Annapolis or Marco Island? Which is Hotter?

It's prettier in a picture.
It’s prettier in a picture.

We’ve been experiencing quite a heat wave here in Annapolis, Maryland. Hot sticky days and warm damp evenings make most of us seek out the comfort of air conditioned buildings. But my recent visit to Southern Florida has had the affect of making me think Annapolis in summer is not so bad, following the old adage it could always be worse!

Not that I didn’t have fun in Florida. I was on vacation, accompanyinig my husband Peter on a business trip, but for the very first time in my life I used up an entire tube of sunblock in less than a week. That’s how intense the sun was, pretty scary.
To avoid too much sun I did my beachcombing and swimming in the morning before 10:00 a.m. or after 4:00 p.m. The ocean water was downright, warm, like bathwater.
One of my favorite places I visited on this trip was the summer home of Thomas Alva Edison, located right next to the summer home of Henry Ford in Fr. Myers.
It was actually a revisit, as I spent quite some time there 21 years ago while researching information for my first book on antique lamps, “American Lighting 1840-1940.”  One of my favorite stories I remember from my last visit was the guide telling us how Edison would sit at the end of his very long pier pretending to fish, just to have some time to himself.  This visit I heard  the story of how Edison was so obsessed with his research on developing a form of synthetic rubber that he’d work straight through the night and into the next day, falling asleep in his lab. Now that’s being obsessed with your work!
Edison had so many different ideas, from the toaster and waffle iron to the electric pen, phonograph, and movie camera. And now his idea for a rechargeable battery for the automobile just might be part of the solution towards energy conservation.
Air conditioning was not one of his inventions, I don’t think? What did they do in Florida at the end of the 19th century without it?
At any rate, Annapolis is refreshingly cool at least in the early morning. It’s good to be home.
There are some wonderful activities and fun things to do on the Southwestern Florida coast. As soon as I recover the photos off my camera, I’ll be posting a story on the www.WhatsUpMag.com website. Meanwhile, if you’re looking for the latest complete calendar of events for Annapolis and Maryland’s Eastern Shore, www.WhatsUpMag.com is the place to visit!
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Summer in the City

When the heat climbs up towards 100 degrees, the only time to take a walk is early in the day. At 6:30 a.m. it’s still reasonably cool enough for a light jog down to City Dock.

Oh how I wish the Farmers’ Market on Sundays would open even earlier than 8:00 a.m.. As the sun rises high in the sky I’m already starting to wilt even if the lovely produce stays fresh and fragrant under sheltering tents. Located at Fawcett’s parking lot, it remains open until noon. And then if you’re still in the mood for Farmers’ Market Shopping you can head over to the parking lot of the Annapolis Westfield Mall where the market will just be opening for the afternoon.

On my way home this Monday morning, cup of coffee in hand, I noticed a newly emptied storefront on Main Street. Comfort One Shoes is gone, kaput, vanished. Not even the remnant of the storefront sign remains. This was a place that I liked to buy shoes, so I take note of what they’re showing in the window and when they’re having a sale.  I checked the Comfort One Shoes website when I got to the office and noticed the Annapolis location is no longer listed. Wow that was fast. I called the corporate offices and talked with the vice president of sales. He preferred not to give a comment except to let customers know that if they call the Annapolis store phone number, their call will be forwarded. If they want to go shopping for shoes, they’ll have to drive to Baltimore.

Further up the street La Belle Cezanne, formerly located at 117 Main Street appears to be nicely settled into their new storefront at 184-86 Main Street, the multi-storied brick building that replaced the building devastated by fire back in 1997. They now have a multi-level space with plenty of alcoves for displaying their fine jewelry.

Closer to my home, the news is that the Starbucks at Park Place is slated for closing. Ironically they just opened, seem to be quite busy, and may have been a factor in the demise of Cafe Matisse, a locally owned coffee shop that had to close.  Evenings the outside dining areas of Fado and Carpaccios are bustling with business. The economic times may be a bit shaky, but people are still spending money.

Want to find out more on what’s up in Annapolis and through-out the Chesapeake Bay region? Visit our website at www.WhatsUpMag.com

Annapolis Wildlife

The grass grows high some days in our front yard, and who jumped out right by my feet but a baby rabbit. I call him Bun bun. My husband Peter refers to him as Wilbur.

Our Annapolis neighborhood, a 20 minute walk from City Dock, is teaming with wildlife. Bunny rabbits skirt their way across the streets at dusk, families of mallard ducks select the secluded side yards of homes on the banks of Spa Creek to build their nests. A blue heron searches for breakfast at Old Woman’s Cove at daybreak, while squirrels busily dig up the spring bulbs I planted seeking nourishment for themselves and their babies.

