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Thanksgiving novels now in season

     In novels, everything happens for a reason. Thus the coexistence of Thanksgiving and National Novel Writing Month in November can be no coincidence.
     Our national holiday is a cornucopia of potential plots.
     Food, for example. Since Like Water for Chocolate, novels linking food and life stories have seized the popular imagination and risen to the top of the charts, spilling over into movie adaptations. Imitate Laura Esquivel and write a story tracing a life in food. You might even start at the Thanksgiving table. Perhaps your own.
     Speaking of the Thanksgiving table, what better place to look for the conflict that novels thrive on? Comedy, murder mystery, nostalgia, romance, redemption, young adult and children’s: ­Novels of all sorts can evolve out of that table setting. Take my word for it. Even Louisa May Alcott wrote an Old Fashioned Thanksgiving.
     The challenge of National Novel Writing Month is writing in 30 days 50,000 original words for the first draft of a novel. 
     Are you up for the challenge?
     Novelists typically work in solitude, but this month you have options.
     “Anne Arundel County Public Library has always been a great space for writers to work,” says library head Hampton ‘Skip’ Auld. For the challenge month, libraries throughout the county are offering workshops and tips to help writers create their own masterpieces. Events include:
     Thursday, Nov. 2: Tips From Author Meg Eden, 3:30pm, Severn Library.
     Thursday Nov. 2, 9 and 16: Weekly Write-in meet up, 5-9pm, Deale Library.
     Monday November 6, 13, 20 and 27: Weekly Write-in meet up, 6pm, Severna Park Library.
     Tuesday, Nov. 7: Tips from Author Mary K. Tilghman, 6:30pm, Linthicum Library and Write-in meet up, 6:30pm, Brooklyn Park Library.
     Wednesday, Nov. 8: Write-in meet up, 6:30pm, Riviera Beach Library.
     Thursday, Nov. 9: Teen Writers Workshop, 2:30pm, Broadneck Library.
     Sunday, Nov. 12: Murder on their Minds: Sisters in Crime, 2 pm, Crofton Library.
      More at https://nanowrimo.org.
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Calvert Marine Museum scientist helps solve the mystery of the ­plesiosaur’s teeth

       Saur, from the Greek, tells you it’s some kind of lizard, likely a dinosaur, as that’s this suffix’s common use. There’s little else familiar about this Plesiosaur — except its connection to Calvert Marine Museum.
     First, the introduction: Plesiosaurs are stout-bodied, long-necked lizards, from the age of dinosaurs that propelled themselves through their oceanic environment using four flippers.
     Then the connection: It’s not the ancient ocean that is now our Chesapeake. Rather it’s the Museum’s man on such ancient environments, paleontologist Dr. Stephen Godfrey. With an international team of paleontologists from Chile, Argentina and the United States, Godfrey found a plesiosaur from long ago Antarctica that was rather like a whale.
     Instead of a marine predator, like other plesiosaurs, this saur was a strainer feeder like baleen whales, creatures that did live in the Miocene Chesapeake.
     Teeth were the clue that tipped off the team led by F. Robin O’Keefe a globally recognized scientist specializing in Mesozoic marine reptiles. The tiny teeth in the fossil’s lower jaw pointed the wrong way. Nor did they meet tip to tip as in all other plesiosaurs, instead lying together in a battery that acted in straining food particles from the water. This feeding style is unknown in other marine reptiles.
     It may, the scientists concluded, be an evolution “linked to changes in ocean circulation brought on by the southward movement of Antarctica during the Late Cretaceous period.”
     Visitors to Calvert Marine Museum can see what this pivotal plesiosaur likely looked like.

