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Saturday, May 30, 2015

Coho's open again

      Coho's has reopened at the Hobbit's Glen Golf Course.  Menu looks like the same menu.


Friday, May 29, 2015

The Torrey Brown Bike Trail is made for warm summer days

   Now that we seem to have gone right into summer this past week it was a nice time for another excursion up Interstate 83 to the Torrey Brown Trail

     This trail follows the Gunpower River most of the way through Maryland up to Pennsylvania. 

   Renamed for a former Secretary of the Maryland Department of Natural Resources this trail is still known mostly by its old name of North Central Trail (NCR).  The trail follows the old train line of the Northern Central Rail railroad.  The line went from Baltimore to Sunbury Pennsylvania above Harrisburg.  

    The crushed limestone trail begins in Cockeysville up to the Pennsylvania stateline.  While Hurricane Agnes brought devastation to our area it also brought an end to this rail line and gave us this beautiful bike route.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Wine in the Garden


    We are all familiar with Wine in Woods in Symphony Woods but today I wanted to highlight a wine event tomorrow Thursday May 28th from 5-8 pm that supports the Howard County Conservancy.   Their event is called Wine in the Garden and Beer in the Barn.  Information on this event from their website:

    "Stroll through the garden tasting fine wine and craft beer, sample food from local restaurants/caterers, listen to bluegrass music and browse our large silent auction filled with unique items such as artwork, getaways and more. This event will move inside in the event of inclement weather. Check out a preview of some highlighted auction items here!
      Event proceeds benefit the Conservancy's environmental education and preservation programs held throughout the year.
     TICKETS: $55/person. Tickets can be purchased at the door as well for $55/person. "

 Go to their website to purchase tickets.

    Ned Tillman recently posted information on some signs he saw in Portland Maine that pointed out the actions we take have environmental consequences.  I agree with his suggestion that signs like these around our lakes might make people think about their actions.


Howard County senior citizen meets the President

Photo Baltimore Sun
Vivian Bailey is well know to many in Howard County for her work at Running Brook Elementary School and her activities in promoting civil rights in Howard County.  I got to know this remarkable woman through our senior centers.  She had her wish granted yesterday meeting the President at the White House.


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Sweetlife Festival at Merriweather Post Pavilion this weekend


   Merriweather Post Pavilion hosts something different this weekend.  The Sweetlife Festival is produced by SweetGreen an organic, locally sourced fast food business that started in 2007.  They have started hosting these festivals that bring together music and vendors that follow the message of organic, locally grown food.  Columbia and Howard County seem like the ideal location for this type of event.  Buy one day tickets here. Weekend tickets here. Here is a list of the vendors at the event:

Music performers are:



Saturday, May 23, 2015

Good non fiction reads for Summer 2015


     With the warmer weather reading on the deck is one of life's Summer pleasures.  I admit that I can't remember the last time I read a fiction book (OK it was Gone Girl).    I love non fiction books that relate to current events and historical themes, especially American history.  I have spent some time reading some good non fiction books that would be great reads for the summer (i,e beach time).  Here are some to browse, to buy or put on reserve at the HoCo Library.
     1)  David Brooks, NY Times columnist, has written another interesting book called "The Road to Character."  Brooks is my favorite columnist and even though he has a more conservative view of events I find his analysis more on target than any other political columnist.   Another of his books worth reading is "The Social Animal."
      2)  "Buck: A Memoir" Tells a story of growing up in the inner city and how it traps many young men in a circle of violence and drugs.  To understand what happened in Baltimore you should read this story.
       3) "The Rush: America's Fevered Quest for Fortune" tells the story of the people who got caught up in the gold rush to California in the 1840's and 50's.  The trip to the gold fields was an amazing struggle that is often lost in understanding how this event played out.
      4)  "Devil in the Grove"  tells the story of Thurgood Marshall and the NAACP's struggle to bring justice for lynching victims in the South in the early and middle part of the 20th Century.    
       5)   " The Brothers" tells the story of the Tsarnev brothers and how they became radicalized and what led them to bomb the Boston Marathon.
        6)  Finally a fun read is had in "What If" which tries to answer some strange hypothetical questions with scientific facts that make you think and smile.  Definitely a book for those with a curious mind!

