Saturday, July 18, 2009


ARTSCAPE was awesome, as always. I mean how lucky are we as this is the country’s largest FREE outdoor art festival…and it is right in our backyard! (Well, if by backyard, you mean an hour after driving on the expressway.)

So much to see AND do at this event…the Art Cars in front of Penn Station are always a hoot, the Performance Artists along the Charles Street Bridge offer lots of self-involved, participatory, hands-on activities, and a vast array of Artists’ Booths in all mediums/categories/styles spanning for numerous city blocks…. you name it, ARTSCAPE’s got it! Several big-name Concerts, Fashion Shows and Films – all FREE!

The fact that they are also doing their best to make this event environmentally conscious & friendly with an entire ‘GREEN GARAGE’ and SUSTAINABLE/ORGANIC FOOD COURT with plenty of recycling cans scattered about makes it even better - compared to a lot of free public events I’ve been to.

(If you want a smoothie around here, you better start pedaling!)

My favorite vendors in the Green Garage would have to be Baltimore Free Store ( ) where you can “take what you want & leave what you can” at one of their 60 markets around town. Their way of keeping things out of landfills is for you to donate your used clothes & household items to them. Then they literally give everything away for FREE! Genius! Another would be the Portable Gardens…( basically a salad in a shopping cart. Also The Loading Dock ( ), a very green business whose motto is ‘Don’t Dump. DONATE!’ for all construction, remodeling and building materials. Very cool as we are connected to this area of business and plan to use this company in the future.

Gotta love Martha Rotten’s ( )‘not made in China’ lead-free pewter goth-themed jewelry (yes, they are REAL bones, chicken I was told?) And Steven Malone’s Poetic Earth Designs ( ) leather bags and tree-free sketch books & journals. Clever Cat Bags ( ) recycled coffee bag bags…fashionable irony - this is a real trend now (I have had mine now almost a year) and my daughter couldn't resist one of their 'organic coffee' messenger bags for about $40. Also Dan Lachman and his Sharp Shirter ( ) business w/tees and self-sticking laptop, ipod & phone covers…really cool for this self-proclaimed round-the-clock-video-playing-college-slacker.

But my personal ‘Best In Show’ award for the weekend would have to go to James 'Jimbo' Pollock ( ) Hampden’s own ‘Hubcap Christmas Tree’ guy and his recycled mechanical parts sculptures. Makes me want to gather a bunch of junk from my husband’s shop and start welding…totally awesome!

Year after year I continue to be amazed, impressed, fascinated and inspired after a trip to ARTSCAPE… 2009 certainly was no different.

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Gardening Up-date.

Summer trudges on...

All this 'fun in the sun' forces my gardening up-keep to take a back seat - and it shows!

The weeds are starting to overtake all aspects of the yard/gardens and the current lack of funds (due to my premature involuntary retirement) is preventing me from completing the projects that are so needed - new maintenance-free self-seeding Black Eyed Susan driveway border, woodland hedgerow of azalea, rhodos, mountain laurel and bulbs (where the leaf droppage prevents anything else form growing) inside my hand-laid brick edge, not to mention re-planting of the melons - which should have been done weeks ago.

Now for some good news; in spite of my garden's lack of sunshine (2-4 hours/day MAX!) and the memorable cool, wet spring...the blueberries are almost ready (I sure hope I get to them before the squirrels & birds do - I see them hanging around - waiting. watching. salivating.), there are also some baby eggplants taking shape and tons of very green tomatoes.

Patience, I know. If there is anything gardening has taught me, it's patience. This is not an instant gratification activity by any means.

But when it's harvest time...there is no better reward!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

la Fête Nationale!

la liberté, l'égalité et la fraternité le quatorze juillet... Happy Bastile Day fellow Francofiles!!!

There is no other day that gives a better excuse to engage in French traditions than today. It is a time for those of you that have never been to France or have no French ancestry to pretend 'je suis Francaise' (a sort of French version of St Paddy's Day where EVERYONE is suddenly Irish?). And for those of us that have traveled to France and/or have French ancestry to reflect on the history, the culture and rejoice for their wonderful life-enhancing exports; art, fashion, music, films and of course...FOOD & WINE!