Beaches, marsh and mountains blaze with color

     Autumn can be a polarizing season, but I have become quite the enthusiast of this time of harvest, leaf peeping and ubiquitous festivals. I like the hot cider and apple fritters, but what I love most are the seasonal changes we can experience in the natural world.
     Chesapeake Country is a fine place to experience those changes. The watershed we call home is an enormous place — over 64,000 square miles stretched across six states and Washington, D.C. Within those miles are diverse physiographic regions: the ancient Appalachian Mountains, the rolling hills of the central piedmont plateau and the low-lying, marsh-encompassed Atlantic coastal plain. In each of these regions, birds are migrating and mammals are on the move as they forage for precious calories. Exquisite colors adorn the many species of deciduous trees. 
 
 
From the Beaches …
     Close to home, the tranquil, still wetlands of Calvert Cliffs State Park in Calvert County give us a double image of autumn color: in the trees and reflected on Bay waters. As well as its namesake cliffs and fossilized shark teeth, the Bayside park also invites wildlife viewing. I have encountered wood ducks and muskrat as they swim through the season’s colorful double image. 
 
To the Marshes …
     At Calvert County’s Battle Creek Cypress Swamp, you’ll find an unexpected color transformation. An easy stroll on a boardwalk takes you into one of the northernmost naturally occurring stands of bald cypress trees in the lower 48 states. This cypress appears evergreen, but it is deciduous, and its needles change to beautiful fall colors before dropping. If you are lucky, you may be treated to the sight of a bald eagle or barred owl.  
     For a unique sighting of autumnal color, head to saltier marshes to search for patches of glasswort. The plant has simple or branched stems that resemble asparagus stalks. Beginning in late September, it transforms to a brilliant crimson red, making it simple to scan for and identify. Stunning to behold, it is in perfect contrast to the cordgrass, which is turning from green to brown. A great location for glasswort is the salt marshes of Assateague Island.
 
To the Mountains …
     Take in the bounty of autumn leaves in our mountain regions. Two of my favorite locations are Shenandoah National Park and Catoctin Mountain Park, both operated by the National Park Service.
     The famed skyline drive of Shenandoah is a 105-mile historic highway beginning in Front Royal, Virginia, and traversing the length of the park along the Blue Ridge Mountains. By mid-October the drive will be adorned with a kaleidoscope of autumn color. Additionally there are numerous trails in the park, including the Appalachian Trail, to take you farther into the woodlands.
     There’s a trail for everyone, from the novice hiker to the experienced backpacker, and varying levels of intensity. For an easy walk try the Limberlost trail, which is wheelchair accessible. The more intrepid might spend a day hiking Old Rag Mountain and its famed rock scramble. Be on that trailhead early, as the mountain’s popularity equates to large crowds and long lines on the rock scramble. Bring plenty of water and a backpack to clean up after yourself, and follow the adage to leave only your footprints behind.
     Shenandoah National Park holds a wide variety of wildlife, including whitetail deer, coyotes, bobcats and wild turkeys. Its most famous inhabitants are a thriving population of black bears, which will be active as they seek high-calorie acorns before winter sets in. Seeing a bear in the autumn woods is a real treat. A black bear is a rather timid animal and is more likely frightened by you than the other way around. For a safe as well as memorable encounter, always give the bear plenty of space and admire it from a distance.
     Catoctin Mountain Park in western Maryland is much smaller but no less breathtaking, with numerous trails and vistas. While there, make sure to look down at the leaf clutter and you may be fortunate enough to catch a glimpse of the ruffed grouse, a chicken-like upland bird that blends in with the forest floor.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
November’s Whiteout
     By November, when the leaves have moved past peak color and the thought of Thanksgiving dinner is piquing our senses, another color not normally associated with autumn is just returning. The marshes and agricultural lands around the Bay will be sprinkled with the color white, signaling the return of snow geese and tundra swans to the Chesapeake.  
When thousands upon thousands of snow geese blast off in flight together in a cacophony of goose call, it is quite the sensory experience.  These birds flock to the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge in Dorchester County, where another large white bird, the while pelican, is also just returning.
     I hope these ideas inspire you to experience autumn in the natural world.
 
 

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In Makerspaces workshops, you can make most anything

     My latest project is building a steam engine for a model railroad. 
     For project-hounds like me, each new ambition means new tools, which are fun but pricey. That’s a big commitment for a beginner. Wouldn’t it be nice if there were a way to try a project, get some guidance and use some tools and supplies before having to buy your own? 
     Now there is.
 
