Jul 30 2009

Make Rt. 32 Safe


Tonight, Roger persuaded me to attend the community  meeting to voice our concerns about safety on Rt. 32 from Rt. 70 to the Carroll County line.  All of us have trouble entering and exiting the neighborhood, sometimes waiting 6 – 8 minutes at the entrance before pulling out onto the busy highway.  We encourage our young drivers to take River Road to Sykesville to avoid pulling out onto the highway.  C.J. and I stopped riding our bikes on Rt. 32 because of the dangers.  Most of all, every neighbor or friend has a near-miss or accident story to tell.

Roger and I took our neighbor, Leo, to the meeting.  There were 200+ community members, and the entire event was civil and well-organized.  I was impressed by the statements made by our neighbors, the politicians, police and county and state officials.  Roger had urged me to bring C.J., and I was sorry that I did not require his attendance. 

Howard Blackman, a community resident, has put together a website, http://www.makeroute32safe.com/index.html.  Please help by communicating to our county and state officials, urging them to support increased safety measures.  You can contact county executive Ken Ulman and other officials using the information supplied at Blackman’s website.

When traveling on Rt. 32, use your headlights and travel the posted speed limit:  50 mph.  Take your time, and be aware of other drivers around you.  Tonight we learned that our section of Rt. 32 carries 24,000 vehicles a day.  The volume on the road makes for impatience.   One speaker said it best.  We’re angry and frustrated, but we’re also very scared every time we travel on this road.  Cindy Haller, our neighbor, reminded all of us that children have their bus stops on Rt. 32.  Rt. 32 is the major road in our “neighborhood.”  It’s not just a highway from Westminster to Columia.

Jul 30 2009

Squash Ducks


Natalie noticed this interesting visual when we were getting the bushel of squash ready to freeze.  Quack!


Jul 29 2009

Garden Bounty: Squash Gone Wild


Things got a little out of hand while we were at the beach.  Yes, that is a laundry basket…

Squash, Etc.

Jul 28 2009

Treestand Photos


Here are some views of the treestand discussed in the previous post.

Jul 27 2009

Teachers and Obesity


My son called me today to tell me he heard a story on the radio about a politician who proposed that teachers must be a healthy weight in order to be better role models for children.  Even though it was a passing remark, I found myself thinking about obesity and teaching for the rest of the day.

I did a web search and found what I think was the source of the story. State Rep. Rida Cabanilla introduced a resolution in the house requesting that the Board of Education establish an obesity database among public schoolteachers. This was in March 2005.  Of course, many who responded were offended by Cabanilla’s proposal.

Still, it got me thinking.  I think that many teachers applaud the move to healthy snacks instead of sodas in the snack machines for students; however, I don’t think that the teachers would be willing to give up the sugary snacks in the teachers’ lounge.  Don’t take away my access to sodas and candy bars!

On one hand, size discrimination is still accepted by our society—look at all of the movies and television shows where the fat characters are taunted, or they make fun of themselves:  Rosanne,  Homer Simpson, and  Gwenyth Paltrow’s character in Shallow Hal.  I see this proposal as another way to marginalize those who struggle with their weight. 

On the other hand, the headlines today reported that the cost of obesity carries a hefty price tag.  (http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Healthday/story?id=8184975&page=1) It’s easy to condemn others for our health care costs and difficult to apply the same standards to ourselves.

Where do teachers begin?  We started a Weight Watchers group at our school last year.  We organized a similar group about five years before that.  It was expensive and difficult for teachers to meet after school because of other obligations, advising, tutoring, and coaching.  Inevitably, the early enthusiasm wilted, and the group disbanded.

What’s the answer?  How can we teachers change our habits and lead children to change theirs?

Jul 26 2009

Review & Thoughts: Hunting From Home


I just this minute finished Hunting from Home/A Year Afield in the Blue Ridge Mountains, which Natalie picked up for me for $4 at the Green Valley Book Fair, itself in the Blue Ridge near James Madison University.  I’ve been nursing my way through it these four days at the beach, wanting to stretch it out, not wanting it to end.  I’m inclined to send Christopher Camuto, its author, the $20 difference between the cover price and what Natalie paid, but realistically, I’ll probably buy another of his books instead.

This book is a year of intense observation, basecamped around the 200-acre Highland Farm in the southern Blue Ridge.  Camuto is intimidatingly learned and apparently, natively intelligent.  His writing, from my view, is full of profound thoughts and observations beautifully, and frequently poetically, captured.  I have to admit my bias to his subject matter, though.  Woods and birds and trout and deer, stars and seasons, time and mortality — well, I suppose in a sense he covers everything.  My one complaint is that the title is somewhat misleading.  It starts with grouse hunting, but then spends a long stretch on trout fishing, and on birds, before moving to trees, back to grouse hunting, and then the welcome climax of hunting deer with longbow and muzzleloader.  I’m no fisherman, but I enjoyed those parts very much, and I am not and doubt I ever will be a birder; I complained a bit about the detail there, but still it was enjoyable reading.

