Today's burning question -- in my kitchen, at any rate: "Is it better to do the impromptu 'What time can you be here/what can you bring' dinner party or the 'A week from Friday at 7 o'clock/No, of course you needn't bring anything' variation?
The latter, of course, involves shopping on Tuesday, getting the things you forgot on Wednesday, making the hors d'oeuvres on Thursday, getting the fresh things that you couldn't get on Tuesday, and hoping your spouse remembers the wine.
Then there's making the main course -- which you've never made before and it smells strange -- and finding all the surfaces in the public areas of your home so you can clean on Friday while you whip up the dried fruit poached in port and wonder where you can borrow a chair.
That was the scenario last week at our house, complete with the friend extolling her laissez-faire entertaining style.
I've decided, not for the first time, that I love them both -- the drive-you-crazy preparation and the spontaneity. In both cases, good friends are the key, along with the comfortable knowledge that neither careers nor civilizations ride on a single meal!
All of which leads, of course, to a food item: One of the great things about winter, in an age of good transportation, is that if you can't get south, you can bring its bounty to you.
The Lothian Ruritan Club is doing just that with Florida oranges and pink grapefruit, shipped to order and begging to be squeezed and munched and broiled and sliced and just plain enjoyed. Pick-up, originally scheduled for Saturday, has been rescheduled for Feb. 19 at Lothian Elementary School, Route 2 in Lothian. There's still time to order.
Eating oranges are $16 for a four-fifths bushel and $9.50 for a half bushel. Pink grapefruit are $15 for a four-fifths bushel, and $8.50 for a half bushel.
Call Herbert Moreland at 410-867-1358 or Bernard Leich at 867-2487.
Having dealt with snakes, birds and spiders in its Nature Explorers series, Quiet Waters Park takes on squirrels at 2 p.m. Sunday. The program, looking at squirrels in their natural habitat and their relation to us, is geared to children 2-5 years old.
Children must be accompanied by an adult. Seating is limited, so advance registration is required, in person at the park office. The office is closed Tuesday, but open from 9 p.m. to 4 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday.
Ron Callison, president of the President Hill Community Association, alerts me that candidates for the Ward I seat vacated by John Hammond have been invited to a candidates night at Loews Annapolis Hotel at 7:30 p.m. tomorrow. Each candidate is being given a list of topics to address in prepared comments and there will be a question and answer period.
All Ward 1 voters are encouraged to attend.
Another Q&A session with a public official is part of the South County Democratic Club luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Wednesday at Pirates Cove Restaurant in Galesville. The speaker is state Comptroller Louis Goldstein.
The public is invited. There is no fee unless you want to buy lunch.
When I was in grade school and high school, a wonderful outlet for a tall, bespectacled, shy female was the class play, drama club or any other project that let me be other than myself.
In the process of playing many roles, I developed a particular appreciation of the one-person performance. I have some understanding of the extraordinary discipline that's involved and in awe of those who can pull it off.
An opportunity to see it done is being offered Feb. 18 and 19 at Maryland Hall with the national premier of "Sweet Chariot," a play based on the life of Harriet Tubman.
Anne Arundel Community College literature and drama teacher Vivian Gist portrays the extraordinary woman who escaped from slavery, led more than 300 slaves to freedom and served the Union Army as a scout and nurse.
"Sweet Chariot" was written by Margaret Barton Driggs of Easton, who presented the first act two years ago with the Tred Avon Players.
The Maryland Hall performances of the complete play are co-sponsored by the Banneker-Douglass Museum Foundation Inc. of Annapolis, to benefit its Acquisition Fund, and the Greater Glen Burnie Chapter of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women.
The performances at Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts are set for 8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 18, and 2:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 20. A daytime dress rehearsal on Thursday is geared for students.
For dress rehearsal information, call producer Carol Youmans at 269-1484.
For tickets to the Friday and Sunday performances ($10), call the foundation at 974-2893, the coalition at 551-7443 or Sweet Chariot Inc. at 263-5625.