Men in the kitchen. Now there's a concept I can live with.
It is also the theme of the Sept. 24 fund-raiser for the Howard County Center of African American Culture.
The center has recruited about 70 volunteer chefs -- all men -- to prepare and serve their specialties during two shifts at the Spear Center in the Rouse Building in Town Center.
Funds will go toward a permanent home for the Center of African American Culture, said director Wylene Burch. The facility is at One Commerce Center, a high-rise office building near The Mall in Columbia. It is the fourth location in five years for the center, and with the building under new ownership, its future there is uncertain, Ms. Burch said.
The center's all-volunteer staff runs a museum and a library, and sponsors research, classes and traveling exhibits. The museum focuses on Howard County families and artifacts, with items ranging from 19th-century clothing and household gadgets to an Emmy award statuette from the late newscaster Al Sanders and a uniform worn by Capt. Milton Taylor, Maryland's first African-American state trooper.
Many cooks for the fund-raiser are West Columbia residents. Those taking the first shift, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., include Marcellus Alexander, who will prepare Caesar salad; Rudolph Chisley, black bean soup; William Crable, rum cake; Anthony Cunningham, pigs-in-the-blanket; Kenneth Manley, English trifle; William Wade, cakes; Earl Woods, seafood salad; Llewellyn Woolford, lasagna; and Richard Younger, spicy franks and beans.
From 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., West Columbia chefs include Vincent Blake, curried chicken; Clarence Cook, pasta salad; Charles DeShields, cole slaw; Frank Fennell, an "exotic meat dish"; Sherman Howell, baked beans; William Ross, barbecued ribs; Alphonse Scarborough, barbecued chicken wings; Arthur Sims, chicken Primavera; and Alan Wilson, vegetarian spaghetti.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $10 for children, and can be purchased at the door or by calling 715-1921 or 997-3685.
Two of the three neighborhood pools earning the highest ratings for customer service this summer were west-side pools, said Joel Schlossberg, general manager for the 23 outdoor pools operated by the Columbia Association.
And lifeguards from three West Columbia pools won awards in a regional competition, Mr. Schlossberg said.
The Running Brook pool in Wilde Lake, managed by Russell Belin, and the Swansfield pool in Harper's Choice, managed by Travis Allen, tied for second place in the results of a CA survey of customer satisfaction.
The Jeffers Hill pool in Long Reach took top honors.
At the Northeast Regional Lifeguard Competition held July 31 in Columbia, Jeff Cameron, a guard at the Hawthorn Pool in Hickory Ridge, took first place in cardiopulmonary resuscitation skills. Ken Spencer, a guard at the Bryant Woods pool in Wilde Lake, was part of the team winning second place in two-guard rescue. Jeff DeSantis, a Running Brook lifeguard, took third place in subsurface active rescue.
West Columbia caught "Calmania" last week, with T-shirts and signs rooting for Cal Ripken spotted at schools, stores and offices all over town.
One young patient of Dr. Raj Saini, a Hickory Ridge orthodontist, even requested black and orange elastic bands for his braces on Sept. 6, the day Ripken broke Lou Gehrig's consecutive game record.
Three generations of the Feldine family of Dorsey's Search were thrilled to be among the fans giving Ripken high fives during his victory lap around Oriole Park that night.
Steve Feldine, 12-year-old son Noah and father Leonard sprang from their seats near third base and raced down the steps as they saw Cal take off trotting from the Orioles dugout. They hung over the railing and Cal slapped palms with all three.
PD "He looked right at us and said, 'Thanks,' " Steve Feldine said.
Romance is in the air.
The Maryland Romance Writers, which counts several local residents among its members, held a workshop in Columbia Saturday that featured talks by agents, editors, publishers, screenwriters and an appearance by Nora Roberts, a romance novelist whose work has made the New York Times best-seller list.
Wilde Lake resident Patty Suchy, a self-described "avid reader and aspiring writer" of the romance genre, organized the event. And Ms. Suchy has launched a business that is an outgrowth of her interest.
Ms. Suchy owns Novel Explorations, a travel business that offers trips with destinations linked to works of fiction. She will accompany romance fans from all over the United States for her company's maiden trip, leaving Oct. 2 for two weeks to England. The group will travel to London, Brighton and Bath and study the Regency period of the early 19th century.
"I encounter a lot of prejudice" against romance novels, said Ms. Suchy, who is a full-time manager with the Social Security Administration. "But there are some excellent writers in the genre."
Ms. Suchy's Wilde Lake neighbor is Ruth Glick, half of the popular romance-writing team that publishes under the name Rebecca York.