Today's column is only the second one in my history to originate in long hand (and the first one in 14 years to be turned in past deadline.) The culprit was BGE — we lost power at 2 a.m. on column deadline day, not to be restored until 5 p.m.

The first long-hand effort was back in 2006, when my husband, Tom, and I were stranded in the Charlotte, N.C., airport on a trip home from New Orleans, because of an electrical storm. I passed the time writing through a long sleepless night. This time, with the power out at home, the predicted return time came and went several times. Hopefully the power, now restored, will stay on.

Scratching out my thoughts on a yellow legal pad turns out to be almost as fast as writing on the computer, although I still have to transcribe it to turn it in to my editor. It's odd, starting a day without electricity. I couldn't fix a cup of coffee, blow dry my hair, do the laundry that's piled high on the washing machine or work on my next book on the computer. But what I could do is watch the doe trying to reach the unripe apples on our backyard tree, enjoy the hummingbirds sipping the sugar water in our feeder and really read every section of the newspaper. That's not a bad tradeoff, although I must admit that I was ready for the gentle hum of our appliances when the power was restored.

Plein Air Event


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It was delightful to pass down Main Street the weekend of July 8 and see so many artists with their easels set up, participating in the plein air painting event. It was so interesting to see our familiar landmarks through those talented eyes. Do drop in to the Howard County Center for the Arts to see the exhibit of these works-new views of an old town.

Farmers Market

My older son, Dave, and his girlfriend, Kristen, arrived by train from Brooklyn, N.Y., last weekend just in time to join us at the Ellicott City Farmers Market. What was amazing to me was how many people Dave knew at the market, even though he hasn't lived here in eight years. He even asked me if I'd arranged to have so many of his friends show up. I didn't, but it was great to enjoy the mini-reunions. I was also surprised that Dave and Kristen found a variety of fruits and vegetables to buy to bring back to their 'Foodie Heaven' corner of Brooklyn. Dave made sure that Kristen, who hails from points north, participated in a few great local traditions. First, they enjoyed a visit to the legendary snowball stand out on Woodstock Road. Kristen couldn't believe it when Dave topped what she called shaved ice with a healthy dose of marshmallow cream. Continuing the "when in Rome" theme, Dave also made sure that Kristen sampled a crab cake at a local restaurant. Also, we sent her off with a gift of my favorite tea towel from Shoemaker Country, the one that says "What Happens in Ellicott City Stays in Ellicott City."

Restaurant Weeks

Howard County restaurant weeks are coming up, July 25-Aug. 8, to be exact. So far, the historic district restaurants participating include Portalli's and Tersiguel's. The theme of 'Farm 2 Table' promises a great experience, as local chefs showcase their talents preparing fresh local dishes at reasonable prices.

First Friday

The next First Friday event in the historic district is Aug. 5. Many shops and restaurants have extended menus and specials to make the evening visit very worthwhile. And you know that strolling around in the evening will certainly be cooler!

Movies

The Wine Bin continues its summer Saturday night al fresco movie series with "Legally Blonde" Saturday, July 23 and "Moonstruck" July 30, both at 9 p.m. I think you need a nice glass of champagne to drink while watching "Moonstruck" as Cher's character sips it with her family to toast her upcoming marriage. Don't forget her special touch, a sugar cube added to the glass for extra fizz.

Night Out

Help support the 28th annual "Night Out" in Howard County Aug. 2. This is a great effort for the community to support crime prevention by turning on all of your outside lights and joining your neighbors for block parties and other events.