Monday, September 30, 2013

Frederick Farmers' Market

On Sunday morning after church, we went to the Sunday farmers' market in the heart of Frederick. The market wasn't so big but it still had enough to keep us entertained for a while.

Farmers' Market, Frederick

We saw a booth selling farm-fresh sausage. We bought some to try at our rental house. It was labeled as "hot" but even the mildest tongue among us wasn't put off by it. We used it in a rice dish and found it nicely flavorful.

We also bought some cookies for the kids to eat. They were anxious to eat them. We wanted to finish looking around. The second row of stalls was even more modest than the first, allowing us to finish perusing quickly and get to the cookie eating faster.

More of the market

They had a honey stand but we weren't staying long enough in America to justify a purchase. The produce looked very good at every stand. If the kids were better veg eaters we would have made more purchases.

We walked back down to the river and had our snacks before heading home.

L with the sausages behind her!

Sunday, September 29, 2013

St. John the Evangelist, Frederick, Maryland

St. John the Evangelist is the Roman Catholic church in Frederick where we went to Mass on Sunday. It is a beautiful basilica-style church with lots of room and light inside. Unfortunately one of us was feeling ill so we did not hang around after Mass for pictures. I went back a few days later but the church was locked in the afternoon! I was able to get a few exterior shots.

St. John the Evangelist, Frederick

Ironically enough, the prayer garden had a statue of Jesus welcoming children. It is unusual and moving and maybe made up for not being able to get inside where Jesus is present in the Blessed Sacrament. Probably not.

"Suffer the little children to come unto Me." Matthew 19:14

The church does have an interesting history. The parish was established in 1763. Back then, laws prevented public worship so a Jesuit priest said Mass in a private chapel dedicated to St. Stanislaus Kostka. The parish is the oldest in the Archdiocese of Baltimore; in fact the parish was founded 26 years before the archdiocese!

The first permanent church was built in 1800 when Father John DuBois was pastor. It was dedicated to John the Baptist. Father DuBois went on to found Mount St. Mary's College in Emmitsburg, which is now Mount St. Mary's University and Seminary. Later, he became the third bishop of New York.

The second church (the one currently standing) was built in 1837 during Jesuit Father John McElroy's time at the parish. He went on to found Boston College. So the parish celebrated its 250th anniversary and the church building's 175th anniversary this year. That may not be long by European standards but it is quite impressive for North America!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Book Review: Locke and Key Vol. 4 Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill et al.

Locke and Key Volume 4: Keys to the Kingdom by Joe Hill et al.

A whole new bunch of keys are introduced in this volume of the Locke family story. First, Bode the youngest son finds a key that transforms him into his animal self. Hoping for something frightening and fearsome, he turns into something feathered--a small bird. He has some adventures. Dodge goes through the same "animal transformation door" and turns out as a pack of wolves. He attacks the older siblings and Bode brings a flock of fine feathered friends to the rescue, though not without lots of bloody casualties. Second, the month of February is chronicled with various attacks and social set-backs for the Locke family. Eldest brother Ty keeps a record of the attacks, trying to find a pattern and maybe the source of the attacks. He gets closer to discovering Dodge's secret.

The final half of the story picks up with a plot by Dodge to get closer to the family. His "aunt" and "nephew" become unwilling pawns in his quest to get the Omega Key and open the Black Door below Key House.

The first half of the book is okay though very episodic. It reads like they just dreamed up some new ideas for keys and threw them into stories without much concern for the larger storyline. I was getting worried that we readers would be taken down a lot of less interesting side-stories. The second half gets back to the solid drama and horror of the on-going story.

As usual, the art is fantastic. The first story combines the regular style with Bill Waterson's style (he's the creator of Calvin and Hobbes) which provides some humor but not a lot of substance.

Parental warning: Plenty of bad language and attitudes abound. Some of the violence is quite graphic and is graphically depicted, including puncture wounds and torn flesh--and not just of the birds, either. Recommended for late teens and up.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Black Hog BBQ and Bar, Frederick, Maryland

Black Hog Barbecue and Bar in Frederick has just the sort of American dining experience we were hoping to have while back in the USA.

Black Hog BBQ and Bar, Frederick, MD

We went as a group, including the zombie family, Granny and Grandpa, cousin A and her parents, and Auntie R. It was decided amongst almost everyone that each family would pay for their own dinner. The decision would keep from fights over the check, though normally for us people would fight over who was treating everyone else!

We arrived and asked for a table for ten. After some dragging by the hostess (and I do mean literally dragging tables around), we were seated. The menu has lots of options--beef brisket, pork, ham, chicken, burgers, slaw, fries, onion rings, corn bread, etc. J had macaroni and cheese. L had a sausage, which was much better than the hot dog she had earlier in the week ("Mummy, why doesn't my sausage taste very good?" "Because it's a hot dog, my dear."). I had the three meat plate with Arkansas barbecue beef brisket, sausage, and barbecue pork. My sides were cornbread and Texas-style pinto beans. It was too luscious to stop and take a picture of, my apologies, dear readers.