Each morning leaving for my walk, I eye my one tomato plant with tomatoes (purchased at the Farmers’ Market) to check no one has been nibbling at its fruit. The leaves of my basil plant are mysteriously absent. But it’s in a pot, and I have  no witness account of a creature sampling its minty flavor.

With such a large population of rabbits, it’s not surprising to also see a handsome red fox steathily walking about in the evening near Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Everyone has to eat. What’s next, coyottes? Has anyone seen any recently?

Mother’s Day, Mother Earth, and Conserving Our Energy

I was driving down the road today, Mother’s Day, a little over the 65 mile per hour speed limit, and I started to wonder why am I driving so fast? If I wanted to conserve on fuel, I should be driving 55 miles per hour. Everyone knows that once you exceed 55 mph your mileage goes down, or do they? I’m of that age that remembers the oil embargo close to 35 years ago when everyone was trying to conserve– keep the heat thermostadt at 68 degrees, carpool, and drive 55 mph. We reduced oil consumption by as much as 20 percent. What happened? We all became complacent and forgot, brainwashed by the energy companies and now we’ve done so much damage to our planet no one has time to care. We’re all too busy trying to get somewhere quickly.
I was on my way from Annapolis to Baltimore to visit my mother. I came bearing gifts, although I wasn’t certain if they were the “right” gifts. My mom has a talent for asking for things as gifts that I just can’t find, although they sound simple enough. She wanted a turtleneck (to hide her ugly neck she told me) but in May a turtleneck is not easy to find other than by going online. But I was running out of time so I bought her a red knit top. I thought it looked nice but she didn’t want it, so that’s another trip back to the store. She did, however love the flowering potted plant I brought her, even though she didn’t want a plant.(I figured the plant would last longer than cut flowers). “The color of the flowers are great,” she told me. Okay I did something right. Here I am, a middle aged woman still trying to please my mother.
My mom has lots of plants. Unlike me, she has a green thumb, and is always taking cuttings and creating more potted plants to populate her cluttered home. I made lunch rather than taking her out(Crabmeat and avocado salad), because with her arthritic hips she prefers staying in and headed home before the next onslaught of rain. (No I did not reduce my speed to 55 mph.)
Meanwhile I’ve received phone calls from both my sons and my daughter was working on my Mother’s Day gift –planting a garden with her dad and making me dinner. (Hope they can keep up that garden!) It doesn’t matter really, at least they put the effort in and as to what they’re serving for dinner? It’s a surprise. Whatever they prepare I’m going to love it!
For me the biggest gift is taking the time to slow down, enjoy the green earth while it’s still here, enjoy my family. So maybe it is time to see about getting those speed limit signs changed!

May Day, May Baskets, and Maypoles!

One of many beautiful baskets you\'ll see May lst.We have a blackboard posted on the wall for inspirational messages at our office at What’s Up? Publishing. It’s the first thing you see when you walk in the door. Currently someone has inquired, “What are your favorite things about May?” The responses have included Cinco de Mayo, crabbing season, and warm weather. My entry on the board was May baskets and May Day.
My relationship with May Day goes back to elementary school. May Day was the big outdoor pageant we held every year and it was an important school tradition. Every year a theme was selected and each class performed with a song and a dance while siblings and parents watched from the folding chairs set out on the school lawn. The grand finale was the May Pole dance performed by the sixth graders. (This was back in the days before middle school and elementary school went up through sixth grade.) I would enviously watch the girls, with wreaths of flowers in their hair, dressed in pretty spring dresses, holding a piece of the maypole ribbon and weaving it in and out as they danced with their male partner around the tall pole bedecked with colored ribbons and topped with flowers. I couldn’t wait until I was in sixth grade and got to do the maypole dance. I can still hear the theme music in my head, the pianist would play on the old upright they’d wheel outside, as we proudly marched to our seats. After the pageant we’d enjoy refreshments that included peppermint sticks stuck inside of lemons, that tasted delicious and made your hands very sticky. After the picture taking, and the hugs from proud parents, we’d gather our costumes in large brown paper bags and go home, basking in the glory of our theatrical performance.
Unfortunately the theme the school picked the year I was in sixth grade focused on Nessie the Loch Ness Monster, recently sighted in Scotland. An exciting tale that included a giant prehistoric sea serpent, the Maypole dancers took the role of being the local Scottish lads and lassies. This meant that instead of wearing a pretty dress, the lassies wore drab plaid kilts as did the lads. Even less romantic then missing out on flowers in my hair was the fact that my dance partner was a girl, because we had several more girls than boys in my class.
Blackboard at What\'s Up? Publishing Fast forward to my arrival in Annapolis where I encountered the tradition of May baskets
What a treat to walk downtown and feast your eyes on one after another of beautiful baskets of flowers placed on gates and doorways. I immediately had to make my own. Not that I do it the way you should, strictly with cut flowers. Most of the time, I cheat by placing a pot of geraniums or petunias in the center of the basket and then add sprigs of lilac, flowering cherry, and azalea from my garden. My short cut is of little consequence because I can’t officially enter into the yearly contest held by the Garden Club of Old Annapolis Towne. I live just outside the judging area. But I also hate to see flowers die so soon and you have to be very skillfull to keep the floral foam hydrated and your cut flowers living in sunshine and warm weather for more than a few days. For information about how to make your own May Basket.
Don’t have time to make a May basket of your own? You can buy one as early as 8:30 a.m. from the Four River Garden Club, in time to hang on your door before 10 a.m. when the Garden Club of Old Annapolis Towne judges start making their rounds. Locally grown perennials, sweet-smelling herbs, colorful annuals, and freshly baked sweets and breads will also be sold at the Four Rivers sale set up in the downtown City Dock area.
If you have a child under 12 , encourage them to make a May Basket and it they live in the Historic District along with parts of the Murray Hill neighborhood they will receive a pink ribbon and lollipop. In order to participate in the Old Towne Garden Club contest, all basket entries must contain a name and address card and children’s baskets should list age as well. Other contests and diisplay are now taking place in the neighborhoods of Eastport, Presidents Hill, West Annapolis. Take a stroll on May first and see what you find!

