Annapolis First Sunday Fest Celebrates National Hispanic Heritage

Andrea Locket and daughter Isis ShanksTents line Upper West St. on First Sunday

Today was the last “First Sunday Festival” of 2010 for Upper West Street in Annapolis. Despite the threatening rain clouds, folks were out in full force enjoying the autumn weather, the variety of craft displays, and outside dining options as they listened to the sounds of flamenco guitar and watched Spanish dancers performing on a makeshift stage set up in the parking lot adjacent to Stan and Joes. Mid September to mid- October is National Hispanic Heritage Month and the music and cuisine being served today definitely kept with the theme.
The monthly festivals take place on the first Sunday, May through October. Local businesses and community organizers have made this event a successful one that brings a mix of clientele to the Upper West Street business district. Andrea Locket has been setting up a booth selling her potted plants and garden accessories at First Sunday for two years. The proprietor of the Landscape Design Center in Edgewater says, “I get to meet a lot of people– both local folks and tourists. It’s just a nice blend of people, vendors, and music.” She was running her booth with the assistance of her daughter Isis, and I indulged myself in the purchase of a pot of assorted herbs with the hope that I can keep using fresh herbs in my cooking as the weather gets cold.
Although this was the last festival of the year, vendors were in a good mood; perhaps looking forward to a bit of a break as the chore of hauling their wares around to various venues winds down. There will be a break also for the Annapolis Farmers Market held Sunday mornings in the Fawcett Parking Lot near City Dock as due to the Boat Shows, they will temporarily not be held October 10 and October 17. I bid a sad farewell to the farmers selling produce who will not return until next Spring. “We really won’t have much to sell in a few more weeks,” they explained. Meat, dairy, and baked goods will continue to be available when the market reopens on October 24th. The Farmers’ Market at that particular location will keep going through November 2lst.

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Off to College: The P.S. to September’s Editor’s Letter

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Folks who have read my September editor’s letter in What’s Up? magazine have been stopping me on the street and asking me, “So how does it feel?”
It takes me a moment or two to ascertain what they are asking about… I’m not certain how to respond. They are asking me in shorthand, how does it feel to have no children at home. Depending on my mood, I’ll say.. “Well, I kind of miss her.” or “Well it’s not really so different because she really wasn’t home all that much.” or “We’re having a great time being honeymooners.” or “I’m really enjoying the freedom of not adhering to as much of a schedule these days. I only have to worry about one other person on a daily basis..my husband.”
I miss all my children, all three of them, but time marches on and I did expect them to go away to college and leave home.. permanently. I’ve nurtured them , that’s what parents do, and now it is their turn to discover and explore on their own.
As for my latest little bird to leave the nest, I’m very proud of her… that she was confident to travel far from home to attend a university 3,000 miles from home. Enjoy the photos.

Annapolis Opera Starts Their New Season

Opera is alive and well, here in the Chesapeake Bay Region. Annapolis Opera kicked off their 2010-2011 season with an impressively well attended gathering, entitled “Celebrate Opera”. Held at Wine Cellars of Annapolis on Forest Drive in Clocktower Place, I could describe the scene as “standing room only” but then again, this was a standing kind of event, which is my only criticism of what was a lovely evening. Designed to raise money for this worthy organization, at $125 a head, guests tasted a variety of wines provided by Wine Cellars and dined on gourmet cheeses, pate, and subsequent courses of poached salmon served with a corn and blueberry relish and tenderloin with whipped sweet potatoes. For dessert there was of course, Opera cake. Everything was delicious, although it was definitely a challenge to balance a plate of food, glass of wine, eat, drink, and chat. The highlight of the evening was the entertainment–arias and a duet song by baritone Jason Stearns and soprano Colleen Daly. Of Metropolitan Opera fame, Jason Stearns makes his home in Annapolis with his lovely wife and soprano Suzanne. On October 23, he will be the featured performer headlining what is billed as “Concert of Stars” at St. John’s College Key Auditorium. Also scheduled this season is a performance “Gifts from Grand Opera” at the First Presbyterian Church in Anapolis on December 5th and in 2011 four more events that include the two day run of one of my favorite operas, “Marriage of FIgaro,” performed at Maryland Hall in March. Visit their website at www,annapolisopera.org and

Annapolis Dog Walking Tradition

The start of the month, our dog Grace, a golden retriever, forgot she was a middle-aged dog and got a little too frisky chasing a small creature in our neighborhood. I don’t know whether it was a squirrel, cat, or that enigmatic fox I see lurking about at night in Murray Hill, but whatever it was, she didn’t manage to catch it and instead must have lost her footing, stumbled and sprained her shoulder. She limped slowly back to the house and the next day continued to favor one foot. By the third day I took her to the vet and he put her on an anti-inflamatory and recommended she take it easy for at least a week– no long walks. Suddenly my husband Peter and I were walking downtown in the morning and evening without our companion Grace.
“Where’s Grace?” everyone asked us. “What happened to your dog?” they wanted to know. I had no idea Grace was so popular, or maybe I did know.
At any rate, Grace has recovered and is once again walking all the way downtown. The tradition continues. Our last child, Grace our golden, is still our constant companion.