Everyone enjoyed their food, especially the corn bread and the Arkansas beef.

J was looking at another camera

And yet another camera

We loved the food so much, the next night we ordered a pound of Arkansas beef, barbecue chicken, and some coleslaw. This food supplemented the leftovers we were trying to finish so the fridge in the rental house would be empty. We were very happy to get another taste and will definitely go back if we are in Frederick again.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

C. Burr Artz Public Library, Frederick, Maryland

The tourist information center in Frederick recommended we visit the local public library, claiming they have a fantastic children's room. We need no encouragement to visit a library, only a small map to get us there. With map in hand we headed off for a literary adventure.

The C. Burr Artz Public Library is visible from the Carroll Creek Promanade, but as we soon discovered, the entrance is on the opposite side of the building.

L looking for the library entrance

Once inside, we quickly discovered just how fabulous the children's room was. It's big enough to fit a house inside!

L unafraid to go into a strange house

Once inside, L discovered many stuffed animals and other licensed characters like Minnie Mouse and Dora the Explorer. The house also contains the three bears from the Goldilocks story. She made friends with one of them, probably since she didn't eat his porridge or break his chair or nap in his bed.

L--Goldilocks for a more enlightened age

Meanwhile, J and Grandpa worked on a puzzle. Then J read him an oversized book about owls.

Grandpa and J solve a simple puzzle

Grandpa turns pages while J reads to him

The children's room also includes a "Book Cave" where superhero types can hang out. I fear the little mad scientists who zombified their parents did not feel quite at home there, so all I've got is the cave by itself.

"Quick, to the book cave!"

The stacks were quite full of a large variety of books and the DVD collection was impressive as well. I'm sure the rest of the library is nice but we didn't see it. Except for a fine sculpture outside of a baseball player reading to some children. The sculpted book shows a page where the Star Spangled Banner is written. Francis Scott Key, who wrote the poem on which the US National Anthem is based, was born in the area.

Reading outdoors

Any library anywhere is recommendable, the C. Burr Artz Public Library is highly recommendable!

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Shakespeare Alive in Frederick, MD

One summer program in Frederick for 2013 is the Summerfest Family Theatre at the Baker Park Bandshell on Thursday mornings. The week we were there, the performers were from the Maryland Shakespeare Company and they performed Shakespeare Alive.

Baker Park Bandshell

Readers of this blog might hope for some zombie-themed Shakespeare based on their title. At least some Frankenstein/Shakespeare crossover. I know I did. What could be more appropriate for children's theater? The introduction soon crushed my hopes.

Lady introduces guys hiding behind the sign

Alas, they were presenting various bits from various plays with explanations and interpretations between. Three male performers from the company started with the Chorus's opening speech from Henry V, the one which entreats the audience to imagine the rugged fields of France and to forgive the spareness of their stage.

Dramatic posing

The three men then introduced themselves and spoke a bit about Shakespeare's times, including the fact that young men and boys played all the female roles back in the early 1600s. They then launched into an early part of The Tempest where Ferdinand is washed up on shore and Prospero's daughter discovers him, much to Prospero's displeasure. Even more displeasing, Ferdinand proclaims his love for her!

Dramatic proposing

After this scene, they talked about the political and social climate of Shakespeare's day, claiming racism and prejudices were stronger and more prevalent back then. I wouldn't agree with that claim but we all hope to improve on that score. They began a scene from The Merchant of Venice where the two young Venetians, Bassanio and Antonio, go to borrow 3000 ducats from Shylock, a Jewish money-lender. They are fairly scornful of his faith even as they seek to lend from him.

It was about this point in the performance when J and L lost interest and were ready to move over to the nearby playground. We didn't want to tie them down, so we hung out over there while some of the performance would drift over to us from the stage.

L gets a new perspective on Shakespeare

Cousin A hangs out

They did a bit from Romeo and Juliet where the guy playing a gal actually had a wig but I didn't notice in time.

I wish the performance had been interactive, inviting the children to join them on stage or try out different props and costumes. I suppose the performance is designed more for older school children who can sit and focus longer than four- and five-year olds. I enjoyed what I saw but was also happy to go to the playground too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Playgrounds of Frederick

Naturally on any vacation, we have to take the children to local playgrounds. Frederick was no exception. We visited several playgrounds in the town.

The closest to our house was Mullinix Park and Diggs Pool. The children were excited to get to the equipment.