The French typically celebrate this day by dressing in their finest red white and blue attire, waving flags while attending a morning parade (the one that sashays down the Champs Elysees is by far the most popular), then drinking lots of champagne, eating bistro/cafe/picnic food while dancing in the streets and watching fireworks after sunset.

Yes, that IS a lot like our Independence Day celebrations, huh?

Amusez vous bien !

Sunday, July 12, 2009

North Central Railroad Trail...Where Have You Been All My Life?

I, like many Baltimore/Harford Countians, have driven by the cute little Chakra Bikes /Hunt Valley Village sign on Paper Mill Road that marks the spot where the NCR Trail begins and meanders for FORTY MILES to York, PA. I to have said numerous times that I wanted to try biking that route one day...soon.

Well, that day never came...until today.

We, nine family members & friends, started at about 945am at the Paper Mill/Ashland entrance to the trail and off we went. The weather was gorgeous - like mostly sunny & 82...BUT the bikes, which were borrowed - they were another story: mine was waaaayy too short, my daughter's wouldn't get out of first gear so she was peddling her heart out and going nowhere, my middle son's bike was way too tall, my youngest son's tires were dry-rot, our summer vet-med students seat was a little too uncomfortable, and my best friend's daughter's chain kept popping...crazy!

Despite the problems, we made it to the Monkton store around the 8 mile mark and had a little one-hour picnic. (btw that store is fantastic - all organic, including the incredible ice cream! ) We then had to venture back the 8 miles we came from...which actually went a wee bit faster, even after a huge double-digit-point-buck (in velvet!) casually strolled across the path less than three feet in front of my best friend and I - who were so engaged in a conversation that we almost ran smack into the deer.

This was such an inspiring day that we vowed to get our own bikes and made a goal to travel the entire length of the trail. No commitment date set - I will keep you posted...

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Corn & Values Are Here...

There is just something to be said for living where I do. I mean, growing up in the big city had its perks and I do love the charm and closeness of a small town…but rural ain’t so bad after all.

Just yesterday I pulled up to our local farm stand after seeing their ‘sweet corn’ sign for the first time this summer to pick up a dozen or so for that evening’s meal – when no one is around, just a metal box on the table that says ‘please pay here’, a price list on the shed above, and a trailer filled with ears of fresh corn. Yes, you guessed it – the Honor System still abides here in rural Harford County. How great is that? Even in this tough economic climate…old fashioned trust and wholesome values prevail.
BTW: the corn was pretty awesome too!

Thursday, June 25, 2009

A Ferrying We Will Go...

Wanted to do something a little different with the kids on this last day at the beach and decided to take the ferry from Lewes, Delaware to Cape May, New Jersey.

After we loaded our vehicle onto the ferry we then proceeded to wander about, enjoying all the little nuances on the ship. These boats are awesome - cafes, bathrooms, video arcades, gift shops, flat screen televisions, full bar! My family chose to sit on the outside deck - reading, relaxing, taking in the scenery.

After arriving on Cape May we were thankful we didn't leave the vehicle in Lewes and take only the bikes...the route is not very child friendly for sure. We continued to the beach area and decide to tour the historic district before eating lunch at an outdoor cafe on
Washington Square, the pedestrian mall.
After which we ventured to Sunset Beach, which is famous for a WWI shipwreck (The SS Atlantus), as well as rose quartz sand (we looked very hard but never did find those little 'Cape May Diamonds' ?)

We then had only about an hour before the last ferry back to Delaware, which wouldn't allow enough time to visit the lighthouse, so we decided to do a wine tasting at Turdo Vineyards, a small family owned Italian style vineyard just minutes from the ferry dock. The hostess was very gracious and accommodating even though we arrived 15 minutes before closing. She never rushed us, let us taste the entire available vintages and even offered my under-aged children a treat.

Once back in Lewes, we decided to stick around for a light dinner and some more wine before strolling the quaint streets and then heading back to the Maryland coast.

