Way..... Out there !

Way..... Out there !
Deepest, most colorful Hubble image yet of our universe. Click for info.

Monday, December 29, 2008

Bush-Whacked !

   On Monday, December 22, the coldest day of the year (max 26° F), disaster descended on our faithful old entrance plantings. Even the stalwart old Holly was ripped out by the roots and thrown away, to be seen no more. 

    In place of the old guard, a swarm of newbies appeared upon the freshly denuded beds, looking hopeful as they waited to be settled in their new homes. By then, even our old split-rail fences had been yanked from their positions and hauled away.

    Shoveling briskly (it was the next day, but no warmer!), a crew from the nursery (Green Landing Nursery of Upper Marlboro) set the transplants in their new homes. Unbagging the mulch from the stack on the truck, they lavished it on the new residents. 

   Voila!  Behold the fabulous new entrance area of Hallmark Woods. 

   Of course, in all honesty, this is supposedly just Phase One. Depending on how things go at our annual meeting, now scheduled for Wednesday, January 21, Phase Two should come along in spring when it's warm enough to finish the plantings. 

   So please do come to the annual meeting: there will be many very important things to discuss and vote on!

John L.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Sky Lights

    For the past few evenings, anyone who looked into the sky in the southwest saw a wonderful astronomical sight: the brilliant planets Venus and Jupiter close together and out-shining anything in the sky. Except for the crescent moon, of course, which joined the two planets Monday night.  If you missed that, don't despair, however. The two planets will remain close together for a while, according to Sky and Telescope magazine. And then Venus and the Moon will have a return engagement.

Although the three objects look close together, the appearance is deceiving. The Moon is only 252,000 miles away, less far than you may have driven a car in your lifetime. Right now Venus is 370 times farther away, at 94 million miles. And Jupiter, at 540 million miles, is nearly six times farther than Venus.

To put it another way: the Moon is currently 1.4 light-seconds distant, Venus is 8.4 light-minutes distant, and Jupiter is 42 light-minutes away. That's how long the light from each of them has been traveling through space before it hits your eye. Moreover, although Jupiter looks like a tiny dot, it's actually 40 times wider than the Moon.

If the sky is cloudy for this celestial gathering, don't despair. Venus and the crescent Moon will have another spectacular twilight pairing (though without Jupiter) on December 31st, New Year's Eve!

    You might also check out the Washington Post's Sky Watch column by Blaine P. Friedlander, jr., which has more on upcoming astronomical delights in the sky and in the area. And keep an eye on the evening sky, especially toward the southwest; when the clouds part, there's beauty up there and it's all yours!

John L.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Annual Meeting Approaches — UPDATE !!

    It's almost time once again for the annual Hallmark Woods "Theater of the Absurd", aka the HWPOA annual meeting.  As of now, it's scheduled for January 12, 2009, most likely at 7:00 pm and probably (since the county library meeting room is already taken for that date) in a garage at 2173 Hallmark Drive. 

    I call it absurd since usually only a small fraction of homeowners actually show up. Some apparently just don't care; some just unthinkingly check off a proxy form and send it in; but at least a few stalwart citizens do their duty and actually appear and participate in the discussions and voting. Hats off to them!  

    This year, if you can't participate in person, please take a moment to read your proxy form* carefully and indicate your preferences for the future of our community. Better yet, give your proxy to a neighbor who will be at the meeting and who will vote as you desire. Best of all, drag yourself to the meeting, where you can meet your neighbors (including the incumbent directors) and voice your opinions in person. 

    And if you think you'd like to really help out, throw your hat in the ring and run for one of the two director posts that will be open. Time for some new blood there!  

John L.

From the Horse's Mouth:  The meeting will be on Wednesday, 21 January at 2173 Hallmark Drive at 7:00 p.m. If we don't have a quorum (the usual case), a second meeting will convene on Monday, 26 January at 7 p.m. in the same place (probably the garage out in the woods). 

