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Near and far, small towns and big cities are aglow with the magic of twinkling holiday lights.

 

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Calvert Hospice grows a forest; behind every tree is a story

Small trees, tall trees — dozens of them, resplendent in holiday light and ornamentation — transform the halls of Huntingtown High School into a forested Christmas wonderland.

These trees decked in holiday finery aren’t delivered to the high school in Santa’s sleigh. Instead, they are the work of hundreds of volunteers who labor for weeks, months — some all year — to create a Festival of Trees for the sake of Calvert Hospice.

 

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See if you can spot the five naked-eye planets

Sunset reveals Jupiter high in the south, shining far brighter than any other object. The king of planets is truly massive — more than twice as large as all the other planets combined. That’s a lot of reflective surface, which makes up for its distance from the sun. While more than three times as far from the sun as its inner neighbor Mars, Jupiter is second in brightness only to Venus....

What do we save and what do we sacrifice?

Saving the Last Farm on the Magothy, my November 4 column, brought lots of interesting mail that sent me down a broader path through the Preservation Woods.

Lucy Illif, who owns one of the few remaining farms in Arnold, reminded me that the Jordan Property next to Ritchie Highway has just been rezoned commercial and that the whole area is being swallowed up by houses and shopping malls.

“Will our farm now be the last one in Arnold?” she wondered.

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Composting returns all those nutrients to the garden

The soil in my first garden at Upakrik Farm in 1991 was mostly hard clods of silt. Because I have added liberal amounts of compost over the past 19 years, my soil is now loose, friable and highly productive. I attribute the change entirely to the use of compost.

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A soda can alligator takes top honors at the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Rethink Recycling contest

Josh Tichinel’s alligator may not be able to swim the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. But the soda-can reptile is a reminder that we can all help save the Bay through creative repurposing.

The Northern Garrett High School student won the Maryland Department of the Environment’s Rethink Recycling art contest.

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Big rockfish make foul-weather fishing worth while

Getting in on the early-winter rockfish bite can be quite unpleasant. Except for the lucky anglers with big, enclosed boats that can safely and comfortably ply our cold, windswept Bay, most anglers this time of year must simply deal with November’s increasingly nasty weather. 

 

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Tips on giving thanks by giving to charity

If all the layered meanings of America’s national feast day could be packed into a verb, to have seems to me the right one. We give thanks because we have, rather than have not. So it’s no wonder that the great feast got its impetus in times when having not was such a real alternative that it might be only a step away.

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Wizards and muggles will find fun and suspense as Harry’s magical world collapses around him

When the screen faded to black at the end of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows there was an audible protest from the audience. The fact that a packed house sat still for 146 minutes and begged for more when the credits rolled is probably the best recommendation I can give.

But they pay me to write more than a paragraph.

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Suspiciously well done!

When Something’s Afoot opened on Broadway in 1976, critic Walter Kerr pronounced the musical mystery fundamentally flawed.  Because music relaxes, he said, it’s incompatible with suspense.

Obviously Kerr wasn’t a fan of Hitchcock. But his question remains: Can a suspense murder mystery sustain itself as a musical?

We’ll see.

Does Something’s Afoot give us memorable music? No.

Does it hold great suspense? No.

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