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City Planning Community Resources Uncategorized

Envision your Future

This past Saturday, May 18, I attended a new annual event in Frederick County, Maryland.

Envision Essentials is a 4 part public workshop from Envision Frederick County. Each of the programs presents how we are impacted by decisions about how our cities and towns are organized and shines a light on how those decisions are made. The one day programs are fun, informative, with lunch included in the fee.

Saturday May 18, 2019 all the folks attending the first program of Envision Essentials’ 4 part workshop series. Thorpewood Lodge.

The place you live and everything you love about it, someone had a plan for some or all of it; someone had a hand in creating it.

Today that someone is you.

Where I live, Woodsboro, Maryland, a delightful, tiny town, had to start sometime, beginning with the path, the trail, then the road. At some point someone decided that the location was right for houses and industry. Here it’s farming and limestone quarries.

Over the decades and centuries houses increased, nested into the natural landscape on hills or buffered from the weather by hills. At every stage choices were made according to desires and needs.

Envision Essentials, workshops for the community

Planning serves the same purpose today, to fill our needs, yours and mine and our children. Every town, city, county and state has guidelines and enforceable rules for private and public property and utilities. Each of us, including you, can add your voice to the decisions that affect us all every day.

We have tools of government which may sound dull and be a yawn in party conversation; Planning and zoning, Appeals Process, Comprehensive-Documentation-of-Everything.

But they are not dull. They are tools of action that bring us Clean Water, Efficient Road Systems, Green Spaces in our Urban Landscape.

Envision Essentials aims to give you the opportunity to learn how these things work in Frederick County, MD, and how you fit into the decision process.

The Players

  • Your Elected Officials
  • Government Office Staff

These people are your friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family. Envision Essentials’ first program introduced us to people who do some of this work, who go to work everyday just like you and me and try to make a difference in our lives.

This summer of 2019 you can attend 3 more programs showcasing locations around Frederick County, MD.

  • Saturday, June 15 Local Non-Profit Organizations & Advocacy Training, Bar-T Mountainside
  • Saturday, June 29, Environmental Issues in Frederick County, Middletown Valley
  • Saturday, July 20, Local Government Elected Officials, City Hall and Downtown Frederick

Sign up on the Envision Essentials page.

Someone planned the life you are living now.

Conditions will change.

Today that someone is all of us.

Sign up.


How to recycle plastic, or, Curse You, ubiquitous arrow symbol!

Post 1 in Tiny Planet’s Recycling Series

Tiny Planet’s mission is to encourage practical, social and environmental actions. In that spirit the objective of this series of posts is to explain some of the confusing components of recycling as it is handled in the world and the USA in general, with examples of recycling in practice in my home base of beautiful Frederick County Maryland. Each post in this series tackles one sub-topic, with permanent information (links to municipal resources, etc.) on our new Recycling Page.

To begin with a word:

Identifying plastic for recycling

Labels follow plastics from the first chemical equation to the landfill or the recycle stream.

Particularly this one, the Chasing Arrows:

Ubiquitous Chasing Arrow Symbol
We know this as the recycling symbol. However, for plastics, the chasing arrows with a number inside have a different meaning.

Plastics are categorized by their chemical (resin) components. Manufacturers label them with numbers, which are commonly seen on products we use everyday, such as drink bottles and food containers. The numbers range from 1 to 7, and are called Resin Identification Codes (RIC).

RIC Recycling Numbers on Plastic Products

Recycling symbols are embossed on a variety of common household items with no other explanation, implying all number 1 items are the same. They are not!

Recycling symbols with a number surrounded by the Chasing Arrows are common. The implication is that all number 1 recyclables are the same. They are not.
Resin Identification Codes (RIC)

In the 1980’s manufacturers put the chasing arrows around the RIC so that professionals in the plastics industry could use them. They were not originally created to directly aid consumers.

While the base chemistry is the same for all number 1 plastics, the manufacturing process adds other chemicals to aid in the specific use. For example, the same plastic for your water bottle (you aren’t still buying those?) which is recyclable, may be coated with another chemical for the clam shell box holding your strawberries. They may each be labeled number 1 with the chasing arrows but the added chemical on the clam shell makes recycling them a problem for many facilities.

Why and how recyclables are sorted

All recycling facilities have some limit on which materials they can process

The following sample of guidelines for recyclables illustrates that there may be fewer items that can be recycled by your local recycle program than you think, but they also mean your recycling can be more successful and that is the goal. The more success we all have in recycling the more people join in the effort. For other items there are recycle options, which will be covered in a separate post.

Category 1 Plastic, when used for beverage bottles can be recycled; when used for clam shell fruit or vegetable boxes can not, because of the coating used on such food containers.

