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Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Want to buy a brick for the 50th birthday celebration?


     It has been awhile since you had a chance to buy a brick next to the People Tree at the Lake Kittamquandi lakefront.  I know that I look for my family brick every time I am around the People Tree.  For the 50th anniversary of Columbia next year you can get another chance. Here is the information from the Columbia Association.

"Celebrate Columbia’s 50th Birthday with a special personalized brick at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront

Columbia Association (CA) is offering its Buy-a-Brick program for the first time in five years, this time with special bricks in honor of Columbia’s 50th Birthday celebration taking place in 2017.

A section of the plaza at the Downtown Columbia Lakefront will be reserved for bricks placed around a large paver reading “Columbia Maryland 50.” There is also an option to purchase bricks for placement in other areas of the plaza.

The opportunity to purchase a brick will continue through Feb. 24, 2017. Bricks are $100 for placement in the 50th Birthday section and $75 for placement in other areas of the plaza. Bricks can have up to three lines of text, with 15 characters per line; spaces between words count as a character. CA cannot guarantee that those purchasing multiple bricks will have them placed next to each other.

Bricks may be purchased online at or by downloading the form and bringing it with payment to CA’s Customer and Member Service Center, 6310 Hillside Court, located off Stevens Forest Road near the county vehicle emissions inspection station. The form and payment may also be mailed to Columbia Association, C&M Brick Program, 6310 Hillside Court, Columbia, MD 21046.

Certificates are available to download and present as a gift to others.

For additional information, please contact Christina Pierre at 410-423-4102 or "


Saturday, November 26, 2016

Howard County Executive Director of Housing Commission Tom Carbo died

   I was saddened to hear of the death of Tom Carbo in a Facebook post by County Exec Kittleman.  Tom has a long history of work in Howard County Government.  I got to know Tom when he worked in the Howard County Law Office.  I was working in the Office on Aging when we needed to develop a contract for workers in our Office that didn't violate Federal Labor laws.  Tom developed the workable contract that allowed us to operate a number of programs with contractual workers.  The contract he developed even became known in the County as the "Carbo contract."  Here is the info posted by the County Exec:
     "Tonight, Howard County is mourning the death of Thomas P. Carbo, the Executive Director of the Howard County Housing Commission. Tom succumbed to a heart attack early this morning. He was 57.
     Tom was a passionate advocate and champion who worked tirelessly to create and expand affordable housing programs in Howard County. Under his leadership, the Housing Commission made considerable strides, developing model communities such as Monarch Mills and Burgess Mill Station, doubling home ownership during the last eight years, expanding education programs and opportunities to new homebuyers and those seeking financial literacy and awarding affordable rental and ownership opportunities to those in need. Most recently, Tom led the effort to create a comprehensive affordable housing program for Downtown Columbia that would serve a broader range of incomes.

    Tom joined Howard County Government as an Assistant County Solicitor in the Office of Law in 1989. He also served as Senior Assistant County Solicitor and Labor Relations Coordinator before being named Deputy Director of the County Department of Housing and Community Development in 2006. Six years later, Tom was appointed Director of the Department and also became the Executive Director of the Housing Commission. In addition to his work in Howard County, Tom also served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Maryland.
      A Magna Cum Laude graduate of the University of Maryland, Baltimore County where he studied political science, Tom received his J.D. from University of Maryland School of Law.
      Tonight, I extend my deepest sympathy and prayers to Tom’s wife Jeannie, and his three children Jaime, Kristen and Daniel. During this difficult time, I hope they will find some comfort in knowing that Tom lived a life dedicated to improving the quality of life for others. He was a visionary whose work led to a new era of innovative and affordable housing opportunities that enriched our community. Tom will be greatly missed."

Friday, November 25, 2016

Chestnuts on a roasting fire

     Who hasn't heard the Nat King Cole sing "The Christmas Song" and hear about roasting chestnuts on an open fire and not wondered what they taste like.  Chestnuts are now in the supermarkets for the holiday season.  I am not much of a nut lover but the smell and sweet taste of chestnuts are an exception.  I remember going to the Mummers Parade on New Years Day in Philadelphia and the smell of roasting chestnuts was on every street corner.  Give these nuts a try this year.  Here is how to roast them.