     * Note that this year the announcement letter did not include a proxy form, as it did in previous years. You can still vote by proxy, but you'll have to draft your own form: it should simply state that you award your proxy on all matters to [name of your preferred representative here] at the Hallmark Woods 2009 Annual Meeting and any subsequent meetings, and be signed and dated using your full name and including your address. 



Friday, November 14, 2008

Last Gasp Landscape Committee Meeting–update

Tonight, Friday, November 14, 2008,  7:00 pm, at 2181 Hallmark Drive. 

View the landscape plan! Offer comments!  

Last chance before January! 

John L.

P.S.   They met (all five of 'em),  they examined the architect's final drawing/plan, they discussed some features of it (the cost of some trees, for example), and they approved it for submission to the HWPOA directors at their meeting this next Monday, 17 November 2008, at 2161 Hallmark Drive. For the record,  just two observers showed up for the committee meeting.  Makes ya wonder if anyone cares.....

The plan is very similar to the one on the HW website (Sketch B), but with the possible plantings detailed on it. Now it will be up to the directors to approve the plan, get contractors to bid on implementing it, and  present it to the community at our annual meeting on 12 January 2009.*  Meantime, if you can't find a copy of the committee-approved plan on the HW website, you can email me (address in profile at the top of the sidebar) and I'll send you one... or click on the image below for a larger copy.  

And, of course, if you review the plan and have any comments, you can post them here or send them directly to the directors.


*   UPDATE:  The directors seem to have had other intentions. They accepted the plan, but then passed a lengthy motion to not wait until January, but use money from the association's  bank account to implement a "Phase 1" immediately, leaving "Phase 2" to sometime next year when (they expect) HW property owners all will have sent in their extra $125 (for a total of about $200 for the year).  

   Assuming a contractor will be available (the landscape committee chairman was to find out),  Phase 1 would involve such things as digging up all the existing plantings (holly, euonymous, etc.) and planting the new hollies that would then start growing through the winter season.  The dug-up bushes, apparently, would be just trashed.  –JL–

Monday, November 3, 2008

Election Night Comprehensive Coverage

You will VOTE! Right? And then...

   After the polls close at 8 p.m., you can go to WBAL Radio's website to soak yourself in political news and clickable maps with election info updated as the returns come in.  The intro video is already up:


And with any luck....

John L. 

     OBAMA !!   

   ––    OBAMA !!   ––

Monday, October 27, 2008

Curiouser and Curiouser. . .

The HWPOA board of directors plans to hold a special board meeting tonight, Monday October 27 at 7 p.m. at 2161 Hallmark Drive. The announcement of the meeting is here.

Why another meeting when they just had a meeting a week ago on October 20?  Seems some board members want to reconsider a vote taken at that meeting. That vote, as I understand it, was to hold a community-wide meeting sometime in late November or early December to introduce Hallmark property owners to the results of the deliberations of the resurrected landscape committee (see earlier article here on woodsblog...), and to vote as a community to accept or reject that plan. 

The landscape committee has been working with a landscape architect in Annapolis, Deborah Schwab, to produce a design appropriate for Hallmark Woods.  They have selected one option as the best so far and are planning to meet with Ms. Schwab to finalize the design and go over a list of possible options (such as plants, landscape elements, possible contractors...). 

Show up tonight and you might learn where all this is going....

John L.

>> Both resolutions listed in the agenda passed, with one dissension on the meeting (the first resolution listed). The full text of them both (the first was three pages long!) will be published  on the HW website as part of the meeting minutes, we were told. All five board members showed up, as well as 9 non-board members. Discussion was at best anemic.  More, I am sure, later.  –JL–  


Friday, October 24, 2008

Staples Corner Design Meeting

They're baaaaack!   The Anne Arundel County Office of Planning and Zoning will hold the second public meeting on the Staples Corner Urban Design Study on Wednesday, November 12, at 7:00 p.m. at the Crofton Middle School. 

