Monday, October 31, 2022

Location, Location, Location


It’s Monday. Bring on the coffee. Here’s a coffee suggestion from @visithocomd on Instagram.

First off, I kind of like “How do you HOCO?” It’s catchy. And the thought of meeting up with a friend at Lake Kittamaqundi for coffee and conversation, especially on one of these gorgeous fall days, is very appealing. 

And yet. Something was bugging me. Can you guess? Here, in the center of the map, is Lake Kittamaqundi.

Map from HoCoGov

And here, from Google maps, are the distances to Roggenart and Little Market Café.

Maybe it’s because I’m far too literal, or maybe it’s because I have been reading too many detective mysteries, but my first thought was: why would you get coffee there if you were going to Lake Kittamaqundi? It’s counterintuitive.

Years ago I saw the film “Diner” with someone who had been born and raised in Baltimore.  What I remember is that the filmmaker’s use of Baltimore locations really bugged him. The film is driven by the friendships of a group of young men.  My friend said that, if you went by the local exteriors they used, those young men never would have known one another. The houses and neighborhoods were incompatible in a way that only someone from Baltimore would know. 

The Instagram post from @visitHoCoMD is appealing. It promotes local businesses and places to enjoy. There is not a thing wrong with it. I want to be clear on that. It’s not them, it’s me.

But my brain couldn’t let it go. Why those coffee shops? I brought it up with my husband at dinner.

“Why would you get coffee there if you were meeting up at the Lakefront? It would be closer to get coffee at Whole Foods or maybe even the Wilde Lake Starbucks!”

“But those places aren’t unique to Howard County,” he said.


He’s right, of course. Roggenart and Little Market Café are local businesses and can give you an experience you can’t have from a mass market chain like Whole Foods or Starbucks. And that’s what VisitHoCoMD is all about. 

So, in the spirit of VisitHoCoMD, here are two more suggestions for coffee near Lake Kittamaqundi:

Café Columbia on Sterrett Place has coffee and all kinds of crepes.

The Third, right at the Lakefront, will have coffee and baked goods from Apple Core Bakes and Chef Jamila Wright. (I don’t know their regular hours of operation yet.)

My weather app says that we’re going to have a long stretch of sunny days starting on Wednesday. Call a friend. Make a plan. For more ideas on local fun, you can check out Visit Howard County at their website, on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

How do you HOCO?

Sunday, October 30, 2022

Columbia HoCo Halloween. And Horrorshow.


Last night I got it into my head to put together a Halloween-esque post. What I had in mind was a compilation of Columbia-HoCo Horror Stories of years past. With a twist. I just may have been inspired by the Spirit Halloween costume meme going around. 

So, here goes: the scariest tales in town (since I’ve been here, anyway.)

The Mysterious Disappearance of the Garlic Knots.  

Some say their disappearance marked the beginning of the end for a popular Lakefront restaurant.

The Dreaded Aquaplan. 

Columbia Association’s proposed overall of the local pool system caused nightmares and gnashing of teeth. 

The People Who Might Move Into Your Neighborhood. 

This horror story has grown ever more powerful in recent years. Some say it came from out of town.

The Bad Element. 

Residents of one Columbia village lived in fear of The Bad Element that a new Walgreens would attract to their neighborhoods.

The Colonel Who Hated Geese. 

What motivated that strange man in the old-fashioned military uniform to haunt Gateway and war with local wildfowl? We may never know.

The Year Without a Poinsettia Tree 

Don’t tell this one right before bed. Many still shudder at the awful memory of the cars in the fountain bed and the appearance of the fiendishly evil Santastic.


Okay, I’m done with the fun and games for the day. Here comes the real horror story. 

In this year’s Board of Election Race we have two candidates whose positions on LGBTQ+ students and families in our school system could cause actual harm. That is scarier than any Halloween horror story I know of. 

It is the mission of the school system to lift up and support all children. There can be no fudging on that, no qualifiers, no exceptions to the rule because certain parts of the community make you uncomfortable. We must not accept Board of Education candidates who say in both word and deed that all students are equal but “some are more equal than others.”

Read this piece by Howard County Progress Report  to get a clear picture of what’s at risk. 

Leave all the lights on. The thought of schools where LGBTQ+ kids are erased and unsafe is terrifying. These are the students who are most likely to be rejected by family, bullied at school, and are at greater risk for substance misuse, self-harm, and suicide. If anyone’s already lying awake imagining unknown horrors, it’s them. 

