I’m not always on top of things in the blogosphere, so I didn’t get the news about Wordbones until I got the HocoBlogs email on Saturday night. It put a damper on what had otherwise been a good Mother’s Day weekend. I’d never met the man in person – I’d never even gone out to any of the HoCo blogging events – but I wish I had. I loved reading his blog. I was very impressed by all of the details that he managed to acquire, and the easy writing style that he used to share what he knew. He really cared about the area, and it came through in his words.

It’s thanks in part to him that the HoCo blogging scene has developed into a crazy, wonderful, and close-knit community. I brooded about his death for a while, unsure of what to say, until it finally occurred to me that it would be a good tribute to acknowledge some of the HoCo blogs that I’ve come to love, that I might not ever have found without the community that he helped create.

First and foremost is HowChow. I don’t know how he does it, but the guy manages to eat all over the place and find out about everything new that’s coming into town. He’s always open to exploring new tastes and cuisines, and his enthusiasm is contagious; thanks to him I’ve got a thick forest of bookmarks for restaurants and markets all over the area. Whenever we sit down at an area restaurant, odds are that one of us is going to pull out a smartphone and say, “well, let’s see what HowChow ordered…” Reading his posts makes us feel like insiders. I still remember the feeling of excited discovery the first time I bit into the al pastor tacos from R&R Taqueria. And I gotta admit I was over the moon the first time he linked to this blog. ^_^ Thank you, HowChow, for making sure that we eat well.

Next, AnnieRie Unplugged. I want to be AnnieRie when I grow up. (Hopefully by then I will also have learned to grow plants without killing them.) To read her blog is to appreciate nature and good home cooking, to glory in the bounty of farms and parks all around us, to delight in beautiful flowers and found asparagus. I’ve already picked up lots of tips and tricks from her blog to prepare meals in easy and delicious ways, and to sock away fresh fruits and vegetables for the winter. I haven’t checked out the Howard County Conservancy yet, but when my kid is older, we’re definitely going on some of those walks.

Speaking of the kid, I should mention Do-It-Yourself Danielle. I’ve never commented on her blog, but I read it regularly and with great admiration. I don’t actually know how to use a sewing machine, but someday when I do, I hope to attain a fraction of her skills. Our cloth diapers are store-bought, but if the elastic starts to go, I know where I’ll turn for help. I love her candid stories about raising her son, and since her kid is just a little older than mine, I feel like she’s blazing a trail for me to follow.

And for when my kid is older still, I’m storing away knowledge from the blog of Lisa B, Mrs. S. I love the mix of topics on her blog, how tips for keeping kids occupied during a long car trip share space with wide-ranging commentary on the county school system and on society at large. She’s always paying attention to how to make the world a better place for her school-age children, and she does it with a thoughtful, flowing writing style that I just love to read.

As for thoughtful writing, there’s plenty to be found on The Rocket Powered Butterfly. He doesn’t post as often, but it’s worth the wait when he does. Each post is carefully crafted, exhaustively footnoted, and often offers me a perspective I hadn’t previously considered.

Posts don’t need to be long to be worthwhile, though. 53 Beers on Tap is one of the first blogs that sucked me into the community. This guy pulls no punches and I sometimes find myself disagreeing with what he says, but there’s no doubt that he cares deeply about the area and wants what’s best for everyone. It’s one of my go-to blogs for local politics, with a side of strong opinion.

I also regularly check on HoCo Rising for a comprehensive debrief of politics around the county. Tom Coale highlights people and news items that I would probably never have heard of, but am glad to learn about. I have no idea how he gathers all of his links but I’m glad he’s there to distill it down for us.

And finally, a world of gratitude to Jessie X, the glue that holds the HocoBlogs community together. When I first hesitantly offered my blog to the HocoBlogs directory, she was immediately welcoming and full of helpful advice. She does a lot of work to keep the community engaged and vibrant. Thank you, Jessie; this place wouldn’t be the same without you.