Barbara Ruben's Blog

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Lots of candles

One of my favorite authors, Anna Quindlen, published a new book this week. Titled Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake, the 58-year-old fiction writer and journalist takes a look back at her life. I first read Quindlen when she wrote her “Life in the 30s” column in the New York Times about raising her young kids as a 30-something. Now a chapter of the book is called “Life in the 50s.”

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Some operating instructions for grandparents

Back in 1993, one of my favorite writers, Anne Lamott, published a witty, self-deprecating journal about her son’s first year. Called Operating Instructions, it chronicled her joyful, exhausting days as a single parent with her baby Sam.

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Beating the February blahs

While much of this winter has been downright balmy, February can still be a month where leafless trees, early sunsets and frigid early mornings can wear you down. And with leap year, we have to slog through 29 days.

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Downsize and do good

Shera, a lioness at the National Zoo, swipes a paw across a swirl of blue paint. Her claw punctures the paper. A volunteer quickly pulls the “painting” out of her enclosure before she can take a bite out of it, as lion cub Baruti likes to do with his artwork.

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Holiday shows help make the season merry and bright

The jack-o-lanterns were still glowing when the Christmas trees lit up at Macy’s. My local mall began piping in holiday music before Veterans Day, and Black Friday is beginning on Thanksgiving Thursday this year.  Bah humbug, I say. But beyond the Christmas creep and the showdown for parking spaces at the mall, the holiday season brings a bounty of plays and concerts that more than make up for commercialization of the season.

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The sound of music

I grew up in a house where the soundtrack of daily life was Mozart, Chopin and Beethoven played on the kitchen radio tuned to the classical music station. While my tastes as a teen ran more to the Rolling Stones and Cat Stevens, today my car radio is often tuned to the classical music on WETA, and my iPod contains Bach, along with Bruce Springstein.

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Get out and play

More grandparents than ever are either raising their grandkids or significantly contributing to their upbringing, according to the latest U.S. Census figures. In all, there are 62.8 million grandparents in the U.S., the most ever. They are projected to make up roughly 1 in 3 adults by 2020. Look for more details about this trend in an upcoming issue of the Beacon.

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Never too late to learn

My daughter started high school a couple weeks ago. And I have to admit that when I see the alphabet soup of her algebra homework or the physics word problems involving acceleration rates, I’m just as happy I’m not going to be having a test on the material next week.

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A moving experience

Washington and Baltimore-area residents felt the Earth move on August 23, an unsettling sensation and, hopefully, a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Just in case there’s a next time, take a look at this fact sheet from the Red Cross about how to prepare for and what to do in case of an earthquake. I was surprised to see that taking refuge in a doorway is not recommended.

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Cool summer reading

One is a business executive who helped save a historic town from being wiped off the map, while the other has had a varied career in dance, television news reporting and acting. Charles Wagandt, who preserved the town of Oella on the Baltimore/Howard County line, and Maria Broom, who guest starred in the TV series “The Wire” and is currently teaching dance to Baltimore kids, don’t seem to have a lot in common. But they both share their fascinating stories in the August issues of the Beacon’s Baltimore and Howard County editions.