HoCo Loco

Photos of the HoCo from a loco girl

I love this place, too, Wordbones.

Yesterday was the memorial for Dennis Lane. (Watch a good recap of it here.) For two-plus hours friends and family members of Dennis shared memories of the man who was a huge part of the community I live in. He can never be replaced, but after the outpouring of love I saw yesterday I don’t think he’ll ever be forgotten.

His friend Tom talked about how Dennis’ blog had a line that said, “I live here, I work here, I love this place.” I love that line. I love this place too.

I moved to Columbia because my husband, then boyfriend, lived here. I didn’t get it at first, it was just like any other place I’ve lived, but you couldn’t find anything! Seriously, I just found the 7-11 last year. Anyway, over time the more time I spent here, the more the HoCo magic rubbed off on me and I not only fell in love with my hubby, but I fell in love with the HoCo too. I can’t imagine ever leaving it. Parks, recreation, city, country, drama, it has one of the nation’s top 10 cities to live in, excellent public schools, the library of the year…I could go on, but you get the idea.

When I found the HoCo Blogs network, it was just one more thing to add to the list of reasons why I love it here. But aside from all that, I’ve found that what I love most about this place is the people. The people in this community, from the bloggers to the politicians, and from the kids riding their bikes to the Columbia Bike Guy, most (there’s always the exception) everyone here seems to have a genuine interest in the community and the lives of those living in it.

Take for example my bee infestation last week. Home ownership is pretty new to me, so when I got a call from Hubby telling me that we had bees swarming in our laundry room I had no idea who to call to get rid of them. Not to mention, they were honey bees and my tree-hugging self didn’t want to see them exterminated.

One Tweet asking the #HoCo community what to do led to seven people answering me with advice or re-Tweeting my distress call. (All but two I have never met personally.) How amazing is it, that there is this network of people, some only connected through the place they live and a social media account, willing to help out community members they have never met? 

HoCo is like that because of people like Jim Rouse, people who have a vision for a community where people live, work, play, eat, and love. Dennis Lane embodied that spirit, and with him gone it is more important than ever to carry on the banner. For HoCo, for the people who live here, and for our future. 

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Reasons why Clyde’s Beer Fest is better than Wine in the Woods: (opinion)

1) They put up tents in case it rains (though, it is much nicer with sun and without the tents)

2) They have Clyde’s food

3) Beer people are so much cooler than wine people

4) Craft beer is better than the wines typically found at Wine in the Woods (read sweet wines)

5) No lines, and only a couple of crazy drunk people versus hundreds

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In October 2002 I was stationed in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, for my first tour of duty in the Navy. That’s where I met Hina, the lab/chow puppy who was rescued by my friends C & J. C & J also had another dog named Ilio, as well, and I was Hina and Ilio's dog sitter when C & J were on the mainland. Hina's name comes from the Hawaiian Goddess for the moon and Ilio is the Hawaiian word for dog.

Ilio passed away in 2004, so that’s where he leaves our story. Off and on during my time in Hawaii I got to know Hina and by the time I left in January 2006, Hina and I had a bond. In fact, I watched her my last week or two on the island, and on my last day there J told me Hina missed me after I left.

Later in 2006, C got picked up for a commission and during his transition, Hina went to stay with his parents in Massachusetts. From what I’ve been told, Hina had a wonderful time there, as C’s parents live on some land and Hina was free to roam about as she pleased. I think Hina liked it so much there because C’s Mom & Dad spoiled the pooch, as one look from her could convince Henry VIII to give up his turkey leg.

In 2007 C & J were stationed in California. That September they were blessed with a little bundle of joy, but as many military dads do, C had to deploy shortly after she was born. Around that time I happened to be telling J how much I missed Hina, and how I would love to get a pooch like her. By then I was stationed in Washington D.C., and living in Alexandria. It was then that J asked me if I would like to adopt Hina, as she felt Hina wasn’t getting the attention she deserved while C was deployed and J was taking care of a newborn baby. Of course, I jumped at the chance.

That’s how in January 2008, Hina came to be my dog, though she’s not really my dog. Like Dennis Lane did in his life, Hina has made an impact on each and every life she has touched. J is known as Hina's other Mom to all who know us, and C's parents still write to me asking about Hina. Hina gets her own special invitations to family events, and she and my Hubby’s mom have a special bond that I think is deeper than the bond she has with Hubby and me. It could also be because she feeds her more than we do.

For me personally, Hina has been a lifesaver. In late 2007 I went through a major depression. Her coming into my life when she did made a huge difference, so much so that I nicknamed her thera-pup. It’s amazing what dogs, and animals in general, can do for a person’s mood and well being,  and Hina is so tuned in to my moods that she knows just when to come comfort me if I’m feeling blue. 

That’s why I decided to share her story with HoCo today. For the past few days, HoCo has been in mourning for the loss of Dennis Lane. I thought that by sharing her story it would help in the healing process. 

I also know, from the numerous blogs that have been sharing tributes about Dennis, that he was a dog lover, and I think he would have appreciated the sentiment. 

And in case you’re not smiling yet, just try not to smile while watching the video at the top of this post.

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Today I went about my normal Saturday routine like everything was normal. Yoga, shopping, and walking the dog, but today wasn’t normal. Today was the first full day that the world had without Dennis Lane. 

Like many other HoCo bloggers, I won’t get into the details of what happened because they don’t matter. What matters is a man who was an integral part of this community is gone. 

I didn’t know Dennis well, but my heart still hurts knowing that I will never get to see him smile at another blogger happy hour, or that Tales of Two Cities won’t update in my RSS reader anymore, and it especially hurts knowing that a family is in turmoil over the loss of Dennis and hundreds of people who knew him and were friends with him are hurting as well. 

