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Category Archives: People

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.

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.

Fair Winds and Following Seas

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A phrase we used to send retiring or transferring coworkers on their way to their new assignments, or to their future as retirees.

Today, I want to send that message to two women who spent 18 years making farmer’s markets in the DC area some of the absolute best places to buy local and support small businesses.

Ann Yonkers and Bernadine Price announced their impending retirement as the directors of the markets. Freshfarm is one of my favorite market companies (for lack of a better word). They run 13 markets in the DC/NoVA/MD area. Two of them year round. Those two were my introduction to year round markets.

Silver Spring on Saturdays, and DuPont Circle on Sundays. They introduced me to Atwater’s. Mock’s Greenhouses. Smith Meadows and more.

Silver Spring also had the benefit for us of having Lebanese Taverna right there. For lunch.

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We spent many Saturdays in Silver Spring, before I found local farms open. For us, they were the source of local foods in the winter.

Besides, they have the best web site out there to tell us what is happening weekly.

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If you get a chance, head down there some Saturday morning, just down US29, and check it out for yourself. And, tell the workers at the freshfarm tent that you appreciate what Ann and Bernie started, 18 years ago.

The New Blogs in Town

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Howard County has been blessed with some really interesting writers, particularly when it comes to food. Using hocoblogs and HowChow as my go-to sources and my morning coffee accompaniment, I get what is happening in and around the area. And find new things to cook. And to blog about.

Like my latest finds in the food world.

Three Beans on a String. A fellow LFFC CSAer who loves to cook and takes amazing photographs. I met Elizabeth at Petit Louis Bistro, at a hocoblogs party there. I regularly read her posts and envy her photography skills. Her food looks great. I bet it tastes that good also.

The Unmanly Chef. Love the name. Jessie from hocoblogs sent me a link. HowChow had him guest post today. I see from that post we are both customers of Friends and Farms. And, I have to get my hands on these skewers, highlighted in his kabob post. I also need to try the egg in my kofta.

The Bare Midriff. Yes, Elizabeth’s blog isn’t new, just new on my regular reading list, that I just updated. I have been reading her blog for a while, but haven’t written about it. We met at the Gadsby event, another hocoblogs get together.

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Next month we have an event planned at Secolari, my favorite place for olive oil, seasoned salts, vinegars, and of course, that awesome Pappardalle’s pasta. More on the event later.

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Now, it’s nice to see more company on the food blogs column of hocoblogs. Bon Appetit!

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Holiday Crafts Fair

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Another first Monday. Another program committee meeting. Where I spent this morning on last minute planning for this Saturday, and on longer term planning for our 2014 programs.

The fair at Howard County Conservancy. Have you ever been to it? For those who live in Howard County, this weekend marks the beginning of what I call holiday fair overload. There are certainly enough of them out there.

Why is the one I volunteer for so unique? It is a natural crafts fair. One where local artisans like GreenBridge Pottery from Dayton, and Breezy Willow Farm from West Friendship bring items they have crafted.

There is also a demonstration by a master gardener, on how to create greenery. And a critter craft table for the little ones to keep busy while their families shop.

Want local honey?

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Or alpaca wool clothing? Or children’s books and puppets? Or pottery? Or, much more!

The fair has no charge to attend. It takes place from 10 am until 3 pm. Come visit and browse the collections. Have a holiday cookie. Partake in some awesome hot chocolate.

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Get in the holiday spirit with us. And, don’t forget to pick up our new bookmark with the list of our 2014 programs on it.

Our creative committee came up with some amazing new programs for next year. You will be surprised and we hope you are delighted with what the volunteers are offering.

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Cookie Monster

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It’s December, and my focus turns to cookies. Christmas cookies. One of the first planning items, right before doing the Christmas cards, and getting the live greens for decoration.

Mickey Gomez, a fellow hoco blogger, had me looking for potential candidates for sugar cookies.

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On her Facebook page, baking with her grandmother. Prompted a search for old Rumford recipes.

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My mom’s cookies. Something I can’t seem to duplicate, so I may be messing around for the next few days, trying recipes.

I need a few dozen to take to the Conservancy crafts fair Saturday. Might be time to try some experiments in baking.

I have decided to use those lovely molasses cookies from my post last week, as my new cookie in the box.

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The ones from Bon Appetit, post was here.

I got a good supply of Trickling Springs butter, and lots of chocolate, sugar and flour. Time to get baking.

After all, it is December!

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Information Saturation

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I think I reached the point of brain overload today. Almost seven hours of nonstop information to help me better manage and socially integrate my blog. Along with strategies for tweets, facebook shares, and an introduction to other social media available, if you have the time to use it. Things I never heard of, like VINE. Things I have used like Foursquare.

David Hobby of Strobist was one amazing workshop leader, providing tips and strategies, whether you were a passion blogger, a small business, or what he called “suits” aka people who worked for companies, governments, or in other words, not for themselves. We are really fortunate here to have him providing his expertise, not just at the workshop, but everywhere else he pops up, like at the Conservancy, where I first met him. He really is amazing in his skill, but also in his ability to teach us what he knows.

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Today he gave us so much to think about, in an easy to understand manner. Still, it was a huge amount of data to absorb. I know I came away with dozens of ideas. Can’t wait to get our package of what he presented.

I am still processing, in my feeble brain, everything available from Google Analytics, that can help me identify who reads my blog, and what they read the most. WordPress gives me a fraction of that information, including a year end summary of top posts, and other statistics. They piqued my interest in focusing my blog towards the areas I see people reading the most.

David’s examples, using one months worth of that Google Analytics data for his blog, were eye opening. Search engine optimization, for example. How can we pull visitors to our own sites?

What I realized today too, and am thankful for, is the tremendous benefit we derive by having hocoblogs as an asset for the bloggers (and readers of blogs) in Howard County.

I met people from all over the country at this workshop. I had one conversation in particular, where a business owner was impressed at the content on hocoblogs. All grouped in one site. Always up to date. A place where we have created a synergy, and where we learn from and share with one another.

Thanks to Jessie for getting David to offer this workshop. Thanks also to the local bloggers who continue to work together. To promote each other. And, to Jessie and Robin for managing hocoblogs. I don’t think we all remember to tell them how much they mean to our community of writers, and readers.

Oh, today we also saw the announcement of our next regular “get together”. What we have called our “blogtail” parties. Which we will be doing again two weeks from this Wednesday (on the 6th of November). At the Second Chance, again (we do need to find somewhere with enough space for us, on the western side of the county).

Now off to wonder what I would do if my monthly statistics told me I had 1,922,000+ visits to my blog! David, you truly are one amazing blogger.

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