Category Archives: Wish You Were Here

Living Local in AACo

Urban Animals

Although Anne Arundel County is a suburb of both Washington DC and Baltimore, I hardly ever find a reason to visit those cities. I have more than enough to keep me happy and occupied right here in my own little corner of the universe. But sometimes, I am coaxed into their grey landscapes ( in this case, a gift certificate for wood-fired, gluten-free pizza inspired a mini road trip).

While searching for parking in DC, I noticed this whimsical sight amidst all the concrete. It was a quick snap with the camera phone, and a clumsy zoom. But the glimpse of the giant stuffed animals seemingly paying rapt attention to an unseen speaker made me smile.


On the second pass round the block, I noticed that the store was empty and dusty. I don’t know why these animals were there in the window, or how long they will wait. Street-art commentary about the state of Congress or randomly aligned pile of toy store overstock?


Whatever the reason, that small detail of soft acrylic fur within a long wall of hard concrete and glass made me feel just a little bit warmer.

(And the pizza was worth the journey.)

This post has been submitted to the WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge. Please visit the other entries listed below for more interpretations of “Lost in the Details“.

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. Lost in the details. | jaycee68
  2. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details | elPadawan ~ around Prague
  3. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details. | small house/BIG GARDEN
  4. Pause | theloneshewolf
  5. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details | The Voice from the Backseat
  6. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details | SC Surf Butler
  7. Lost in the Details | artisticmilestone
  8. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost In The Details | An Evil Nymph’s Blog
  9. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details | Efrata Denny Saputra Yunus
  10. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details | Serendipity 13
  11. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details | PragueByKaty
  12. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details | Images of Lake County
  13. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details | 12 Books in 12 Months
  14. Weekly Photo Challenge: My Sammich | Aphro Junkee
  15. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Detail | Tvor Travels
  16. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the detail | Leanne’s delicious food and travel adventures
  17. Weekly Photo Challenge: Lost in the Details » The Blog Farm
  18. Lost (and found) in the details – photo challenge | Atlantic Transcripts
  19. legs | yi-ching lin photography
  20. Lost in the details | Clouds of Colour



3 Like This


Filed under General, Wish You Were Here

Recycled Kisses

I feel privileged that I was there to see this moment. Jake, a recently rescued black Lab mix, partially blind and skittish, is learning to trust his new owner. Little is known of his history, except that he was found wandering in the woods, injured and starving.  It was obvious his experiences with humans were not pleasant.  Yet over the past few months, Jake  has learned that he is safe, again or at last. When I witnessed this scene, he was slowly allowing himself to be vulnerable, good eye hidden and head nuzzled into his owner’s shoulder. No reward was promised, other than a kiss, and someone to lean on.


The resilience of dogs continues to amaze me. A being with such willingness to trust, despite a history that would cement fear into a human heart, must truly be physical proof of unconditional love. The interactions between animals and their loving owners melts my heart.  And it breaks my heart to learn of an animal being deliberately hurt, or cast away, at the whim of a human.

Jake was adopted through a local Lab rescue. Our own pup came through Akita rescue. There are probably lonely dogs and cats in shelters close to you, full of love and kisses and looking for someone to share them with. Please consider opening your home and your heart to an animal in need.

Is there an animal rescue that you support?  Please feel free to post it in the Comments below!

I’m wishing everyone at least one moment of unconditional love today.

This post was inspired both by a wonderful encounter I had with a fellow Free-cycler and by the WordPress Weekly photo challenge. More interpretations to the assignment “Kiss” can be found below.   

