AGAIN, WE ARE at the beginning of winter.
We're freezing in the dark, and the news from Washington melds farce and tragedy into an indigestible lump.
But, like fruitcake, our holiday spirits endure.
Each evening, gaudy light displays illuminate the dark, heedless of electric bills.
The cold recedes with a friend's good cheer. Even the annual holiday quarrels -- "Please, not turkey again!" -- are reassuring.
They remind us that we've been here before, in a dark winter facing an uncertain time. And we came through it fine.
Merry Christmas to all of us, from all of us.
Recent visitors to the Savage library may have noted a few changes.
Longtime librarians Donna Matthews, Lynn Starman and Karen Fedderly have moved on to other opportunities during the past few months.
The new librarians are also a terrific bunch.
New branch manager Karen Trennepohl has already made her mark.
It's because of her work that scarlet poinsettias are enlivening the neutral color scheme all over the branch.
Trennepohl is finding her position as branch manager of a public library a bit different from previous jobs in academic and prison libraries.
In those settings, she had irregular contact with patrons, spending much of her time as an administrator.
Now she's surprised at how much she's enjoying her regularly scheduled times at the information desk, looking up information for patrons.
So far, Trennepohl claims to only have been stumped once -- for any length of time, that is -- by a question.
Since 1980, she has unsuccessfully sought the answer to a question put long ago by students in Pennsylvania: "Which American president was thrown out of school for tying up his teacher?"
While Trennepohl has some suspicions -- Teddy Roosevelt and Thomas Jefferson are her most likely candidates -- she has yet to find an authoritative answer.
Children's library associate Michele Hunter is fitting right in, too.
As she and children's associate Rita Snyder plan programs for the next quarter, Hunter is trying to figure how to incorporate her passion for fine embroidery. Current plans include having the children make a necklace with a little embroidered Scottie dog at one of the programs.
In addition to offering a wonderful array of children's programs, the library also likes to highlight the accomplishments of area residents.
The library has two soon-to-be-empty display cases available. Trennepohl and her staff are seeking patrons who are willing to share their avocations by displaying a treasured collections in the cases next month.
Items displayed in the past have included a collection of butterfly pins made by Chinese students, tools used in making stained-glass ornaments, and a collection of miniature Snoopy figures.
If you are a collector of medical texts, antique model planes, cookie cutters, maps or other items, how about letting them be put on display to be enjoyed by your neighbors?
Call Trennepohl at the library for details: 410-880-5990.
Compliments are due to the library staff, especially assistant manager Diane Li, who has weathered shifts in schedules with aplomb.
While the Symphony of Lights extravaganza in Columbia is delightful at $12 per carload of visitors, it's also enchanting to see the holiday displays presented by our neighbors.
Herds of lighted deer and illuminated nativity scenes, as well as candy cane fences, garland-bedecked gates and Santas are on show all around.
Thank you to everyone who decorates their houses for the enjoyment of their neighbors.
Kudos at Laurel Woods
The staff at Laurel Woods Elementary School takes special pains to ensure that every pupil's achievements are recognized.
The school's weekly newsletter also highlights teachers' activities and accomplishments, and alerts parents to coming events.
In the latest issue of the Laurel Woods Weekly, fourth-grader Katelyn Annette is congratulated for winning a countywide writing contest.
And second-grader Marketa Kletetschkova is noted for having won first place in a computer--generated writing contest sponsored by the Howard County public school system's 1998 Computer Learning Month Contest.
Congratulations to both children, and their teachers, for these achievements.
In a different type of contest this month, several budding politicians began their careers.
A handshake for Kristen Nepomuceno, Terrell Brooks and Erica Hall, who were elected president, vice president and secretary, respectively, of the student council.
Congratulations also to candidates Torrey Turner, Danielle Pettit, Brad Miller, Jeff Simpers, Ellen Flynn, Tony Thewes, Angie Burton, James Pelzer, Emily West, Lindsey Epstein, Jamar Johnson, Karla Dominguez, Chelsea Oshodi, Jeff Orr, Brandi Taylor, Veronica Polk, Jonathan Espinoza and Ladaja Hairston.
Congratulations to all who participated in the election.
New Year opportunity
With 1999 just around the corner, why not include a new activity among your New Year's resolutions?
Have fun, learn something new, acquire a skill or just get out and make new friends!
It's easy to arrange, thanks to the creative staff of the Howard County Department of Recreation and Parks.
Next month, the department is offering a spectrum of activities to banish winter doldrums.
Among the offerings is a workshop on clock repair, taught by John Lyons at Hammond High School on two Tuesday evenings beginning Jan. 26.
You can preserve a sentimental heirloom or restore that antique treasure from the flea market and enjoy two evenings of swapping tales about the histories of these treasures with fellow students.
At $15 for the course, it costs about the same as two trips to the movies. And it's useful.
For those with an interest in the lively arts, there's a Latin dance class scheduled to begin Jan. 28 at Hammond High.
Carla Chapman guides singles and couples through this dance craze.
The cost for the eight-week series is $48. The classes end just in time for spring.
Pub Date: 12/24/98