Your local recycling service has to get these instructions to you in the most efficient way possible. The most practical way is to emphasize “recycle by shape”.

Finer details are often the smaller details, recycle same materials together; different materials separately.

Lids and containers of the same material should be connected. Lids of different material should be thrown away.


Plastic lids should be attached to their plastic bottle; if not screwed on they are too light for the processing stream and can blow off sorting tables, slowing the work flow or causing hazards in the recycling facility.

Glass bottles with metal lids—the glass bottle should be put into the recycle bin; the metal lid put in separately if large, or thrown in the trash if small.

recycle glass bottles

While my writing on municipal recycling is focused on where I live, Frederick County, Maryland, you, dear reader, should have little trouble finding a listing of your local recycling options. A quick search online for “county recycling in your state” is an efficient start to getting answers for your household or business.

Links to Frederick County Recycling information

Frederick County has a great Recycling section on their website.

News and ongoing recycle options

In Frederick County, Maryland, the rules for plastic bags and packaging are changing. In spring 2019 Frederick Co will no longer collect plastic bags such as grocery bags. The County website will post this decision once it is official.

Plastic bags are recyclable and can be dropped off at specific locations. Check out the Plastic Film Recycling website for options.

Good news

Styrofoam is on the way out. It is taking its sweet, icky time but as a pretty hopeless, nonredeemable product it is being voting out of use in legislatures around the USA. The Maryland State Legislature has passed a bill on this issue.

Community Community Supported Agriculture Compost Health Resources Sustenance

Why I buy food from a Community-Supported Agriculture (CSA) Farmer

It would be hard to overstate the positive effects of Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) in my family life. Food, water, air, shelter; things we need for survival; daily gifts we each can take for granted.  The quality may vary but we live in a place where they exist in abundance. Participating in the CSA system connects me and my family to each of these facets of life, making us less cavalier about what we have.

Food – reduced dependence on automated food production; appreciation for fresh fruits and veggies.

Water – appreciation for the seasons where we live and our CSA food is grown.  It rained a lot in Frederick, Maryland this year and we saw the effect on the farm production first hand. We get a better understanding of what it takes to get food from farm to the table.

Air – you may need to dig a little deeper into the connection between clean air and your food on the table to see it.  Less shipping from far away farms means cleaner air; effects of weather, humidity, rain vs drought all play a part in healthy plants.

Shelter – this is so general and varied in all its forms that I am not making a farming correlation but I have to say that my home feels better in every way when food is taken care of.  Few things satisfy more than making a delicious meal for family and friends and feeling safe in your own home.  And few things make people feel more vulnerable anywhere than when they cannot feed themselves or their family.

Buying a share of the produce from a local farm each year is an adventure.  The bargain I make with our CSA, Pleasant Hill Produce, is to give them money to invest in their crops and then during the growing season to receive a weekly “share” of the produce.  The weekly batch of veggies and fruit changes over the season depending on yield, weather, insects, and other forces of nature.

Right off the bat, investing in a CSA one learns, or is reminded, that there is a lot more to producing food that sustains life than going to the grocery store.  One of the cruelest information shams we give to our children is to allow the belief that bargain hunting is the basis for survival.  Survival is determined by knowledge and the flexibility to use it well.  Sometimes there are bargains; some of them are in grocery stores.

In the USA it is probably safe to say that the majority of the population gives little thought to how we get the things we need for survival.  Money is the system we use to exchange goods and services, so that is our focus.  But that is a big step away from understanding what it takes to stay alive.  CSA is a way of contributing to society at the most basic level; an investment in sustainable food production.

How it works in our house

The weekly budget.

For the 2018 season our CSA purchase was for a household of 2.  A small share of vegetables, fruit, and 1 dozen eggs cost $36.24 per week.  Most weeks we spent about $15.00 a week to add a few things; eggs, a veggie to round out a recipe or a meal.

Average $50.00 – 55.00 per week

Pick up once a week.  Other errands are done at the same time making the driving cost minimal.  The few added miles costs less than one dollar in gas and wear and tear on the family car.

The food

CSA - a weekly small share. Veggies, fruit and eggs.

The produce will change over the season, you will like some more than others.

What we like, we consume or preserve.  We learn what works well in the freezer or small batch canning.  We find creative ways to use veggies that are over abundant and what I’ll just call “gamey” ( how much kale is too much? )

All vegetable waste goes into the compost for our own garden.

Resources – nutritious food is grown in healthy, nutrient rich soil.

Better understanding of growing food leads to better resource management.  Land and water; composting and balancing nutrients for healthy soil.

