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(And dogs)

      All the best stories are about dogs. This is the opinion of my 10-year-old daughter, so her claim carries some weight.
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     You have 10 days to complete your gift-giving mission. Having difficulty coming up with brilliant ideas to wow and impress?
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Break, don’t prune the branches

     Make attractive, long-lasting holiday decorations from boxwood and you’ll be keeping your plants both healthy and good-looking.
     The woody European native here since the mid-17th century is best pruned when near-freezing temperatures make the boxwood branches very brittle.
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The force fully awakens in the space adventure we deserve

     Former stormtrooper Finn (John Boyega: Detroit) wakes from his coma to finds things looking dire in a galaxy far, far away. 
     Better financed and armed, the evil First Order is crushing the rebellion led by General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher, in her final role). The rebels’ last fighters flee across the universe with the First Order hot on their heels.
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’Tis the season for owls

     Santa’s not the only flyer of the December night skies. ‘Tis also the season for owls.
     Most owls are hard to see, so we usually only hear them. But once the leaves fall, it’s a little easier to catch a glimpse of these secretive night hunters. 
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A Bird (and Cat) Story
     There seems to be a lot going on in the paper with birds lately. Here is my own bird story. 
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Empathy and imagination light the way 

     The perfect gift? Satisfying that standard is too heavy a burden to bear any time of the year, especially in this season dedicated to rekindling hope, faith and charity. The right gift will do just fine — if only I can find it. Actually, them — for it’s several people for whom I’m still seeking good matches. 
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The grand classic turns intimate 

      Fiddler on the Roof, which hit Broadway in 1964, set longevity records, won nine Tony Awards and has been performed thousands of times by high school and community theaters across the country. It’s usually a big musical with big casts. This month, Compass Rose Theater gives Tevye and his family a more intimate treatment that, in the hands of director Lucinda Merry-Browne, gives us a nice new perspective.

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Take advantage of the quiet — and of migration — to go birding

     Winter is a wonderful time to study nature in Chesapeake Country. Yes, you read that correctly, the dreaded season of cold and snow. Before I am lambasted for being a warm-weather heretic, let me explain my reasoning.
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Artist John W. ‘Bud’ Taylor inspired an ethic of land preservation

     Mayo resident John W. ‘Bud’ Taylor told us (https://tinyurl.com/BW-Taylor-99) that for him, being outdoors wasn’t exactly a drive. “It’s more a refreshment, like recharging your batteries,” he said. It turns out that it was actually Bud, who passed away at the age of 86 on Oct. 28, who was recharging our collective drive all these years to treasure and protect the Bay landscapes. 
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