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

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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.

Annapolis Summer Brings Downtown Changes

I’ve been out-of town for almost a month, visiting the other side of the world and although I enjoyed the adventures, it is great to be back home in Annapolis. (If I could just get my sleep cycle back to normal and catch up on those missing hours I would really feel good). Nevertheless I’ve resumed my regular schedule of walks downtown; morning and evening, and I look at the city with fresh eyes having been away.
I see a lot of vacant storefronts. Avoca Handweavers, which was cleaning out the last of their inventory in June, is now empty and appears to have been leased. The “Mystery Shop” ie the former Annapolis pawn shop that has remained in the decade of the 1950s, is in the process of being cleared out. There are no longer sunglasses and harmonicas and watchbands in the window..how sad. Market House still has very few vendors. But if I walk Up Town on West Street past Church Circle there are new signs of life. A photography studio has opened in the storefront vacated by Horse Boutique and the shop that was housing beauty products for Hudson and Fouquet has been remodeled into a handsome salon. I was recently invited for a visit and could not help but admire the lovely new wood floors and tiled floors that have been installed in the late 19th century stucco building along with the acoutrements for a high end salon. Hudson and Fouquet were the winners (tied with nearby Ruby’s Salon) for Best Women’s stylist in the What’s Up? Annapolis Best of contest . Judging by the many satisfied customers I observed, it is easy to see why. You can check out the list of all the What’s Up? winners at http://www.WhatsUpMag.com and look at some of the party pics too.

Annapolis Women Meets Death Just Outside My Window

The death of a elderly woman in a motorized wheelchair took place less than an hour ago just outside my window, but I was too busy working to notice.

The death of a elderly woman in a motorized wheelchair took place less than an hour ago just outside my window, but I was too busy working to notice. Focused on the essay I was trying to compose, I barely heard the sirens rushing to the scene, nor the paramedics transfering her limp body onto a stretcher. It wasn’t until our two managing editors returned from their lunch break reporting that some sort of incident had blocked off West Street before I realized some sort of crime investigation was taking place. The police, a half a dozen, were spraying for fingerprints. A yellow tarp was being laid down and they were looking under a van. What were they looking for? A policeman laid down on this side in the road, perhaps reinacting the collision and another investigator was taking measurements. I was watching CSI Annapolis through my window.
At the time of writing this blog, the street is still blocked. No one knows the woman’s name….yet.
Ironically, this all took place in front of the BP Gas Station and of course considering the Gulf Oil spill I associate British Petroleum with death and destruction and wonder why anyone could possibly be purchasing gasoline there. But they are.
The Fawcett Marine Boat Supplies white van, evidently the vehicle that struck the lady, is in the process of being towed away. That’s all I know, at present.

Public Relations 101 Meet Annapolis Press

If you need help publicizing something, particularly something community related this is a great event you should not miss. Next week there will only be six panelists but they include representatives from The Chesapeake Music Guide, The Capital, WNAV. Chesapeake Family, and What’s Up? Media Group along with Keith Oliver who teachers public relations to U.S. Marines and has recently written a book public relations.

Last night, June 7th was the first installment of the 2010 P.R. Bazaar hosted by Wendi Winters and held at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Annapolis at 333 Dubois Road. I was one of nine panelists who made themselves available to answer questions on “Just how do I publicize my event?” or “How do I get someone to write a story about my organization?” or “How do I get the photos I took published?” This P.R. Bazaar will be repeated next week, same time and same place. The doors open at 6:00 p.m. and there is a request for a donation to cover the overhead expenses ie use of the facilities and the free snacks keeping in mind that this event is a “public service” gig meant to be helpful to both nonprofits, government agencies, small businesses and to members of the press as well.
If you need help publicizing something, particularly something community related this is a great event you should not miss. Next week there will only be six panelists but they include representatives from The Chesapeake Music Guide, The Capital, WNAV. Chesapeake Family, and What’s Up? Media Group along with Keith Oliver who teachers public relations to U.S. Marines and has recently written a book on public relations.

How did the P.R. Bazaar get started, well I will shamelessly tell you that I started this event approximately 10 years ago as the Communications Chair of the Anne Arundel County Arts Council. The purpose was to help our 40 plus non profit arts organizations get a better idea of how to publicize their activities and expand their audiences. I limited the number of panelists to no more than six and tried to alternate from year to year the type of media representation by focusing one year on newspapers and magazines and another year on television, radio, and websites. After my term finished as a board member of the arts council the event was not continued and fortunately Wendi liked the idea so much that she picked it up and ran with it. (As this prolific freelance journalist does with many things!) She has expanded its reach to run two sessions and serve a larger variety of participants.
Sadly I noticed that this year there was no representation from two of our major area newspapers: The Washington Post or The Baltimore Sun. They did provide some information to be included in the booklet given to all participants but I could tell from the questions I was being asked that no one was sitting down and reading the booklet. I’m going to assume that the editors from The Post and The Sun felt too overworked to attend the event. Several of the panelists felt compelled to tell the audience just how overworked they were and how their publications were struggling under the shadow of a tenuous economy that had forced management to reduce the staff and size of their organization. I learned that Maryland Public Television no longer has a communications department and thus the development staff are now responsible for communications. I learned that the Annapolis Times closed its doors in 2009 due to lack of revenue but recently reopened, albeit at 12 pages, with support from the African American business community. When it came my turn to speak, I chose to focus on what What’s Up? does publish and produce on several media platforms. As to being overworked, suffice it to say that I do not have time to chat on the phone or meet for coffee unless you are willing to rendez-vous at 7:00 a.m. I carefully focus my time on completing targeted projects and multi-task as much as possible. When special projects editor Sarah Hagarty asked me this morning how last night went, I suggested she read my blog I was about to write.
I met lots of nice people. There were about 50 attendees, plus the panelists and volunteers (many of whom were members of Wendi’s family) so there was definitely a good sized crowd. This year the event took on a more intimate format. Attendees sat at large round tables and the panelists moved from table to table every 7 minutes to answer questions. While it may have enabled each panelist to focus only on their publication and not listen to how their colleagues responded to a question, it did mean that I had to answer some of the same questions over and over again. The most asked question: When are your deadlines? So for everyone reading this I’ll just put it in writing. If you want someone to be published in the calendar, we need to receive it 45 days in advance of the month in which the event occurs. It you want to pitch a story, try to think in terms of one year in the future. More time sensitive short articles can be taken on six months in the future. Remember that in order for a monthly magazine to be printed and on the newstands by the end of the preceeding month it needs to get to the printer a month in advance.