According to their announcement letter, "The project team will present the results of the survey [filled out by participants in the first meeting; see earlier post here], summarize key opportunities and constraints, and discuss the preliminary findings of the travel demand analysis and road improvement alternatives." 

If you care at all what Staples Corner will look like, or how easy/hard it will be to drive through there once any "improvements" (such as a roundabout) are built, show up and make your voice heard. Meantime, if you have any questions or comments, call the Planning & Zoning office at (410) 222-7432  and discuss them with Lynn Miller (the Planning Administrator), Michael Fox, or Kevin Gambrill.

John L.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

The Crofton Way

Back in June, I posted an article on The Joy of Community Associations describing the travails of some people in far-away Montgomery County. But this week's Annapolis Crabwrap (aka the Evening Capitol) brings the story closer to home with this engaging account of one homeowner's campaign against the establishment in his community.  

One of the (real) joys of living in Hallmark Woods has always been that we've avoided this sort of self-immolation here. May it continue to be so.

John L.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Greening the Entrance?

The resurrected entrance landscaping committee has held its first meeting, decided on a course of action... and disappeared into the haze. According to the minutes of their meeting,*  they are now working with two or three professional landscape designers to come up with alternative plans for the entrance. These apparently will be presented to the board of directors in November and then to the entire community (or whoever actually shows up) at our January 2009 annual meeting.  

Meanwhile, things are pretty quiet. Another committee meeting is definitely scheduled for Friday, October 17, at 7 p.m. at 1491 Kingsway Court. If you plan to attend it's always a good idea to check with one of the committee members named in the minutes (link above).  Or, with some luck, there might be a sign at our entrance announcing the meeting. 

Amazing how much their operations sound like those of the original landscaping committee! Apparently they've even considered the few constructive responses we got to our survey! 

John L. 

* Congratulations to whoever typed up those minutes! They're done correctly, as a chronological account of what happened, and are presented in the universal .pdf  format (instead of the often problematical Word table format). Give that person a contract!

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Elf Attack !!

The weeds stood no chance. A  horde* of (Hallmark) woods elves, wielding weapons fearsome even by medieval standards, descended en masse upon them this morning. Ripping, slicing, hacking, sawing... they cut their way through the unsuspecting weeds with fierce determination borne of months of frustration. In the end, only the revered old plants (the venerable Holly, his worthy companions Euonymous, and a pyracantha or two) remained standing upon the liriope-rimmed entrance beds. 

And the elves departed, melting once again into the (Hallmark) woods, leaving no trace of their ferocious onslaught, save only the piles of formerly sturdy weeds now secreted among the trees of the surrounding forest. Yet, their battle cries still echo there: "That's better!"... "Much better!"... "We done good!"... "Death to weeds!"  

A wandering photographer happened by after the battle and recorded the scene:

H. W. Elf

*...at least ten of 'em, according to an observer hidden amongst the trees. It should be noted that this was an unofficial band of elves. It was organized by one of them (not your humble editor) since our board of directors has refused for at least a year to do anything about the entrance weeds.  

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Right Thing To Do...

Hallmark Woods has long had a beautiful entrance area – unique among local communities. Ours is distinctive and elegant, not the pretentious "upscale" glitz that adorns many other front doors. (Gatehouses, brick walls, huge stone signs... all designed to impress gullible would-be residents.) It was developed by our neighbors over many years of volunteer efforts and contributions. In appreciation of their work, I offer the following plan for immediate care and improvement of our heritage. It is inexpensive (as such things go), can be started right away, and will continue our traditional look, so appropriate for our community.*