When Halloween is over we put away the spooky and creepy things, the decorations and the scary stories. When this election is over, let’s make sure that we have put away any possibility of turning school into a house of horror.



Last night of CCC Restaurant Week! Today’s location is Eataliano in Phelps Luck.

Saturday, October 29, 2022


On September 17th the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center marked its official opening after decades of hard work by determined graduates and former students. I visited the Center in late September and posted some snapshots, although I did say I’d be writing more about the experience. (It’s on my to-do list.)

One of the sights I wanted to preserve from my visit that day was this visual representation of the school’s history.

Every young person deserves the opportunity to learn. 

The Harriet Tubman School was the first facility built new - - from scratch, as it were - - which was dedicated to providing the opportunity to learn for Howard County’s Black students. As you tour the building today, you are struck with two things: 

1. What an incredibly joyful experience it must have been for these students and families to experience something brand new that was made for them.

2. How deeply committed Howard County was to preserving school segration. 

Every young person deserves the opportunity to learn.

Children flourish in the presence of adults who encourage and support their gifts, intelligence, and creativity. For the students of Harriet Tubman High School, the world reflected a reality of social and racial injustice. Substandard facilities, equipment, and resources were the norm in segregated schools. African American administrators, teachers, and students had a formidable task: to cultivate excellence, determination, pride, self-confidence, and a love of learning against a backdrop of discrimination. The legacy of Harriet Tubman High School lives on in Howard County.

One of the things I noticed as I toured the beautifully updated facility was that ample space had clearly been set aside for an early childhood classroom. Seeing that made me realize just how many opportunities the new/old space intended to provide - - not merely a museum dedicated to the beloved Harriet Tubman School but truly a community cultural center. 

I was excited. I’ve been waiting to see what would happen next.

Yesterday something happened. The Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks, which has been tasked with operating the facility, posted the following:

Did you know the new Harriet Tubman Cultural Center in Columbia is getting ready to offer an early learning center for your little ones? 

Photo from Howard County Recreation and Parks


Just - - no.

You’re announcing an early childhood program in the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center and you post (what looks like) a stock photo of three white boys playing with Legos.

Who made this decision? Who was in the room? Or, more to the point: who wasn’t in the room? Certainly the group of dedicated volunteers who worked for years to preserve this space and create something that would be an ongoing gift to the community were not in the room when this choice was made. This photo choice is honestly a slap in the face to their work and to the legacy of the Harriet Tubman School.

Either the decision makers were oblivious to the implications of their choice, as in:

Cute kids! That’ll work.

Or they were trying to communicate a message to families of potential (white) enrollees.

We know it says Harriet Tubman but - - don’t worry! - - there’ll be white people! 

Either way it is inexcusable. The fact the Rec and Parks doesn’t appear to employ even one person in a leadership position who understands racial equity and inclusion and/or hasn’t assigned such a person to work on the Harriet Tubman Cultural Center team speaks volumes. This isn’t just a careless mistake. It’s a desecration.

Remember these pictures?

Beautiful Black dolls of every sort line the wall of the Harriet Tubman library. More Black dolls than I have ever seen in my life. More Black dolls than many Black children saw in their lives. Until fairly recently, all dolls made for the commercial market were white. You had no choice. Even when Black dolls came to market, many Black children had been acculturated to believe that only the white dolls were beautiful.

The Black dolls were the ugly dolls, society told them. Because they, themselves, were ugly.

How dare Rec and Parks take a holy place like the Harriet Tubman School and think a photo of adorable white boys was acceptable to their mission? If you were a Black parent (or if you are a Black parent) would you trust your children to these people?

This is hurtful. Isn’t there enough daily hurt from ongoing systemic racism in our culture without piling on more in a place that should be safe, supportive, and celebrated?

Enroll your children with us. We center the white gaze. 

If you haven’t already, I’d recommend watching the four-part series “The Making of Black America: Through the Grapevine”, produced and hosted by Henry Louis Gates. Heck, maybe Howard County Rec and Parks can watch it, too.

Every young person deserves the opportunity to learn. And to see themselves: safe, supported, and celebrated.

Village Green/Town² Comments


Today’s Columbia Community Care Restaurant Week location Is The Periodic Table.

