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Thankful for What We Have

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays. A time spent with family and friends to celebrate. To be thankful for everything we have.


For the ability to travel freely. For the ability to say what we wish. For the ability to get a good education. To have clean water. Relatively clean air. Food, water, shelter. We take it for granted, many of us.

Carneros at Thanksgiving

Carneros at Thanksgiving

We don’t always do enough for those who don’t have all of the above. Or, don’t have most of the above. I only do a small part. Those weeks last summer that I spent doing the food bank garden are only a drop in the bucket.

Want to help in a small way all winter long? I know a few ways to help, and I am making a note to remember to do those things before Christmas. Go to an outlet. Buy a large amount of socks, mittens, gloves and/or scarves. Find a local church or nonprofit who is collecting items to be given to those who need them to keep warm.

Head over to Costco with a plan. If you can afford $50 or $100, fine, but any amount helps. Buy those bulk packages of canned goods. Tuna. Beans. Two good candidates that help the Howard County Food Bank. Keep the Costco receipt and staple it to your donation acknowledgement. The food bank really needs useful foods. Not the cleaning out the pantry stuff, but things that people who only have a hot plate, and maybe a microwave, can use.

We learned when we put our garden together that certain foods are used the most. Many of the people who need the services don’t have the ability to make meals from scratch. They lack the pans, the baking sheets, the ovens, or other items that we take for granted.

Go through your closets and donate any sweaters, coats, sweatshirts, warm pants that you no longer wear. Winter is harsh around here. We have been downsizing our life, by eliminating all those extras just taking up space and never getting used.

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I missed making a post for “Giving Tuesday” a few days ago. But, we shouldn’t need a day for giving. We should think about how lucky we are, to be sitting in front of a computer, or writing on a tablet, while warm, with the turkey in the oven, and all our family around us.

And, while we are at it, tomorrow, we will be Opting Outside, even if it’s only to string a few hundred yards of power cable to the radio tower. Maybe we will get over to Old Westminster Winery to see the new tasting room. They are open with music on Friday and Saturday evenings. I think it’s a better way to spend Black Friday.


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Yes, I have to admit, I miss all the great local food scene trivia, and all the comments that we were used to getting from HOWCHOW’s blog. I know he is busy, with a toddler and yet, I still miss those informative posts that gave us so much information about our local restaurants, markets and stores.

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When I started my blog, he helped me. He linked to a number of posts I wrote. I wrote a couple of guest columns for him. He was the “GO TO” place to read about bakeries, butchers, ethnic groceries and so much more.

Maybe if we all ask nice, we can get him to post a simple post, once a week, asking for comments and input about the latest in the Howard County food scene.

It would certainly help us feel like we have something that focuses on us out here in the boonies.

For me, he introduced me to Ananda, and I love it. H Mart. Larriland. Town Grill. And more.

Come back, HOWCHOW, if only for a quick word or so.

After all, you helped us greet Wegmans with that Facebook page.

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There’s so much happening here in Howard County. We are missing a good source for insider information. Not asking for tons of reviews, just a quick “drive by” post that we can comment on. You know you are greatly appreciated out here.

Four More Years?

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It’s hard to believe four years have passed since I first started this blog. I was reminded of it this morning when Facebook showed me my memories. The last three “blogaversary” posts. Looking back at them, I noticed somewhat of an evolution.

The first year in.

I was talking about cooking and gardening and amateur radio, and life out here. Hasn’t changed much, has it? We had just weathered a near miss from Hurricane Sandy, who inconvenienced us while barreling up the coast. One of my goals back then was to become a year round locavore. I think I accomplished that one.

Moving on to that second anniversary.

Talk of blogging parties, and pick your own fruit and vegetables. Still engaged in the local scene. Still loving retirement out here.

Last year, the third one done.

Crediting those inspirational bloggers. Like howchow and Kitchen Scribble. Promoting the events where I still volunteer.

I miss the frequent posts from HOWCHOW. His toddler is keeping him busy. Almost too busy to go places as much as he used to do. We haven’t found anyone as prolific as he was when I started blogging. He helped me grow my following.

Where will my blog be going? Nowhere far away, yet. I still like to write, although not as often as I did in the beginning. I like the current frequency. Almost a balance. No burning need to post daily. I still haven’t accepted advertising, and never will. Those businesses that I talk about here on the blog, don’t give me anything and that’s how I like it.

So, what is ahead for me? Still gardening, cooking, traveling around the area. Reading and writing. Visiting friends. I have started messing around in, while cleaning out all the old papers from our families. Something new and interesting to keep us from getting boring in our old age.