    Take a serrated knife and slit the chestnuts down to about half way to open up the nut.

 Simmer in a pot of salted water for about 5 minutes and then roast in the oven at 425 degrees for about 15 minutes.  Above picture shows how they open after roasting.  Cool and peal off the outer shell careful to try and keep the nuts whole.  Some nuts shell easier than others.

    Here is what the roasted nuts look like.  Try chopping them up and add to stuffing or sauteing with onions and brussel sprouts.   I also found this recipe for chestnut cream that sounds like a wonderful filling for crepes.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

How to stuff a turkey according to the "Three Stooges"


      Maybe it is time for a little lighthearted remembrance this Thanksgiving from a simpler time.  Growing up, a long time ago, you always had a short Three Stooges film in our Saturday Matinee movies.  Not bad for only having to spend 20 cents for the afternoon at the movies.  Here is the Three Stooges take on how to make a Thanksgiving dinner.

Friday, November 18, 2016

A 2016 headshaking story


     OK so for many of us 2016 has not ended well (and we still have 6 weeks to go) but some recent stories in the Columbia Patch have caught my attention in a way that leaves me shaking my head.  If you haven't heard in the past 7 days three people have been arrested at our airport, BWI, for trying to board a plane with a loaded handgun.   Think about that.  With the history of the TSA I wonder how many other loaded handguns have gotten through the screenings?  Each of the people arrested claimed to not realize that they had a loaded handgun in their carry on bag.  Two things come to mind.  One you are lying because you really, really thought you could get away with carrying a loaded handgun onto a plane or two you carry your loaded handgun everywhere and don't even think about when you may have to remove it.  I carry a pocket knife everyday as it is a useful tool with a knife, a screwdriver and a fingernail clipper.  With the metal detectors in a number of places when I get dressed in morning I think about the need to not carry it some days.  If I do this with my small, multi-functional pocket knife I have concerns about some of our fellow citizens so obvious to their carrying a loaded weapon around that they forget they have it going through airport security.
    For those of you who didn't read the Patch on the story here it is:

"For the third time in five days, a passenger with a loaded handgun was arrested at the security checkpoint at Baltimore Washington International Airport, federal authorities say. Men from Baltimore County and Delaware were arrested in separate incidents previously.

In the most recent case, a woman from Smyrna, Delaware, was charged after Transportation Security Administration officers detected a gun inside her large handbag as she entered a checkpoint. Police confiscated a loaded 9 mm semi-automatic handgun and arrested the woman on state weapons charges. The gun was loaded with six bullets, including one in the chamber.

According to the TSA, the woman said she had just cleaned out her handbag, but did not notice that the gun was hidden inside when she headed to the airport and she did not know she was carrying the weapon. She was ticketed to fly to Columbus, Ohio.

On Thursday, Nov. 10, police arrested a Gwynn Oak, Maryland, man who was carrying a loaded .38 caliber handgun loaded with five bullets when TSA officers caught him with the weapon at one of the airport checkpoints. The man told officers he did not know that he had a gun in his carry-on bag and said the weapon did not belong to him. He was ticketed to fly to Las Vegas.

In the second incident, police arrested a Millsboro, Delaware, man on Sunday, Nov. 13. He was carrying a loaded .22 caliber handgun loaded with six rounds when TSA officers stopped him. The man, who had a ticket to fly to Toronto, Canada, told authorities he forgot that he had a gun with him."

     My own belief is that the arrested people thought they could really get through security.

P.S. 1
    This story also made remember my experience playing golf this year with a cousin of mine.  As we were looking for one of my errant golf balls we saw another golfer hitting a ball near where  mine had landed.  During the discussion of what to do to golfers who mistakenly hit your golf ball my cousin jokingly said "Don't worry I have my handgun in my golf bag."  I thought he was joking but no he really did had a handgun in his golf bag!  He has multiple handguns and usually carries one with him wherever he goes.  Now when I see him again (not very often) I will ask him if he would ever try to get though airport security with one of his handguns. 