Friday, October 28, 2022

F ³: Elon Takes the Wheel

I use Twitter all the time. Most people I know don’t. I hear people say “Oh, Twitter is a cesspool!” and I wonder if they’ve never watched a finely tuned Facebook group club dissenters like baby seals. It’s all relative. 

Yes. Twitter can be a dangerous place - - for women especially - - if they dare to use their voices and take up more space than their detractors think they have a right to. I’m reminded of that every time I reply to a national figure and suddenly become “visible” to a host of armchair critics. Like it or not, women are safer on Twitter if they keep their heads down. The platform has never fully addressed that.

But over the years I’ve been able to get information on Twitter that I couldn’t get anywhere else. The use of hashtags allows me to see specific slices of the flow of conversation that pertain to my interests. That’s especially true for local topics. That’s why, every morning and evening, I search:




Howard County

Howard County Maryland

Howard County MD

Columbia MD

Columbia Maryland


Ellicott City



You’d be amazed what I learn in those daily searches. Some of it has been shared here. Some is unsharable  but still informs my local research.

I’ve also stumbled upon many a sweet, clever, hilarious, whimsical, or insightful thread. When it happens it’s almost as though you have opened a door in your own house that you have somehow never noticed only to discover breathtaking miracles. If Twitter goes away it’s those moments that will prompt the most nostalgic reminiscences. It’s an experience that can lift your spirits and remind you of the goodness of humanity all at the same time.

If Twitter goes away.

Now that Elon Musk has really and truly bought Twitter and taken control, folks who use Twitter are concerned, and with good reason. I honestly didn’t think he’d go through  with it. There’s nothing about Musk that would suggest he’s the right person to fly the plane. Or drive the car. 

You get the picture.

Twitter user Ben Collins posted the following:

Okay everybody it's Zero Hour for this website, post your favorite tweets and give them a little kiss goodbye.

The thread begins here and it’s pretty amazing. I added mine this morning.

A lot of y’all don’t understand an ounce of what’s going on right now and it’s because you’re living/working in a community devoid of POC. - - Propane Jane, @docrocktex26

It’s not clever, witty, heartwarming, or inspirational. But it’s a symbol to me of all I have learned from being able to follow brilliant Black women on Twitter and learn from them in a way that my real life has never afforded me. 

If Twitter goes away, everything else is gravy. This is the loss I would feel the most. It has been life-changing for me. And if Elon Musk runs Twitter in the way that he has hinted he will, it is those Black women who will be in the most danger. His attitudes put them at risk.

On Twitter I have an assortment of amorphous “friend groups” who are really just people I follow because we share common interests. I have my music ed people, my Columbia/HoCo people, my ADHD people, my early childhood education people, my Baltimore people, my journalism people. There’s nothing organized about it. Most of these people I will never meet in real life but we keep up with eachother, in a way.

Perhaps things will go on unchanged. Maybe folks will migrate to a better social media platform. Or maybe it will just be…over. I don’t know.

It seems like that’s probably a metaphor for something. 


Today’s Columbia Community Care Restaurant Week location is Po Boy Jim.

Thursday, October 27, 2022

Every Single Time

It seems like everywhere I go on social media, people are encouraging me to vote. My friends, local public  servants, even the newspaper:

Here’s what you need to know as early voting begins in Howard County, Sherry Greenfield, Baltimore Sun

They don’t need to worry about me. I received my ballot by mail, completed it, and placed it in the drop box at the Board of Elections on Monday. 

How about you? This isn’t an election you want to sit out. Decisions will be made from the United States Senate all the way to Howard County Board of Education and your voice should be a part of that. For Heaven’s sake, don’t assume that your one vote doesn’t matter. 

I find that the driving political themes these days, from the national races to the most local, boil down to this: 

  • Encouraging participation in the political process and in voting vs restricting it
  • Extending civil rights to all vs elevating a select few and censuring the others
  • Advocating for everyone vs favoring “people like us”
  • Sharing vs hoarding
  • Defending intellectual freedom vs extinguishing dissent
  • Protecting bodily autonomy vs legislating control and punishment 
At a certain point I realized that every election was an important election because if I wasn’t out there voting for what I believe to be essential American values, I wasn’t fulling my responsibility to uphold them. 

Every single election. 
Every single time. 