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. weekly photo challenge : kiss | Time To Be Inspired
  2. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss « MaanKind
  3. Weekly Photo Challenge – Kiss « The Urge To Wander
  4. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss « Lagottocattleya
  5. Weekly Photo Challlenge: KISS « The Adventures of Iñigo Boy
  6. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss | En snögummas tankar om livet
  7. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss | rfljenksy – Practicing Simplicity
  8. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss | Pilot Fish
  9. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss | The Blog Farm – A Growing Blog Community
  10. The sun kissed the earth | breathofgreenair
  11. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss | mothergrogan
  12. Celebrity News & Alerts | Google Alert – KISS
  13. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss « Last Train to QVille
  14. kiss « yi-ching lin photography
  15. Weekly Photo Challenge: KISS « Life&Ink
  16. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss | Notes from Africa
  17. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss | Mike Hardisty Photography
  18. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss | My Thoughts like Balloons
  19. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss | My Sardinian Life
  20. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss | My Caymanian Life
  21. Kiss Me! A WordPress Weekly Photo Challenge! « Life in the Foothills
  22. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss | Drama Queen Under the Sun
  23. Penguin Pecks (Pic de Jour) | piran café
  24. Weekly Photo Challenge : Kissing clouds | SABAS LOG
  25. Weekly Photo Challenge: Kiss back in Time « What’s (in) the picture?


10 Like This


Filed under General, Repurpose This, Wish You Were Here

Walk and Wonder

The pup and I sometimes explore other neighborhoods. This was on the edge of a nearby park. What do you think is going on here? This Underwood typewriter was in lovely condition. And just perched there, on the curb, between parking lot and playground.

20130215-192108.jpgSo mysterious.

0 Be the first to Like this


Filed under General, Wish You Were Here

Why I Love FreeCycle

We (as Back Creek Design) renovate two to three neglected properties each year. Sometimes we find that the houses have been completely stripped.  Not only appliances, but plumbing, wiring, and architectural details have been ripped out without regard to preserving the remaining structure.

Sometimes the houses are full beyond belief with the accumulation of a lifetime.  Or more than a lifetime…it seems like more properties we find these days have been havens for hoarders, who have passed on and left the comfort of their possessions.

In either case, stripped or crammed, or even in that rare condition of ‘broom-swept clean’, we find things that we don’t need, can’t use, and which have no resale value.


Sample portfolios of roofing and siding material. (photo courtesy of Back Creek Design)

I usually can find a treasure or two for our own home or garden.  I’ve gotten some great mixing bowls, flower pots, and even an unopened bottle of premium tequila by sifting through debris.  But I try hard not to accumulate clutter. (Yes, it’s a very hard challenge!)  We donate what we can to Habitat for Humanity, but often the condition or quantity of the debris is not worth their limited shelf space.


Just a few squares each of three sizes of ceramic tile. (photo courtesy of Back Creek Design)

We in Anne Arundel County are so fortunate to have curbside trash, bulk trash, and recycling pickup included in our County budget.  So sometimes it is almost too easy to toss things out. And yet, I hate to throw things in the dump.  (There are three county landfills in AACo.  That’s a lot of trash!) That’s just shifting the junk from one location to another.  Out of sight, but not beyond my responsibility.


A few square feet of tile in a discontinued color. Useful, but too small for any of our needs. (photo courtesy of Back Creek Design)

As we renovate each property, we accumulate odds and ends of material.  I’ve saved the scraps in our shed over the years, with the intention of using them ‘in the next house’.  But invariably, there’s no place for that tile, or the color of the paint won’t work with the existing woodwork, or….

And so the shed becomes full, as well as the back of my car, and the back porch, with samples, scraps, and good intentions, as we work through each project.

Thank goodness for FreeCycle.

I try to join a group nearest to each project to keep driving to a minimum.  Staying local, besides keeping things out of the landfill, is part of the FreeCycle philosophy.   Anne Arundel County is fortunate to have many active locations.  I usually gravitate towards Annapolis or Severna Park.  But Odenton and Glen Burnie are also hopping.  There are lots of crafty, thrifty, and creative people in this part of the world.  Have you seen my ‘Repurpose This’ series?  Stuff gets snapped up through FreeCycle for uses that I would never have imagined.  Sometimes the number of responses for this ‘junk’ gets overwhelming.  Thank goodness I can keep up a steady stream of empty CBRC coffee cans!


