Late bloomersIT'S the icky, sticky days of August, and...

Scene and Heard In Anne Arundel County

August 30, 1998|By Andrea F. Siegel Staking out in comfort

Late bloomers

IT'S the icky, sticky days of August, and even most plants look as if they've about had it. Except two in the civil clerk's office in the Anne Arundel County Circuit Court House in Annapolis.

Since their arrival last fall to dress up the new building for its official opening party, two poinsettias have kept right on blooming. The plants, about 4 feet tall, regularly sprout new red and white tops, unaware that their season ended some months back.

They are hardly overindulged -- here and there they get watered and a shriveling leaf or two is plucked.

Asked what accounts for the poinsettias' continued growth, clerks shrug. Maybe it's because they're by computers, maybe it's because they're in an air-conditioned building, maybe it's because nobody cut them back and stopped them. But the plants often get a second look from first-time visitors to that office.

FEW things could bring the swarms of television cameras staking out Monica Lewinsky and the president to Anne Arundel County. But for two of them this week, BJs on Ritchie Highway in Pasadena was a big lure: The store stocks the perfect stakeout lounge chair.

BJs, one explained, is the only place that carries the tubular aluminum, double-cushioned, reclining chair with full, prop-up headrest. When one spends every day for six months waiting hour after hour for a glimpse of the raven-haired celebrity, life is no longer about journalism. It's about chairs.

"When you're staking out Monica or the courthouse, it's important to have a good chair to kick back in," explains cameraman Phil Geyelin. "Everybody else does."

"And," chimed in sound-man Evan Blaustein, "they have other uses, like sunbathing."

Laura Sullivan

Car bomb scare

A section of pipe attached to the undercarriage of a red 1993 Toyota Tercel caused tumult in Crofton Friday afternoon when state fire marshal's bomb technicians, police and fire officials -- thinking it might be a pipe bomb -- evacuated the area for more than two hours.

Mechanics at the Mobil service station at 2201 Defense Highway spotted the pipe when they lifted the car up at about noon Friday. The car's owner, a 37-year-old Crofton resident, had brought it in for an inspection before closing a deal to sell it.

The mechanics called police, police called fire, fire called the state fire marshal's office. Bomb dogs and bomb technicians swarmed, about 40 people were evacuated and dozens of people at the Priest Bridge Center strip mall were prevented from crossing the yellow tape to leave the area.

At 3: 15 p.m. a beautifully coiffed Amy Peyton, 19, of Crofton, sat outside the strip center's Cut N Dri Styling, frustrated and watching the uniformed officials. Her 2 p.m. hair appointment had ended with a nightmarish imprisonment because of the emergency.

"I have to pack for college," whined Peyton, who said she was leaving Saturday morning for Frostburg State University, where she's a sophomore. "I have so many last-minute things to do and I can't because I'm stuck here. It doesn't make sense. It seems to me that if there was a bomb there, it would be safest if everybody just left the area."

Thankfully, by 3: 30 p.m., a state fire marshal's office robot had dismantled the suspected bomb, which turned out to be nothing more than a hollow pipe.

As the area slowly cleared, the car's owner and the person buying it paced up and down the gas station, shaking their heads in disbelief at the afternoon's events. The 51-year-old woman who had given the owner a $500 deposit to buy the Toyota said she'd definitely changed her mind.

Why? "Gee, this little black cylinder at the bottom of the car." she responded.

Cheryl Tan

Douglass shortchanged

BEFORE Frederick Douglass was the great leader told of in history books, he was just a speaker on the circuit getting shortchanged.

Among a collection of historical letters exhibited at the Middleton Tavern in Annapolis last week was one from Douglass in which he complained about receiving $50 and "though it is best half the terms accepted, you may rely upon my coming."

It continued: "While I admire the ability with which you urge upon me the duty of making sacrifices, I hardly think the occasion called for it."

TaNoah Morgan

Patience tested

SOMETIMES the simplest task turns out to be the biggest pain in the neck.

About 3: 45 p.m. Friday, I called Adam Milam's office. He is keeper of the Comprehensive Test of Basic Skills scores for the county school system. He had left for the day.

So, I asked the woman who answered the phone if she would mind giving me the scores, for use in a region-wide story on improved scores.

Students take the test in February and March and their scores are sent home at the end of the year. Aggregate scores are a routine matter of public information.

"I have them, but I can't give them to you," she said.

"Well, why?" I asked. "Are they secret?"

"No, but it's not my job," she said. "I don't want to give anything to the press. I don't want that responsibility."

"Well, how about if I have Michael Walsh in the public relations office call you and you can give them to him and he can give them to me," I tried. "He is the one who said I should call your office."

"No," she says. "My boss is not here. He is the only one who can release them."

At 4: 15 p.m., Walsh went to the testing office to try to solve the impasse. The office was closed for the weekend.

Kris Antonelli

Pub Date: 8/29/98

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