Community Supported Agriculture is an investment, right here at home, in future seasons of eating.


Medicare For All

Medicare for All addresses the management of costs for healthcare for citizens of the USA, federally or by state.

This post is the location for my writing links and resource links and will be updated occasionally.

My Essays on

The day my husband Ed got a really bad bug. So you really are sick, what now?

We owe our Health Care Souls to the Insurance Company Store

Resource links:

Why more than half of America’s healthcare spending goes to five percent of patients
T.R. Reid
Jun 15, 2017

US National Library of Medicine
National Institutes of Health
Health Serv Res. 2004 Jun; 39(3): 627–642.
The Lifetime Distribution of Health Care Costs
Berhanu Alemayehu and Kenneth E Warner
Author information ► Copyright and License information ► Disclaimer

The ‘other’ 1 percent uses the most health care
One reason health care costs are such a challenge is that the ‘other’ 1 percent those who spend the most on health care use up more resources than the bottom 75 percent put together.
By Marlene Y. Satter | April 07, 2017 at 07:35 AM | Originally published on Benefitspro.Com

Analysis of health care spending: Where do the dollars go?
Mar 04, 2016

Baylor Hospital history links:

16 Tons

This American Life: Someone Else’s Money

O’Neill Institute for National and Global Health Law
Employer-Based Health Care – All Cons, No Pros
By Brian Honermann

Community Supported Agriculture

Sustenance, CSA Cooking, a Weekly (or bi-weekly) Dish – July 4 & 11, 2018

Got borscht?

No but I have these bodacious roasted beets with tzatziki sauce.

Food styling from our CSA boxes the last couple of weeks from Pleasant Hill Produce.

Roasted beets with tzatziki sauce
Roasted beets with tzatziki sauce. The beets, cucumbers and garlic (in the sauce) are from our CSA box.
Homemade tzatziki sauce
Homemade tzatziki sauce
Baked Kale and eggs
Whatever shall we do about the kale? Kale, egg, cheese and bread cubes bake. I pretty much bastardized a breakfast strata recipe for this. The trick I have found with kale is sauteing with garlic and / or onion and lots of pepper, salt to taste. This reduces what I have come to call the “gamey” nature of kale. It’s good, but a little too strong for some folks.
Baked kale and eggs with cheese
The baked kale & egg is topped with any kind of cheese. This one I made for a vegan safe meal so the “cheese” is a vegan “cheddar” variety.
kolrahbi and carrot slaw
Kolrabi and carrot slaw, with lemon and olive oil dressing. Salt and pepper.
Table is set for one of my Tiny Planet Focus Groups—Tiny Luncheons. Lots of things to sample from my CSA repertoire as well.
Table is set for one of my Tiny Planet Focus Groups—Tiny Luncheons. Lots of things to sample from my CSA repertoire as well.
close up of table
Close up of a few of the things for lunch—Baked kale and egg, “feta” tofu, kohlrabi & carrot slaw, roasted beets and tzatziki sauce
Long view of the Tiny Luncheon.
Long view of the Tiny Luncheon.

Tiny Luncheons

If you have read this far and wonder… “what is this Tiny Luncheon business?” Well, please send me a query with the Contact Us form and I will send you information. You can come to lunch if you are around on one of the dates this summer and are willing to be part of a focus group conversation about my Tiny Planet items. Oh, and to taste some of the things I have been making with the CSA produce!

I am having one a week through August, 2018, first come first served.

There is a survey to take as well. Click here for the Survey Link.

You didn’t think I forgot the eggs and the awesome summer tomatoes, did you?

green chili crustless quiche
My sister’s green chili crust less quiche. A sinful concoction of egg and cheese and deliciousness. We wound up ahead of the game on eggs this week and this beauty takes 10 of them!. I have added my sister’s recipe below.
tomato tart
If you have never had tomato pie you don’t know what you’re missing!. These tomatoes became a tart ’cause I had the puff pastry in the freezer and enough other food for a meal that we didn’t need a whole pie. The tomatoes are on top of a basic tomato pie filling, mostly cheddar cheese, but not a lot of it. Just enough to cover the puff pastry. Baking tomatoes this way really brings out a deep flavor.
Nancy Butler’s Green Chile Crustless Quiche10 eggs
1/2 cup butter, melted
1/2 cup flour (for Gluten free, use Brown Rice flour)
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 pound large-curd cottage cheese
3 4-ounce cans (12 ounces) diced green chiles
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
1 pound mozzarella cheese, gratedWhip eggs in a mixing bowl until fluffy. Whisk in the melted butter, flour, baking powder, and salt. Stir in the cottage cheese, chiles, black pepper and half the mozzarella.


