RSS Feed

Tag Archives: commentary

Not Good At Math

A phrase that drives me crazy. Why do we announce (and particularly in front of children) that we aren’t good at something? Something necessary to thrive and excel in our lives. Most of the time, it isn’t even true. But I hear it constantly.

Usually during field trips when I introduce a math element to our hikes. Like when I talk about the chickens, and how many eggs they may lay in a week. If you have four chickens and they lay about six eggs a week, how many eggs do you gather in a week?

Basically, we are good at math. The common sense math we encounter daily. Here’s how.

Do you bake? Can you halve or double a recipe? Are you like me, finding only a 1/3 cup measure clean when you need a cup of an ingredient. Knowing three of them will make a cup.

deck-and-stuff-027

How about deciding how much paint to buy? What is the area of your room? Or, my latest project. The deck. Estimates of $40 a square foot to install. What will that cost? We divided the deck into squares, rectangles, triangles, and the one trapezoid to add up the area. Figured it out, and decided we could live with that estimate.

deck-and-stuff-019

Do you tip? Can you calculate that 18-20% number by looking at the bill?

Then, obviously, you are good at the math skills necessary to function. Yeah, you may have problems with trig or geometry, or like me, hit the wall at Theory of Numbers (I hated that course!).

I think we all need to be enablers when it comes to encouraging children to figure it out. Learn those analytical thinking skills.

Pull out a recipe. Measure and bake. Make a simple wood project, like a frame. Learn how to saw at a 45 degree angle.

deck-and-stuff-008

Just don’t tell the little ones that it’s OK to be functionally deficient. It’s not OK to be “Not Good at Math”.

A Few Good Volunteers

Posted on

Actually, a few hundred to start. The clean up effort of public and private lands ravaged by last weekend’s flash flooding continues. Now, looking for people to help in teams with leaders. Currently, just show up at the volunteer tent on North Ridge Road, Walmart parking lot. Daily. 8-4:30. Teams will be assembled and sent where needed.

Ellicott City, my county seat and one of my favorite places to shop and eat locally, was pretty much devastated with the massive flooding Saturday night. Tomorrow, access to areas that need to be cleared of run off and debris has been granted.

The efforts are coordinated through the county Recreation and Parks department. Registration is required. Minimum standards must be met. Age, physical ability, and proper clothing are listed in the web announcement.

As someone who frequently volunteers, and also leads volunteers, at my “job” at the Howard County Conservancy, I can offer some practical advice for those willing to volunteer their time. I have four things I stress when looking for people to help.

1. Dress for Success
2. Be Prepared.
3. Safety first.
4. Know Your Limits.

We lead groups on Earth Day doing clean up. I lead service learning groups from the local schools. We have work days on food bank gardens, and over the years I have gotten better at volunteering and at making volunteer efforts of others much more enjoyable, because we learn what works best. After all, a happy volunteer comes back over and over. A stressed, or unappreciated, or underutilized, or overworked volunteer doesn’t.

Dress for Success – the announcement from the county asks that you wear long pants, closed shoes, preferable boots, and that if you can, bring work gloves.

Dressing right is really important. You don’t want to get scratched by thorns, get wet feet, or blisters, by not having work clothes.

This is mosquito and tick season. It’s also the time of year those annoying little bees come out of the ground and want to sting you. Also, hats are a big help, to provide cover from the sun, and to keep little pests out of your hair.

rhine csa and siding 015

I am showing a picture of a construction crew on site at our house (installing part of our storm management solutions, more on that in another post), but they absolutely demonstrate what works best when working outdoors to avoid problems.

Long sleeve lightweight shirts. Hats. Glasses. Boots. Gloves.

The second item on my list. Focus on basic supplies to help you. I carry sunscreen and bug spray. Bandaids. In my car, when I get out for my volunteer work, I have spare shoes, socks, and a change of shirts in my car.

Safety. I never try to do things I can’t control. No attempts to climb over obstacles. I wear safety glasses. I use heavier gloves. I try to avoid contact with poison ivy, or if I know I have carried logs covered in vines, I never wipe my face with my hands. I carry a bandana, just in case. I also come home and immediately put everything in the wash, to avoid carrying ticks around.

I always take the face masks if offered, when dealing with excessive pollen, which drives my allergies nuts, or when handling debris that may include insulation fibers or other possible inhalants.

My limits. I know what I can’t pick up. I don’t qualify to help with the Ellicott City clean up efforts right now, because I can’t lift 40 pounds. I can’t carry heavy items. Back surgery put an end to those days for me. The days of lugging 35 pound bags of mulch or top soil.

I know I can’t volunteer to help with the current clean up efforts. Somewhere along the way, they will be looking for help disinfecting or scrubbing down cleared out spaces. I can do that. Patience is a virtue, they say.

As for right now, my help will be in supporting fund raisers. And, finding out when my favorite places find temporary or new homes, and giving them as much business as I can.

If you do volunteer, you will know the satisfaction of making a difference. Just be an asset, follow directions, and realize you are appreciated. Like those groups that help us at the Conservancy.

earth day and herbs 022

Here’s to better days ahead, and the return of our favorite places.

hiking main streets and belmont 037

Frustration

Posted on

That would be how this week has been. One that frustrates me. Why? Premature replacement of very expensive appliances.

new fridge 001

This would be my seven year old fancy fridge. Which decided to fail a week ago. You know you are in trouble when this is the temperature in your freezer.

new fridge 003

With the setting at -2 degrees Fahrenheit.