I met Dennis at a HoCo Bloggers happy hour in February 2012. I went to the party by myself, not knowing a single person. I had been reading some HoCo blogs though, so I went with a plan and that plan was to meet as many of the bloggers as I could. I wanted to start blogging, and I needed help. I met a lot of people that night, but Dennis stands out in my mind because he and Cliff cornered me at the bar, bought me a beer and proceeded to talk to me for about the next hour. I learned a lot about HoCo that night, and I really appreciate what they did to make me feel like a part of the gang. 

The last time I saw him was at the latest happy hour, in February of this year. He asked me why I had stopped blogging because he really liked my writing. That simple question inspired me to get back on the blog wagon.

A little while later he took a photo of the host, me and a few others (which Icopied from his blog about the party). I also asked him to get in a shot, which he did, but I unfortunately never got around to asking him for a copy. I thought afterwards, oh I can just ask him at the next party and I’ll make sure to have a business card with my email on it so he could send it. 

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Today I woke up and it was eerily quiet. It’s normal for rain in early May, but I think this morning the grey day and the quiet birds were because of something else. I think it was nature mourning for the incredible hole Dennis left here when he was so tragically taken from us. 

Like I said, I didn’t know Dennis well but I believe that he lived well. He may not have lived each day like it was his last, but you only have to read his blog archive to know that he lived each and every day instead of just going through the motions like many of us do. If there is anything we can take away from this tragedy it’s that life is precious, and it can be gone in a flash. As one of my yoga instructors likes to say, the only thing you can’t recycle is time so don’t waste it. If you truly want to honor Dennis’ memory, live your life to its fullest, be nice to people, and drink good beer.

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I joined a new social network today, it’s called Blipfoto. I heard about it from The Social Hour, a TWiT podcast I listen to. 

The idea is you post a photo a day, and people can view it, vote on it and probably some other things I’m still learning how to do. So far I’m liking it, I genrally take a million photos everyday just doing my normal thing, and this is a neat way to record it and maybe in a year look back on all the crazy things I took photos of. 

The photos above were some other shots I took with this in mind, but the thing with Blipfoto is that you can only upload one per day, so you have to go view my profile to see what I chose to upload today. I also uploaded another one taken the same time as the photos from my post on Saturday, it just didn’t make it in the final post. 

If you’re interested in a new twist on the old photo-a-day thing, I say give it a go. As I learn more about it, I’ll post updates here too. 

Evening walk around Wilde Lake

I saw these blooms driving in my old neighborhood in Harpers Choice last week. I loved how the pink blooms contrasted with the white ones behind it, so I had to stop and take some photos. I used a new app called Pic Stitch to make the layout.

I saw these blooms driving in my old neighborhood in Harpers Choice last week. I loved how the pink blooms contrasted with the white ones behind it, so I had to stop and take some photos. I used a new app called Pic Stitch to make the layout.

Smartphone Photography: Winter Weeping Willow at Wilde Lake
THIS video inspired today’s post. Since re-launching my blog, I have taken all the photos with my Nokia Lumia 920. This is for a number of reasons: because I am lazy, because my smartphone is always with me, and because I like uploading blog photos from my mobile device.
I think that a good photographer can take a good photo no matter what tool he or she has in his/her hands. I tested this theory once, before smartphones were even a glimmer in Apple’s eye (well, maybe there was a glimmer). I spent an afternoon walking around Old Town Alexandria with a disposable camera taking photos. (This is a great ice breaker for a first date, feel free to steal it.) Disposable cameras don’t usually come with scene settings, white balance, ISO or lens filters, therefore it is up to the photographer to creatively capture a scene.
The trick I learned for taking interesting photos with a disposable camera (or any camera for that matter) is to zoom with your feet. Get close to your subject, if you can. There are a lot of elements that go into a good photo, but for the aspiring novice I say try this technique next time you find yourself trying to take artsy photos with your smartphone.
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Smartphone Photography: Winter Weeping Willow at Wilde Lake

THIS video inspired today’s post. Since re-launching my blog, I have taken all the photos with my Nokia Lumia 920. This is for a number of reasons: because I am lazy, because my smartphone is always with me, and because I like uploading blog photos from my mobile device.

I think that a good photographer can take a good photo no matter what tool he or she has in his/her hands. I tested this theory once, before smartphones were even a glimmer in Apple’s eye (well, maybe there was a glimmer). I spent an afternoon walking around Old Town Alexandria with a disposable camera taking photos. (This is a great ice breaker for a first date, feel free to steal it.) Disposable cameras don’t usually come with scene settings, white balance, ISO or lens filters, therefore it is up to the photographer to creatively capture a scene.

The trick I learned for taking interesting photos with a disposable camera (or any camera for that matter) is to zoom with your feet. Get close to your subject, if you can. There are a lot of elements that go into a good photo, but for the aspiring novice I say try this technique next time you find yourself trying to take artsy photos with your smartphone.

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Well hello, Spring!

Well hello, Spring!

Score!! I was so excited about the Masala Tea at Curry & Kabob, and now I can have it at home! I found this at the Matcha Time Gift Shop in Ellicott City yesterday. (The cup I got at the Old Mill Bakery) I am loving all the unique shops taking over on Main Street, not that I don’t love antiques, but it’s nice to see something different.

I spent a few minutes talking to Hatsumi, the owner of Matcha Time. She said they are expanding and expect the café, with its limited menu, to open in May. I fell in love with Matcha green tea when I took a three week vacation to mainland Japan in 2004, and I make it for me at home, but it’s just not the same. I will definitely go back for the café opening to take photos of the blog, but you can follow their progress on Facebook.

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