Place the mixture in a greased 13 x 9- inch glass baking dish. Top with the remaining cheese. Bake in a preheated 400 degree Fahrenheit oven for 15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350 degrees Fahrenheit and continue to bake for 35 to 40 minutes, or until the eggs are set and the top is lightly browned. Allow to cool a bit and cut into squares.

Dorothea’s Tzatziki Sauce
Tzatziki Sauce

First—Make yogurt cheese:
Place 1 quart non fat plain yogurt (not Greek style, just the regular yogurt) in fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth lined colander set over a bowl.
Let drain for at least one hour, two or more is better. Discard the liquid.
Note: I use regular yogurt, rather than Greek Style, because I like the resulting “yogurt cheese” texture better for this dish. All experiments are good, try it often and see what you prefer!

For the tzatziki sauce:
½ recipe yogurt cheese
1 cucumber peeled, halved, seeded and then grated on a medium – holed grater
2-3 cloves garlic, crushed to a paste
1 – 5 or more cap fulls of red wine vinegar, Note: I started using the vinegar bottle cap because it was an easy way to add a bit at a time. Measuring by taste is really a better plan with this sauce : )

salt and pepper to taste
olive oil for drizzling

Mix all ingredients except the olive oil in a medium bowl; cover and refridgerate. Can be refridgerated over night.

Transfer to a serving bowl, drizzle with olive oil and serve.
Note: it’s only worth drizzling olive oil if you have really good oil, if it does not have much flavor don’t bother.

Community Supported Agriculture

Sustenance, CSA Cooking, a Weekly (or bi-weekly) Dish – June 27, 2018


This week our CSA,  Pleasant Hill Produce, brought fabulous summer berries—blueberries, blackberries and sour cherries.



Beautiful breakfast berries with Greek yogurt and my homemade granola.
Beautiful breakfast berries with Greek yogurt and my homemade granola.
Perfectly shaped cabbage turned into a great big batch of coleslaw.
Perfectly shaped cabbage turned into a great big batch of coleslaw.

And just because it’s summer, really HOT and the Fourth of July—Very Berry Frozen Yogurt!

Out comes the ice cream maker, measuring cups yogurt, sugar—the berries really didn't get put away.
Out comes the ice cream maker, measuring cups yogurt, sugar—the berries really didn’t get put away. For recipes, any ice cream maker will have plenty.
A bit of hand mixing to prep for the churning.
A bit of hand mixing to prep for the churning.
About a half hour to process.
About a half hour to process.
About a quart of frozen yogurt in servings, ready for the freezer, and ready to eat in a couple of hours.
About a quart of frozen yogurt in servings, ready for the freezer, and ready to eat in a couple of hours.
A few more berries on top.
A few more berries on top.
Frozen bliss....... Happy Fourth of July!
Frozen bliss……. Happy Fourth of July!

Sustenance, CSA Cooking, a Weekly (or bi-weekly) Dish – June 13 & 20, 2018

One of the things I love best about a CSA (Community Sustained Agriculture, which we buy through Pleasant Hill Produce) membership is that no matter how discombobulated the tasks of life become, my basic weekly groceries are there waiting for me.  Beyond picking them up my only commitment is to the fun of the weekly produce puzzle—what’ll I make with this?  So to catch up with the last couple of weeks of veggies here are some fun things we found to make.

CSA - a weekly small share. Veggies, fruit and eggs.
First, a glimpse of a weekly small share.  Veggies, fruit and eggs.

Pickled Eggs and beets
Pickled Eggs and beets

Nothing goes with kale like kale!

Ok, so a note about kale.  It’s strong, it’s bold, it’s nutritious, and when you have it you have a lot of it.  Just run with it—and by that I mean run with it right through your spice cabinet and with oodles of garlic.  If you find a dish that you particularly like, see if it freezes well.

Salad with kale, chard, fresh lettuce, radishes, apples—all from the CSA
Salad with kale, chard, fresh lettuce, radishes, apples—all from the CSA share.  Embellish with other good stuff on hand—Pine Nuts, sunflower seeds, dried fruit.  Any favorite homemade dressing.

Kohlrabi thin sliced and marinated in oil and vinegar. Kale and any other greens, sauteed
Kohlrabi thin sliced and marinated in oil and vinegar.  Kale and any other greens, sauteed with lots of garlic and oil.  Cook long enough to really mellow the kale flavor.  Good flavors are sesame, honey (with the vinegar marinade) rice wine vinegar.  Lots of garlic; salt and pepper to taste.  Combine the cooked kale with the raw, marinated kohlrabi.

