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Friday, December 19, 2014

Co-habitating with our local wildlife

     One of the best things about running early in the morning is that you get to see the activity of wildlife that is harder to see the rest of the day.  The past few months I have been noticing the beaver activity around Lake Elkhorn.

It is hard to miss their work with the trees they have been cutting down.

A week ago I saw the beaver go into their mud and stick lodge along the bank of the Lake.

      Even though they can be damaging to some of the trees along the lake I have to admit that I enjoy watching them and admiring how industrious they are. They come no where close to negatively impacting our environment as we humans.  Building our homes here have led to the cutting of more trees than our beaver friends.  And they undoubtedly have been residents here longer than any of the rest of us. The Howard County Rec and Parks has a good brochure on beavers.
     My run down the Patuxent Trail toward Savage is always my favorite run for the variety of wildlife along the trail.  One of the more unusual animals to see are the black squirrels that inhabit the area near the
Brokenland Parkway overpass bridge.  We are used to seeing grey squirrels so seeing black ones is a treat.

     A little farther down the trail just past the Guilford Road overpass bridge a family of blue birds are seen on occasion.

    Although commonly seen (and heard!) it is always nice to see the many Blue Jays we have in our area.

   Finally as you near the iron bridge in the Guilford area you can often see the family of deer that make this area their home.  I have seen a couple of large buck around a number of does grazing on the clover in this area in the Spring and Summer.

   From the Maryland Food Bank:
"The Maryland Food Bank always needs volunteers, but that need is particularly dire after the holidays, when volunteerism typically declines—and we're going to need your help as we enter 2015!
With thousands of pounds of holiday food donations rolling into our warehouse and just a handful of regular volunteers, the food bank will undoubtedly feel the strain in January and February.
     A simple donation of time will help us fight hunger in the coming months. A group of 15 volunteers can pack up to 10,000 pounds of food per shift, providing the equivalent of 7,700 meals to Marylanders in need.
    Get a jump on your New Year's resolution—and make a real impact for hungry households.
Schedule a volunteer shift for January or February today!
There's still time to give this holiday...

Our mailing address is:
Maryland Food Bank
2200 Halethorpe Farms Rd.
Halethorpe, MD 21227 "

Please contact Ms. Kelsey Gower or Ms. Jill Rowlett, Volunteer Coordinators, at 410-737-8282. One-time or regular volunteers are welcomed to join us. "

Another organization that especially needs your help at this time of year is the American Red Cross blood donations. The holiday times are the most urgent for donations.  We seldom have a chance to save a life but donating blood may just do that.  Contact them to donate.


Thursday, December 18, 2014

Columbia Archives to offer mini course on Columbia's development

   Continuing to explore the development of Columbia almost 50 years ago the Columbia Archives is sponsoring 3 sessions on the first planning stages of the development.  Here is the info from the Archives and registration for the sessions:

      "A free mini-course being offered this February by Columbia Association’s (CA) Columbia Archives will capture the events of a significant period in the history of Jim Rouse’s planned community.
     “Creating Columbia: A Mini-Course” will be held on three Mondays: Feb 2, 9 and 16, from 2 to 3:30 to 3:30 p.m. at Slayton House, located at 10400 Cross Fox Lane in the Wilde Lake Village Center. The mini-course is free, but registration is encouraged. People can choose to register for all three Mondays or for individual sessions via or by calling 410-715-3103.
      It was big news when the plan for Columbia was presented 50 years ago. The announcement made on Nov. 11, 1964, was met with many questions and some answers. The period that led up to it had included a year of hard work, but what followed was an even more hectic schedule. “Creating Columbia: A Mini-Course” looks at the period from November 1964 to May 1965, covering the formal Columbia plan, the initial reaction to it and the feverish work that followed in order to fine tune the plan, cement relationships within Howard County and ensure that the plan would be accepted and then greenlighted for development.
      The Feb. 2 session, “Introducing the Plan,” will look at the focus on the Nov. 11, 1964, announcement and the initial reaction to it.  The Feb. 9 session, “Inspiration and Perspiration,” will paint a picture of the period in which Columbia transitioned from an idea into the business of building, including the all-consuming details of planning and design, zoning regulations, institutional and industrial development, information and public relations, and the business of managing 14,000 acres of woods and farmland.  The Feb. 16 session, “Columbia Gets the Go-Ahead,” captures Rouse’s schedule, illustrating the pace at which he met the opportunities and challenges of building Columbia.
     These sessions will be led by Columbia historian Barbara Kellner, director of Columbia Archives. For more information, call 410-715-3103 or email
     A related exhibit can be viewed at Columbia Archives until May 2015. The Archives is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 10227 Wincopin Circle in downtown Columbia in the American City Building. This is the third exhibit in the “Celebrating Columbia: 50 Years Ago Today” series, which traces the events leading up to Columbia’s official beginning on June 21, 1967. The series will conclude in June 2017, when the community celebrates its 50th birthday."