Makerspaces? Places to Make 
     “A Makerspace is a shared workshop where members work on projects, collaborate with others and learn skills,” explained Russ Miller of the new Annapolis Makerspace. “Think of it as a gym where members pay a monthly fee, but instead of weight machines, members have access to many types of tools and equipment.”
     You might first take a Makerspace class to learn basic skills and safe operation of the tools and machines. Likely you’ll find other people with similar interests.
     Each Makerspace has its own facility, organization, specialty and funding, with monthly memberships discounted for students and seniors. All are reasonably priced considering what you get.
 
The Annapolis Makerspace
     “Everyone has their own interest, and they are varied,” said Jack Warpinski, president of the group of electronics hobbyists, programmers, 3D printer enthusiasts and woodworkers who merged their skills as the nonprofit Annapolis Makerspace. They rented a space off West Street by the National Guard Armory, donated or loaned tools, built workbenches and, by early August, were up and running. 
     “Right now we’re in startup mode,” Warpinski told me.
     Facilities include a computer lab with CAD software, an electronics station with test equipment, 3D printers and a wood shop with a CNC (computer-numeric-controlled) router. Membership is by the month, and classes are offered.
     “The Annapolis area is large enough to support a more substantial organization,” said Warpinski, “so I see us growing in members, square footage, tools, equipment and programs.”
     Microcontroller open houses Thursdays at 7pm, general meetings fourth Tuesday each month at 7pm: 42 Hudson St., Annapolis: www.makeannapolis.org. 
 
Chesapeake Arts Center Makerspace
     The Chesapeake Arts Center, housed in the old Brooklyn Park High School, since 2001 has been northern Anne Arundel County’s Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts. Now it’s broadened its plan to include technical arts.
     “It meshed with our community’s blue-collar roots in manufacturing and ship building,” headwoman Belinda Fraley Huesman told me. “There were a lot of things made in this area. We wanted to embrace who we were, who we are and lift up the neighborhood.”
     The new Makerspace has its grand opening Saturday September 30. It offers instruction and tools in wood shop, metal fabrication and welding, screen printing and textiles and electronics. There is also a computer lab, laser cutter, a CNC router and 3D printers.
     Mollie McElwain, the center’s education director, is in the thick of preparing for operations.
     “The curriculum for all the safety training is designed,” McElwain said. “We’re now looking for instructors with the specific skills and putting out a call for proposed classes.”
     Anne Arundel County and the state made grants of $90,000 for design and renovation of the space plus $100,000 for fit-up. Annual operating costs will be supported by Makerspace memberships and the Arts Center’s operating budget.
     Open house Saturday Sept. 30, 10am-5pm; open weekdays 10am-6pm, Saturdays 10am-noon. 194 Hammonds Ln., Brooklyn Park: www.chesapeakearts.org/makerspace.
 
Unallocated
     Unallocated is what Annapolis Makerspace could be seven years hence. In 2010, eight people with a shared interest in information security met in a local bar. Today Unallocated is a non-profit, membership cooperative with a facility in Severn and an extensive calendar of talks, seminars, classes and interest-group meetings, many open to the public.
     Stocked with some of the same tools common to other Makerspaces, like woodworking and 3-D printers, Unallocated focuses on all things computer: hardware, software and security, microprocessors and gaming, to mention just a few. There is a large server farm and many computers where members can tinker with both hardware and software. Unique offerings include ham radio and analog — traditional board — games. Most supplies were donated or loaned by members. Various levels of membership available, providing different levels of access
     Open houses Wednesdays at 7pm; check website for additional openings: 512 Shaw Court, Severn; ­www.unallocatedspace.org/uas.
 
