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Category Archives: Adventures

Building Fairy Houses

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It’s that time of year again. The annual program at the Howard County Conservancy to build fairy houses in the woods.

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It’s an adventure in imagination, and creativity, and in celebrating the outdoors. It is immensely popular.

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This is last year’s crowd. There are many volunteers to help and there is a large amount of material available to use. Part of the fun, though, for many of the families is the pre-event collection of materials from your own area. Bringing leaves and flowers and acorns along to use in the construction.

The event is 10 am this Saturday at Mt. Pleasant in Woodstock. Details here.

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Last year they built the houses down by Hodge Podge Lodge. This year, who knows where they will go. After getting a bit of instruction, the families go down into the woods to build their houses.

You can go off into the woods to make that very special, very private house.

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I will be wandering around taking pictures. We always make a scrapbook of the pictures to keep.

Come do something truly special and fun. Saturday morning. FREE. They do ask you to email and let them know how many are coming. The more advance notice we have of the potential attendance, the better we can gather volunteers to assist.

Opening Doors

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And discovering the world.

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In two days a blogging friend who also volunteers with me at the Conservancy is leaving on a one YEAR trip around the world. Something many of us dream of doing. She is starting in Istanbul, one of my absolute favorite cities that we visited during our travels in the past.

I am following her family’s journey on their web page. I admire their quest to travel the world with only a backpack a person. Husband and Wife. Three girls. Their nanny.

Anything is possible if you put your mind to it.

Travel to places where they speak a different language. Eat different foods. Live their lives in totally different ways than we do.

Their journey reminds me to dust off my bucket list. Look for those things I want to do, but haven’t yet. I’ve done quite a bit of it, but there’s always more mountains to climb. Seas to sail. History to discover.

In the meantime, those grounded items on my list keep getting checked. The garden. Check. The house in the country. Check. That radio tower for my husband. Getting closer.

First prize for my heirloom tomatoes at the fair. Sometimes I think it’s unattainable. The weather keeps conspiring against me. But, the search and the challenge is what keeps us going.

I wish Lisa and her family fair winds and following seas. We will be following their adventure, and maybe planning a dream trip of our own.

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Don’t Forget to Relax

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I need to keep repeating that mantra this week. There were (and are) so many events and activities in my life this week, I needed today to relax and get ready for Round Two, so to speak.

It’s the beginning of my harvest season. It’s the annual Amateur Radio Relay League (ARRL) emergency preparedness activity, otherwise known as Field Day this weekend. There were blogger parties, which I missed. A crab feast on Kent Island, that I did get to attend. CSA pick up. Friends and Farms pick up.

Making pickles. Making salads and sides for Field Day. Ordering ten pizzas for set up day tomorrow. Getting to Costco for my part of the provisions (oh, and add to that the fact the car broke down in their parking lot).

I also missed a Conservancy event, Fiddlers and Fireflies. Just too tired to get there.

I can’t believe how many things there are to do around here. This is such an active area. Lots of outdoor things to do. Today we got a note for volunteers to help with a Columbia Families in Nature event this Sunday out at Mt. Pleasant. I will still be tearing down our makeshift kitchen at our Field Day site.

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Plus. Squeezing in a visit to Lisa, a fellow volunteer and blogger, who is embarking on a trip around the world with her family, for a year. Bon Voyage to Lisa. Can’t wait to follow your web page with your journal.

By the way, we love visitors to our Field Day site. Have you ever wanted to contact someone from Canada, or Hawaii, or Alaska or any of the other states? We put up a fun station for those not licensed to try out their communication skills. Children love to come talk to people on the other side of the USA.

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The Field Day event runs from Saturday 2 PM until Sunday 2 PM. We are at Triadelphia Ridge Elementary School. Our GOTA (get on the air) station is always a big hit with local families. Come see us. Maybe you will also see our satellite capability operators contact the International Space Station. They have done it almost every year.

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All in all, even though it is exhausting, I wouldn’t trade living here for anything. So many great things to do. Not enough hours in the day.

Last Child in the Meadow

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I think not. To take a page from the famous Richard Louv book, Last Child in the Woods, helping children connect with nature brings immense satisfaction.

Like this week. Bioblitz Belmont. Four days with seventh graders from Ellicott Mills and Thomas Viaduct middle schools. You know, those middle schoolers who aren’t impressed with things adults do or like. WRONG!!!