Proposal 1. Maintain/enhance present entrance

The present design, arrangement of beds, and general plantings are dignified, elegant, quiet, and entirely appropriate for Hallmark Woods. We should keep the general look and layout as is.
It does now, fall 2008, need weeding and general maintenance. So we should:
1. Weed the present planting beds.
2. Test the soil for pH, and NPK levels and amend the soil as needed with limestone, compost (can be bagged), and slow-release fertilizer.
3. Replace all the existing split-rail fence. It is old and much of it is crumbling. It will be cheaper and easier to just replace all of it at once.
4. Plant a few bushes to supplement those that are already there/fill in “holes” in the plantings. Choose plants that are native to the area and drought-resistant.
5. Consult with native plant experts such as those at Chesapeake Native Nursery or the Maryland Master Gardener Program (410-222-6757) to choose appropriate varieties of flowers, perennials, etc.
6. Consider planting ornamental grasses. 
7. Plan to plant bulbs in the fall: daffodils, tulips (?), perhaps tiger/day lilies....
8. Check with AA County about right-of-way along the street and filling in the “Hallmark Hole”.
9. Also check with BGE and Verizon re wires and their needs.
10. Are there any restrictions due to this being a Chesapeake Bay drainage area?


Comments welcome. You can click the Comments link below or send them directly to our HWPOA president. Or both!

John L.

* –– If the community doesn't insist on implementing Proposal 1. (above) or something like it, we will probably get the old board-of-directors's plan which calls for the destruction of all the existing plantings at the entrance.  As the low-bid contractor stated in his proposal, he will: "Remove all plants from existing beds. Move sign closer to road. Construct two rock columns adjacent to sign....."  

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Raising the Dead

The Hallmark Woods Front Entrance Landscape Renovation Planning Committee lives!  Although clearly dissolved on July 28 by an unfortunate memo posted on the community website, at last night's board of directors meeting it was miraculously brought back to life!  

There are a few changes, however. It will now have a chairman appointed by the HWPOA president, and several more stringent reporting requirements (which will be part of that chairman's duties).  On the bright side, the newly-resurrected committee will now have until November 15 (when the 2009 budget must  be prepared) to report its recommendations to the HW directors. The new version also will  have more members: inistead of the five of the former incarnation (of whom three have declined to serve on the resurrected version), it will now have somewhere around ten. If you'd like to volunteer, or have some good ideas to offer, contact the president at the email link above. 

Should you just want to track what the committee is up to, you have two choices: read the minutes of their meetings on the HWPOA website; or actually visit one or more of the meetings, which will be announced on that website.*  Or, you could just wait until January when, presumably, the results will be announced at the community's annual meeting.  

For even more details, consult the minutes of last night's (25 August 2008) meeting, also to be found on the HWPOA website.  

John L.

P.S.  Rumor has it that the rampant weeds at our entrance will be attacked by a platoon of civic-minded volunteers sometime in  September. – Yes! The date is this Saturday, September 20,  from 9 to 11  in the morning. Meet at the entrance; bring a hoe or pruning shears... 

*  The resurrected committee will hold its first meeting Friday, September 12, at 7 p.m. See the HWPOA website for details. – Ooops! There wasn't any meeting announcement there at all!  Maybe minutes will show up sometime.

woodsblog... is Independent !

At last night's HWPOA directors' meeting our president asserted that some folks see woodsblog... as a publication of the association.  Wrong!  woodsblog... is an independent voice for the residents of Hallmark Woods – and a personal blog of your humble (!) Editorus Rex (see sidebar).  

A lengthier paragraph on this blog and its role is at the bottom of every page here. Please read it. And help out by contributing an essay or comment. All that's required is that you live here, and that you're civil.

John L.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Stuff It !

Whilst contemplating the weeds at our entrance and what to do about them, perhaps this bit of deep philosophical analysis will suggest a way forward.  


John L.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Weedy, weedy, weedy....

Hallmark Woods' poor neglected entrance area is growing a lush crop of crabgrass and other native – but not necessarily welcome – flora. Of course, the various bushes and other plantings lovingly installed years ago also are growing luxuriantly – but haphazardly, without the slightest hint of pruning. 


