor came across a dog inside a hot car in a shopping center parking lot. This was not in Columbia/HoCo, but, it easily could have been. A long-time professional dog trainer and lover of dogs, our friend knew just what to do.

She called the police to report it and waited with the car.

In the meantime she tried the door. It was unlocked. She opened it to give the dog some air and offered a dish of cool water. The dog, who was panting, happily lapped up the water. In case you are wondering, of course she had a dog dish and water available. She’s just that kind of person. 

The police came and talked to the family when they returned. It seems that they had gone inside to eat dinner in a restaurant and just locked the dog in their car. They acted surprised that there was any law pertaining to what they had done.

“Funny how they didn’t leave their kids in the car,” our friend wrote angrily in her Facebook post recounting the incident.

From the Humane Society website:

Leaving pets locked in cars is never safe. But when the weather gets warmer, it can be deadly. High temperatures can cause irreparable organ damage and even death.

This article has everything you need to know if you come across a similar situation.

What to do if you see a pet in a parked car”, The Humane Society website

I really liked this suggestion:

Get involved: Ask local store managers, shopping malls, restaurants and other businesses to post signs asking customers not to leave their pets in their cars while shopping or dining. A huge part of the solution to this problem is raising awareness.

In the meantime, it’s not going to be so hot today. What a relief. There’s plenty to do around town.

  • Dan and Claudia Zanes at the Chrysalis 
  • The Big Blue Block Party at Colorburst Park
  • Savage Mill Bluegrass Festival at Savage Mill
  • Farmers Market at Clarksville Commons
(And probably more I don’t know about.)

If you are looking for suitable opportunities to have fun with your canine companion, may I recommend this upcoming event?

Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods
July 6
5:30 - 7:30 pm 

Friday, June 17, 2022

Say It. Now.

Usually I get frisky on Fridays but today is different. Today is the last day of school. We have a lot of people to thank. 

Our society has deemed that schools are one of the few places where all must be accepted. No person (or particular group of persons) may be excluded. That means that schools are tasked with meeting the needs of all children order to support their educational progress. All children. All students. No exceptions.

There are plenty of folks who are of the opinion that schools should be in the business of providing the best possible experience for their own particular children, or for the children of “people like us.” As loud as they may be, their voices are not the voice of public education. Schools are for all children. 

I could say more but you probably don’t have all day. Here’s the important part:

We must not close the door on any school year without saying thank you. Schools are made up of teachers, admin, paraeducators, speech, occupational, and physical therapists, food service personnel, office staff, janitorial staff, groundskeepers…and of course there are crossing guards, bus drivers, and many, many volunteers. They are engaged daily in doing one of the most democratic things in our culture: education for all.

Thank you. Our children need you, our community needs you, our democracy needs you, our future needs you.

I have a special spot in my heart for teachers, who are face to face with the mission of education while those far above them are making most of the significant decisions. Yes, I was a teacher and my husband still is. I don’t mean to suggest that teachers as a group are better than everyone else. But I’m not sure the average person knows the intensity of the challenges involved in teaching, and how that intensity continues day after day, with not enough time or money to address those challenges. The pandemic didn’t create that situation. It magnified it.

Thank you, teachers. I hope you can get some restorative downtime, some fun, some well-deserved joy. 

Before I sign off, here is a photo of my daughter’s elementary school, Talbott Springs, where she attended K-5.


Oakland Mills Community Association Board Chair Jonathan Edelson sent out a letter to the community this week, which included these words:

Today is a very special day in our cOMmunity. For the last time ever, students will be dismissed from the original Talbott Springs Elementary School building, opened in 1973. Future Eagles will attend classes in the beautiful new facility being completed next door.

I want to offer a special thanks to all who worked in this building, creating a supportive educational community for the students who entered their doors, with particular thanks to Principal Nancy Thompson. These people deserved a better school building long, long, long before the new one was even approved. They somehow made the magic happen year after year. I’m grateful, not just for my own child, or for the children of “people like me,” but for all our children who went to Talbott Springs.

Three cheers for this new building, for all teachers and staff in Howard County, and for summer vacation.

Another great way to say thank you? Elect board of education members who understand the mission of education for all.

Thursday, June 16, 2022

Saturday in the Park

The featured color at Colorburst Park this Saturday is Blue.

