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Category Archives: Howard County

A Night Out in Old EC

Ellicott City. The county seat of Howard County. Usually visited by us in much better weather than our current frigid wave.

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Main Street is almost always hopping at night, for the bars and the restaurants. Not so much for the small shops that line Main St. Last night we attended a get together at the Still Life Gallery. Hosted by the owners, Sara Arditti and David Dempster.

still lfe

The gallery has a lovely selection of art in many media, and some great jewelry as well. They also do custom framing. Something I need to do with some of my photographs that I want to display.

There was quite a crowd there last night. Artists, bloggers, friends and relatives. Enjoying the dessert brownies with wine and beer.

Thanks to the Wine Bin, just up Main St. for donating wine to the event.

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The merchants on Main Street are some of the small business sources that I recommend whenever people are looking for unique gifts or specialized services.

Ellicott City. One of the gems of Howard County.

One Wild Weekend

Never a dull moment around here. Even when we do stay home.

Valentine’s Day is a day I cook a special dinner paired with an old wine. We don’t fight the crowds in restaurants. And, since the weather was awful, we had our romantic feast without the worry of trying to drive home in the snow and ice.

All that running around Wednesday for the CSA and Friends and Farms, and Thursday for the lamb and shrimp in Mt. Airy meant I could cook at leisure, and savor our dinner.

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Who knew things would get real exciting a few hours later. Looking out the window of the dining room from the kitchen I see a line of flashing red lights at the end of our driveway. What is going on? I call down to my husband who is on the radio looking for a rare contact, and head out into the wind.

What do I find? A car in the driveway. That, I see, is OK, as they are assisting a friend in emptying their car before a tow truck arrives. The paramedics are putting people in the ambulance, from the other car, the one we couldn’t see, as it was dangling over the embankment held up by trees and our mailboxes. Well, what used to be our mailboxes. Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt but my other neighbors spent this morning trying to find mail all over the fields across from us. We, being home all day, had retrieved our mail before our mailbox went bye bye.

Sheared off at the base. In freezing weather. Now, we are searching for someone who can put a new one into the frozen hillside. Until then, mail will be forwarded to our PO box, which my husband uses for radio contact cards.

Adding to all the other excitement, we were awakened at 3 am by what sounded like banshees howling. 60+ knot wind gusts. For a very very long time. Sleep? Who could sleep through this? At least the hexbeam held up on the tower. Another milestone for the tower. Surviving winds of that speed.

This morning. I was lucky. The bird feeders survived. But, the bird bath was empty. All the water blew out. I had to go out, fill it up and spread seed for the very cold birds out there. This weekend is the Great Backyard Bird Count, and today, I counted a gazillion juncos out there. Really. I couldn’t count them all. The ground was covered in them.

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Along with the cardinals, sparrows, blue jays, starlings, woodpeckers, robins, finches and crows, I think I got a good count as everyone hit the seed and the water.

I am so tired of winter. Spring needs to get here soon.

The Year of the Sheep

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So is this the year of the goat, or the sheep?

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Either way, I’m covered.

Want to learn more about the New Year traditions of various Asian cultures? Come join Wendy Ng and Kyong Parker at the Howard County Conservancy this Saturday at 10 am. to hear all about it.

Here is the write up from the events page.

Lunar New Year celebrations are linked to nature and are celebrated by billions around the world. Traditions abound with flowers, special fruits and foods, beautiful colors, games and posters throughout the house. Preparations for the new year also include organizing, clearing out, and cleaning. We invite families to participate in some of the Chinese and Korean traditions while learning the greetings and etiquette of Eastern cultures. Make and take home some of the decorations. Rain or shine. Program is free but registration is necessary. FEB 14- Saturday 10am FREE

They do want people to register to be sure they bring the right amount of materials.

It would be a fun Valentine’s Day morning excursion, before heading off for those romantic evenings.

See you there??

Monday Morning Quarterbacking

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On a Tuesday afternoon. About that snow?

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We did get the 3+ inches predicted for our area. Even though I know the southeastern portion of the county didn’t get much at all. Maybe we need to divide the county in half in order to have two school districts. Then, those unhappy about the schools being closed because of us could not miss another day. I have to wonder though. What do they do at the end of a school year if one half the county doesn’t meet the minimum number of days? Interesting.

We got enough snow for our neighbor’s little ones to build a snowman. We even used the snowblower on the driveway today. So, the storm wasn’t a bust out here. That extra couple of hundred feet in elevation from here compared to the southeastern county makes a difference in temperature and snowfall.