Obviously, our entrance - our "front door" - needs some attention. But what?  Should we simply maintain it as is (but without the weeds!)?  Add some plantings – bushes, flowers, trees – but keep the beds as they are? Or go "whole hog" and start over from scratch (far and away the most expensive, and most problematical option)?

The Hallmark Woods Entrance Area Landscaping Committee (see previous entry) has prepared a survey and distributed it to every house in the community asking your opinions, thoughts, and suggestions on this. The survey form also asks for your estimate of what you might be willing to pay for the options you suggest,and for maintenance of the area in subsequent years. 

Please return your survey forms as soon as possible*  to any member of the committee listed in the accompanying cover letter. Just tuck it into the member's newspaper tube, or knock on the door and hand it to us: we'd be glad to meet you and discuss the matter with you. 

and Thank You Very Much !!

John L.

*  Despite the recent fuss over our activities, we'd still welcome your filled-out survey forms as above.  Or you could email your comments on the landscaping to our HWPOA president.  

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Landscaping Committee First Meeting

The Hallmark Woods Entrance Landscaping Committee is scheduled to have its first, albeit brief, meeting Thursday, 26 June 2008, at 7 p.m. at 2161 Hallmark Drive (the McClurgs' house).  This will be, I think, mainly an organizational meeting for the approximately eight volunteers.  

We will have plenty of work to do:  in brief, the committee will need to look closely at the existing entrance landscaping and consider what changes, if any, should be made;  even more importantly, it will need to make a strong effort to both inform the entire Hallmark Woods community of the project and solicit the homeowners' preferences for the entrance area.  With any luck, this will lead to several finished proposals for going forward which will be presented at a community meeting this fall. Then, the HW residents can choose which to actually implement. 

Of course, all this is my own prognostication.* What actually happens will be up to the committee members and the community response the effort receives – or the lack of it. Since this is our community's front door, we're hoping people will respond with enthusiasm!  I'll keep you posted. 

John Ludwigson

* As a first step, we agreed to meet on Sunday morning, 29 June, at 10 a.m. at the entrance for an on-scene discussion of the possibilities and problems. You are welcome to join us there – all our meetings will be open to members of the Hallmark Woods community.  JL

Monday, June 23, 2008

Staples Corner Urban Design Meeting

A large crowd – more than usual for such meetings according to the Planning officials – turned out to listen and offer their concerns and advice at the first project meeting for the Staples Corner urban design project. In all it looked like more than 100 people crowded the media center (library) at Crofton Middle School on Wednesday, June 18, at 7 pm.

A few points stood out:

• The county planners are not considering recasting the area for big box stores (think Wal-Mart) or hi-rise office or apartment buildings, they repeatedly assured us. The intent is for Staples Corner to remain low-key commercial as it is now, but make it more accessible and safe for pedestrians and bicyclists. The planners refer to it as a "village center" concept.

• Reno's Restaurant has a lot of fans in the area! People kept coming back to this – that the restaurant is a community center, beloved by local residents, and must continue to be a part of the area. The planning officials seemed to agree.

• A traffic circle or roundabout brought mixed reactions: about half the audience seemed to think they're the solution to the traffic problems of such intersections; the other half thought they would be a disaster that would only contribute to congestion and rush hour backups. The planners said they needed more time to analyze their data on traffic patterns and come up with possibly workable solutions. Everyone agreed that the ever-increasing traffic at Staples Corner is dangerous (especially for anyone on foot) and maddeningly slow at some times such as evening rush hour and when the Renaissance Festival is open in the fall.

Two more community meetings are planned: the next to be on transportation issues (the traffic analysis and consideration of various possibilities including mass transit); and then one on urban design concepts when these are fully developed. 

Contact: Lynn Miller, planning administrator; Michael Fox, senior planner; or Kevin Gambrill, community planner  at 410-222-7432  (Office of Planning and Zoning, Long Range Planning)

John L.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Who Me? Partisan?