The Columbia Democratic Club is inviting the community to a free event that they call The Big Blue Block Party. It’s this Saturday, June 18th, at Colorburst Park in the Merriweather District. As of now the weather forecast indicates a high of 73 and sunny. That’s pretty darned promising for an outdoor event.

What’s happening? There will be food trucks, music provided by DJ Jonathan Stoddard, and an opportunity to try out those new e-scooters.

@ColumbiaMDTweet: Need to be gently guided into your first #escooter ride? The folks from @ridespin will run demos from 12-2.

If you are a yoga aficionado, there will be a free 30-minute yoga class at 10:15 am provided by special guest YogaSix. (You will need to bring your own mat.)

Truth in advertising: there will also be information about Columbia Democratic Club-endorsed candidates and opportunities to register to vote if you haven’t already. Basically, the goal of the Big Blue Block Party is to provide a fun and welcoming event and to increase voter engagement and registration.

All that having been duly noted, I have been assured that The Big Blue Block Party is open to the public. Anyone, regardless of political affiliation, is welcome to come on down and enjoy the event.

They’d like you to RSVP using the following link: Big Blue Block Party but I imagine that, if you are out and about on Saturday and decide to pop on over and check it out, you will be more than welcome. 

The Big Blue Block Party will be held on Saturday, June 18th from 11 AM - 4 PM in Colorburst Park. (Yoga at 10:15)

Colorburst Park is located at 6000 Merriweather Drive, Columbia, MD 21044.

For more information, here is the Facebook event page.


What am doing Saturday? I’ll be starting my day at the Chrysalis, of course, seeing the amazing Dan and Claudia Zanes at this year’s first Chrysalis Kids Concert. There’s still time for you to register for your free tickets. The concert is from 10-11 am, Chrysalis amphitheater, Merriweather Park at Symphony Woods. 

Learn more at the event page: Dan and Claudia Zanes, Chrysalis Kids. You may remember Dan Zanes from Playhouse Disney and Nick, Jr. He’s still going strong, with music that just as fun for adults as it is for kids. Joined by wife (and music therapist) Claudia Zanes, their concerts combine traditional songs from Dan’s repertoire plus music from Claudia’s Haitian heritage, as well. (Dan and Claudia Zanes)

See you there?

Wednesday, June 15, 2022

Sip n Play


Between end-of-school-year celebrations and political events, a lot of you are probably maxed out right now. Still, you might have time for something completely unrelated…and fun.

Tonight, at Black Flag Brewing Company, you can attend an evening of board games hosted by Aleventures. As always, here’s the tweet that caught my eye:

While you're there, enjoy a Haze and Haze Accessories IPA if you think you'll like a light and fruity IPA with Incognito and Spectrum hops. Or try one of their many other delicious refreshments!

Aleventures is an event-hosting company based in Frederick, started by Ryan Chite and Michael Sayago in 2021. According to an article in the Frederick News Post, it all came about like this:

Occasionally, the pair would take board games to play at local bars and breweries. They always wondered why bars do trivia nights and not board game nights.

“I think when you’re sitting down on your weekends to play board games and drink beers,” Sayago said, “naturally the conversation turns to, ‘Wouldn’t it be awesome if we could just make a living playing board games and drinking beers?’”

How does it work? They host the event and bring the games. You show up, learn some new games, play, have some fun. And just maybe you buy some of the games you’ve enjoyed to take home with you. The venue (in this case Black Flag) benefits from your patronage. Aleventures benefits from the sale of games and from the long-term investment in growing the gaming community. They describe themselves as follows:

Aleventures provides curated game nights to scale. We create a tailored package fit for private gatherings or public events.

A big part of what this means is that they make it their business to know the games they present inside and out. They’re able to explain the rules clearly and get people playing successfully without a lot of head scratching or struggle. Having lived through a number of family game nights through the years, I can see how their expertise is a huge plus.

If you’re interested in learning more, visit their website, follow them on Twitter @aleventuresxp , Instagram: Aleventures  TwitchTV: aleventures , and they even have some videos pertaining to game play on YouTube: Aleventures.

Public Service Announcement:

I continue to be committed to presenting equal time for events that are not alcohol-centric. Even though these folks clearly have “ale” right in the name, I wonder if they’d be open to hosting sober events as well. I’ll reach out to them and get back to you. 

Speaking of sober events, I’ve been seeing the good folks of Sobar out and about at quite a few local events lately. I think it’s about time to catch up with them and see what they are up to. 