The Foundery
     The Taj Mahal of local Makerspaces, The Foundery is a flourishing private enterprise. The facility is huge and very well equipped for a wide variety of hard and soft projects. The wood shop is extensive, and the metal shop well equipped with both machine tools and fabricating tools. Also on-site are a finishing shop with paint and powder coating booths, a blacksmithy, 3D printing, laser engravers and textile working, with embroidery and sewing machines and dress forms.
     The Foundery has recently switched from monthly memberships to pay-as-you-go. With discounts, a day pass can cost as little as $5. 
     The Port Covington area of southern Baltimore, where The Foundery is located, is an easy drive up Rt. 97, only a half hour from the Annapolis area.
     Bi-monthly open houses; open weekdays 9am-10pm, weekends 10am-5pm: 101 W. Dickman St., Baltimore: http://foundery.com.
 

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A look at who we are through what we do in snapshots of Chesapeake Country ­working people aged 17 to 89.

Summer officially ends with Labor Day, aptly the day America sets aside to celebrate the people who made and make the nation.
      The holiday began as part of working people’s campaign to claim the benefits of their labor. Much has changed since the determined, often life-and-death labor struggles of the late 19th century. Industries have flourished and fallen. We do different jobs, contributing to a far different give-and-take than New York City’s 1892 Labor Day paraders. 
      Again as summer ends and Labor Day approaches, Bay Weekly looks at who we are through what we do in this parade of random snapshots of Chesapeake Country working people aged 17 to 89. Here, too, we do lots of different jobs. What we all have in common is the pride we take in our work.
–Sandra Olivetti Martin
Morgan McLendon
17, Pasadena: Nordstrom Saleswoman and Annapolis High School senior
     My first job was as a bagger and cashier at the Giant in Pasadena. I was 14 at the time and really didn’t like anything about it.
     Now, I’m a salesperson in the Nordstrom TOPSHOP brand department and absolutely love it! I’ve always enjoyed fashion and find it rewarding to help others find clothing that works best for their size and shape. It never feels like actual work.
     My position with Nordstrom has been my favorite job, and I will continue to work part-time when I return to school in September. I’ll actually have two part-time jobs, since I’ll also be working in a dental office.
–interviewed by Debra Driscoll
Megan D’Apice
19, Odenton: Summer lifeguard
     This summer, I’ve been a lifeguard at the Hillsmere pool in Annapolis. Before that, I worked at the Crofton Village pool for three summers. What I like best about the job is playing with the little kids at the pool.
–interviewed by Jackie Graves
Hanah Izzi
25, Prince Frederick and Federalsburg: Ravens cheerleader and dolphin helper 
     My first real job was at a Hair ­Cuttery. I have my cosmetology license, and I still cut hair on the side. I’m also a licensed insurance producer at an Allstate company
     Plus I have two other jobs.
      I work for the Ravens part-time as a cheerleader. We have three-hour practices Tuesday and Thursday nights and appearances throughout the community we sign up for. For games, we’re there five hours beforehand and practice on the field for a few hours. We go around the stadium before the game starts and engage with the fans. Then we run out the tunnel before the players and are on the sidelines the entire time. It’s really hard work. We’re nonstop dancing almost three and a half hours. 
      I’ve danced since I was two years old, first at Julie Rogers Studio, then on the Calvert High dance team, and at Towson University I was on that dance team.
      But what I actually want to do is marine biology. I work at the National Aquarium in Baltimore with the dolphins. I volunteer Tuesday and Thursdays, when I have cheerleading practice in Baltimore. I do fish prep for dolphins and help the trainers throughout the day.
–interviewed by Sandra Olivetti Martin
Renée Bennett
27, Prince Frederick … El Paso … Fort Meade: Soon to be Six String Soldier
     I’m a musician, a singer and violinist. My first job was a gig, playing with my dad and my sister Hanah Izzi on piano.
     I’ve been freelancing in El Paso, where my husband is in the Army Band. A month ago, my husband I got hired by the Six String Soldiers, part of the United States Army Field Band at Fort Meade. So we’ll be playing and traveling together.