Some of the very biggest issues, the ones that matter to you A LOT, are debated and decided in the state legislature or the County Council. Policies that will have a HUGE impact on your children, grandchildren, and all our community’s young people, will be formulated by members of the Board of Education. 

If you need inspiration, that Good Housekeeping article has a ton of relevant quotes that will get you out of the house and voting in no time. 

Early voting begins today and runs through November 3rd. The hours are 7 am to 8 pm. Here are the locations for early voting:

Gary J. Arthur Community Center

2400 Md-97, Cooksville, MD 21723

Meadowbrook Athletic Complex

5001 Meadowbrook Ln, Ellicott City, MD 21043

Bain 50+ Center

5470 Ruth Keeton Way, Columbia, MD 21044

St John Baptist Church

9055 Tamar Dr, Columbia, MD 21045

North Laurel Community Center

9411 Whiskey Bottom Rd, Laurel, MD 20723 

Looking for a drop box to return your mail-in ballot? Here they are!

Gary J. Arthur Community Center

West Friendship Volunteer Fire Department

George Howard Building

Meadowbrook Athletic Complex

Bain 50+ Center

Howard County Police Department - Scaggsville

St John Baptist Church

Howard County Board of Elections

North Laurel Community Center

Elkridge 50+ Center

If you like to vote on Election Day itself, it’s Tuesday, November 8th. Make sure you know where your polling place is before you go.

So, you’re absolutely going to vote, right? And then you’re going to be brave enough to bring it up in casual conversation: at the grocery check-out, in the doctor’s office, getting your car serviced, in the group chat. It’s easier than you think.

I bought a special treat for myself to celebrate voting!

Thanks for rescheduling my appointment so I’d be able to vote today.

I’m so glad I could get the battery replaced. I wouldn’t want to break down on the way to the polls!

Of course we’ll be at the school play! We’re going to grab dinner, vote, and be in our seats by curtain time.

Something to ponder: we are incredibly fortunate to live in a county that makes it so easy to vote. That didn’t happen by chance. There’s a reason that it is the way it is. If you want to keep it that way, you need to vote for the people who encourage participation in the political process and in voting and NOT the people who work to restrict it. 

One last thing: if you think you didn’t register in time and can’t vote? You can! From the Howard County League of Women Voters:

Did you know that you can still register to vote in #Maryland?  

Maryland allows SAME DAY REGISTRATION at any Early Voting Center. Be sure to have proof of residency and your license or social security number in order to register. After registering, you will be able to vote!

Be prepared to cast your ballot! Learn more about the candidates and ballot measures in your races at

I don’t do endorsements here but I certainly will share my point of view if you reach out to me through the blog.

What’s your funniest or most inspiring voting story? Share it:

Village Green/Town² Comments


Today’s Columbia Community Care Restaurant Week location is The Silver Diner.

Wednesday, October 26, 2022

A Week of Firsts for The 3rd


Welcome to The 3rd.

The 3rd is a 501(c)3 non-profit, co-created, community of Women of Color entrepreneurs. We believe Women of Color need a space to build, execute, and thrive. We need access. We need skill building. We need funding. We need collaboration. We need accountability. We need sister friends. We need a community that understands our unique gifts and the unique challenges we face. We need The 3rd.  - - “Our Story”, The 3rd website

Yesterday was one of the soft opening events for The 3rd, a venture I’ve been following for a while now. It’s been fascinating to see them move from concept to their brick and mortar location at the Columbia Lakefront. They’re located where Lupa and Petit Louis used to be. I was fortunate enough to be invited and especially grateful to have a friend to bring along with me.

There were signs to read and things to learn.

There were delicious treats and hot drinks to try.

And, most of all, there was the beautifully designed and decorated space to enjoy.

The artist of the murals is Melanie Melroy.  I snagged the photo on the lower right from her website, because I didn’t get a decent shot of it while we were there. I started following her on social media when I saw pictures of the first mural going up at The 3rd. You can see more of her work on Facebook and Instagram, and TikTok.

While I’m at it, the delicious Brandy Apple Bread pudding I enjoyed came from Apple Core’s Bake Shoppe , one of The 3rd’s members who was on site for the soft opening event. My lovely companion had something decadent that had chocolate in the title. We were both quite happy. 

Speaking of baked goods, you’ll be pleased to hear that The 3rd’s own Chef Jamila will be offering her amazing sweet potato pies again this year. Learn more here and place your orders. This is time sensitive, so don’t wait. Jamila Wright is the in-house chef and culinary manager for The 3rd, and her sweet potato pies have won hearts all over town since The 3rd’s pie sale began in 2020. 

