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Category Archives: Howard County

W3AO Field Day 2016 Never A Dull Moment

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So, what do you do to make Field Day for Amateur Radio operators more interesting? Put it on a site that recently had a drive by tornado? Add a warning for a young black bear in the area? Have both generators not work because of battery problems? Have the replacement generator experience power surges to 150 volts which fried a few power supplies? Have the tent supplier substitute two small tents for the one you ordered?

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The reason we operate this exercise, is to show we can be responsive in the event of a local or national emergency. We certainly had our share of excitement this year.

How did we do? We don’t know yet, but it should be great, since we put so much effort into fully embracing the activity. This year they added a new bonus category. Social media promotion. We created a Facebook page and uploaded quite a bit of video and photos to show how much effort (and fun) went into field day.

We also were encouraged to add the younger set into our Get On The Air (GOTA) station. Which had many, many little ones making contacts after simple coaching.

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All in all, it was another perfect weekend. Weather cooperated. Lots of new visitors learned how we use radio to supplement the other communication devices, in the case of emergency. Rather important for us these days. As we definitely had communication problems in west county last week, with downed telephone wires and damaged cell towers.

Thanks also to Howard County Office of Emergency Management, who loaned us a generator.

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A Near Miss

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Yesterday was a day for our “history” books. Having a tornado on the ground for 20 minutes, that passed only 1 mile or so north of us. Not a fun middle of the day activity. Trying to decide if we should head for the basement as the wind whipped fiercely outside our doors.

We were lucky. Minimal damage.

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Four trees down along the property line. Three in a group. That just missed taking out one of our small towers in the side yard.

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About an hour after the storm, we were out there chopping wood away from the guy wires. If we didn’t relieve the pressure, we could have had a tower come through our bedroom window.

Not great. But, we were lucky. No power outages. No damaged buildings.

Our local radio friends. Had some serious damage. W3LPL had a tower come down. He was in the direct path of the storm. Just last Saturday he had his annual open house, with his antenna tour.

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Saturday.

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Today. Not just antenna damage. But, a tower down.

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We can’t get down his road to see if he needs anything. Their phones are messed up, and their cell service seems to be affected because we couldn’t get coverage out there. He was interviewed today on the local TV station, saying that they were lucky the tower fell away from the house.

Mother Nature is simply scary. In the blink of an eye, you can have a major mess to deal with.

As I said, we were lucky. And, I want to give my appreciation to the crews out there trying to put massive amounts of power lines back into service.

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Everywhere we went today, during our multiple trips to the landfill, and surrounding areas (we had some weird detours trying to get there and back), we encountered dozens of trucks and workers, lifting wires and poles, cutting trees and clearing debris.

Burntwoods Rd this afternoon had at least 15 trucks trying to piece back together the poles taken out.

Hopefully, all will be calm for this weekend’s Amateur Radio Field Day. More on that in the next few days. As for now, we are just happy we have minimal mess.

Just Fiddlin’ Around

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With the Fireflies. At the Howard County Conservancy this Thursday night, weather permitting. The Conservancy always has this event in late June. It is one of the most popular evening family events.

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Look at the children’s craft area from a few years back.

The treat. Bill Wellington.

Telling stories. Playing music that gets you up and dancing.

Bring a picnic. Some good salads, dips, bread, cheese.

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Relax on the grounds. Meet some new friends. The event is from 6-9 PM and it’s only $10 a car.

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There’s even room to play a little catch up on the farmhouse lawn.

Summer Weekends in Old Town

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With tonight’s First Friday events in Old Town Ellicott City, the summer fests and markets and events begin in earnest. It doesn’t get more interesting than Yappy Hour at the Wine Bin, or movies on Saturday night, or just strolling Main Street and eating at the restaurants.

On the first Friday of every month, the shops stay open late, until 9 PM or later. Check out the events page to see the latest.

As for the movie schedule, the refrigerator magnet always lets you know what will be playing on the outside wall of the Wine Bin.

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Tomorrow if the weather gods cooperate, they will be showing Grease. Tonight is Yappy Hour, again check the weather notices on their web site.

Our other favorite activity on Friday nights, when the weather isn’t as awful as it has been this year. Wine and goodies on the upstairs patio at Pure Wine Cafe.

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I’m inclined to buy those lovely rockfish tacos. Maybe with a side of truffle fries. A nice light white wine.