This was one of those books that makes me wonder why I would ever try to write generic cialis online best price.  A bit of the feeling I get from reading Faulkner.  Better than I think I’d ever be able to achieve.  (Take the compliment please, Mr. Camuto, but you know as well as I — Faulkner, that’s a stretch.  But it’s the same idea.)

Had I not met the love of my life, I would be easily seduced by the solitary life Camuto describes.  Just him and his bird dog, Patches, a cabin and a woodstove, 200 acres to learn and love, hunting, doing the work of living, writing…(sigh).  Natalie thinks we could work it out.

Hunting from Home
A Year Afield in the Blue Ridge Mountains

by Christopher Camuto
W.W. Norton and Company
Buy it on Amazon

Footnote:  Just googled Camuto and found that he’s on the faculty of Bucknell University now, the school that was at the top of my daughter’s list, but she didn’t make it in. :-(

Jul 26 2009

Too Much Zucchini? Never!


At this time of year, the zucchini in our garden are mass-producing under their elephant-sized leaves.  Shirley gave us a recipe that requires a mandolin, a new kitchen accessory to me.  Roger and I found ourselves at the outlet mall comparing five or six different kinds of mandolins so that we can make the perfect julienned zucchini.

Even our picky young adults had extra servings of the recipe.  Mariel Hemingway describes it as a family favorite in the latest issue of AARP.

Zucchini Linguini with Chicken

(featured in AARP July & August 2009)

Serves 4


2 tablespoons coconut or olive oil

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into ½-inch pieces

Sea salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 tablespoon minced shallot

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ cup fat-free chicken broth, vegetable broth, or water

3 green zucchini, julienned

3 yellow zucchini, julienned

¼ cup julienne fresh basil

2 ½ ounces goat cheese, crumbled


1.      Heat the oil in a large sauté pan over medium heat.  Season the chicken with salt and pepper and sauté until cooked, then transfer to a bowl and set aside.  Drain all but 1 tablespoon of oil from pan.


2.      Add the butter and shallot to the pan and sauté until soft, then add the garlic and sauté until fragrant.  Add the chicken broth and zucchini and sauté for 3 to 4 minutes more, or just until soft.  Remove from heat.


3.      Return the chicken to the pan, add the basil, and stir to combine.  Divide among four plates and top with goat cheese.  Serve immediately.


Nutrients preserving:  261 calories, 25g protein, 7g carbohydrates, 2g fiber, 15g fat (7g saturated fat), 74mg cholesterol, 440mg sodium

Jul 26 2009

Clouds And Treestands


The clouds skirting the Catoctin Mountains were magnificent as we drove east across the Piedmont Plateau on our way back from Pennsylvania — flat bottoms and billowing tops, sliding from south to north in an endless parade of shapes. It certainly got me thinking about how seldom we (I) stop to observe clouds, and trees, and grass, and all of the other incredible bounty of nature.  As a people, we Americans have created a bastard existence for ourselves, focusing only on people and people-created things (and mostly, on what other people think about the people-created things we’ve accumulated, spending our time keeping score instead of looking at clouds).  I myself quickly lose track of the phase of the moon or the few constellations I know, or the hour of sunrise or set, and scold myself constantly for it.

We had spent the weekend treestand-building on my sister’s farm.  The stand we know as “Little Dom’s Stand,” because it is and has been his spot, has been dangerously out of repair for several years now. Dom III hunts out of it the first couple days of rifle season every year.  He doesn’t hunt with a bow, so I often use it on my all-too-infrequent bowhunting trips to Italia Farms, and usually for a day or two of rifle season after Dom III heads back home to the Eastern Shore.  It is easily the most productive stand on the farm.  I shot my first deer with a bow from it, a doe, and my first buck with a bow as well, and a number of others.  But it had been hastily repaired with a few more nails a few too many times, and was beyond any attempt to patch it.

So big Dom, little Dom, and I loaded up and made a caravan down to the spot at the edge of the oat field — Dom III driving his truck pulling a trailer with our stack of lumber and tools, Dom II on the John Deere with the Bush Hog, and me on the IH with the salvaged 6×10’ section of deck dangling by chains from the bucket, which would be the main deck of the new stand.  I hadn’t driven a “real” tractor in some time, so they just put me in a single gear and sent me on my way.

We pulled away the 12’ commercial swimming pool ladder that had served for more than 20 years, banged off a couple of the main limbs of the treestand, draped a chain around it and pulled it down with the tractor in one neat move.  It was one of the many times over the weekend that I admired Dom and Dom’s on-the-fly engineering.  For this project, I was a glorified gopher at best, and glad to support their impressive skills.

One of the problems with the old stand was that it was attached to trees, and their swaying worked constantly to detach our unnatural appendage.  This new one would be freestanding.  We started scraping and chopping at the rocky soil to dig four postholes — the soil was rocky to start with, and strip mining brought eons more to the surface — but soon decided we needed to go back and get the auger for the tractor, though we we not convinced it would do the job as well as the out-of-commission skid loader would.  But it worked fine.