      I’ve been in a couple of country bands, in rock bands, but so far I really like playing classic rock with an orchestra best of all.
–interviewed by Sandra Olivetti Martin
Tony Lewis
28, Annapolis: Owner, Tony J Photography 
      If I could shoot every day, that would be a dream come true.
      My favorite part is working with people and connecting with people. I was a super shy kid; I stuttered a lot. I had a Fisher-Price camera and I remember running around the house saying, Say cheese! I realized the camera allowed me to be in places I ­wouldn’t be in or wouldn’t feel comfortable being in.
      When I was 17 I toured the country with a company that did government contracting. Every other day I went to a different part of the country and photographed employees. When I got back from that trip I thought, I’m going to be a photographer for the rest of my life. 
       People ask me what my favorite shot is. I haven’t taken it yet. The artist in me is always trying to do better. I don’t think I’ll ever have that moment … and I don’t want that moment.
–interviewed by Emily Shaughnessy
Jennifer Carr
31, Severna Park: Restoration Program Manager, South River Federation
     I’ve always been very passionate about international issues, especially international conservation. After graduating college I was waiting for a job in the environmental field to open up, and I worked for an AmeriCorps education nonprofit and for the International Refugee Committee in Baltimore. There are refugee families I picked up seven or eight years ago at the airport that I still keep in touch with today. I run clothing donations to Burmese refugee communities in Baltimore about 10 times a year.
     I started as a volunteer intern with the South River Federation. Now I manage the restoration program: everything from writing grants to coordinating with landowners to overseeing construction. Having grown up in Pennsylvania I’ve always been more drawn to the land side, but that’s a huge part of restoring the Bay: you cannot restore the Bay without addressing the stormwater coming off the land. 
–interviewed by Emily Shaughnessy
Lt. Scott Clark
34, Annapolis: USNA Conduct Officer
      My first job was at 13 or 14 as a swim instructor at our local pool in Simi Valley, California.
     After years of flight school in Pensacola, I went to San Diego, flying MH-60S Knight Hawks, then was deployed to Bahrain, Dubai, Jordan, Israel and Singapore. Now I’m back at the Naval Academy, working as a Conduct Officer, which boils down to being a disciplinarian. It’s difficult because I enjoy working with the midshipmen, and the ones I interact with on a daily basis are not there for happy reasons. It’s always a difficult conversation.
     My favorite job was as Company Officer, overseeing and advising the close to 150 midshipmen in each of 30 companies at the Academy, where I graduated in the class of 2009. I find it extremely rewarding to mentor, lead and teach the young Mids. It’s important for me to have them learn from the mistakes I made while in their position. Pay it forward, if you will.
–interviewed by Debra Driscoll
Sherry Kuiper
37, Edgewater: Public Relations Officer at Fort George G. Meade
      Working in public relations, I get to help tell the Fort Meade story every day through television, radio stations and newspapers.
     My first real job was working at McDonald’s. I worked at the McDonald’s Bill Elliott NASCAR Museum in Muncy, Pennsylvania. It was pretty cool because the car he wrecked in Talladega hanged in the restaurant. One of his other cars served as our drive-thru window
     My best job was working as a production assistant at Community Access Television in Erie, Pennsylvania. I interned there in college and was eventually hired. I got to do everything. I took care of the programming, made videos for political candidates and taught people how to shoot and edit video. It was my first job in my career. While I was sad to leave, it launched my 12-year career as a TV news producer.
–interviewed by Alka Bromiley
Marcus Hayes
38, Annapolis: Sound studio engineer and Uber driver 
     At 14, when we were living at Incirlik Air Force Base in southern Turkey, I had a clerical job with my step-mom. It made me understand what working at an office was like; it was cool. I learned how to be responsible at a young age, how waking up early to get to work was important and how to earn my own money.
      Then for almost 10 years, I was working in the optical business, and I liked that the most. I cut prescriptions and helped people choose frames, find the right look for them. I left to pursue my ambition, a career in the music industry.