My friend and I enjoyed the warm and comfortable space and appreciated the chance to talk with founder Laura Bacon, who stopped by our table to chat. You can easily see how this place will bring people together. I can imagine all kinds of positive work and engagement happening at The 3rd. This description from their website gives you an inkling:

The 3rd is bringing a mixed-use community hub that provides a gathering place for the entire community while showcasing and incubating WOC owned businesses. 

Even better, look at this page to see how the various pieces will come together as a whole that’s clearly bigger than the sum of its parts. What’s fun for me is that these photos were taken before the transformation. When you make your first visit you’ll see how beautifully they’ve updated the space.

Speaking of making a visit, put this date on your calendar now. On December 17, from 1 pm to 5 pm, The 3rd will be hosting a Holiday Bazaar

I went to the Bazaar last year and discovered YOLO Health and Wellness . The plant-based, all natural cleaning products I bought that day have become my new favorites. I was thrilled to discover that the gift bag I received as I left the event yesterday held some Lemon Room Spritzer from YOLO.

Possibly my favorite sight yesterday was a poster that read: Look how far we’ve come!

It was a reminder of how much vision, love, commitment, and hard work went in to the creation of the space. Not to get to the finish line, but to bring it into its beginnings.

The 3rd: 10215 Wincopin Circle  Columbia, MD 21044



Twitter @the3rdinc



Today’s Columbia Community Care Restaurant Week location is  Madrid Taverna.  

Tuesday, October 25, 2022

A Salute to the Quarrymen


"Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants, so long as it is black.", Henry Ford

And you can have a new high school as long as it has Quarry in the name. Think I’m joking?

The possible names for High School 13 which made it through the naming committee process are as follows:

Gabbro Quarry High School*
Granite Quarry High School
Quarry Field High School
Quarry Heights High School
Quarry Hill High School
Quarry Ridge High School
Quarry Rock High School
Quarry Run High School
Quarry View High School
Rock Quarry High School

They have been submitted to potential students for their feedback. As for parents…

For some this was particularly irksome because of their concerns about the school being built near a quarry in the first place. Naming it after said quarry felt like adding insult to injury. 

Yes, this caused a bit of a buzz online as parents expressed a sense of disbelief that nothing but “quarry” names were being considered. I learned that over 1400 names had been submitted by the public. Of course, a substantial number were dismissed outright for being just plain silly or irrelevant. Then other names were rejected for having negative connotations. 

At any rate, when all  the sorting and sifting was done, the naming committee assessed the ones that remained and arrived at this list of possibilities. There’s a specific policy for the naming of new schools and the work of the naming committee is a part of that. Frankly, I thought naming a new school would be more fun than this.

Then again, any activity which requires serving on a committee is a punishment unto itself. What was I thinking?

The reactions I saw to the list of names seemed to be: oh my goodness, this is ridiculous. They’re all terrible. Where are other non-quarry choices? There wasn’t any meanness or name-calling or vilifying the naming committee. Just a sense of: are you kidding me? At over two hundred comments in the thread, things got a little punchy. Fred Flintstone and Fraggle Rock may have made an appearance in the discussion.

That’s when my brain hared off and dredged up memories of an absurdist play by Eugene Ionesco, entitled The Bald Soprano. In one scene, characters Mr. and Mrs. Smith have a conversation about a family in which every member is named Bobby Watson. Every single one, male and female.

For example:

But who will take care of the children? You know very well that they have a boy and a girl. What are their names?

Bobby and Bobby like their parents. Bobby Watson’s uncle, the old Bobby Watson is rich and he loves the boy. He could easily take care of Bobby’s education.

That would be natural. And Bobby Watson’s aunt, old mother Bobby Watson could easily take care of Bobby Watson’s education as well, the daughter of Bobby Watson. That way the mother of Bobby Watson, Bobby, could remarry. Does she have someone in mind?

MR. SMITH Yes, the cousin of Bobby Watson.

MRS. SMITH Who? Bobby Watson?

What? The naming of a high school in Howard County didn’t make you think of theatre of the absurd?

Someone suggested that our local students could have come up with more creative options. If they did, and submitted them to be considered, then they clearly didn’t make the cut. Ah, well.