If you head out to Black Flag tonight for some games, let me know what you think.

Tuesday, June 14, 2022

A Lunch Date Downtown


Meanwhile, after most of Columbia/HoCo has already been there, I have finally made it to The Food Market. I’ve read plenty of glowing reports online. The stars finally aligned in such a way that I was enjoying an outdoor lunch with a friend. 

I noticed when I stepped inside to the host station that absolutely no one I could see was wearing a mask. I’m sure there’s plenty of that going on these days, just not for me. I regret I didn’t have an opportunity to take a look around the interior of the restaurant. Google images supplied some inside views, which are consistent with the outside area: it’s modern. Lots of metal and glass. No unnecessary ornamentation.

There’s a metal fence around the outside dining area which is probably meant to define the space. 

It felt to me a bit too much like I was being fenced in. I was half worried they wouldn’t let me out when the meal was over. 

I indulged in my drink of summer, a gin and tonic. I honestly can’t remember the last time I had one. 

Lunch for me was a salmon BLT which was accompanied by crinkle cut fries. It was delicious, if a bit messy. I would definitely go back to order it again.

The bread and butter pickles pictured were delivered to the table before the food arrived. They worked well with my sandwich but don’t know about whether they were simpatico with my lovely companion’s street tacos. Maybe. I like pickles. In most cases, I think pickles go with everything.

Sadly, I was too full for dessert. That’s another reason to go back, I guess. If we ever make significant progress in beating back COVID I might actually get to eat inside. Who knows?

The service was friendly and efficient. We wanted for nothing, but didn’t feel suffocated, if you know what I mean. The host felt a bit on the “extra” side but perhaps that’s because I was feeling self-concious about being the only one in a mask.

A footnote of sorts. I had real difficulty finding the place, even though I basically knew where it was and was using my GPS as a back up. There’s some kind of roadwork or construction going on down there, which made the GPS instructions pretty useless. There’s no gaudy signage from the road, of course, because it’s Columbia. You could drive down Little Patuxent Parkway a thousand times and never know it’s there.

Ah, Columbia. The joy of discovery.

The good news is that, if you manage to find it once, you’ll probably never get lost again. A simple case of “if you know, you know.” And, if you eat outside, you can enjoy the view of other peoples’ cars and the mall. Not your own car, as it will most likely be in the parking garage next door.

I liked The Food Market. The prices at lunch were just about affordable, from my point of view. Dinner for me might be a stretch. You should see for yourself. We all have different internal scales as to how much is “too much.” A burger at lunch is $18.00, if that helps give you an idea. If it’s anything near as good as my salmon BLT, it’s probably worth it.

The Food Market is located at 10480 Little Patuxent Pkwy, Columbia, MD. They’re on Facebook and Instagram

I’d be interested to know your thoughts if you have been there. Also, how do you decide what makes a restaurant affordable or, as my mother used to say, “Highway Robbery”? That might be an interesting local discussion.

Monday, June 13, 2022

Getting There

Happy Monday. Yesterday morning I got stuck trying to connect several things into one cohesive thought. I’m not sure I’ve got it all together, but, I’m going to put it out there anyway.

It started with this photo and its accompanying tweet:

@redhumbersider: In the Czech Republic’s second city, Brno, you can travel 15 minutes on public transport to a municipally owned & run outdoor swimming pool fed by spring water, surrounded by a forest. Why can’t British politics be about giving nice things to ordinary people?

It had been retweeted with the following comment:

@marcelineawhite: It would be lovely if people in Baltimore without cars had access to any of the lovely parks, forests, and swimming holes in Maryland. People without cars should also have access to nice things such as nature.

Back to transit. Yep, it returns to the forefront of my brain yet again. 

Columbia/HoCo boasts so many beautiful, natural settings that are preserved and maintained for the enjoyment and well-being of residents. Yet, if you don’t have a car, can you get there? If we build new housing which is meant to be less automobile-dependent, we think a lot about whether the transit we have will connect residents to work and shopping. But what about parks?

It’s no good to say we have X amount of parkland if you are here and they are there and you can’t get there from here.

Truth in advertising: I did not sit down with a Howard County bus schedule before writing this. 