This pile of ‘garbage’ is just a portion of what was re-homed through FreeCycle in one afternoon. You can see the sought-after CBRC coffee cans in the lower right. (photo courtesy of Back Creek Design)

All the items pictured here were picked up, quickly, in one afternoon by fellow FreeCyclers.  And there were more things that I didn’t think to take pictures of.  Just read the great ways that these are going to be reused…

The ceramic tile is going to be used in a mother-daughter project.  All the scraps are in the same color family, so they are going to mix and match them to make a custom mosaic backsplash for their kitchen.  Mom promises to share pictures when they are done.  Love it!


There are probably a half-dozen different patterns of tile in this pile. Creativity and patience will turn these scraps into a gorgeous backsplash. (photo courtesy of Back Creek Design)

The coffee cans went to two places.  A garden club is going to make a project based on the “Garden Edition” post.  I am so happy!  And an art teacher in the local elementary school will be using some cans as storage for supplies.

The portfolios of roofing and vinyl siding samples will be torn down to use as craft supplies…final project as yet undetermined.  Whatever it is, it will last for a long time…there’s a 20-year warranty on that material.  A really good reason to keep it out of the landfill!

Do you have a Freecycle near you?  Did you know that you can request free items, as well as post offers?  I have met people who have patiently completed an entire renovation project with material and furnishings entirely from FreeCycle.

What a wonderful way to be part of the community.


1 Like This


Filed under General, Repurpose This, Wish You Were Here

The Creek in Winter

It was bitterly cold when the pup and I set out this morning.


A skin of ice clung to the edge of the creek.


The pup, of course, was still interested in taking a dip.

This did not happen.

I spent several long seconds being snubbed.


A few yards inland, and the marsh mud was frozen solid.


We climbed up an observation tower to see above the Phragmites.


The higher we climbed, the more blue sky we could see.


Warm weather was creeping towards us.


Back home, the earth was softening in the sunshine.


Pink and yellow emerge from  brown and grey.

20130210-135214.jpgAnother morning,

another walk,

another season has begun.

5 Like This


Filed under General, Wish You Were Here

Toes that Shine (Lotus)

I look forward to my sort-of-monthly visit to Lotus. Tarragh does my pedicure, my single girly secret in my workpants-and-hoodie world. Although I am older than her parents, and wobble when I walk, she still talks to me like I am a real person. The pedicures that used to be an easy luxury for me are now a dear necessity, yet another thing for which I need to ask for help.

Tarragh has a family and a full-time career. Still, she tries on other lives part-time. “Like me, when I was younger,” I think, but never say. I don’t worry that she would be offended by the connection. I just have yet to accept that “when I was younger” is a part of who I am now. Once a week, she becomes a nail technician at this cozy, organic day spa. But unlike me at any age, she is wise beyond her years.

I am very early for my appointment today. Tarragh peeks out from the spa room. I stand in front of the wall of tiny bottles, holding one after another up to my skin. I apologize for interrupting her. “I need time to pick a color” I explain.

Tarragh steps through the doorway and laughs.

“Don’t worry, I understand”. She hands me a familiar inky-blue bottle. “You always want to make sure you know your options. But you almost always choose the same one.”



2 Like This

1 Comment

Filed under General, Wish You Were Here

Local Treasure: The Skating Rink at Quiet Waters Park

We are now a few weeks into Winter, the holidays have passed, and the chill is setting in. Rather than hiding from the season, why not celebrate it with an only-when-it’s-cold-out adventure? For the next few weeks, the reflecting pool at Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis will be transformed into an old fashioned skating rink.

Old-fashioned Winter fun at the Skating Rink. (photo courtesy of AACo)

Old-fashioned Winter fun at the Skating Rink. (photo courtesy of AACo)

Normal park entry fees apply most days until 5:30pm, but the rink is open until 9pm. Visit the Rink website for more information, including skate rental and lessons.