Annapolis Weekend Includes Chili Tasting

If you thought chili just consists of groundbeef, tomatoes, onion, beans, and spices; think again. Yesterday afternoon at the Tomato Festival held at Homestead Gardens, I tasted chili made with shredded chicken and chili sweet and spicy with kernals of corn. The choice of beans ranged from kidney, and fava to navy and black beans and then there were several chilis with no beans at all. One tasted to me more like spaghetti sauce. Ever heard of Irish chili? Well Galaway Bay had a tasty version of spicy Irish stew which they called Irish chili. The Latin Quarter served their chili with fresh jalapeno peppers, The Westin bragged about all the poblano chilis and multi spices in their recipe, Plenty of chips, onions, sour cream, and shredded cheese at the various booths made tasting a fun experience, despite the crowds.
By the time I got to the salsa tasting tent, I was pretty tasted out. Besides which, salsa tasting means you’ve got to eat lots of chips and it was too hot a day for that. So I moved on to admire the various booths around the perimeter of the festival displaying spices, salad dressing, wine accessories, and cigars. It looked like everyone was having a good time and raising money for a good cause— the flower baskets the beautify downtown Annapolis.
If you want to know who won the various contests, check in with the Bent Fork blog at the whatsupmag.com website. Kelsey Collins, the What’s Up? Food Editor, was one of the judges and she’ll be sharing her comments.

Miniature Indonesia in Jakarta; Virtual Passport

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Monday in Annapolis, Maryland for me is a day full of meetings and a day that focuses on organizing my tasks for the week. Monday in Jakarta, Indonesia (I learned last month), is often a day to take a break, when many of the important museums and monuments in the city are closed.
So while our guide took a very nice photograph of us ( my husband Peter, daughter Alex, and myself) in front of the National Musem, we could not get inside.
The day was hot, over 100 degrees, and after walking around the National Monument we followed our guide’s suggestion to make a visit to the “Indonesia in Miniature Park” aka Taman Mini located to the east of the city.
The park was not on the list that Justin put together for us to visit, while he went into work for the day. His colleagues and friends evidently do not think highly of it as a tourist attraction, but I would highly recommend it to any tourist paying a visit to Jakarta, particularly if you do not have time to visit the five major islands in this nation comprised of over 17000 islands. That’s right…over 17,000 islands with a diverse number of languages and cultures.
The park is so large, you need an entire day (which we did not have by the time we arrived there at noon) and while you can drive around in a car, it is better to walk or rent a bicycle. We rented bicycles.
Each pavillion represents a different province, complete with architectural examples, native, costumes, temples, and even live performances at various times throughout the day. Although Borneo was not on our list, of places to visit this time around, we did get to see examples of thatched roof huts and observe a tribesman in native attire carving wood that would eventually be for sale in their gift shop.

While we did not have time to visit all the pavillions, we were able to enter a few of the buildilngs including various houses that represented the architecture of the different islands and cultures. We climbed the ladders to enter a traditional, or adat-style, Batak houses– the type built in parts of northern Samatra. These homes can be large enough to house as many as a dozen families. They have distinctive saddle-backed, twin-peaked roof made from a special palm fibre and they are commonly anchored by long poles.
In the center of the park is a large lake. The park also has
its own orchid garden in which hundreds of Indonesian orchid varieties are grown along with a bird park with a walk-in aviary, a fauna museum.
Due to the extreme heat and our limited time, we couldn’t see everything but we were happy that Miniature Indonesia is open on Mondays.

Rainy Summer Morning in Annapolis

It started with raindrops gently kissing my face, early morning rain on a hot summer’s morning. It’s been so hot and sticky here in Maryland, the rain is a welcome relief and as I walked downtown with my husband Peter and dog Grace at 6:30 a.m. today, I thought how much I looked forward to summer rainy days as a child

It started with raindrops gently kissing my face, early morning rain on a hot summer’s morning. It’s been so hot and sticky here in Maryland, the rain is a welcome relief and as I walked downtown with my husband Peter and dog Grace at 6:30 a.m. today, I thought how much I looked forward to summer rainy days as a child because those were the days my mother and I went shopping/adventuring/exploring Up Cape. Our summer home in Provinctown at the tip of Cape Cod in Massachussets had only a radio and record player for entertainment (no CDs, videos, ipods) when it wasn’t a day to spend on the beach so we’d usually start thumbing through the weekly newspapers searching for notices of auctions and estate sales to visit. And if there weren’t any auctions or tag sales we’d go searching out stores and thift shops we’d never visited, hopefully with undiscovered bargains.
This week is “No Sales Tax on Clothing ” week to encourage back-tot-school shopping and as I was thinking of what I might need to buy in the way of clothes, the rain started coming down hard.
“Remember the time we were taking a walk in August when Alex was small,” Peter asks me, “and the rain came down so hard we took shelter at the hospital (when they were still located in Murray Hill).
“Yes,” I rejoin, “And a nurse who felt sorry for us brought out a towel to help us dry off, we were so dripping wet from the downpour?”
I’m starting to regret walking out of the house without a raincoat, hat, or umbrella. I did know the weather forecast was predicting morning rain. Still being damp deels good until I step into the air conditioned coffee shop.
On the walk home I see rivulets of soapy water rushing down the road and pavement and I think of all the pollution that is flowing into the Chesapeake Bay. It’s not advisable to go swimming in the Bay after its rains. All the fertilizer, ground water, and other unsavory items laying on impervious services all are washed into the stormdrains and out into the streams and tributaries.
“Some people will do anything to get a cup of coffee,” a man yells out to us as we pass the Court House on our way back home from downtown. By the this time, I’m starting to feel soaked. The water has collected in my shoes and is sloshing around. My hair, which I had not intended to wash this morning, is wet and clinging to the sides of my face. I start to pick up the pace and wonder how waterproof my watch really is and visualizing how good a hot shower is going to feel. A slash of lightening and crash of thunder causes Grace to whimper and I start to run the rest of the way home. It’s foolish to be out walking in a thunderstorm, I shide myself.
“Doesn’t it feel good to run in the rian?” Peter asks me when we are safely inside the house. “The rain keeps your body cool while you’re burning off energy.”
Yes, exhilerating.