Mullinix Park

L goes for a spin

J goes to the top

J wasn't too satisfied with the playground. He decided it was for older children, "like 15 or 18 years old." The climbers were pretty challenging, so we decided to move on to Baker Park, the big park in town. It has the carillon that performs concerts on Sundays. An amphitheater has performances on evenings and weekends. And there's the playground.

Baker Park

View of fountain and carillon

The playground

L climbed the slide but decided that the metal was too hot to slide down. So she went to a much safer spider climber than they have in England.

L spider climbs!

J tried out some different things including a monkey bar. He just hangs usually, if he wants to cross he needs some help from Mommy or Daddy.

J hangs around

Soon enough J and L reteamed on a climber.

A fun part of the playground

J found a friend here and played plenty of games, mostly tag and chase. Eventually they wound up on a merry-go-round. That was fun until Cousin A showed up and made it even more fun. J managed to climb a small rock, of which he was rightly proud.

Happy to be on top on his own

L enjoyed a see-saw in the park. Kids took turns a lot riding with her though I was only able to get a shot of her on her own.

L waiting for the next customers

Frederick is loaded with lots of fun playgrounds.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Book Review: Perseus and Medusa by Blake Hoena et al.

Perseus and Medusa by Blake Hoena and Daniel Perez

This is a fairly faithful retelling of the myths around Greek hero Perseus. A prophecy said that he would cause the death of his grandfather, King Acrisius of Argos. Naturally the king isn't happy about that and sends his daughter and grandson out to sea locked in a chest. They are found and freed by some fishermen who take them in. Perseus has various adventures on the journey that takes him back to Argos where he accidentally kills his grandfather. The main adventure is killing Medusa and taking her head, though he also rescues Ethiopian princess Andromeda from a sea monster and then weds her.

The story is entertaining and well told though it was a bit too scary for L who is only 4 years old. Also, some bits might require explanation, like why the king is banishing them so cruelly. The book has discussion questions, writing prompts, and other resources for school-aged children. It seems aimed at 4th to 8th graders.

Sample from the book:
I'm including this since it made me laugh out loud. It's right after Perseus defeats the sea monster and asks for Andromeda's hand in marriage as a reward. She is willing to marry him but she is promised to another guy, who decides to interrupt the nuptials.

Click to enlarge

Sunday, September 22, 2013

All Saints Church, Frederick, Maryland

All Saints Episcopal Church in Frederick was founded in 1742, making it the oldest Episcopal church in Western Maryland. Thomas Johnson, the first governor of post-colonial Maryland, and Francis Scott Key, national anthem writer, both worshipped at this parish. The original building was replaced in 1814 by what is now the parish hall. In 1855, a neo-gothic church was built next to the hall and still stands today.

All Saints' Church, Frederick

The church is simple and unassuming. It was pleasantly cool inside during our August visit.


Main Altar

J and A in the pulpit

The church still has numbered pews, presumably from the days when members would sponsor a pew or perhaps be assigned pews.

Pew 54

We were pleasantly surprised to discover several bags in the back of church with simple and quiet activities for the children. It's a nice addition that would be useful in many other churches.

Maybe use a more subtle fabric, though

The back wall has a memorial to those who died in the World Wars.

Memorial to soldiers

The best part of the church is the stained glass windows, which unsurprisingly follow a saint theme. Many of the great saints of the early church are represented as well as events from Jesus's life.

St. John the Evangelist

Sts. Augustine and Monica

Madonna and child

Suffer the little children to come unto me

Jesus about to comfort Mary at His Tomb

Angels are saints too, right?

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Frederick Fifties Night

In Frederick, the first Saturday of the month is usually some sort of celebration. We were there for 1950s night, which meant stores were open late and bands were playing in the streets. We walked into town from our rental house which took maybe five minutes without the children. We crossed Carol Creek and were in the middle of the action.

A bridge we did not use but thought was pretty

Amazing flower on a water lily

As we walked down the street, a lady asked us if we wanted to visit the Potters' Guild of Frederick. They had a special offer on--if a customer buys an item from a special rack, the money will be donated to a local charity. Also, such purchases come with a ticket for a free ice cream from South Mountain Creamery. They had a booth just outside the shop. We went in, perused and purchased. Outside, we had some yummy grasshopper ice cream. It wasn't made with grasshoppers, however. It was a mint chocolate chip variant.

Potters' Guild of Frederick

The real attraction was music on the streets. We saw one band down an alley playing for a restaurant crowd. The restaurant is called Brewers Alley (it seemed like a yuppy-ish bar) but the band, Nightcrawlers, was good. And a little too loud, so we moved on.

Nightcrawlers at Brewers Alley

Further up the street was a quintet that was actually a sextet (we didn't see #6 for a while). They played a very long song, of which you can see a clip.

Street musicians

We continued to wander around, enjoying the pleasant August evening and the quaint Civil War-era architecture of Frederick. It was a great way to end our first evening in Frederick.