It was really a great day...the ferry ride, the historic towns, the lighthouses, the wine, the school of dolphins that the captain killed the engines for and pointed out to the passengers - what more could one want. We will definitely be back again someday...hopefully an overnight trip next time.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Assateague Island

As always when we go to the beach, we venture over to Assateague Island where we get our fix of 'roughing it' in the wild with their very limited facilities. It just so happened that this past weekend was one of 3 FREE SUMMER WEEKENDS they are offering this year (6/20-21, 7/18-19, 8/15-16). Yea!!!

We typically pack a cooler full of food to grill, plenty of 'beverages', a change of clothes (we always wear our bathing suits), surf boards/boogie boards, all our bikes and a guitar into the back of a pick-up truck - and we're off!

There is so much to do here...besides the obvious driving through the State Park and looking for the infamous wild ponies that reside here; we build a fire or grill, swim, surf, fish, crab, clam, kayak/canoe (which are both rented here by the hour), bike ride, etc... unlike at the other Maryland beach where there are so many no-no's.

We have yet to stay through the night here and keep saying we want to... I tent camped as a child and want my children to experience that wonderful world of self-reliance and self-efficiency...BUT by the time the sun sets and those mosquitoes are in full swing - we usually can't wait to shower and get the hell off this island.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

Art IS Alive...& Well

Every year I try to plan a trip to the beach around the Arts Alive Festival in Northside Park, Ocean City. It is by far one of my very favorite outdoor summer arts markets in the Mid-Atlantic area and the setting/location is perfect!

The weather forecast didn’t look good for this entire weekend, so I was keeping my fingers crossed. I woke up early Saturday morning and spoke with family members back home and they said it was raining heavily at 8am…and I knew it was heading east. I didn’t bother to wake anyone or even eat breakfast – I simply gulped down a cup of coffee and by 9am I was on my way….

There were so many great artists this year – old & new, and a few friendly faces I knew from ARTSCAPE, Bel Air’s Festival of Arts and/or the Havre de Grace show. Here are a few samples:

Robert Wieand from Sarasota, Florida’s Fantasy Forest ( ) metal and glass creatures w/ twinkle lights in their body cavities (below)was a very popular booth and I must admit, pretty cool. Finland born Nina Mickelsen’s Clarissa Studio decorative wall art designs/silk screening uses both traditional and technologically advanced methods ( ) . Silver Moon Studio's Ruth & Keith Krause from Walnutport, PA, use 100% pure silver in their metal and fused glass jewelry (I wish they had a website). Kenyan born Owino Martin’s K’Owino Batiks fabrics & prints were some of the finest I’ve seen ( ).

My ‘Best in Show’ would go to a Michigan couple, Ruth & David Jellema, with Fabrications ( ). Their original fabric mâché sculpture made from cheesecloth is like nothing I have ever seen before. Their ‘Bathing Beauties’ (above) were a big hit at this beach-town show. The pieces range from $70 for a small single bathing beauty to $1450 for a life-sized mermaid (below). You have to see this stuff up close to appreciate it.

According to the artists I spoke with, there were a lot of people looking – but not a lot of people buying (damned economy!). I wasn’t one of those non-buys…I rarely leave an art show empty handed. Even if I didn’t find anything for me or to give as a gift, I would donate to the show itself or an involved organization as a way of showing my support.

No worries today - I bought a tiny brown painted potters pitcher/gravy boat from a half- priced table for $5, a pair of hammered silver drop earrings from MiCielo ( ) that the owner tucked in a cute little re-usable tulle and ribbon gift bag, and a fired-glass pendant from fellow Marylander Matt Mathers of Dragonfired Glass Creations, who’s been coming to the local Harford County art shows for quite some time.

All together it was a great morning and as I made it completely around the entire lagoon…the rain came.

(these litle guys were just added entertainment for the crowd today)

Monday, June 15, 2009

It's Just Bawlmer, Hon

I wanted desperatley to show Baltimore to our Vet-Med student that's living with us for the summer. The 'real' Baltimore, a world away from Harbor Place - in the truest of all neighborhoods...Hampden.

Being born & raised in Baltimore city – there is no other festivity that highlights this great town more than HONFEST! I've traveled to many cities in over a dozen countries and have been to my fair share of festivals - this truly is a one-of-a-kind affair.

There really is no need for words here...