    Time passes so quickly.  I remember attending the 10th Anniversary celebration in 1977 only a couple of months after we moved to Columbia.  I remember Jim Rouse cutting a cake at the celebration as he always did at these times.


Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Meals on Wheels

      A few weeks ago I indicated that many times the commercialization of the holidays misses the point of what is meaningful about the holidays.  I wanted to highlight some worthy local organizations that deserve your consideration for support at this time of the year.  Here is another organization to consider.

    In Howard County since the 1970's Meals on Wheels has been providing meals to our elderly home bound citizens.  For many of our senior citizens these meals are the difference between having nutritious meals or having limited eating choices.  Meals on Wheels provides a hot lunch and cold dinner during the week and prepared meals for the weekends.  Maybe just as important this service provides a regular contact with the person delivering the meals.  Often this relationship becomes as important as the food.  Our local meals are prepared at the Bain Center and delivered throughout the County.  If you would like to volunteer to deliver meals click on this link.  To make a donation click here.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

"Serial" and the "new" medium of podcasts

     With the demise of many newspapers there is a concern about the loss of the role of the investigative reporter.  This reporting role attempted to look in depth at an issue that had complexity that was often missed in the day to day reporting on the issue.  The report that I mentioned in yesterday's blog was just such a piece of work.   With the work of a podcast called "Serial" the future of this type of reporting may have found a new forum.  This podcast is a 12 part story, done by Sarah Koenig from "This American Life", of a 1999 murder in Baltimore.  The locations mentioned in the podcast will be familiar to many of us living in this area.
     What this podcast does (besides making us all familiar with "Mail Chimp!!!") is to look at many of the issues involved in this murder.  Background and areas of uncertainty show how it is too easy to rush to judgement on solving a crime.  While the reporter in this podcast seems to go back and forth on her feeling of the guilt or innocence of Adnan Syed, the person convicted of the murder, the listener finds themselves examining their own beliefs of how our justice system works and what makes someone murder.
     This week is the 12th and final episode of the series and the reporter has made an appeal for contributions to continue to use this format to provide  an in depth look at other issues in the future.  I think it is a worthy investment for all of us to make.  If you haven't listened to this podcast I highly recommend it.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Important Sun article to read

       It is hard not to picture life in many neighborhoods of Baltimore as it's often portrayed as a violent city.  The Wire, Homicide and the recent podcast Serial show the side of Baltimore that is a daily reality of many of the City's children. Yesterday's Sun article on the impact of the violence on young children was important in understanding the challenges that the city faces in changing the future of the city.  The impacts on family life in Baltimore has already seen a couple of generations of dysfunction. Tomorrow's city problems may already be developing as Baltimore's children are paying the price for being exposed to drugs and crime.
       For those of us living our middle to upper middle class suburban lives the realities faced by children in Baltimore may seem like a world away.  Years ago that world and its impact on children was brought home to me on a trip into Baltimore to take one of our teen age foster daughters to a weekend visit with her aunt.  The aunt lived in Southwest Baltimore not too far off of Washington Blvd.  As we drove to her aunt's home she casually mentioned that an uncle had been stabbed in front of a convenience store we passed and that her mother had been arrested in front of another building for selling heroin.  At one intersection there was a pair of shoes over the utility line.  This is a way that someone is memorialized that has been killed at that point. The casualness of her descriptions of these events gave me pause.  I can't think of anyone I have ever known that has been stabbed or arrested for selling heroin.  Maybe these life events could be an explanation for why my foster daughter lived with a heightened sense of danger.  Events or the actions of others that I saw as normal or innocent she saw as threatening and in need of an aggressive action on her part.  My middle class discussions about how to use words instead of fists or how to deescalate a situation seemed so naive to her.  I can remember her saying that no one could "disrespect" her and get away with it.  These types of actions may have been common in her Baltimore neighborhood but they were always a problem in our neighborhood Columbia school.
      Here is a link to the article.

    More on the podcast called  "Serial" about a murder in Baltimore tomorrow.