In the end, there will be a new high school. It will open with a brand new name and quite a bit of old and complicated history about it came to be located there in the first place. Believe it or not, I have actually seen it. (The high school, not the history.) After the rather extended drive to find it I would be willing to name it “The Long and Winding Road” High School or maybe “Journey’s End.” 

But I hope that, despite all this, High School 13 will be a positive and supportive learning community where students grow and take on new academic challenges and engage in fun and rewarding personal adventures. 

Oh! I almost forgot. They’ll need to name a mascot, too. May I suggest Quarry (Something) High School, home of The Rockers?

*Gabbro is the kind of rock that was mined at the quarry for which the new school is (apparently) going to be named.

Columbia Community Care Restaurant Week, Day 2: 

Pipilinka Charbroiled Peruvian Chicken, 

11 am to 8 pm.

Monday, October 24, 2022

The Restaurant Week that Gives Back


Today, October 24th, local nonprofit Columbia Community Care is kicking off its first-ever restaurant week.

From CCC founder Erika Strauss Chavarria:

Hope to you see you! And please encourage everyone you know to participate in our restaurant week! Make sure to mention that CCC sent you!

So, here I am. I’m encouraging you. In fact, I’ll be adding a reminder to every post this week to let you know which restaurant will be participating that day. 

CCC is a new kind of model in our community for meeting needs and lifting up those facing barriers to resources. Most of us know that it began in the early days of the lockdown. I don’t think that it’s as widely known that Ms.Chavarria based the initiative on long-established practices: community care and mutual aid.

Mutual aid is an act of solidarity and care between neighbors. It stands in opposition to charity and top-down giving, because it is planned and executed by a community, for a community to not just provide food and essential items but also to educate and organize. Community Care during COVID”: Oral Histories of Mutual Aid in the Bronx,  BRONX COMMUNITY COLLEGE Archives and Special Collections

So, what is community care? 

The term community care typically refers to the voluntary exchange of resources and services between community members to provide support for those who need it. It enables people to pool resources to share collectively. These resources could be food, clothes, diapers, money, or virtually anything that can be shared. A Closer Look at Informal Giving, Mutual Aid, and Community Care in a Global Context,

Sound familiar? The article from Giving Tuesday points out:

The pandemic gave us an opportunity to see this ecosystem—which doesn’t operate within the traditionally defined social sector—in a much more pronounced way. This crisis has put a spotlight on how crucial these community care networks are for providing healing and supporting a thriving and more connected society.

If you’re interested in learning more about community care, this article on the Livestrong website provides a helpful place to start:

Community Care — Not Just Self-Care — Is Key to Our Collective Wellbeing” Tiffany Curtis,

Some highlights:

"If self-care is about what you do for yourself, then community care is what you put into and what you are able to receive from the community you have built around yourself, as well as the community you live in," says Donna Oriowo, PhD, LICSW, therapist, author and licensed independent clinical social worker.

Community care differs from most charitable giving in that it’s based on the understanding that we are all a part of the process of caring for our community. It’s not: one person gives, the other receives. It’s about human interaction.

Sharing resources is also community care. "I define community care as how we show up and create space for each other,"says Rayna Smaller, LSW, licensed social worker, therapist and founder of BrownGirl Space. "It's how we share and create resources among one another and create dependable relationships."

Columbia Community Care came about because Ms.Chavarria quickly saw the crisis posed by the pandemic to students whose families relied upon work at businesses which were now temporarily on lockdown. Even though she didn’t know how long the crisis would last, she knew that the need was immediate. And she knew that if her students and families were in need, so were others in the community. 

While everyone can benefit from community care, it is an especially beneficial (and historical) practice for marginalized communities that face systemic barriers that jeopardize their wellness, such as poverty or the high cost of health care.

So, there you have it. While Columbia Community Care feels like a relatively new thing to us, it’s actually a decendant of many successful care communities throughout history. As stated above, "It's how we share and create resources among one another and create dependable relationships."

One more thing: if you find that you won’t be able to participate in this year’s Restaurant Week, you’ll find a variety of ways to engage in CCC’s work by donating money, food, or through giving your time in volunteering. (Click the link.)

Today’s restaurant is Hudson Coastal. Order between 4 and 9 pm and mention Columbia Community Care. Ten per cent of sales will go to CCC.