I also have been known to stock up on summer wines at the Wine Bin, like this goody.

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A good boxed wine from Spain. Trust me on this one. You want it in your fridge.

My other favorite activity in Old Town. The Saturday morning farmer’s market.

People who are lucky enough to live there. They get the best of small town and “city” living. In a walkable community.

If we could only get this rain to go away.

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Some Enchanted Evening

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One of my very favorite evenings to enjoy the beauty of Mt. Pleasant. And the Conservancy where I volunteer.

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Wandering around the Honors Garden, sampling wine and food from a large number of caterers. Mussels. Shrimp and grits. Lovely little mini caprese salads.

Heading up to the barn, for the Jailbreak beer.

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And Mission BBQ, and Elkridge Furnace Inn.

It was a fun evening. The only fundraiser the Conservancy does. Close to 500 people pre-registered and there were many more walk up purchases of tickets.

Makes for a great event, for a treasure in our county.

The wine was great, too. Thanks to Cindy’s Liquors for that.

Now, I get to put together those community garden baskets for the winners of the silent auction.

Shopping at Friends and Farms

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Somewhere along the line, we reduced our reliance on grocery stores and increased what we bought from our CSA and our regional food bag.

Like our combinations at Friends and Farms.

The Protein and Dairy bag.

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Today we got monkfish, ground chuck, eggs, cheese and turkey filets. Instead of milk, I pick extra produce. Today it was arugula.

Arugula was also in my sample produce bag, which I went on line to choose. My CSA doesn’t start until next week so I went on line to order a produce bag.

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One with a protein option. Shrimp.

You can customize all kinds of combinations with this company. And buy extras at the warehouse.

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Like yogurt and ice cream and apples and rice. Meat options too, which I saw on the blackboard. Whole chickens. Beef brisket. Specials every week as they try to keep the inventory in the freezer at a minimum.

Most of our food comes from here, and our CSA. No recalled foods from small local suppliers. No vegetables with possible listeria contamination. No meat products with wood, metal, plastic or whatever in them. I am a true believer in buying from small local companies, and knowing who processes your food.

Just to show how easy it is to come home and make an awesome dinner.

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I sautéed that monkfish. Added it to a skillet of rice and vegetables.

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Made a fish stew that will go into my regular rotation. It was that good.

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This was simple. Yesterday I made a couple of cups of rice in my rice cooker. The leftovers from dinner become an addition to tonight’s dinner. I sautéed onions, garlic, and asparagus in olive oil. Added a container of crushed tomatoes. A container or spicy kale and bean soup. A teaspoon of sugar. A half teaspoon of salt. A splash of wine. After sautéing the monkfish I finished it in this mix.

Served with this.

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A locally produced merlot.

Between the local markets, farms, CSAs and Friends and Farms, I don’t need to go to grocery stores. Unless I need toilet paper.

Yeah I forgot to photograph the final dish. It was served over arugula. Which was in my produce bag and my sample bag.

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A double dose of arugula.

Tractor Supply Chicks and Brighton Azalea Garden Update

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The new most searched topics for this blog. How much are those chicks? Are the azaleas blooming?

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First, the azaleas. Yesterday I was told out at the gardens that they are at the 35-40% mark for blooms. Tomorrow should be a good day to go, or next week, as more varieties respond to this warmer weather.

Oh, and take money. $6 per person to tour the gardens. Under 16, and 65 and over, don’t pay. This is new. I don’t know how rigorously they will enforce it during the week, but on weekends, they will be collecting money. I understand it. The gardens needed lots of work. Older plants died, and they have replanted extensively the last few years. The gardens are still lovely. Worth taking the time to visit.

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As for those baby chicks, not many left at the Mt. Airy store today, and they are on sale for a buck a bird. Yep, $1 each. Minimum of six chicks, unless there are just a few left. A couple of the tubs had sold signs on all the chicks in them. I suppose that when they get a few weeks older, they are eating more and the profit margin is shrinking.

While we were there today, I did pick up shallots for my garden. And, a bag of snap peas to plant. Tomorrow I will head up to my garden to continue planting. Not quite ready for the tomatoes for two more weeks, and the zukes and cukes won’t go in until the end of May. Too much of a risk. They don’t like any cold nights.

Spring is definitely hitting us hard now. If only the pollen would go away.

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