I’m now going to add the piece that caused everything to fall apart yesterday: transit service for the disabled. Many jurisdictions fall short when it comes to something as simple as providing seats at transit stops. As I dug deeper, comments like this made me think:

Public transit is not affordable or accessible to everyone. Many people with disabilities (ie the inability to walk very far to bus stops, or to stand and wait or stand on crowded buses) cannot take transit. Several ppl in my family fall into this category.

So there’s another layer. We want our public spaces to be accessible to the disabled but are we good at enabling them to get there? I can’t address what we are doing in Columbia/HoCo, but I can try to find out. A basic search indicates that nationwide this appears to be an area that is often unaddressed. 

A friend of mine was talking recently about how people have been drawn to nature during the pandemic, and that being around nature provides a valuable respite from challenges to our emotional and physical health. It made her more convinced than ever that we should enable those experiences in nature as much as possible - - that contact with sky, trees, grass, streams, birds, and so on meets a basic human need that we often forget we have. Something as simple as connecting people to parks through transit could make a huge difference. 

But of course it’s never as simple as we might wish. Often the obstacle is financial investment. Sometimes the biggest obstacle is that we never even thought about it.


If you’re up for it, here are some thoughts about the state of transit in Maryland and what the future could hold:

Maryland’s next governor will have resources to upgrade transit | READER COMMENTARY, Brian O’Malley, president and CEO of the Central Maryland Transportation Alliance, in the Baltimore Sun

Saturday, June 11, 2022

What He Said


Last night as I looked at posts on Facebook from happy friends at Lakefest, I realized I hadn’t really written a darn thing about it. My apologies. On the other hand, there has been so much online promotion I feel sure that most people know by now. This picture made me smile:

 Long-time Columbia residents are familiar with these statues at the Lakefront. Often referred to as simply “the Rouse Brothers”, the statue by William Duffy is called “Dealings.” From the Columbia Association website:

“Dealings,” a bronze life-size sculpture by William Duffy, portrays James Rouse, founder of Columbia and The Rouse Company, and his brother Willard, who served as executive vice president. It is the only sculptural representation of James Rouse in the city he created and was installed in July 2002 by CA in honor of Columbia’s 35th birthday. James Rouse died in 1996; the statue reminds people of his vision for a better city for all people. “Dealings” was originally commissioned in 1986 by Rouse and Associates, a development firm headed by Willard’s son Bill Rouse, and placed at the entrance to its Columbia office in Symphony Woods Office Center on South Entrance Road. The piece was commissioned to honor the caring nature and wisdom of the Rouse family and the memory of Willard, who died in the early 1970s.

I do think it’s interesting that the statue is named “Dealings.” Many folks have a hard time with that word and what the concept entails these days. Clearly it was not a dirty word then, well, at least not to them, anyway.

I’ve seen these two partying it up for the 50th birthday of The People Tree.

During the worst of the pandemic they modeled masking but were limited in their ability to show appropriate physical distancing.

A thoughtful local has occasionally protected them from winter weather. (Still looking for that photo.) Here it is!

Photo by Jake Smith, February 22, 2015

Now that someone has put words in their mouths (via speech balloons) who knows what might happen? They might have quite a bit to say. 

I’m hoping they won’t get involved in the county council race, but: you never know. 

Of course you should visit Lakefest this weekend if you can. It’s a very cool Columbia tradition and it’s free. Don’t forget to bring money for snacks and drinks, a blanket for sitting on the grass and enjoying live performances, and, if you are so moved, visit the art vendors and find something you like to take home. 

But, because I am who I am and you know I can’t resist - - take a look at our two fellows below and tell me what you think they might be saying. You know where to post your thoughts. 

As always, you can be funny, off-beat, or serious, but keep any mean-spirited thoughts to yourself.

Friday, June 10, 2022

Birds and Budgets


I’m sure you’ve seen the signs, hand-written on spare pieces of corrugated board, held by someone at the side of the road who looks tired and worn:

Will work for food.

That is not me. I am okay. Even if I did have to retire early, I have some social security income and my husband is still working. 

But early retirement means I am looking out the front window a lot more than I used to and savoring the time to observe nature. So I got a bird feeder, a fairly cheap one. The birds loved it. The squirrels destroyed it. So I got a different kind of bird feeder. The birds loved it, the squirrels loved it, and the deer came down in the night and ate right out of the top of it and chewed off all the little perches to get to the tasty treats inside.

So we got another feeder, and attached several Slinkys to the standing pole that holds it up. That just about takes care of the squirrels. And we bring it in every night. That takes care of the deer. 