     I hope one of these books sparks your interest as a read this summer.

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Thoughtful piece on the issues facing inner city youth

     For most non inner city residents watching the disturbances in Baltimore recently it is hard to know how to respond to violence.   Police actions, poverty, vandalism and youth anger are easy to see but hard to really understand.  Context is harder when most our our environments and experiences are so different.  I recently read a New York Times article that provided some much needed context to understand what happened in Baltimore and other cities in our country.  Here is the link to that article.

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Mad Men farewell

Image result for mad men logo falling

      I am sure that today's blog will not resonate with anyone under the age of 50.  With the last episode of Mad Men this past weekend we have an end to reliving the events of the 1960's through the eyes of New York advertising executives.  While we may not have been able to relate to the advertising business we could relate to how the world was changing from the world our parents knew.  They had experienced the Depression and World War II and they events defined their generation.  For that generation having a job that gave you a secure financial future and allowed you to buy a house and raise a family was enough to satisfy them.  We baby boomers came along and knew little financial hardship. We decided that life should be more than just working to make a living.  We wanted a life that was meaningful on a personal and societal level in a very different way than our parents.  We were defined by what happened in the 1960's.  We watched in disbelief as civil rights marchers were brutalized, remember the national mourning with JFK's assassination and were thrilled with the space program and the landing on the moon.  
      Our idealism was developed out of the civil rights, woman's rights and anti war movements.  Injustice needed to be addressed.  Poverty shouldn't exist in our wealthy country.  Sending young men off to die in a war was insanity.  While many of our generation eventually followed career paths that paralleled our parents some of us followed a different path.
     One of the most interesting parts of the show was the changing roles of the women characters.  No matter how bright they were the men in the show had trouble accepting them as equals.  When I grew up girls didn't participate in sports except in the band and as cheerleaders.  Girls, no matter how smart, were channeled in "commercial" tracks that led to clerical jobs.  That was just the way the world worked in the 1960's.   Even though we hear politicians talking about wanting to take the country back to the way it was when they grew up many of us know how our country is better today, not worse, because of what happened in the 1960's.
     I loved the way the show ended with the Coke song from 1971 and the Paul Anka song that is one of my favorites. 

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

History of Ellicott City in water and stone

   This past weekend I took a tour of Ellicott City sponsored by Baltimore Heritage and led by Ned Tillman.  I have read some on the history of Ellicott City and the importance of the town with the flour mill that the Ellicott brothers set up on the Patapsco River in Oella.  While not the original mill there is still a flour mill on the site to this day and shown below.

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   So why was Ellicott City the location of the mill?  It has to do with the fall line for water running into the Chesapeake Bay.  Ships coming up the Bay and the Patapsco could only come this far before running into the rapids on the Patapsco.  In the early history of Maryland, beginning in the 1630's, tobacco was grown in the coastal tidewater area of the Eastern Shore.  As the land was stripped of the nutrients to grow tobacco the farmers began to move to the Western Shore of the Bay to grow the tobacco.  The Ellicott brothers moved here from the Philadelphia area to build a flour mill and to convince the local farmers to switch from growing tobacco to wheat.  The Carroll family was one of the most instrumental family farms to make this switch.
     In addition to the water being a means of transportation it also provided the energy needed to mill the wheat using water power.  Water power was what industry used before electricity.
     Most of use realize how the two streams, Tiber and Hudson, run under Ellicott City businesses and flow into the Patapsco at Ellicott City.  The views of these streams are below.

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    With the frequent flooding of the Patapsco River Ellicott City has had to survive some major floods.  The high water marks of some of the floods are shown on the railroad post below.

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    The other natural resource that has impacted the development of Ellicott City is granite.  As seen below granite is abundant thought Ellicott City.

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   This granite was used in many of the early buildings in Ellicott City and shipped around the East Coast by the railroads that moved through the area.

