"Buy me a bushel of steamed crabs, Mom, I'm being sent home on business."
These were some of the first words I heard from my son, Mark, when he called from Italy last week.
He has been working in Naples the past four years as a civilian employee for the Navy, and this is his first trip home.
Fortunately for him, it's the middle of summer and crab season.
He will tell you the food is fabulous in Italy, with pasta fixed in many delicious ways, fresh vegetables and abundant seafood -- but no Chesapeake blue crabs.
Since Mark has been away, he has craved Maryland steamed crabs.
In fact, he'll tell you he misses steamed crabs more than anything from home.
I plan to visit our local seafood stores this week, to buy the volume of crabs it will take for him to get his fill.
* Speaking of eating as many steamed crabs as possible, good luck to state Sen. Michael Wagner, D-Ferndale. He will be a contestant in a crab-eating contest at 2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 15 at The Blue Channel Inn, in Arnold's Bay Hills Center.
The senator was invited to participate in the inn's contest, which is intended to be an annual event. He was given the option of being a judge or contestant.
Figuring that eating steamed crabs was more to his liking than watching people eat, he chose to be a contestant.
One participant ate 108 crabs in 50 minutes during a contest at the inn several years ago. Supporters of Wagner are encouraged to join him and cheer him on to a new record. Pledges are being accepted for each crab eaten.
Two trophies will be awarded, to the male and female contestants who eat the most crabs, and two trophies to those who raise the most money. The proceeds will benefit the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Severn River Association and the Magothy River Association.
For information call 974-0777.
* If this talk about crustaceans is making you hungry for a feast of your own, get your friends together and support the Ann Arundel County Historical Society at an all-you-can-eat steamed crab event.
The feast will take place from 1 to 6 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 23, at Michael's Eighth Avenue. Tickets are $25 per person.
This will be a major society fund-raiser, with proceeds benefiting the development of the Interpretive Truck Farm at the Benson-Hammond House, and the Research Library and Genealogical Center at the Kuethe Library.
Tickets for the event are on sale at the Benson-Hammond House gift shop in Linthicum and at the Browse and Buy Shoppe on Jones Station Road in Severna Park.
For more information, call 768-9618.
* The U.S. Naval Academy Band Wind Ensemble is the featured group at this week's Summer Concert at 6 p.m. Sunday in Linthicum Park.
The Naval Academy Band was the first concert to play in the Summer Series, started by the Woman's Club of Linthicum Heights in 1981. They have continued to entertain the community for 10 of the past 12 summers. The band's director is U.S. Navy Cmdr. T.M. Burch-Pesses.
The Woman's Club Music Committee, under the auspices of Chairwoman Jo Barker and Co-chairwoman Dolores Schuman, will provide refreshments for the 50 midshipmen in the band.
* If you were disappointed when Moon August got rained out two Sundays ago, mark your calendars: The concert has been rescheduled. The Baltimore-based jazz sextet will play in Linthicum Park at 6 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 16.
Concerts will be canceled in the event of rain. You are welcome to bring blankets, chairs and picnic suppers. The concerts and parking are free.
Linthicum Park is on Benton Avenue, one block off Camp Meade Road (Route 170). For further information, please call 859-3308 or 789-7546.
* The Airport Square Co.'s Noontime Entertainment continues every Wednesday this month for employees and residents of the area. Concerts run from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at Airport Square Park, off Elkridge Landing Road.
This month's concert schedule is as follows: tomorrow, the Tradewinds, featuring contemporary, country western and Top-40 music; Aug. 12, harpist Mary Ellen Holmes; Aug. 19, guitarist, keyboarder and saxophonist Nedi Braz; Aug. 26, Duende, featuring Spanish guitars and flamenco music.
Bring a picnic lunch and your own seating. For information, please call Donna Macauley at 850-6900.
* St. Philip Neri Roman Catholic Church, 6405 Orchard Road, is joining other parishes in the Archdiocese of Baltimore for a pilgrimage to the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
The trip is set for Saturday, Oct. 24. The bus will leave from the St. Philip Neri parking lot at 10 a.m. and return at approximately 6 p.m. A light lunch can be purchased at the shrine.
The cost of the bus trip is $10, with a $5 deposit required. The deadline for registration is Sept. 15.
If interested, please call Cas or Helen Bruchalski at 766-4574.