Thursday, November 17, 2016

LGBT 50+ Group and the Bain 50+ Center to host Gina DeSimone and the Moaners swing band

      A Holiday Meet & Greet sponsored by the Bain 50+ Center, the LGBT Older Adults Task Force of Howard County and the LGBT 50+ Group will be held at the Bain 50+ Center on Thursday, December 1st from 6:00 to 8:30 pm. LGBT folks age 18+, family, friends and allies are welcome. There will be refreshments and live music and great dancing with Gina DeSimone and the Moaners band. According to their website:

"Gina DeSimone & The Moaners are a DC-based blues and swing foursome that are sure to liven up any event with an eclectic mix of music from all eras! Since 2007, The Moaners have made their mark on the DC music scene with unrelentingly danceable tunes and fun-loving humor. The group's musically diverse backgrounds come together to deliver a night of enthusiastic fun, foot tappin' rhythm, and killer harmonies. "

  The Event is being sponsored by the Bain 50+ Center, the LGBT Older Adults Task Force of Howard County and the LGBT 50+ Group. LGBT folks age 18+, family, friends and allies are welcome.

    Very important that those who plan to come RSVP by November 28th at 410-313-7213.

    Check out this You Tube video of the group.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Foreign-born Information and Referral Network looking for support for families at Thanksgiving


   Unfortunately the immigration issue has become a divisive political issue.  Our Country's image of being a welcoming place has been corroded by the fear of terrorism.  At this Thanksgiving time especially it is important to remember that immigrants are a valuable ingredient in making our Country rich and diverse.  The desire of others from around the globe wanting to come here to better their lives and the lives of their families should be a source of pride for all of us.  In that spirit you can sponsor an immigrant family in Howard County through the FIRN organization.  Here is the information they sent me:

"FIRN (Foreign-born Information and Referral Network) is looking for individuals and organizations to help support families in need this Thanksgiving and holiday season. (See flyer attached)

Almost 100 families in Howard County apply for this program and we need your help! A simple gift can really make a difference."

Contact information:
Kristin Lilly


Tuesday, November 15, 2016

A walk around Oakland Mills

     Last week a group of Columbia residents participated in the last of the village walks done by Ned Tillman in conjunction with the Columbia Association.  

   It is surprising what is hidden in our neighborhoods.  I had no idea that a family cemetery of 6 graves of the George Cooke family from the 1850's was neatly hidden behind the Village Center.

   We walked along some of the new path that connects Blandair Park and the Howard County General Hospital.  The map above shows the route of the new path and the symbol below is a symbol shown along the route.

   As our community has developed some of the barriers to capture storm runoff have been removed. As shown below homeowners may not realize the damage they do when they mow their lawns right down to a stream.  The streams pay the price for this homeowner wanting to expand their lawn with the stream bank erosion shown below.

      One positive action to control this storm runoff is the building of rain gardens like the one shown above at the Meeting House Interfaith Center in Oakland Mills.  This one was built by young people who were paid by a grant.  The sign below describes the Clean Howard program that is building the rain gardens.

What we have in Columbia is a mixture of old and new trees planted around the time of Columbia's development.  The picture below shows the older taller Black Gum tree surrounded by newer trees.

   This time of the year the large yellow leaves of the Paw Paw tree clearly stands out as show above.

   We may not realize it but beneath the ground in our area is granite.  Occasionally like shown above and below the soil is washed away with erosion and this granite can be seen.


   Look for more information about next year's walks that will be advertised by the Columbia Association.


Thursday, November 10, 2016

It's United Way Harvest of Plenty time again

    Every year the United Way provides over 300 Thanksgiving dinners to low income families in Howard County.  The families are identified by agencies and organizations that serve low income families in our community.  I would encourage everyone to make a donation to this effort as I have.  Every $25 donation provides Thanksgiving dinner to one family.  I know I feel more thankful when I sit down to our Thanksgiving dinner that my donation has meant that one more family in Howard County is having the same experience.  If you belong to a community group or religious organization that wants to take this program on as part of their community giving we can make sure that no family in our County goes without Thanksgiving dinner.

     Here is the link to donate.


Radio silence

    After twice in the last 16 years seeing a Presidential election go to the candidate with fewer votes many of us need some time to go through Kubler-Ross' stages of grief. I know for myself I am already at step 2 (Google it).  I am remembering what many of our mothers told us growing up.  "If you don't have anything nice to say don't say anything."  Sometimes Mom was right.

