Having been raised by a mother whose surface-only housekeeping binges coincided with infrequent visits of her mother, I was at a loss, when she died, for motivation to make my private environment sparkle. Scheduling dinner parties only took care of the living room.
Now, however, happily rooted, I have reversed the process, coordinating my own occasional cleaning binges with visits from the next generation. So I write today looking out through duck-lace curtains that did indeed turn out to be white, knowing perfectly well that the visiting children couldn't care less -- but it's a nice present to myself.
Speaking of presents to oneself, how about a reason to read?
Next Monday would ordinarily see the monthly meeting of the YWCA's South County Book Discussion Group, but there is no meeting in December. In January, however, the group will discuss "Love in a Cold Climate" by Nancy Mitford; in February, "Homicide: A Year in the Killing Streets" by Sun reporter David Simon; and in March, "Brideshead Revisited" by Evelyn Waugh.
Books selected by the group range from classics to mysteries to nonfiction. The fee is $2 per session, and YWCA membership is required. The discussion group meets the last Monday of every month from 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Davidsonville Family Recreation Center on Queen Ann Bridge Road.
For more information, call 956-4340 or 798-4040.
Still in the gift line, and with my mother still much in mind, I offer a few last-minute suggestions for older relatives and friends, things that (generally) they won't have to find a place for and will cost you little or no cash: A gift of yourself and your time to run errands, polish silver, do the ironing, or prepare the soil for next summer's garden.
A cord of wood for someone with a fireplace is a wonderful gift, particularly if you're there to load the indoor wood box once a week. And for elderly people living alone, there is the loving security inherent in the gift of Anne Arundel Medical Center's Lifeline program.
With Lifeline, help in an emergency, such as a fall, is just the push of a button away. An electronic unit automatically calls the emergency response center when the subscriber pushes a button worn as a necklace or wristband.
For further information, call Lifeline coordinator Maryanne Flynn at 280-6584. The cost is $25 per month, with a one-time $25 processing fee.
Quiet Waters Park will be the setting for the Annapolis Striders 14th Anniversary 15K Run Jan. 2. Advance registration ends Saturday.
Annapolis Striders can register for free, non-members for $3. Race day registration -- $3 for members, $4 for nonmembers -- begins at 8 a.m. The 9.3-mile race starts at 10 a.m.
The event could be canceled if it rains, race directors Tony and Ludmila Pruner said. For further information, call the Striders Hotline at 268-1165.
The Coastweeks Photographer Contest winners were announced at a ceremony Wednesday at Quiet Waters Park. This second annual contest celebrating the county's 432 miles of shoreline was co-sponsored by DM Distributing Inc. of Pasadena, through the Coors Pure Water 2000 program and Frank Gumpert Printing of Annapolis.
Amateur photographers were invited to submit entries in any of five categories. The winners were Elizabeth Gauld, of Arnold, in the Caring for Coastlines and Coastal Recreation categories; Howard Penn, of Arnold, Working Coastlines and Scenic Coastlines; and Eva Purdy, of Annapolis, Natural Coastlines. The Best in Show award was given to Beth Rubin, of Arnold, whose photograph will be used in the 1993 Coastweek promotional materials.
Each winner received a certificate signed by County Executive Robert Neall, an autographed copy of "Water's Way" by photographer Dave Harp and writer Tom Horton, a 1993 parking permit for Quiet Waters Park and a Coastweeks T-shirt.
The 32 photographs entered will be on display next year at several public library branches, park facilities and county office buildings.
For more information, call the county Department of Recreation and Parks at 222-1919.
Another outstanding show is at the new Atlantic Gallery, 433 Fourth St. in Eastport. Many at the show's opening Wednesday were talking about the gallery signaling a change for Eastport's image and economy. When a bright, diversified contemporary gallery succeeds, can espresso bars be far behind?
The Lothian Ruritan Club is holding a fruit sale to benefit its scholarship fund and other community projects undertaken throughout the year. Eating oranges are $16 per case, $9 per half-case. Juice oranges are $15 per case. White grapefruits are $14 and $8, and ruby grapefruits are $15 and $8.50.
Orders must be received by Jan. 9. The pick-up date is Jan. 23 in the Lothian Elementary School parking lot.
Send checks to the Lothian Ruritan Club, P.O. Box 32, Harwood, 20776.
For further information, call Herbert Moreland, 867-1358; John Dorr, 741-1832, or Ernie Shepard, 741-9138.