Today I was going to post a report on the Staples Corner meeting... but that will wait until tomorrow. Tonight I want to add what I think is a great video of Barack Obama explaining himself to Americans who may not have been following the campaigns. It looks like this:


John Ludwigson

Monday, June 16, 2008

Staples Corner Public Hearing — ALERT !!

    The Anne Arundel County Office of Planning will hold a public hearing on their ideas for redeveloping Staples Corner (at Md. routes 424 and 450) this Wednesday, June 18, at 7 pm at Crofton Middle School.  The announcement reads: 

Public Meeting Scheduled

Annapolis, MD (June 6, 2008) - - The Anne Arundel County Office of Planning and Zoning, Long Range Planning Division is beginning work on an Urban Design Study for the Staples Corner area in Crofton. The purpose of the study is to develop a concept plan to enhance the commercial area, create a local activity hub or village center, improve traffic flow, and create an attractive gateway to Crofton.

Input from property owners in the study area as well as local community representatives will be valuable to the process, and we encourage everyone to attend and share their ideas for a creative plan for the area.

WHEN: June 18, 2008 at 7:00 pm

WHERE: Crofton Middle School

2301 Davidsonville Road

Crofton, Maryland 21114

For more information, please contact Lynn Miller at 410-222-7432.

Individuals needing special accommodations must communicate with the contact person at least 7 working days prior to the meeting at the appropriate number, or by e-mail or through the Maryland Relay Service at 7-1-1. All materials are available in an alternative format upon request.

   I have no idea if our HWPOA directors plan to represent our interests at this meeting, but I urge each of you to show up. There's no telling what proposals may come up – huge office buildings, a traffic circle/roundabout...who knows? – but this is one we need to keep an eye on.

John L.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Scurrilous, Underhanded, Evil Political Nonsense

It has come to our attention that a certain video pretending to be honest, moderate advocacy for a political party is actually devious, sneaky, despicable denigration of one party and its wonderful leader, our ever-popular emperor,  Bush II.  Secure in the conviction that people must judge (or enjoy, as the spirit moves you) this bit of dastardly backstabbing for themselves, I offer it here...  

    Please hold the applause: it's the least I can do for my country.  

Should the above Flash video not appear for you, go to I'm Voting Republican.*

Your ever-vigilant moderator, the brown thumb himself...

John L.

* Please note: this post is not sponsored by any recognized political entity, human or otherwise.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Joy of Homeowners Associations...

This past Sunday, the Washington Post Business section included a story on the problems that can arise when homeowners associations lose track of their obligations to serve the members of the communities they represent.  It's a common, all-too-frequent, tale of missed connections and non-responsiveness, worth reading and taking to heart here as well as elsewhere....

As Disputes Escalate, So Can the Legal Bills
By Elizabeth Razzi
Sunday, June 1, 2008; F05

Beware the homeowners association squabble that escalates. Back-fence grousing over parking restrictions, architectural rules or allegations of cronyism can grow into civil war, and homeowners -- the source of all money in the association -- can end up paying big legal bills, no matter which side wins.
One long-running fight in Montgomery County shows why homeowners who serve as directors of their association had better pay strict attention to the details of good governance. People can be surprisingly dogged about how their dues are spent, how elections are held (even for thankless board-of-director jobs), and about how the rules are made, changed and enforced.
For Jo-Ann Fiscina, a decade-long resident of the Devonshire East Homeowners Association in Rockville, the battle with the board started back in 2005.

The full story is here.

Note that Montgomery County has a useful service for resolving these conflicts. I don't think Anne Arundel County has any such mediation service... but it should.  Maybe if we contacted our county legislators?