What a fun time we had.

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Today wasn’t as nice out as yesterday, but we still had a great, albeit wet time, wading through meadows in deep grass looking for insects, plants, animal tracks, trees and grasses. We use iNaturalist to catalogue what we found. Yes, it rained today but who cared.

We also had visits with our local nature center residents like our owl.

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And, Maize, our corn snake. I didn’t get a pic of Maize, but the students loved being able to see and touch him.

It doesn’t get much better than this.

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Uploading and editing their citizen scientist observations. Any resident nature experts are welcome to set up an account, log into the Belmont Bioblitz project and help them identify what they observed.

Weekend Event Overload

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The third weekend in May. Here in Maryland you can drown in events this weekend.

Some of my personal favorites this weekend. I’m not doing any of the traditional ones like the Preakness or Wine in the Woods or the Hot Air Balloon Festival, but I certainly don’t lack for places to go.

For me, a highlight I am doing. Sunday. In Ellicott City.

Rocks, Rivers and Railroads

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Led by my good friend Ned Tillman, author of Saving the Places We Love.

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Tomorrow I am torn between heading over to Belmont to see what the surveyors found under the ground on the site, at the regularly scheduled third Saturday at Belmont free event, 10 am. Howard County Conservancy web site has details. While you are on the web site, you can take advantage of the last weekend for discounted tickets to Wine in the Garden/Beer in the Barn, the annual fundraiser for the Conservancy. We’ll be there too, but that event is a few weeks away.

The other thing I want to do tomorrow? Check out the newly improved Glenwood Community Farmers Market. I missed opening day last weekend while I was working a Conservancy event, but I really want to get the herbs and flowers for my garden from Greenway Farms.

I also intend to head over to Mt. Ida for the Howard County Historical Society’s “Deja Vu and Nearly New” Sale. This is held Saturday and Sunday.

A new event, out by me. Over at the Living Farm Heritage Museum, across from the Fairgrounds. They have a Car Show Sunday.

The Howard County Tourism site has a good calendar, and so does TotallyHoCo. You can always find something to do using these two resources. Have a great weekend.

Brighton Dam Azaleas 2015 — Behind Schedule

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Yes, the azalea gardens out at Brighton Dam are far behind schedule this spring. Not to say they aren’t lovely but they won’t have peaked even at Mother’s Day, the traditional visit weekend.

They look like this.

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And not like this from a few years back.

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This picture from 2012 was in April. A much warmer winter and early spring.

Those white azaleas. Looked like this yesterday.

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They need a few more warm days to open.

Still, not a bad place to have a picnic lunch. The south side of the property has a picnic area, with a playground and tables and grills.

You can’t picnic in the azalea gardens, but you can enjoy these bright spring days just west of the center of Howard County. Right over the county line.

My suggestion. If you can, hit the gardens early next week. Avoid the crowds and take a picnic lunch.

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To The River

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The annual trek. A favorite hike. Done almost every year at the Mt. Pleasant site of the Howard County Conservancy. This year’s hike is Saturday April 11th. At 10 am, the volunteers will lead groups eastward from the Conservancy parking lot, head up to the fields and then down to the river.

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This picture is from one of the fall hikes. We now do the hikes only in springtime to avoid picking up wavyleaf basket grass seeds on clothing and spreading this annoying invasive plant.

We now take the hike before the trails become covered and impossible to easily navigate. Once we crest the hill behind the buildings and start through the fields, we generally stop to admire the view out towards Woodstock.

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We’ll also stop to check out the second largest yellow poplar in Howard County.

Poplar, Yellow
Liriodendron tulipifera
20 feet 3 inches-circumference
98 feet-height
87 feet-spread, 362.8 points
Howard County Conservancy
Woodstock

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Crossing a few more fields, we then move into the woods and follow the stream down to the Patapsco River. Carefully investigating around some old foundations, and looking at the signs of spring along the river. Maybe a train will pass when we are down there. The railroad that follows the Howard County side of the river here continues down through Ellicott City.

This hike is free. There will be many volunteers to keep groups of similar pace together. If you want to enjoy the change in weather and enjoy being outdoors, come join us.

Details here, on the Conservancy web site.