Tell your friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers. You can share the information for the entire week from CCC’s Facebook page. If anyone asks you what “community care” is, feel free to share this post.

Sunday, October 23, 2022

Spoopy Time

I was introduced to the word “spoopy” by my daughters, who are closer to the heartbeat of current internet-driven popular culture than I am. Of course, there’s nothing “current” about spoopy, whose origins can be traced back to 2009. You know, eons ago.

Essentially it means something which is both funny and spooky at the same time. At this time of year, that’s about my speed. I’m not a horror movie fan, and I wouldn’t be caught dead in a “Field of Screams” experience. Give me a chance to walk in the dark, on sidewalks of crunchy leaves, with some excited trick-or-treaters and a chance to watch the Charlie Brown Halloween Special. That’s more my cup of tea.

Ellicott City has Ghost Tours, which you’ve probably heard about. I don’t know if they’re pleasantly eerie or terrorizing in a way that keeps you awake for days. I suspect it’s the former. I bet they get a lot of business this time of year. But did you know about:

"The spooky van in the Hmart parking lot" should be added to the ghost tours of Ellicott City. I swear I thought my kid was making this up until a few months ago.

Photo from Twitter

What do we think, friends? Spoopy or downright creepy? It could really go either way, in my opinion.

I’ve noticed multiple inquiries online from folks who want to take their kids to “see the Halloween decorations” and asking where the best houses are. Is that a thing now? I fully support heading out to see Christmas lights, but, an occasional house decked out for Halloween doesn’t justify those kinds of seasonal tours, in my opinion.

Or does it? Maybe I am behind the times.

My last offering may not feel spooky or spoopy to you. Hear me out. Have you ever seen one of these?

Photo from Downtown Columbia Partnership 

I haven’t actually ever seen anyone riding an e-scooter in real life. But I do see them lying around, riderless, here and there around my neighborhood. Apparently that’s what you are supposed to do when you are done with them: just leave them.

So how do they get home? (Insert spooky music here.) 

My first thought is they all emit location signals so that someone with a truck goes around every night, collects them, and returns them. That seems the most common sense answer. On the other hand, that means that someone is using fossil fuel so that you can zip around on a battery charged conveyance. Seems counter-intuitive.

Another possibility: every night at midnight the scooter company sends out a signal to all the wandering scooters which directs them to return home.

Creepiest possibility: the scooters are sentient. They wait for the best opportunity to move, unseen, among us. They are not inactive. They are merely biding their time.

What do you think? Are you a fan of truly scary Halloween offerings or do you prefer your spookiness with a side of spoopy? Where’s the best place for Halloween fun in Columbia/HoCo?

Village Green/Town² Comments

Saturday, October 22, 2022

Good News/Bad News

I have some good news and some bad news. Let’s get the bad news over with.

It’s 2022 and I still hate this photo. Well, photos.

The photos were taken on election night four years ago:

Incumbent Allan Kittleman, left, congratulates Calvin Ball on his victory for Howard County executive at Kahler Hall in Columbia during Election Day in Howard County on Tuesday, Nov. 6, 2018. (Brian Krista / Baltimore Sun Media Group

Many people lauded Kittleman’s gesture as seen in the photo. He went directly to where Ball and his supporters were awaiting the election results to publicly concede and to give him, more or less, a hug. I say “more or less” because we all know this was not a genuine hug, but a public, for the cameras hug. In real life it is unlikely that these two would ever hug. And I say that knowing that County Executive Ball is a confirmed hugger.

Such things happen in politics all the time. I don’t have to like them. I’m not ascribing any ill intent here but I just don’t see it as the example of true goodness that many have suggested. It’s gratifying that Kittleman believed in accepting the results of the election. His party is becoming ever more sketchy on that. One wonders how he’ll stand on that issue this time around.

I found it interesting that the caption under the second photo, the one where Kittleman is (gripping? embracing?) County Executive Ball, strongly influenced how I perceived that photo.

Ball and Kittleman Battle it out again for County Executive”, Sherry Greenfield, Carroll County Times

Suddenly that photo op took a more sinister turn. The physical contact looks more aggressive in nature. The crowd could be looking on with an uneasy anticipation. Is this a gentlemanly gesture or physical intimidation? Will this be a reception or a rumble?

It’s fascinating how the juxtaposition of a photograph and some carefully chosen words can have that kind of effect.