John Ludwigson

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Rainy Day Flower

With the rain pouring down again this Sunday night, it seemed like a good time to present something cheery and summery. So here's another flower closeup from Ed Rothe, this time a dandelion... a fabulous flower we too often take for granted and even grump at when they pop up in our sacred carpets of zoysia.  But not only are dandelions beautiful, but their leaves are edible in salads and the roots can be used as a coffee substitute. Click on the title at the top of this post for a most informative Wikipedia article on these wonderful lawn ornaments.

Enjoy the rain* – and the flower – while you can. It sure beats the dry times such as we had last August!

John L.

* Holy submarines, Boatman!  As of last week we had a little more than 8 inches of rain according to our backyard rain gauge.  This morning (Monday, 12 May) the gauge showed  another 4 inches.  That's one whole FOOT of rain this month: 12 full inches !  And it's still raining at 9:35 a.m.

•  Note to "Anonymous" – unsigned comments, even innocuous ones, cannot be published here. 

Friday, April 4, 2008

Spring !

...... and a young man's fancy turns to thoughts of.... compost?.... lawn mowing?.... photography!  Yes! 

Ed Rothe found these Japanese Andromeda blossoms in his own yard, the perfect subject for a new digital camera with closeup lens.  Pieris Andromeda, it turns out, is a widely adapted plant, although not a Maryland native. Obviously, it grows quite well here... as do banana trees in summer – witness the banana plant that appears every year by the mailbox of a house on Hallmark Drive. Ed promises more closeup photos to come, as he takes a good careful look at Mother Nature's delights. 

Inspired by this good example (contributions welcome!), I ventured out into my own backyard and found these wonderful golden harbingers of spring... my own "host of golden daffodils". 

And, what could be even more spring-like than a rousing game of croquet?  Such as the annual duel to the death between the inimitable St. John's College and the formidable U.S. Naval Academy?  This year's match is scheduled for April 20th on the lawn at St.  John's. Everyone's welcome, you don't even have to dress for the occasion (though the United States Croquet Association  does have a formal protocol for croquet matches....). 

John L.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Bugs !

    They're comin' soon to a yard near you... and your screens still have holes in them from last year. And you hate the drudge of patching those holes yourself or the nuisance of hauling them off to the hardware store and paying through the proboscis to have them re-screened. 

    Fear not! Keith is here!  Keith Richardson, that is; the proprietor of Keith's Screen Repair in Annapolis.  I discovered him last week when I finally decided to do something about our aged screen door. I hauled the screen (not the whole door) in to his tiny shop on Lincoln Drive and within minutes he had replaced the old mesh. Even offered to replace the spreader bar that had vanished many years ago!  Excellent job and very good price!  I recommend him highly.

    He has no web site;  just call him at 410-626-8191 before you visit his shop (to make sure he's there – he opens around 2:30 p.m. now in the off-season) at 1932-B Lincoln Drive, off Chinquapin Round Road.  If you don't want to bring your screens to him, he offers pickup and delivery service. Or he'll come out and rescreen your entire porch for you. 

    And beat the bugs*  before they arrive!  

John L.

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Trash Delivery?

At our home (2129 Hallmark Drive) something occurred last week that has me perplexed. My elderly mother lives with us so she sees everything that occurs outside the house. 

On Thursday morning February 21, a maroon late model pick-up truck (Ford or Chevy) stopped in front of my driveway. The vehicle approached from the dead-end, heading toward Rt. 450. The driver was an elderly man, maybe mid 60's. As we all know, Thursday is trash day, and thus my cans were out on the road. This gentleman got out of his truck, pulled out a large, white plastic trash bag and placed it in my trashcan.

Needless to say, I found this to be odd at least, and criminal at worst, so I guess I have a few questions:

  •  Why would someone do this?
  •  What would be so disgusting, toxic, or illegal that it would require a person to put their trash in some one else’s receptacle?
  •  Does anyone in the neighborhood know who this might be?

I regularly see at least one maroon pick-up truck pass by, but I don't want to be accusatory. 

