To the kind gentleman who bought me a much-needed bottle of water at the Maryland Renaissance Festival yesterday, thank you.  You saved the afternoon for me and helped me truly appreciate the Mediaeval Baebes’ performance.  I promise to pass along the favor.

To the couple sitting in front of me, I hope you found your memory disks at Lost and Found.  We took them straight there.

To Albannach, you are truly awesome.  We are taking your CD’s across the country and to the Continent to share with friends who love music, culture and talent…and you have all three, in spades.

To my husband, who put up with Sick Little Me, I had a brilliant time.  Next year we will need to wrap our travel/work schedule around the Albannach/Mediaeval Baebes performances.

To my children, I’m very happy you enjoy events like this.  While not all the acts were authentically Renaissance, you did see and hear some funny and amazing and priceless things.  Your enthusiasm gladdens my heart.

To the thousands of drivers, stuck like us for 2+ hours in the parking area, thank you so much for not getting cranky and ugly about the ridiculous gridlock experience.  Also, thank you for putting up with our newly-acquired Albannach CD’s, which helped us survive the gridlock and maintain our sanity.

To the readers of this blog, darn right I dress up.  It’s more fun that way.


So, how often do you wake up and tell yourself, “I just have to be in (insert location)!”?  After I returned home from my exchange semester in Ireland, back in high school, I just ached to be back in the green hills outside of Dublin.  That longing doesn’t  go away.  You shove it down, stuff a bunch of daily responsibilities on top of it, and get on with things.

Our next outing will probably be to the Maryland Renaissance Festival…an outing we’ve loved for nearly 15 years.  (Time to dust off the garb…)  After that, we’ll see.

Last year at this time, we were planning a trip to Germany.  Although things were kind of tentative (we flew space-available with Air Mobility Command), we had a plan and we were, in fact, able to fulfill nearly all of it.  I love visiting Europe because I can literally feel the stress fall off my shoulders and slide to…wherever.  I can stand tall, take my best shot at the local language and poke around museums, castles and cathedrals to my heart’s content.

We’ve had record-breaking heat here Between the Beltways lately.  October and “92 degrees” just don’t belong in the same sentence.  I really feel for our local farmers, who are suffering through this drought and wondering how long it will last.  Please spare a prayer or positive thought for our drought-stricken farmers across the continent…it’s going to be a hard year for many people.

I’m staying home this weekend (unusual for me) to work on writing projects.  I’m hoping things will calm down a bit in a few days.  Meanwhile, here’s a travel Hub on West Virginia’s Cass Scenic Railroad, another on the Chesapeake Children’s Museum in Annapolis, and a third about my favorite Indianapolis restaurant, The Rathskeller, for your reading pleasure.

With two children in Scouting, I’m blessed to have excuses to get outdoors and explore our beautiful world.  Today we had gorgeous fall weather and lots of Girl Scouts who wanted to be outside and in the water.  We visited the Chesapeake Exploration Center – an unusual cross between visitors’ center and museum – and Terrapin Nature Park on the Eastern Shore of Maryland’s Chesapeake Bay.  Look for details in a few days.

Today was also a wonderful day for looking at airplanes.  Read about D. C.-area aircraft observation spots at today’s travel Hub.  In our family, plane spotting is a tradition.  Why not give it a try?

I’ve been thinking in Navy-speak all weekend; we had a couple of social events to attend and I worked on my new travel Hub about Baltimore’s USS Constellation.  While I was racing from event to event, fall arrived.  I dragged out my old Ravens sweatshirt (grungy; time for a new one) and shivered while I wrote.

Fall is a great time for road trips, even before the leaves turn colorful.  The sunshine sparkles, but you don’t get too hot.  The sky seems bluer than at any other time of year.  It’s a great season for food, too – baked dishes and warm desserts finally taste good again.

A couple of years ago, I drove from Sugar Grove, W. Va., to Elkins, W. Va. on a shopping errand.  It was October, and I needed costume fabric.  I know many people say Vermont has the best fall colors in the U. S., but on that day, Pendleton and Randolph Counties gave those Vermonters a run for their money.  I have never seen such glorious leaves.  It was raining, and the dark tree trunks really stood out against the bronze-orange-gold-red of the leaves.  Each curve of the road revealed new shades of fall.

I think it’s time to plan another West Virginia road trip.

Yesterday we traveled to St. Mary’s City, Maryland.  The journey took us down Routes, 3, 4 and 5 (I am not making this up), through some lovely countryside.  I love crossing the bridge at Solomons Island and looking down at the sparkling Patuxent River.  For once I wasn’t driving, so I had plenty of time to look around at county fair signs, little shops and front yards.

St. Mary’s City boasts a college and a historic area.  I’ll write about the historic area later, for a travel Hub.  I really liked the college; we ate lunch at the student center and walked around the campus a bit.  It’s lovely; we saw attractive brick buildings, colorful flowers and, best of all, students who really looked happy to be there.  My daughter declared it to be her “backup college” – she hasn’t picked a first-choice school, but we have a few years.  She’s 9.

We all enjoyed our day at Historic St. Mary’s City.  My son’s favorite part was (surprise!) the “gun show”; my daughter really liked the tobacco plantation, probably because farm animals live there.  I tried hard to take pictures of the pipefish and sea nettles (jellies) in the river, but I’m pretty sure I’ll end up with pictures of sparkly water instead.  The river water is so brackish that they usually have tons of sea nettles around the replica ship, Dove, I was told.

On the way home we traveled on Routes 5, 4 and 2, through gorgeously green horse country.  Sigh.

Read about our visit at my latest travel Hub.

We’ve all seen them.  The men and women holding up hand-lettered signs, saying, “Homeless – need help.”  We look away or hand them a dollar.  We wonder if they are really homeless or if they’re pulling a scam.

Yesterday, my son came home from attending Mass at a friend’s church with an aluminum pan and a recipe.  In our area, churches participate in several cooperative programs to help the homeless.  One is cooking for Our Daily Bread, a Catholic Charities outreach program in Baltimore.  Each church has several days during the month where church members cook and serve pre-made casseroles at ODB’s facility downtown.  Of course, someone has to make and freeze all that food, and that’s where the aluminum pan comes into the story.

My daughter helped me shop and cook for two pans’ worth of hot dog casserole.  It was easy for her to slice up the hot dogs, mix spices and beans and soup, and help with cleanup.  As we cooked, we talked about whether homeless people really like hot dog casserole or chicken and broccoli casserole (the dish we usually cook during our parish’s ODB weeks).  I’m guessing that they do.

We had the chance to see the ODB building last November when we went to Mass at the Baltimore Basilica.  ODB’s building is right next door.  Long before the doors were scheduled to open, homeless people were lining up for that hot meal.  It was a cold November day, and I’m sure it wasn’t a comfortable wait.  Suddenly, the chicken and broccoli casserole connected with faces, with people who were too cold to return my smile, with people just like me who somehow ended up on the streets.

So, next time you see one of those signs, you still might not want to pass money out your window.  Don’t worry – there is something else you can do.  Find out who’s feeding the homeless, and give them some help.

Next Page »