I insisted on bringing and buying as much new pressure-treated lumber as I thought we needed.  We so seldom focused this kind of effort, I wanted to be sure it was well-spent.  We set four sixteen-foot 4x6s as the main uprights, 2x10s as the bearing beams, all generously cross-braced with new 2x4s and reclaimed 1x6s.  By Saturday evening, we had it all up, including the deck on top.  Sunday we re-set the swimming pool ladder, finished bolting things together, and cleaned up the old stand and took it down to the on-farm dump.

I was amazed at the accomplishment.  It is rock-solid; my attempts to shake it produced only the slightest movement.  It’s 12-18” taller than the old stand, but that little bit of height offers greatly improved views.  We still have to put railings, side skirting, and a roof on (new luxury), and it’ll be done.  And be set to last for 20 to 30 years.  Can’t wait to hunt it!

Jul 25 2009

Go Fish!


Even though they’ve been open for eight years, I’ve avoided Go Fish! the British Fish and Chips shop in downtown Rehoboth.  After three days of “maybe,” I gave in to Roger’s persuasion and a wonderful meal that ended with English Sticky Toffee Pudding.  Here’s a link to the Food Network recipe.  It’s first on my list of recipes to try when I get home.  http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/cooking-live/english-sticky-toffee-pudding-recipe/index.html.

If you’re in Rehoboth, the traditional fish and chips meal is outstanding.  We split an order because I couldn’t bring myself to eat all that fried food; however, when the meal was finished (all too soon), we debated ordering again. . .


Jul 24 2009

Rehoboth Beach


rogernicole7-23-09Shirley challenged us to walk to Gordon’s Pond and back, so we took a walk with Nicole (while CJ monitored his video world). These last few weeks before she goes to Syracuse are a bittersweet time.  After this, we spent several days indulging in Rummicube, Canasta, reading, more walking, beach time, napping, and eating.  When Roger suggested fish and chips, I told him that we had plenty of food (salad fixings from home) that God had provided.  He said that God had also provided us with all the food we could eat on the Boardwalk.  Not so reluctant to be convinced, I gave in.  We ate sushi at the Cultured Pearl and Nicola’s pizza, Coldstone Creamery and Kohr Bros. ice cream, Thrasher’s fries and Fisher’s popcorn.  Not all at once!  I hope there’s no weight limit on the Bay Bridge.  Ed and Shirley–Thank you for the beach condo!

Jul 21 2009

Hang Up And Drive, Dammit! And Slow Down While You’re At It.


I’ve changed my mobile talk habits dramatically, since the data seems to have reached a critical mass.  It’s just stupid to talk on the phone and drive, even with a hands-free device.   Read here some of what the government has suppressed about the dangers:

Driven to Distraction – In 2003, U.S. Withheld Data Showing Cellphone Driving Risks – Series – NYTimes.com.

Oh, and speaking of needless highway deaths and countless injuries, not to mention a catastrophic energy and climate crisis, what ever happened to that 55 mph speed limit?  Details:

55 mph stats

Guess we’re all just too damned important and in too much of a hurry.  I suggest:  slow down, shut up, or stay home.

Jul 20 2009

Tomato Alert: Late Blight Fungus


Bad news for tomato growers and gardeners throughout the East. Late blight fungus is spreading wide — “explosively” according to the USDA — and destroying whole crops. Link to an article below. A reminder that tomatoes in the garden require good hygiene. If there’s any doubt at all, do NOT compost your tomato vines. These things are nasty and highly contagious, even season to season.

New York Times article on late blight fungus

Jul 9 2009

Garden In Early July


Big difference from that photo of the finished fence in early June. Click on a photo to view full-size.

Jul 7 2009

Orchids at University of Maryland


photo_070709_001I took the boys (C.J. and his friend, Tyler) to check out University of Maryland, College Park.  After the tour (which took us all over that enormous campus), we had ice cream at The Dairy (which is now the official Visitor Center, too).  There was a lovely display of orchids.  After doing some research, I learned that the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore, has started raising these exotic flowers.  Check out this article, http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m0DXK/is_16_21/ai_n6355371/.  Still, they can’t compare to the orchid in Uniontown.  (I bet it dies as soon as we tranplant it to Sykesville.)

Jul 7 2009

Hiking in Patapsco State Park


photo_070509_001To make certain we got some exercise, we invited Roger’s dear friend, Caroline, to go hiking on Sunday, July 5.  (By extending an invitation, it meant that we could not back out and decide we were too tired.) At first, we were just checking out the deer hunting possibilities at the end of River Road where there are 400 acres of hunting ground in Patapsco State Park.  Then, we went deeper into the woods.  At some point we had to decide right or left, forward or go back, toward or away from the river.  We weren’t exactly certain where to go.  What does Roger do?  iPhone, of course.  He consulted his GPS application and directed us to the road.  Amazing.  I really don’t like the iPhone.  Really.