When the weather got hot I began to worry about my little birdie friends and went online looking for birdbaths. The really solid, functional ones are expensive. I was lucky enough to receive one through my Buy Nothing Group. This video was taken within hours of my setting it up outside: 

This was pure joy for me to watch. I sat with that feeling for about an hour when I realized I needed to do something to prevent mosquitoes from taking over by laying their eggs in the water. Back online again, I weighed the merits of special “mosquito dunks” as compared to bubbling devices that keep the water moving. 

My husband bought me one of the latter. Solar powered. It’s arriving today.

And the bird seed. Have I mentioned the bird seed? The good stuff is expensive. I’ve gotten some great advice from folks more knowledgeable than I and have found a good variety that is not quite so exhorbitantly priced, but still. 

This retirement hobby is getting expensive. 

When I worked out my basic retirement budget, I didn’t have this in mind. To put it bluntly: birds are not in my budget.

So here I am, putting a call out into the universe:

Will work for food. Bird food. 

There must be a part-time job out there for a responsible person with relatively good native intelligence who just can’t work around preschoolers any more. If you can think of something, or want to help me brainstorm, let me know. 

At the moment I’m looking to put stone pavers under the feeder so I can sweep away old seed to keep the birds healthy. And I read a great article about installing a tray under a hanging feeder to catch stray seed. It reduces waste and gives an opportunity for feeding to larger birds who can’t use perches.

Oh, boy.

It’s not the world’s most expensive retirement hobby, but it looks like I’ll need to put some hours in to keep it going. 

Thursday, June 9, 2022

Rain, Guilt, and Politics

I have a confession to make. Last night, as the heavy rains came down, the winds picked up, and my family took shelter between the furnace closet and the powder room, some very uncomfortable thoughts went through my mind. As I thought of the residents and merchants in Old Ellicott City, and prayed they would  be safe, another layer of dread came into play. 

If anything bad happens it will be used as a political football in the campaign for county executive. 

Of course that was not my first thought. But it was there, nonetheless. And I felt terrible about it.

I’m just going to lay it out there: 

  • If you are inclined to support County Executive Ball you are more likely to have been following the work that County Government* has been doing to mitigate flood risk in Old Ellicott City and believe the County has been making steady progress in this area.
  • If you are inclined to dislike County Executive Ball you are more likely to have dismissed any flood mitigation work done so far and believe “nothing has been done.”

That’s it. I could spend weeks constructing the timeline of everything that has been done since Ball took office to address dangerous flooding and the response would be the same.

  • Those who are inclined to support County Executive Ball will be more likely to believe the County has been making steady progress.
  • Those who are inclined to dislike County Executive Ball will be more likely to believe “nothing has been done.”

This is something I cannot fix. The task of making Old Ellicott City as safe and sound as it can possibly be is taking time and money. A lot of money. It is not the sort of thing that can be accomplished in four years. To some that may seem like an excuse. 

You know who knows the truth of that better than anyone? Former County Executive Allan Kittleman. If it were so easy to accomplish he would have done it himself and he probably would have gotten re-elected, to boot.

I felt a sense of guilt last night as I wrestled with the notion that, not only did I worry about the folks in Old Ellicott City, I dreaded the possibility of political grandstanding by Kittleman should anything go wrong. I tried to push it out of my head as I focused my thoughts on safety for this community which has endured so much loss and heartbreak.

I’m not alone in feeling immense relief that Ellicott City sustained no major damage last night. I think all of us in our community root for them at almost every sign of rain. No matter what is done to mitigate risk I feel that most of us will always feel a sense of “we were lucky this time” after the kind of heavy rain storms that are becoming the hallmark of evolving climate change.

Candidate Kittleman no doubt feels that sense of relief along with the rest of us. That didn’t stop him from  going on social media this morning to twist last night’s storm to his political advantage. Frankly, it doesn’t matter what he said. After all, 

  • If you support County Executive Ball you are more likely to believe the County has been making steady progress in mitigating flood risk. 
  • If you support candidate Kittleman you are more likely to believe “nothing has been done.”
And Candidate Kittleman will be doing everything he can to reinforce that point of view. As I said, I can’t fix that.

Just remember, if this were something so easy to accomplish in four years, Mr. Kittleman would have done it himself and we’d all be thinking happy thoughts for him every time it rains. 

*in collaboration with work by members of our State Delegation.