Love for the Gateway

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I have to admit. There was a time 40 years ago when I moved here that I would have thought an office park wasn’t fitting of praise. Back then it was GE’s Appliance Park East. My first room mate worked there in 1975 when I moved to Columbia right out of college. Now it’s Columbia Gateway.

Today, the Maryland State Highway Administration in its abbreviations calls it Col Gateway Drive, and Col is not a recognized abbreviation of Columbia, but Colonel. It has become a destination for some of us looking for decent small business restaurants.

Like Aida Bistro. Rudy’s Mediterranean Grill. Flavors of India.

With last night’s celebration of all things Gateway, it reminded me that you can find really great ethnic foods in these small businesses. We don’t need to eat at chain restaurants around here. Yes, maybe in the middle of nowhere on an interstate you are forced to endure Applebees or TGIF, but here, there are great small businesses at every turn.

Not just at the Gateway. All over Howard County. Check them out. These three restaurants are worth it. And, you can thank Colonel Gateway for reminding us about it. Check out @colgateway to see how awesome this location is. As are its inhabitants.

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Time Flies

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Five years now. Since I turned in my badge and retired from working. Still having fun. Still hoping I make a difference.

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You get that flag. It sits on the mantle. You wonder if there’s enough to keep you busy. In my world these days, there certainly is. Take today.

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Planting a couple of hundred onion bulbs in my community garden plot. Thank you, Southern States Ellicott City for having affordable loose onion bulbs for sale. We got red, white and yellow onions. All in the ground this morning. Covered and ready to grow.

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Picked up both CSAs after that.

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My Lancaster Farm Fresh winter share. Only two more weeks to go. Then a break until the summer CSA starts.

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Then, over to Friends and Farms to get my small share. This week, mahi mahi is a highlight. Home to unpack and store this week’s food.

Get all gussied up to go meet Colonel Gateway. A fun get together thanks to Aida Bistro, COPT, ADG Creative, and Jessie Newburn. At least 60 0f us, local businesses and bloggers, out to support the Columbia Gateway businesses, like Aida.

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Picked up a few buttons. Watched the festivities. Checked out Twitter when we got home, to see if anything interesting was posted.

Work? Me? No thank you. I am having too much fun doing “nothing”.

If you love it here in Howard County, like me, and want to support local businesses. Check out Aida Bistro. Our hosts tonight. Family owned. Great Italian restaurant. We had some great wines tonight, from their “wine taps”. Including one from a local winery. Old Westminster.

Tomorrow? That five year anniversary of my first day of retirement? I think I will be looking for plants to buy. And, prepping food for Easter. What should I do with that awesome basket cheese in my Friends and Farms basket?

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Totally HoCo

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Continuing my discovery of places to take friends and relatives in Howard County, I want to highlight a fairly new asset to those of us connected to the internet as a source of things to do, places to visit, and people to see.

TOTALLY HOCO.

An online calendar chock full of activities for fun, learning, arts, and so much more. For example, this week. Did you know you could meet the (in)famous COLONEL GATEWAY at a Meet and Greet this Wednesday. One of the whimsical aspects of living here. Finding those characters that bring the personality of an area to life.

You can find lots of inspiration in this calendar.

But, that’s not all you can use to find ongoing events most weekends. If you do have guests, and even if you don’t, you can count on having some unique experiences in the area.

How about a Yappy Hour? Or, maybe an outdoor movie in Old Town Ellicott City? Both are standard spring, summer and fall events at the Wine Bin.

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Yappy Hour starts this weekend. Movie schedule should be coming soon. We discovered the Wine Bin at one of the Saturday morning markets last spring. Some of the nicest people there. Also, a great selection of wines and beer.

The markets on Saturday morning are also one really great way to start the day. They open the first weekend in May. Breakfast pizza anyone? Music. Barbecue. Strolling Old Town and taking in the atmosphere.

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Other options for things to do that don’t cost an arm and a leg? Second Saturdays at Mt. Pleasant site of Howard County Conservancy and third Saturdays at the Belmont site. Free events.

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Visitors in May. If they are here the first weekend in May, you must take them to the Maryland Sheep and Wool Festival. There is no easy way to explain how popular this festival has become. It is now huge. The largest and longest running festival of its kind in the United States.

Just keep Totally Hoco in your bookmarks to see so many options for getting out of the house without leaving Howard County.