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The picture below shows an example of an early log cabin built in the area and a granite house that replaced the wood structures.

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Monday, May 18, 2015

Making our Columbia open spaces more environmentally sustainable and attractive

     Having just spent almost 2 house listening to CA mow, trim and blow the open space behind my house the thought occurred to me that like the State Highway Administration and BG&E maybe the Columbia Association might consider turning some of our open spaces into meadows that might be useful for environmental and wildlife diversity.
       This is how BG&E changed their mowing area under power lines into a wildlife habitat.  I watch all types of wildlife in this area near Lake Elkhorn.

    State highway administrations have been planting wild flowers in medians that are hard areas to mow.

    I have always thought that the area around Jackson Pond would make a nice area for wild life and need less mowing.

   This area around Lake Elkhorn would be a nice meadow with wild flowers.


Saturday, May 16, 2015

Busiest weekend of the year

     When you look at planning an event in the May, the most popular month for events, you have to work around Mother's Day and Memorial Day and high school graduations.  That usually means only one weekend for this good weather month---the third weekend in May.   This means that our community will be hopping this weekend.  I call it "premier weekend." To start we will be hosting one of the premier triathlons in the country with the Columbia Triathlon starting at Centennial Lake this Sunday.  Look for traffic issues on Route 108.


 Recreation and Park's premier event, Wine in the Woods, is happening this weekend in Symphony Woods in Columbia.  I once met someone in San Francisco and when I said I was from Columbia they quickly said they knew where that was as they had once come to this event when they were visiting the area.

    Venturing a little farther away to Baltimore's premier event today is the 140th running of the Preakness.  It seems like they are always talking about how this race is in danger of moving from Pimlico  and this year there was some mention of this race being moved to the Laurel Race Course.  Baltimore needs some positive press this year.
     The only event I will be attending this weekend is Ned Tillman's walk in Ellicott City that will talk about the history of Ellicott City from a environmental and social history perspective.


Friday, May 15, 2015

Bike to work day today

   In Columbia the event starts at the Whole Foods store from 7-9 am.  By the time you are reading this the event maybe over so I thought I would post a link on why you should bike to work.  Here is the link.
    Good news for bikers in Howard County is that there is a bike plan being developed that will make biking to work easier.  Here is the link to that report.


Thursday, May 14, 2015

Redeveloping the Long Reach Village Center

      Last Thursday evening the first scheduled public meeting was held to get public comment on the redevelopment of the County owned Long Reach Village Center.   If you were unable to attend you can hear the presentation at this link.  Additional public meetings will be held on May 28, June 11 and September 17. Each meeting will be from 7 to 9 p.m. at Stonehouse and will allow time for presentations as well as comments and questions from those attending.
      What made the Village Centers relevant in the earlier days of Columbia may no longer be relevant with the changes in our retail choices today.  The village centers all came out of a "cookie cutter" model.   A grocery store, gas station, pizza shop, drug store and dry cleaner were the common retailers of the centers.  The grocery store anchor model may no longer work in some villages.  This is particularly true in Long Reach with Wegmans, BJ's and Costco all located close by.  Whole Foods also is just a couple of miles away.
      A variety of issues were raised in the public comment session.  The one that has changed the usage of the village center is the issue of safety.   The seemly regular robberies of the Exxon Gas Station in the Village Center is hurting the image and usage of the Center.   On a personal note I recognize that I have not visited the Center in a long time since my dentist moved to a different location and the Howard County library closed their branch in the Village Center many years ago.  
      Much of the presentation was directed at how to revitalize the Center with new retail establishments.   One logical direction might be to identify arts and crafts retailers to complement the Columbia Arts Center in the Stonehouse.   With the County owning the village center the development of the village center for community services should be looked at.  Even though the Family Market was not successful the idea of a center with an ethnic flavor in retailers and services (i.e Foreign Information and Referral Network, FIRN) might be a different way to utilize the center.  I would imagine that the County would like to turn the center back over to the private sector and get out of the ownership of the center but maybe the center offers an opportunity to serve a public need instead of a retail need which may no longer be needed.