The Artic Blast Hits Annapolis

The wind blows bitter cold as we walk downtown, so cold it is almost painful. It’s one of those winter days when I actually want to run just to keep warm rather than just for the exercise.
Down a few doors from the Maryland State Teacher’s Association on Main Street, a new store called Shades of the Bay (must be planning to sell sun glasses) is taking shape. Maybe they’ll be ready to open by spring.
On the return up the street we take the West Street route all the way home towards Westgate Circle and I see that next to the Jerry’s Seafood sign that announces it will be taking over the elegant location once inhabited by Metropolitan restaurant, and I notice another sign on the purple building housing the gift shop “Object,” stating that building is for sale. The familiar landscape keeps changing as businesses come and go. Such is progress.

I love My Dog

Mondays
Climbing out of bed in the dark, particularly on a Monday morning, is not easy. I consider myself a morning person, I love to be out walking when the sun rises, but in the middle of winter my schedule requires that I’m up and out before sun-up. It’s cold and dark. My scarf is wrapped tightly around the collar of my jacket to keep the cold from creeping down inside my neck. But our dog Grace is exuberant to be out and walking towards downtown. She’s part of the reason we are up and on the move first thing in the morning. What did we do without a dog?
Well there are the children, but two are already out of the house. Alex is standing out waiting for the school bus that takes her to the high school at 6:34. She waits until the very last minute to walk out the door and checks the time on her cell phone. “It’s satellite time,” she informs me, “So it’s the most accurate.” Evidently she is wise to the fact that I try to set all the clocks in the house a little ahead, because most members of our family have a tendency to run late.
Grace stays asleep in her spot on one of the unoccupied beds or under the dining room table until she is certain my husband Peter and I are ready to be on our way. She dances anxiously about as only a golden retriever can, wanting to be petted and wanting us to open the door so she can go outside.
The sky is still dark and the moon has been cut in half. I start walking ahead because I’m so cold I have to keep moving at a brisk pace. Everyone has put out their garbage and recycling for collection. Up ahead sitting on the curb is a large and grand poinsettia plant. Evidently purchased for the holidays, the owners have grown tired of it and have put it outside with the garbage, What a waste. I’m tempted to take it home, but I’m already halfway downtown and I really don’t have space for another large plant, plus I’m not that diligent in caring for the plants that I have. Many of my poinsettias have died from temporary neglect. But I certainly wouldn’t put a healthy looking one out in the cold. Ah well….
Looking down Main Street towards the water, I can see a little smudging of purple and pink in the sky, but it’s still mostly dark gray. Three tall cranes, part of the work project down at City Dock, are silhouetted in the sky.
On the return home, Peter, Grace and I walk together and we talk about our plans for the day and the week. The sky is still gray, and there aren’t many people walking the streets this morning. The hot coffee tastes great going down my throat. Something about the contrast between the cold and the hot is so comforting.
It’s the start of the week.