Every so often before I start to blog, I look at the dashboard that measures which posts are the most widely viewed in a particular day or a particular week and I am amazed that certain posts such as Earth Day Musings are consistently popular. Is it the words that draw the audience? Dancing the Night Away is another consistently popular post. How I wish I could dance the night away, but not this week or the next. Maybe by Thanksgiving? I’m right at that point in the healing process where people tell me, “You are starting to look like yourself.” This can be a dangerous time because I start doing something physically that I really should not do such as start to unload the dishwasher and then a little voice tells me, “No! You are not to bend or to lift!” I feel badly that my husband gets stuck with all those chores and instead I turn my focus to writing another article. (I’m getting lots of writing done) But I also get restless to move around, need to move around, because sitting too long wearing the TCO is painful. Outside, although I obviously can’t weed and am never at my best a diligent weeder, some fall flowers are doing well in our present moist and humid environment. I have some blooming roses and some hearty mums that were potted in the spring and are about to bloom again. How nice. Plus the Firethorn has red berries and looks happy after looking parched during the heat of the summer. It is almost the middle of the week. The end of Tuesday. How I wish I was getting ready to go to my Zumba (latin dance aerobics) class but instead, when my husband comes home we’ll take a walk around the neighborhood and I will admire all that is green.
Over the years I’ve served on a lot of different boards and committees. One task which is always gratifying, but sometimes challenging, is soliciting nominations of colleagues, friends, or neighbors who should to be honored for their accomplishments. Maybe it’s the difficulty in filling out forms, or taking time away from our busy schedules to think about a task that is not part of our daily routine, but nominations are sometimes slow in arriving. And often when they do arrive, the same few names are mentioned or the nominations come from the nominees themselves. There are a lot of unsung heroes doing wonderful things. Currently the Anne Arundel County Arts Council is looking for nominations for Annie Award recipients. Would you take the time to fill out a nomination form?
It’s always exciting to discover some place no one else knows about. Sharing that information with others can sometimes be controversial. I remember when the local newspaper published shortcuts for getting over the Bay Bridge when driving from Annapolis to Ocean City. People were furious that their secret routes were revealed. Private neighborhoods were angry at the prospect of more traffic.
On the other hand, when you find a lovely little pocket park tucked away, with lovely trees and flowers worth admiring or a handsome statue in plain view that no one stops to ponder, let alone wonder the history of why that particular statue was created (there is usually a plaque to read)… it may be that you’d like to share your information with others. In which case, maybe you’ve taken a photograph to remember that special place. A hidden gem could be a beach, an island, a special bench, a mural, a building, or an inspirational sign. Now is the time to gather those photographs or start taking some pictures to enter our upcoming “Hidden Gems” photo contest sponsored by What’s U? Media Group. We haven’t even posted the rules yet or published a formal announcement. That will happen in October when we publish the winners of our Storm photo contest. But I will start accepting entries now. You can send digital photographs of your hidden gems to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include information on why you think the place you photographed is a hidden gem and where it is located. Good luck!
Thank you, everyone who has called, sent cards, stopped me on the street, and expressed their sadness and concern on hearing about Grace’s death. I still expect to see her standing in the front hallway when I put the key in the lock of the front door or hear the jingle of the tags clinking together that hung on her collar indicating she is coming down the stairs. My husband Peter told me this morning there is still her nose print on the glass back door and when I’m in the kitchen cooking and I look out into the backyard and I expect to see her standing in the patio waiting to get inside. Dogs are like that sometimes, always wanting to come in and when they are out and out when they are in—much like children, and Peter was always saying Grace was our last child. Now folks are asking when are we planning to get a new puppy? Are we going to get another golden? Are we going to get another dog?
At present, we are still grieving. In my family, my mother always emphasized the importance of spending time to mourn your losses. A psychiatric social worker, she counseled it is not wise to just rush out and get a replacement Every pet is special and should be remembered and mourned for several months. I don’t know if I can wait that long because I see so many dogs— big ones, small ones, puppies, middle-aged dogs— romping with their owners. Every time I take a walk, yes Peter and I are still walking morning and evening even if we don’t have a dog to walk, and we both point out and comment on the dogs we see. “Look a puppy!” We ooh and ah. This morning I saw a small puppy guide-dog-in-training with his trainer accompanied by a mature guide dog and a woman in a wheel chair. Wouldn’t that be a nice thing to do, to train a guide dog. A noble thing to do, although I’d probably be so sad to part with the puppy I had trained. And then there is the question of time, training a puppy takes a lot of time and I’m not home very much. When Grace was a puppy, our daughter Alex was in fourth grade and I did my writing and editing from home. I could take her out for several walks a day to get her housebroken and Alex was home mid afternoon to walk her again and play with her. So I’m still thinking….
