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Finding — and giving — refuge from the storm

The deaf cat, a skinny princess getting on, could not hear her own purrs, nor our learned conversations above her head, at a festive gathering in a lovely house on St. Leonard’s Creek beyond Jefferson Patterson Park.
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An entertaining investigation heavier on brawn than brains

The master of deduction Sherlock Holmes (Robert Downey Jr.: Due Date) has been dealing with a lot of loss of late. His romance with Irene Adler (Rachel McAdams: Midnight in Paris) is untenable. He’s at a stalemate trying to foil the plans of arch nemesis Dr. Moriarty (Jared Harris: Mad Men). Worst of all, his best mate and sleuthing sidekick Dr. Watson (Jude Law: Hugo) is getting married.
    Holmes isn’t taking it well.
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Feast your eyes on the heavens above

Of the naked-eye planets, Mercury is the most overlooked. That isn’t for lack of brightness, as it outshines both Mars and Saturn. Nor is it a result of distance, given that it’s closer to us than is Mars. But so near the sun, Mercury never strays far from its blinding glare.
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A Hound’s Jolly Humbug!

As I decked the halls with boughs of holly

I put a Santa hat on this dog to be jolly.

When down to the dog park we went to play,

The strangest things my dog had to say!
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Otherwise winter’s chill will wilt your Christmas blooms

Keep Christmas in bloom by shielding your poinsettias from sudden drops in temperature. Remember, poinsettia are a tropical plant, so a sudden chill below 40 degrees can cause the plant to quickly lose foliage, including the red or white bracks.
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It was a mostly great year

The rockfish season this year was, on the whole, great. It didn’t start until June because spring was a three-month mix of heavy rains, high winds, muddy water and low temperatures. While that early scenario was disappointing for anglers, it was fantastic for the fish, because just about every species that reproduces in the Chesapeake had a very successful spawn.
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One great story calls for many others

Editor’s note: I write out of my Christian tradition on December 21, which is the Winter Solstice as well as, this year, the first day of the eight-day Jewish celebration of Chanukah. Whatever tradition we come from — Jewish, pagan or Christian — this time of year we celebrate, and tell our stories about, the coming of light into our world.

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With cold weather here to stay, warm up with these Chesapeake authors

The sights are great, world travelers report. But, they insist, you only really get to know a place through its people.
    All around us are people who are the keepers of untold treasure.
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Stay home with the kids instead of seeing this waste of celluloid

The Sitter is the kind of movie reviewers hate: It’s so tedious, lazy and humorless that it’s nearly impossible to mock.
    Nearly.
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Five planets brighten these long nights

All the naked-eye planets decorate our night skies the next couple weeks, with the two brightest coming into view at sunset but all staggered throughout the dark hours.
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