Right-Handed Annapolitan

So what is going on in Annapolis and the Mid-Shore this beautiful Easter weekend to distract?

Whenever we go traveling, my husband Peter usually judges the success of our journey by our safe arrival home. This time, a journey to California to look at colleges with our daughter Alex was punctuated by an unfortunate trip, stumble, and fall. The result–a break to a bone in my left wrist. I’m typing this blog with one hand, my right hand. I never realized before how painful, with a capital P a broken bone can be, so painful that even with pain meds, the ache and throbbing is still keenly felt. The only relief is distraction.
So what is going on in Annapolis and the Mid-Shore this beautiful Easter weekend to distract? Well in addition to all the Easter egg hunts and special Sunday brunches there are a number of gallery openings in Chestertown along with the opening of a photography exhibit at the gallery at Quiet Waters Park, that features orchids captured on film by Ashley Edmunds Cooke. But best of all will be all the cherry blossoms and daffodils we can enjoy along with mostly sunny fair weather. So enjoy a walk, bicycle, or cruise on the Bay. Although I only have use of one hand, I can still get out and walk!

Snow and Dogwalking in Annapolis

Downtown Annapolis— the benches at City Dock at Ego Alley are completely buried.

Our golden retriever in front of Ego Alley, downtown Annapolis.

Rain, snow, sun, or shine; my husband Peter and I try to start every day by taking our dog Grace of Naptown for a walk. Grace officially belongs to our daughter Alex, but she likes to sleep in whenever she has the opportunity. Despite the howling winds and blizzard conditions, today was no exception. Grace loves the snow. She jumps and romps through all those snow drifts, smelling all the “good smells” of the dogs who have passed that way before her.
Although there is a ban on driving in the city of Annapolis, there were plenty of SUV’s downtown. Open and serving breakfast was Chick and Ruth’s Deli as well as Hard Bean Cafe and City Dock Cafe. Many of the downtown regulars were there including musician Rob Levitt who walked across the bridge from Eastport. Because the walk from our Murray Hill neighborhood took twice as long due to the volume of snow, I took note of some business openings and closings. Avoca Handweavers, is closing soon, one of my favorite stores for beautiful hand knit sweaters from Ireland. Everything left is 50% off, but of course they are not open today. A new store Wood Artisans selling handcrafted furniture is opening up in the former location of the Sport Memorabilia store on Main Street next to the store specializing in hooked rugs.
Although no bagels were delivered this morning to City Dock Cafe, they did have fresh baked scones and muffins. After drinking some hot coffee to warm us up we took a closer look at the waterfront and Ego Alley. The benches are completely buried.

No shoveling in the City Dock area downtown!

With the severe weather, it was no surprise that Rob opted for a ride back to Eastport offered by a neighbor, rather than trying to brave his way across the bridge to the Maritime Republic of Eastport. However, Peter, Grace and I did forge our way back up Main Street, down Upper West Street where businesses were attempting to get their sidewalks cleared, and up and over to our neighborhood. To those who have asked me whether our street ever did get plowed, I have to respond, “Not really.” Evidently our street, although it is a connector between two well traveled roads, doesn’t rate according to the City of Annapolis. A neighbor we encountered on our way home who lives on a very small side street told us they finally got their street plowed by sweet talking a contractor working for the city with a shot of booze and some warm vegetable soup.
Grace’s long fur was caked with snow and after getting cleaned off she was happy to curl up under my desk for a long nap until it’s time for her next walk… this evening.

No Eggs in Annapolis

Snow can bring out the best in people and the worst

I suppose the title is a tad dramatic. There was one carton of eggs with three that were broken, but other than that the case was empty. This lack of eggs took place yesterday afternoon February 8th at the one Annapolis area Safeway store that was open, the one off 450 next to Best Buys. The other two, the one in Annapolis off Forest Drive and the one in Edgewater were both closed due to lack of accessibility by delivery trucks. Another snow storm is presumeably on its way dumping as much as 18 more inches! The snow seems to bring out the best in some people– helpful neighbors, and thoughtful co-workers but it also can bring out the worst as folks push their way to grab up the last grocery supplies and go joy riding through snow banks clogging up the roadways and preventing the passage of emergency vehicles. When will it all end? At least I live in walking distance of downtown, so I’m never completely snowbound. Walking to work was definitely an adventure, with no sidewalks cleared on West Street. Several times I needed to jump atop a snowdrift on the side of the road, just to stay out of the path of a passing truck. Will they ever clear my street? Stay posted.