Here’s to many more brilliant sunrises and sunsets. And at least four more years of blogging.

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Batten Down the Hatches

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Do we or don’t we? The forecast from the hurricane center is typical at this time. No one knows how fast or what path the storm will take. Will it bypass us or will we get really bad weather?

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This scenario has happened quite a few times in the past few years. It seems to be more the norm the past five years, than in the previous decades we have lived here.

We also get bombarded with social media. Data here. Data there. Data everywhere. Sometimes much more than we really need or want.

Already events have been canceled. The Highland Days. Rescheduled to Halloween. Football games changing times. We are victims of TMI. Not all of it based on facts. Just on speculation.

Let’s face it. Mother Nature can’t be tamed. We can’t predict what will happen. We can take precautions. Get ready. Download the new MD Emergency Management APP. Sign up for local alerts.

Whatever we do, it won’t change the weather. But being prepared is a good thing. Even when the predictions aren’t correct. At least we weren’t caught unaware.

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Here’s hoping we don’t have floods. Or power outages. Or wind damages.

Maybe if we keep having these warnings, people will learn how to be prepared. And they will have what it takes to stay safe.

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Me, I’ll just keep listening. And getting those basic supplies in place. Like water. Batteries. And non perishables.

I still haven’t figured out why people run out and buy toilet paper. Maybe because there aren’t any more Sears catalogs to use in an emergency?

Topping The Tower

We had to do this today. I headed off to Kendall’s to find the biggest flag I could get.

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We both worked in DC in 2001. Him at L’Enfant Plaza. Me at the Navy Yard. Watching the smoke from the Pentagon. Not able to communicate because the phone lines were swamped. We got home hours apart, and wondered if things would ever be the same.

No planes in the skies, except for fighter jets scrambling over our homes, as we lived less than 25 miles from downtown DC.

We won’t ever forget. It was only fitting today to top the tower we built, with the biggest flag we could find.

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Getting there step by step. Foot by foot. Now, to add antennas, cables and finish the ground rods.

But today, just a simple gesture. Remembering our colleagues who lost their lives 14 years ago.


My Labor Day Tribute

To those who labor outside the box, so to speak. Not the union workers in the factories. But, the farmers.

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Who work 365 days a year with no overtime or benefits or sick days.

Add to them, our first responders.

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And those who work outdoors year round. Like our roofers.

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Our tree trimmers.

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There are so many people who work days. nights, and weekends. This holiday doesn’t just honor the 9-5 crowd. It honors all of those who put in their hours and beyond, to make our lives a little easier.

Thanks to all of them.


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That would be us. In the energy world. At least according to our latest and not so greatest report from our “Smart” meter. I have a hate-hate relationship with that meter. It only gives us bad news. Like this.


Basically telling me to stop making home cooked meals for us.

My peak load on electricity. Dinner time. I suppose to become an overachiever we need to hop in the car nightly and head out 20-30 miles round trip to buy a dinner at a chain restaurant that would feed a family of six in a developing country.

In other words, we don’t do as well in energy consumption as 70 of our closest “neighbors”. We ranked 71st in the latest mailing, out of 100 people around us. It does NOT include any of the local McMansions. Since they heat with natural gas, they aren’t compared to us. Only the older homes that are cursed with heat pumps.

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We have two of the beasts. They work well, since we can tailor the output for bedrooms versus first floor, but still they consume beaucoup energy. Particularly when you are retired and home all day. Yes, we could crank that temp high and swelter in the house, since we no longer head off to government jobs in ice boxes that are set low to keep the computers cool.

All of those energy saving suggestions are tailored to those who leave their homes every day to go to work. Not to those of us who are here when the temps hit the high nineties.

But really. How is it more energy “efficient” to not use our stove or oven. Or to get rid of the chest freezer with all our home processed fruit and vegetables in it. Should we be buying all those quick fix meals that can be nuked or heated quickly? What about all the energy waste in the packaging and the transport?

None of that is counted for those of us who cook from scratch nightly. Who don’t do the carry out or fast food or restaurant hopping that keeps our kitchens clean and spotless. That minimizes those loads in the dishwasher. That lowers that “bump” from 5-7 pm in our energy curve.

Really. I want to believe that buying local food and making it myself is better for us. But is it? How much do we really save? Honestly, I think we are doing a better job in many ways, but it certainly isn’t reflected in the reports we get monthly.

How do we measure what our real carbon footprint is? I can’t easily answer that, but it is a good question.

Something to ponder on a Monday night.


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