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Main Street Ellicott City recovery

    While you still see the damage from the flood on Main Street, like shown above and below, more merchants are beginning to return.

    The merchants below Old Columbia Pike will be the slowest to return.  Many stores are still boarded up.

   The farther up the street you can see most merchants are beginning to open.

   This weekend I went back to see a couple of merchants that I had highlighted in blogs earlier this year.  Main Street Oriental Rugs shown above had a grand re-opening on Saturday with food outside the store.

   The flood waters came in the back of the store and did damage rugs in the store.  Some were lost and some were restored. 

    A similar story for the Horse Spirit Gallery farther down the street.

   Owner Robin Holliday, shown above, said that the store had over 50 inches of water in the store during the flood.  Some items were lost but most were salvaged.
    Over the next few months and maybe years we will see how the plans for a renewed Main Street play out.  Right now the picture is unsettled.

     Live from Susan B. Anthony's grave today.


Monday, November 7, 2016

A look at the newly renovated Central Library

     The Central Library reopened this past Saturday and the newly renovated library is beautiful.

      With its light wood and colorful carpeting the library makes for an inviting place to visit.

      The new Children's area with its stuffed animals is a great place to bring children.

    Upstairs has a much more open feel and has some new meeting spaces.

    Soon the East Columbia Library will be closing for its new renovations too.  Reopening for East Columbia after its renovation will be about 6 months.


Saturday, November 5, 2016

Rock Creek Bike

     For anyone who wants to see Rock Creek in DC at its most beautiful this weekend should provide that opportunity.  The Fall foliage should be at its peak this weekend.  The picture above is from last weekend.

   Weekends provide a time to ride on Beach Drive without cars.

     Unfortunately the resurfacing of Beach Drive will cause some areas to be closed off to bikers.  However those sections can still be traversed on the bike trails that parallel the road.

   We will all look forward to a newly resurfaced road in about 18 months but the bike ride is still worth the effort to travel to DC for the ride this weekend as the weather looks good for a Fall ride.
    I park at the Meadowbrook Local Park just off of East West Highway in Chevy Chase to do this ride.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Central Library reopens tomorrow


      There will be an open house tomorrow Saturday November 5th from 10 am to 5 pm at the Central Library.  The East Columbia branch will close for renovations in about a week.  Read about the new Central Branch.


Thursday, November 3, 2016

Oriental rug business to reopen on Main Street Ellicott City

   Six months ago I did a couple of blogs about some merchants on Main Street in Ellicott City.  Little did I know that a flood a few months later would destroy many of the merchants along this street.  I am happy to report that one of these merchants that I highlighted is reopening this Saturday.  Here is the information about the reopening of the Main Street Oriental Rugs store.

    Grand Reopening on Novenber 5th from 12 pm to 6 pm.  

      They will have will have food, giveaways, discounts on our area rug inventory, and more. Come by and celebrate this reopening as Main Street starts its recovery.


Tuesday, November 1, 2016

Low flying planes over Howard County

     Having BWI airport so close to Howard County is a blessing and a curse.  I love the fact that I can be at the airport in 15 to 20 minutes.  This is a luxury when you think what it is like trying to get to O'Hare airport in Chicago or LAX in Los Angeles.   The downside can be the air traffic that goes over your house at all times of the day and night.  When we have visitors to our home they often ask us if the airplane noise bothers us.  For most of us this noise is just background noise that we have learned to tune out.
     Recently the changes in flight patterns to save airlines fuel has brought planes lower than usual over our area.  Running in the morning I have noticed the low flying planes from about 6 am to 6:30 am.  Often it seems that the planes are only 1000 ft above me.  A new program called NextGen has recently been implemented that maybe the reason for these low flying planes.  As explained on their website,
   "Collaborative industry teams have created new waypoints in the sky that lead to smooth arrivals and departures from major urban centers. Instead of approaching a city by repeatedly descending and leveling off the aircraft, new satellite arrival allows the aircraft to pull back the throttle and descend at near idle burning a fraction of the fuel and significantly reducing CO2 emissions."

    Think we have a problem?  Check out this!