    The Village Center issue is one that I have blogged on before a number of times.  To see those blogs I have some links.
Blog 2014

Blog 2013

Blog 2011


Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Cycle 2 Health launches its 3rd year this Thurday

   Once again it is the start of the biking season for seniors with the Cycle2Health program sponsored by the Howard County Office on Aging.  

     Thursday's kickoff will occur at the East Columbia Library and a short moderate ride will follow a brief session of introductions and bike safety checks.

     The program has grown each year and follows a weekly (Thursday) rides around the County and on some of the trails in the Washington/Baltimore area.

 Some rides on the roads 

And some on the bike trails


    With the biking season in full swing it is time to remind everyone using our path system to bike that walkers and runners are endangered when you pass them from the rear and don't indicate your presence.   Give them plenty of time to move out of your way.  And slow down when passing people on foot.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tour Ellicott City's social and geological history


       Next Sunday May 17th from 2-4 pm the non profit Patapsco Heritage Greenway is sponsoring a tour of Ellicott City that combines a social history tour with 450 million years of environmental history.

Learn how the development of Ellicott City was based on our area's geology.   Here is the information on the tour and a signup:

   " In 1771 four Quakers from Pennsylvania arrived in the Patapsco Valley to take advantage of the area’s steep slopes and fast running river (and cheap land, for it was poor for farming). The Ellicott brothers established a flour mill here and soon other mills, businesses and settlements followed. John Slater, president of the nonprofit group Patapsco Heritage Greenway which is partnering with us on this tour, has called Ellicott City and its surrounds “the Silicon Valley of the 1700s and 1800s” as it sparkled with innovation brought on by bright engineers improving their milling operations.

    For our tour, we will journey through 450 million years of environmental and social history in two hours to discover why geological and geographic features of the Patapsco Valley caught the eye of the Ellicott Brothers, the B&O Railroad, and others. Our tour guide is Mr. Ned Tillman, a local naturalist and author of Saving the Places we Love: Paths to Environmental Stewardship – available for purchase when you register for the tour!

    You can expect include hills but also plenty of rest breaks. With thanks to the Howard County Office of Tourism and Promotion, we will start and end the walk at the Welcome Center, with parking and a bathroom, on Main Street in Ellicott City."

   Sign up for the tour here.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Community Action's "Prepare for Success"


      Even as students are wrapping up this school year the Community Action Council is launching its "Prepare for Success" drive to provide backpacks and supplies for over 2,000 Howard County students for the upcoming year.  Each $25 donation supplies one student with a backpack and supplies.
    It is easy to donate by sending a check to:
     Community Action Council/PFS
      6751 Columbia Gateway Drive
      Columbia, Maryland 21046



Friday, May 8, 2015

Lemon ricotta cheescake

   Earlier this year I posted a blog on a lemon ricotta cheese cake.  It has become a family favorite and I have been reworking the recipe some since the earlier post.  If you are looking for a special dessert for Mothers Day this weekend try this and you will not be disappointed.  It will be a hit.

32 container whole-milk ricotta cheese
1 cup white sugar
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
6 eggs
1 cup lemon curd
Juice from one lemon
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/8 teaspoon salt

        I have been using the graham cracker crust tins that you can buy in any grocery store.  The recipe fills two of the smaller crusts or 1 larger one with some extra left over.  I put the extra in a muffin tin and bake with the pie.
       In a large mixing bowl, stir ricotta with a rubber spatula until it reaches an extremely smooth consistency. Add the sugar and flour into the ricotta, mixing thoroughly.
      Stir in the eggs 1 at a time. Next add in the vanilla, lemon curd, and salt. Mix well. Pour batter into crust.
       Bake in the center of the oven for about 75 to 90 minutes at 300° F, until the cake is a light golden color. When it's ready, the center should be fairly firm, and the point of a sharp knife inserted in the center will come out clean.
      Cool cake. Cover and chill till serving time.  The cake will firm up as it cools.