Anyway, I loathe that photo. You don’t have to, and I won’t think anything less of you if you find it refreshing or heartwarming. It’s one photograph in a deluge of campaign coverage and you are entitled to think what you like.

The good news is pretty clear: The Baltimore Sun Editorial Board has endorsed Calvin Ball in the race for County Executive.

Election 2022: Howard County executive and school board races | BALTIMORE SUN EDITORIAL BOARD ENDORSEMENTS” By Baltimore Sun Editorial Board, Baltimore Sun, Oct 19, 2022 

…But any objective review of the last four years must note that Ball has made progress on flood protection and on school construction, that he demonstrated bold leadership in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, that he has pushed the county toward better environmental practices — from using solar energy to strengthening forest conservation efforts — and that he was willing to take the politically unpopular step of increasing the county’s fire and rescue tax to finance much-needed new stations and increase the number of firefighters and rescue personnel. Ball has set the county on a healthy path that should continue.

Way back in June of 2021, when Ball declared his candidacy for re-election, I wrote:

The continuity provided by Dr. Ball remaining in office will be good for the county as we emerge from the pandemic. Frankly I was thrilled to learn that he was not considering a run for Governor at this time because I think he is needed here. The job of County Executive is not an easy one and this particular term has been grueling. Despite all that I believe that Ball has given it his best and is poised to move forward in a new term on issues of concern to all residents, not merely a privileged few. (“The Hat, the Ring, and Me”, Village Green/Town²)

I had to laugh when reread this piece and saw what I had written about Ball’s potential opponent:

I do not know if Mr. Kittleman is interested in running again. It would be interesting to see how the local Republican Party could shape a campaign which would basically be “I am a white man who will not make you uncomfortable.”

Not too far off the mark, if I do say so myself. I’d say more, but this is the part of the post about good news.

This election season may or may not end in a picture perfect hug, and, that’s okay. But I certainly hope the results affirm conclusively that leadership for all in our county is what voters believe in and choose at the ballot box.


Friday, October 21, 2022

The Siren Song


Social media has made it possible for us to view carefully curated slices of other people’s lives and provides us with many opportunities to feel that our own lives are inadequate. I’m far from the first person to say this. It happens to be on my mind this morning because I found myself looking with longing at a photograph of someone enjoying their morning coffee at the beach. 

A little voice inside of me reminded me I’m never going to be that cool and well-to-do person that is having their morning coffee on the beach in the middle of October. It’s a belittling sort of voice. A long time ago a friend of mine quipped that people put mirrors on the ceiling over their beds “so they can see what they’re doing wrong.” Social media can be like that kind of mirror. We use it, whether we realize it or not, to see what we are doing wrong.

Or, more precisely, to be overwhelmed by a million tiny slices of how other people are doing it better.

Facebook and Instagram are full of career successes I will never achieve, parties I was not invited to, bodies more alluring, clothing that I cannot wear, and houses I cannot afford. For the most part, this does not bother me. Every once in awhile there is an event I wish I’d been invited to but then I remind myself I probably wouldn’t have gone. (It’s still nice to be invited, though.)

I think it is much harder on teens who are trying to figure out who they are and who accepts them. I can’t imagine being a teenager today under these conditions. I distinctly recall picking out different outfits as a teen as I played around with different images I was experimenting with. My sense of who I was and of who I wanted to be was still forming. Social media is a 24 hour a day feed of who is the coolest, the prettiest, the most popular, the envyingly affluent. I think if I were a teen today it would crush me. I would feel the call to compete on every stage. 

But, back to me. I’m as happy as might be expected with my particular life, blessings, limitations, etc. But - - oh my goodness - - I want to be that person enjoying their morning coffee at the beach. It doesn’t make me feel inadequate, though. Possibly wistful. Or maybe it’s a message that I should work on making that experience a goal to work towards. There are many things I see on social media that are far beyond my reach but this one is probably achievable.

And maybe focusing my longing into a concrete plan to make that happen would be a better use of my time than scrolling on social media outlets. It’s a thought.

Right next to the beach photograph on Instagram was the following image. 

The synchronicity was too much to ignore. That’s when I knew I had to write this post.

What about you? Does social media ever give you that uncomfortable FOMO twinge, or encourage self-critical thoughts? Or, have you ever been inspired by something on social media and then actually gone and done it?

I’m interested in your stories.

Village Green/Town² Comments