In other news. They postponed the volunteer fair at the Howard County Conservancy until February 3rd. Same time. Same players. If you have the time, and want to hear more about volunteering, come join us. They need office support, event support, field trip leaders, animal feeders and more.

Finally, one more picture from this morning. I have learned how to keep the birds happy without having to go too far into the yard. I also learned to use mess free bird feed on the patio. No hulls or shells.

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The red bellied woodpecker even came up closer than normal.

Storm Hype

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It never fails. They predict snowmageddon. We get nothing. They miss it completely and call for insignificant snow. We get blasted.

Who knows what Monday and Tuesday will bring. Will our volunteer day at the Conservancy get canceled? I hope not. I was looking forward to REI’s presentation, and to that free breakfast. The Conservancy is looking to add volunteers. You know, for when we aren’t :rolleyes: snowed in.

Just in case though. We are prepared. Snow blower ready.

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Comforting food made this weekend, like this split pea soup, so we can easily heat food while trying to deal with the weather.

It was 2010 when we got slammed. Twice in one week. Right before I retired. Open your door to this.

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Try to find the grill in case the power goes out.

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It is under there somewhere. I swear.

We won’t be getting this kind of snow tomorrow or Tuesday. I wonder if New York and New England will. No matter what. I hope they have staples to eat while they deal with snow.

Now, what was this nonsense about Thursday night?

Meesy Micey

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A fact of life out here in the rural communities. Field mice. This year I thought we had thwarted them. We did make it much farther into the winter before they struck.

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A brand new bag of tortilla chips. Of course, we had become complacent. Forgetting to put everything in jars of canisters in the pantry. We thought that our two resident hawks, and the neighbor’s outdoor kitty, who pops through daily to check out the bird feeders and anything else that looks interesting would take care of it.

The cooper’s hawk hunts daily in the meadow. For long stretches. On the tree. On the ground. On the tree. On the ground. I can empty the dishwasher and watch him hunt. He isn’t interested in our birds.

But, one little field mouse (hopefully just one) managed to infiltrate this past weekend. We found the evidence Tuesday. Besides the tortillas, they got into a brand new bag of rice flour I bought for a cookie recipe I found.

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This was on the second to top shelf in the pantry.

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At least the brown sugar is still intact.

We haven’t trapped him yet. He eats the peanut butter right off the trap. Three times now.

Ten years ago on my first evening coming into the house. Right after settlement. I saw my first field mouse who had squeezed up through the opening where the water line feeds the refrigerator. The laundry room and the dishwasher connections, and sometimes the downdraft vent opening under the stove. All have to be protected. We have stuffed steel wool. We have plugged holes in the crawl space. They still manage to squeeze in. At least this year we made it two months farther into winter than in the past.

I will win this battle. It may take a few more days.

Just another fun week in the country. Oh yeah, it’s going to snow and sleet again twice this weekend. I am so ready for spring to get here. How many more weeks to go?

Plus, somebody has to start doing a better job around here. They show up nicely against a snow covered landscape.

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Yes, you. Mister sharp shinned hawk. Keep those mice out of my house.

A Lifetime of Service

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We lost someone special this month. One of “our” paramedics. Erik Steciak.

Photo from Firehouse.com

Photo from Firehouse.com

We live near West Friendship. They are our fire station. We support them and value tremendously their dedication to keeping us safe. Every time we hear the ambulances on Rte. 32 we know they are dealing with yet another crash on that dangerous stretch of road.

Erik gave his life to this vocation. He loved it and spent countless hours between his paid and his volunteer service. I found a remarkable blog post while researching mine. Here.

This quote stays with me. Thanks to Dan Ciarrocchi for writing this article.
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It’s a position that he hasn’t second-guessed often, but occasionally, that moment arises. If so, he defers back to one of his earliest memories, where the firehouse he worked at had an open house. Firefighters spoke to interested crowds, displayed their equipment and allowed children to explore the trucks and ambulances.

“There was a girl, she was about 4, maybe 5 years old, cutest thing you’d ever see.” Steciak said. “Her mom knelt down beside her, put her arm around her and pointed straight at me and said ‘Look. There’s a hero.’ And the look that kid gave me…I just keep telling myself I can’t ever let her down.”
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Erik was a hero. He went out and helped people no matter how bad it was out there.

For me, I want to honor this young man and all like him. They are our future. They are our unsung heroes.

Rest in Peace, Erik. Know that many of us who may look like strangers aren’t. We are all a family if we care about others.

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