(If you are wondering about the photograph above, it was taken at Quiet Waters Park. The first couple of years after Grace had her nine puppies, we’d meet for a reunion with those owners who could attend. Grace is the dog on her hind legs being held by Peter and her mate Augie is the Golden wearing a red bandana.)
If you’ve been a regular reader of this blog, you’re probably already acquainted with Grace of Naptown. If you’re a frequent walker in downtown Annapolis, you’ve probably met her in person and stroked her soft golden fur. She was a regular visitor to City Dock Cafe and could be seen mornings, around 7:00 a.m. waiting patiently outside while her owners stood in line for their morning coffee. While waiting, she made many friends, and was offered pieces of bagel and muffin which she enjoyed, but she really loved the petting. She loved the attention given by everyone who met her, for being a golden she loved people more than anything else.
Grace has become such a familiar fixture, that if my husband Peter or I were to dare to go out for a walk in the evening, perhaps to go to dinner or the theater– to a place where dogs were not allowed, we’d be asked, “Where is Grace?”
I fear we will be asked that question many times in the upcoming weeks. Grace died on Friday, July 8th. She had a good final week on this earth spending time doing what she loved to do best: walking, exploring the smells of the woods, chasing chipmunks and squirrels, making new friends, swimming in the Bay, rolling in the sand. While it appeared her immediate cause of death was congestive heart failure, we are not certain of the specific illness but suspect it was a swift moving cancer.
Grace, hailed from Berkley Springs West Virginia and was the daughter of Lady and Prince of the Knoll. She gave birth to nine puppies sired by another small Golden Retriever, Augie. All nine puppies went to wonderful homes. One daughter predeceased her, succumbing to cancer. We have many fond memories of the “puppy experience” and I even wrote an article about it for What’s Up? Annapolis in October of 2005, which was enthusiastically lauded as well as sharply criticized by those not in favor of “amateur breeding.” Grace accompanied us to Trick or Treat for Halloween as well as to walk on behalf of the SPCA. One of her favorite hiking spots were the trails at Greenberry Point where she would sometimes attempt to chase after deer. She would sit patiently while small children and toddlers would attempt to pet her and grunt approvingly while being scratched behind the ears and under the chin.
The best dog I’ve ever known, she will be missed but not forgotten.
Well I saw a whole lot of people last night at the Best of Party and I tasted a whole lot of food. From mushrooms stuffed with escargots in cream sauce prepared by chef Russell Brown, now at O’Learys Seafood Restaurant ( Annapolis winner of Best Seafood) to the shrimp served over grits prepared by Fisherman’s Inn ( Eastern Shore winner of Best Shore food, crab cakes, and seafood) it was all yummy.
Tempting too were all those auction items to bid on. Hopefully lots of money was raised for Wellness House in Annapolis which provides support services for the children of parents undergoing cancer treatments and for a variety of charities on the Eastern Shore. One of my duties last night was “standing guard” in the silent auction room when the bidding was underway and it was amusing to watch people visiting and revisiting their bid sheets, when they thought no one else was looking, to make certain they had the winning bid. At times the competition was intense. Staff at the check-out station informed me, yes there were some folks who were disappointed they missed out on a winning bid when they were certain they had succeeded in being the last bidder. Those last few minutes can count, just like at an Ebay auction.
There were quick sketch artists capturing people’s likeness in caricature, and glamorous ladies dressed to dance the “can-can” and greeting you with Bon Soir, because after all, the theme was Paris in Annapolis, We are “Creme de la Creme” ie The best of the best!
This weekend the fun continues this Saturday night at the Chesapeake Bay Foundation Headquarters, the Philip Merrill Environmental Center. Dance in the sand to the tunes of Misspent Youth and The Rovers, all to benefit the CBF. Call 410-268-8816 or go to cbf.org/bandinthesand for more information.
Sunday is Father’s Day. I haven’t planned the dinner menu yet but I did buy a gift way ahead of time, when I read about something I thought my husband would like and I’m sure will be fielding a number of phone calls from children far away. Skype anyone? Have a great weekend and try out some of those Best restaurants and retailers!
Here at the What’s Up? Media offices, intermixed with meeting our writing and advertising deadlines, folks are bustling about getting ready for the Best of Party, this year at the Sheraton in Annapolis. That’s the party where you can sample the great food voted as Best of Annapolis and the Eastern Shore by our readers and bid on silent auction items donated by Best of winners to support local charities including Wellness House of Annapolis. During the evening you’ll be able to listen to the Doug Segree Band and Kentavius Jones, winning musicians. The award ceremony takes place at 8:00 p.m. and the fun begins in the Chesapeake Ballroom and Glebe/Chester rooms at 6:00 p.m. This year’s theme is French Fashion and Style as we celebrate the Creme de la Creme. Look for a crab hanging off the Eiffel Tower and maybe a French poodle or two. Wear an outrageous hat and potentially win a $250 price.
If you like crazy parties with lots of good food. This is the place to be!