And if ice skating itself doesn’t entice you, the nearby Visitor’s Center with art gallery and Cafe makes a great perch to enjoy the activity while staying warm.


2 Like This


Filed under General, Wish You Were Here

Local Treasure Update: Habitat for Humanity SALE

ReStore, the retail outlet for Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake, is having a HUGE sale this weekend. Among other fabulous deals, there’s 20% off all donated items.

If you are going to squeeze in a quick redecorating project before Christmas, or need a furniture upgrade before company comes, be sure to check them out. They have some great treasures (did you see the granite countertops for $999 ?) and proceeds go to improving our community in Anne Arundel County and neighboring areas.


A three-piece queen-sized bedroom set for $145 at the Pasadena Restore (photo courtesy of Habitat for Humanity of the Chesapeake)

If you are  not in the Chesapeake area, look for a ReStore near you.  It’s a great way to do good, for yourself and for the neighborhood.

Happy Holidays.

0 Be the first to Like this


Filed under General, Wish You Were Here

Coffee for the Front Lines, and Other Nice Things

It was another day when my body felt a little rough, my brain a little disengaged.  The to-do list seemed to unfurl across the floor, and I couldn’t summon up the enthusiasm to tackle it.  As before, I turned to the blogosphere for inspiration, and found it in a fresh point of view in  ”Coffee and a Serving of Perspective“.  With Anne Arundel County being home base to so many military families, we probably all know someone who has had their life affected by deployment.  This post not only put my draggy day into perspective, but also helped me feel positive about something small I could do for someone else who needed a boost.

For a mere $2, Cup o’ Joe lets you send a personal email and a hot cup of ‘real’ coffee to a deployed service member to enjoy during a quiet moment.  For those who are serving in an area without access to cafes, there is an option to send a bag of coffee beans via chaplain to the front lines. Such a simple idea, but such a kind way to let an individual person know that their efforts are appreciated.

Here’s a note from a serviceman about how it felt to get the gift of a simple cup of coffee. There’s more to read at Green Beans Coffee.

No matter how strained things get for us, consider how little it takes to brighten someone else’s day.  Like paying the toll for the person behind you, or bringing in doughnuts for another department at work, or calling Customer Service to compliment instead of complain.

And when you have a quiet moment to think good thoughts, take a look through the blog Gina Left the Mall.  Plenty of inspiration to go around.


0 Be the first to Like this

1 Comment

Filed under General, Wish You Were Here

Next Saturday, Support Local Business

Next Saturday, November 24, is the Third National Small Business Saturday.

The most courageous shoppers fight the crowds at the large retailers on Black Friday. Turkey-stuffed office workers hit the online vendors on Cyber Monday. But during the weekend in between is a shopping day that we can all support, and, to paraphrase Charles Dickens,  ”honor…and try to keep it all the year.”

According to research by American Express, last year over 100 million people came out to support independently-owned businesses on the second annual Small Business Saturday. And studies have shown that for every $100 spent at a locally-owned business, $68 goes back to the local economy, versus $43 from national chain store.

Support local businesses, in Annapolis, Severna Park, Glen Burnie, Pasadena…and all the other towns in Anne Arundel County. We’d miss them if they were gone!

Does this quote from Jeff Milchen ring true?

When asked to name our favorite restaurant, cafe, or shop, we almost always cite a unique local business (look at the results in any “Best of” polls as proof). We embrace the idea of distinctive businesses with local character, but often forget their survival depends on our patronage. (The Benefits of Doing Business Locally)

So next Saturday, if you do need to purchase something, show your support for the community by shopping local. Visit a nearby business that you’ve been meaning to check out. Return to an old favorite shop or eatery. Small businesses are what give each town it’s unique charm. Patronizing them supports our neighbors, and builds our neighborhoods. 20121117-074915.jpg

0 Be the first to Like this

Leave a Comment

Filed under Angel's Share Glass/Metal/Fire/Art, General, Wish You Were Here