Thankfully, I have a chest freezer in the basement. Not particularly full at the moment because we haven’t started the food processing from the garden. I managed to salvage all the local meat, and cram it into the chest freezer.

The verdict from the repair person. Somewhere there is a seal leak. Typical in these refrigerators. Could be over one thousand dollars to fix. If we can pinpoint the leak with injected dyes.

Not happy. Our older, not fancy refrigerators lasted decades. All of them. Not seven years, like this one. Spending close to 50% of the purchase price to attempt to fix it is not an option.

So, today a new behemoth came into our lives.

new fridge 008

I use a large refrigerator because I have large amounts of fresh fruit and vegetables.

new fridge 006

I want room for salad spinners. Fruit. Vegetables. Fresh dairy and deli. This is not a repository for a few processed items. It is the storage unit for a CSA basket, and for farmer’s market finds.

This past week we did quite a bit of frantic cooking. Those items I thought may have been defrosting, as they were in the top of the old freezer.

Some bison. Some bacon. A hanger steak. Catfish. Most of it local. Good for the Buy Local Challenge.

csa and cooking 026

I did do a very good frittata with local bacon and eggs. My tomatoes.

Overall, I suppose it’s not the most traumatic of weeks. Not a bit annoying. Refrigerators shouldn’t fail after seven years.

Oh, by the way, Bray and Scarff is awesome, when it comes to recommending good repair people and when it comes to absolutely fantastic delivery and set up teams.

In Search Of

Posted on

Replacements. For my favorite restaurant and favorite food source.

I was pretty shocked and, for lack of a better word, bummed, when Bistro Blanc closed. It was our “Cheers”. Our local bar, where we could order a burger and a bottle of good red wine, not expensive. We could sit and chat with the locals. We could banter with the bartenders and the owner.

fandf and bday 010

We celebrated many special occasions there. My husband’s 65th birthday, with all the trimmings. Prepared to what I wanted, by Chef Diego. Paired with wines from my cellar. Surrounded by close friends.

I really hope Raj finds a new home soon, and opens again. But it won’t be walking distance from my home, like the old location.

Then, another hit.

Friends and Farms ceased operations. That was a real blow to us. We have been customers for 30 of their 46 months of operation. Phil and Tim created a friendly family style business. Personal service. Care for the customers. Some of the best meat and seafood we could buy.

I miss them greatly. That weekly visit to tease the staff, and pick up their specials. And my staples.

I know I won’t find another one stop shop to fill that gap.

homestead 005

We did visit Local Homestead Products in New Windsor yesterday. They could satisfy my local cheese, dairy, egg and meat requirements. But not the seafood.

I have been buying at Annapolis Seafood when visiting my mom in her senior apartment. Good stuff there, but not the same as that freshly prepared fish from Reliant, that Friends and Farms provided.

Homestead sells beef, chicken, pork, lamb and goat. Once I work my way through my freezer, they may be my go-to source for meat. They also sell Pequea Valley yogurt, Shepherd’s Manor Sheep Cheese. Trickling Springs dairy. All sort of eggs, including quail eggs.

Yesterday we picked up some sausage, wax beans and ice cream. Just to try them out, and establish a baseline.

Those other really great products from Friends and Farms. Like the peanuts, the rice, the tomato puree, things we enjoyed and bought regularly. Now, back to markets and farms. No longer a one stop shop.

Why is it that we don’t support local businesses? Chains stay around, while good small businesses struggle. I suppose cheap does beat out quality around here.

Needless to say, it is sad we can’t keep the small places in business.

The rumor here. Dunkin Donuts will go in where Bistro Blanc was located. Great. Another chain to hurt K9 and Coffee next door to it.

Memorial Day

Posted on

I can’t find my flag.

final tower 026

The one that we flew over the tower on 9/11 last fall. I know I folded it up and put it away in a plastic bag. So, this year no flag out there for the commemoration of Memorial Day.

I used to not get Memorial Day. How was it different from Veterans Day? Then, it hit close to home, when colleagues at the Pentagon were killed by the crashing plane. Now, it is so significant to me.

I don’t do Memorial Day Sales. Memorial Day picnics. I just reflect on what it means to have friends and relatives risk their lives, and sometimes lose them, in order for us to be free.

I think I need to find a smaller flag to hang out front. And, if I find that lost bag, to hang the large flag on the tower again.

To remind us that we are lucky to be free, because of the sacrifice of the brave.

Some Enchanted Evening

Posted on

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

FullSizeRender2

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.

FullSizeRender (5)

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.

All Over the Map Friday

Posted on

Because. There are so many things happening that I can’t focus on just one.

grosbeak meadow linden csa and spinach dip 085

Like how happy we are to have rhubarb and garlic greens and scallions to celebrate spring cooking.

Like the fun we have in the rain while leading field trips.

Like looking forward to grilling season with all the good food we get from local vendors.

fandf strawberry salad 001

We’ve already done the hanger steak but if the sun actually hangs around, I will be grilling chicken wings. Drenched in butter and hot sauce.

Tomorrow, I will try to hit the River Hill and Ellicott City opening day. Glenwood, I’ll save for my regular weekend trips but I want to check in with Copper Penny at Ellicott City. Their market in AACO lost its site, so I am glad they found a new home next to the Wine Bin.

Speaking of the Wine Bin, we need Rose wine. And they have lots of it.

After I help with check in for Hike to the River at the Howard County Conservancy I am off to check out the markets.

Now do you understand why this post is all over the map? There is so much going on, and it’s that time of year when we love to get outdoors. Click on my links to hear more.