Stir fry base of greens—kale, spinach, chard, beets....
Stir fry base of greens—kale, spinach, chard, beets….  Cook it down till it is nice and soft and has all or most of the raw kale taste mellowed.  Most any cooking oil that you like will do, though greens are especially good with vinegar flavors so I tend toward a zippy Thai peanut sauce with rice wine vinegar.

Broccoli, carrots, peppers added to greens and cooked tender-crisp with steaming from moisture in the greens.  Add any protein you like—shrimp, raw or leftover chicken, Thai peanut sauce.

Kale and Cheese Puff Pastry

Preheat the oven to 400°.  Assemble one box of frozen puff pastry dough, board & rolling pin, grater for cheese, cookie sheet for baking, greens, garlic/other spices, cheese, Dijon mustard.

Other stuff that might come in handy, pastry brush if you want to add an egg wash to the top of pastry before baking.

Rolled out puff pastry
Thaw puff pastry in the refrigerator according to directions on the box.  Roll out on lightly floured board.  Transfer to the cookie sheet and roll the other sheet of dough.

Coat the pastry with 1 - 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard. Have ready sauteed greens. Kale should be really well cooked to soften the flavor and the texture.
Coat the pastry with 1 – 2 Tbsp Dijon mustard.  Have ready sauteed greens.  Kale should be really well cooked to soften the flavor and the texture.

Grate a cup or more of a flavorful cheese.
Grate a cup or more of a flavorful cheese.  In this part you have lots of room for making it how you like it.  I like a combo of cheddar, Parmesan, and when I have it any other soft-ish cheese for better melting.  If I turned this into a ham & cheese & greens tart then Swiss or other mild but rich flavor works to offset the saltiness of the ham.

Spread the cooked kale/other greens on the mustard-spread pastry dough.
Spread the cooked kale/other greens on the mustard-spread pastry dough.

Spread the cheese over the greens.
Spread the cheese over the greens.

Put the other sheet of puff pastry dough on top, pinching the edges together. Cut a few slits in the top for steam to escape in the oven. Bake in a PREHEATED oven at 400° for 20 - 25 min.
Put the other sheet of puff pastry dough on top, pinching the edges together.  Cut a few slits in the top for steam to escape in the oven.  Brush on an egg wash and put in the fridge for about 20min. (this is a good time to preheat the oven if you have not already done so).  Bake in a PREHEATED oven at 400° for 20 – 25 min.

Finished Kale and Puff Pastry.
Finished Kale and Cheese Puff Pastry

Slice as an appetizer or side dish.
Slice as an appetizer or side dish.


No Bees No Pie!

No Bees No Pie is available as an 18″ x 24″ poster. Maybe you know a teacher who could use a fun, informative display for their classroom.
Click on the image to puchase.


March for Our Lives attends Boulder, Colorado Public Hearing on an Assault Weapons and Ammunition Ban

Friend of Tiny Planet, Janet Salmons, wears her Tiny Planet, Big Dreams, Room for All tee shirt to activist events in Colorado and New Mexico. From Events spring 2018:

March for Our Lives in Albuquerque
March for Our Lives in Albuquerque

Janet’s story of speaking at the Boulder City Council Meeting 04/04/18:
“Boulder is considering an assault weapons and ammunition ban. Just happens gun violence is one of the causes our church has been active with this year. When I saw that there would be an public hearing, I couldn’t help but remember what we heard in one of the meetings: even if you think your elected reps will vote as you want them to, you need to show up because the other side is always there.
So I prepared some comments and away we went. It was terrifying! The hearing room, downstairs room, and library were full of people there for the hearing. The place was full of NRA people– they were handing out hats and talking points.  They didn’t look like people we’d see in Boulder! I know I live in a bubble, but seriously! It was uncomfortable being in a room with so many of them– just a few women in their camp. (The tight t-shirt babe types…) The Mayor said, by law they have to allow people in who have concealed carry permits, but please keep guns concealed. Lots of cops! I was sure glad to see them! Testimony did include a number of kids, middle school and high school age, and Moms Demand Gunsense (our group works with them too.) Someone talked about being at Virginia Tech. Another about a sister who was killed at Sandy Hook. I was speaker 72– and there were 149 signed up to speak!
After we were done, we headed right out– get out before it ends, before some crazies follow us to our car! Just outside the door someone called to us and I about jumped out of my skin! She was from the Faith Communities United Against Gun Violence group as well and wanted to introduce herself. Whew!
I couldn’t help but think about those Parkland kids who were brave enough to stand up and speak. In Trumplandia its no small feat. And speaking of courage, the City Council unanimously voted to move the ban to the next stage. One step at a time…”