If any one can shed some light on this matter, it would be greatly appreciated.

Michael Lewis

Sunday, February 17, 2008

Lunar Eclipse Wednesday

If the weather permits – and that's a big if – a total eclipse of the moon will be nearly impossible to miss here Wednesday evening. Conveniently arranged to appear in full color at prime viewing time, this will be the last such eclipse for nearly three years. The next total lunar eclipse visible anywhere isn't due until December 20-21, 2010. 

For a front-row seat, just go outside at about 8:43 pm and look up. The moon should be high in the sky overhead and just starting to enter Earth's outer shadow (the penumbra). At 10 pm the 52-minute period of total eclipse will begin as the moon slides into the inner shadow (the umbra). By 12:09 am Thursday, the whole thing will be over. 

During the event, the Moon makes a broad triangle with the bright planet Saturn and the somewhat fainter star Regulus, which marks the heart of Leo, the Lion.

This is the last of three total lunar eclipses within a year's time. The previous event, last August 28th, favored the Far West. The one before that, on March 3, 2007, favored eastern North America and Europe.

How and Why

A total lunar eclipse occurs when the Sun, Earth, and Moon form a nearly straight line in space, so that the full Moon passes through Earth's shadow. Unlike a solar eclipse, which requires special equipment to observe safely, you can watch a lunar eclipse with your unaided eyes. Binoculars or a telescope will enhance the view dramatically.

The outer part of Earth's shadow, the penumbra, creates only a slight dusky shading on the lunar disk. But as the Moon begins to move into the central and darkest part of Earth's shadow, the umbra, there's an obvious and ever-larger "bite" in the full Moon. The partial eclipse is then under way.

The total eclipse begins when the Moon is fully within the umbra. On February 20th, totality lasts 52 minutes. But the Moon likely won't disappear completely. It usually glows as an eerie, coppery red disk in the sky, as sunlight scattered around the edge of our atmosphere paints the lunar surface with a warm glow. This is light from all the sunrises and sunsets that are in progress around Earth at the time.

Visit Sky and Telescope magazine's website for much more on the eclipse and astronomy in general.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

There's a hole in the bucket... *

While striding down Hallmark Drive recently ("Exercise!" said the doctor.) I noticed a hole by the side of the road over the creek at the entrance. Being a curious sort, I peered in but couldn't tell how deep it was or where it went. So I got a stick and probed its depths.  You can see the stick in this phone photo I snapped.

Now, that's not much of a hole, you say. OK, but it does go down at least two feet–obviously rain water has been draining through there so it's not too crazy to think it may go all the way through to the creek below.  And, right next to the present hole is a spot in the road where there used to be a similar hole until it was paved over last year. 

Could this be the start of something big? Watch this space for any further developments in the case of (sorry) The Hallmark Hole. 

* Title is from a song recorded by Harry Belafonte and Odetta.

Thursday, February 7, 2008

It's our country....


February 12, next Tuesday, at the Arundel Volunteer Fire Hall, 2374 Davidsonville Rd.  

For more info, go to the Anne Arundel Co. Board of Elections website... or the respective Democratic or Republican party websites.

---------------- Political Plug.......

In these present primaries, one candidate stands out from all the rest for competence, intelligence, leadership ability, and - especially - vision:  Barack Obama . Please consider supporting this once-in-a-lifetime candidate for President of the United States.

   John L.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Out of the Woods...

Welcome neighbors!

This blog is primarily for and about residents of Hallmark Woods, a shady green oasis in central Anne Arundel county, Maryland. It may stray, however, as the mood of your editor moves him. 

There will be links, perhaps in the sidebar, perhaps on page two; with any luck there may be a little, genteel, controversy; there may be some ecstatic comments on the sheer joy of living in such a wonderful forest haven as we have here.
Much more to come! For now, welcome...

John L.

PS:  Feel free to comment on anything you see here... just click the Comments link below  and type away!