      Now I do a hybrid of things. I am self-employed. My schedule is flexible, so I am an Uber driver. I help people get around. It’s not a 9-to-5 job; some people say it’s not a real job, but I treat it like one. I am also a sound studio engineer working on live performances. The genre is a mixture of soulful R&B and hip-hop, I like to call it soul hop, it’s the music I help to create.
–interviewed by Alka Bromiley
Bill Jiang
40, Gambrills, via China: Sushi chef
     Starting as a grocery clerk, I learned my art 14 years ago from a ­Japanese master who was my smoking buddy and a very demanding master. I have worked at the Fuji Lounge in Gambrills for the past five years. I like my job because it makes me feel like a surgeon: wearing gloves, holding the knife and preparing the fish very carefully. Chinese New Year is my favorite event when I prepare artistically themed creations for over 120 people, and they are so very appreciative.
–interviewed by Jane Elkin
Veronica Contreras
45, Annapolis: Owner, Vero’s Housekeeping
     I was born in Mexico and grew up in California. My first job, at the age of 13, was as a cashier at a taco stand in Canoga Park, California.
     Currently, I am the owner of Vero’s Cleaning. I started it around six years ago, as the major breadwinner in the family (I have three boys). It can be hard work sometimes, but I’m so lucky to have very nice clients who appreciate our effort. 
      My favorite job was as a cashier, no matter where. The most difficult part was standing all day. But I always enjoyed talking with the customers. It made the day go by quickly, too.
–interviewed by Debra Driscoll
Scheri Goff
47, Annapolis: Yoga teacher
      My first job was working with severely emotionally disturbed boys aged 10 to 14 in a group home setting. Most had no parents or little parental interaction. The majority were wards of the State of California, where I lived at the time. I believe that the resilient spirit of these young men taught me the meaning of compassion, love and pain. 
     It is not really accurate to call my life’s purpose a job. I love what I do as simply and fully as anyone who has found their path to show others how to live well. Through yoga, we can learn so much about ourselves and in turn share that peace with the world. 
      Best job? Being a mother, friend, wife, yoga teacher and lover of life, I feel I have been given a gift to make a difference in the world. I teach what my teachers have taught me, passing it down with personal experiences. Through positive thinking, healthy eating, proper exercise, proper breathing and plenty of rest, I believe we may all live fully and well. 
–interviewed by Alka Bromiley
Ray Alves
54, Mechanicsville: Cartographer, Calvert County Department of Planning
      I draw maps for Calvert County. Anything to do with planning and zoning. My most recent job, with lots of people working on it, was a redo of Calvert’s Critical Areas map.
     No, they aren’t as pretty as Captain John Smith’s maps. I like the old maps and style of the calligraphy. I always liked to draw, and everyplace I went, I did more and more. I used to draw maps by hand on a drafting table. Now I do them by computer.
     I’ve worked in mapping for three counties, St. Mary’s, Anne Arundel and Calvert. I like it when I can accomplish stuff and get things done for people. I like to see their faces when I’m done.
–interviewed by Sandra Olivetti Martin
Claire Cawood Parker
54, Annapolis: Maryland State Archery champion
      My first job was a counter clerk and cashier at a Burger King in Nashville, where I was born. I then attended the University of Tennessee, Vanderbilt and Johns Hopkins universities to become a mental health counselor. I worked in private practice in the Annapolis area, administering to children and adults. Over the years this profession turned out to be my favorite and most worthwhile occupation for the positive effect it had on the many patients I served.
      Retired, I’m now working part-time as the manager of the Archery and Firearms Department of Angler’s Sport Center as well as continuing as a Maryland State Archery champion. I’m an outdoorswoman, and I find working and interacting with like-minded people a great deal of fun.
–interviewed by Dennis Doyle
Celia Molofsky
North Beach: Owner of The Wheel  
     My first job was the Army. I enlisted right out of high school. I retired as a sergeant major. My biggest accomplishment was moving the National Guard from a traditional force to an active force after 9/11. 
     The Army was my best job. I believed in what we were doing, the philosophy of fight and defend.
     Now, I’m owner of The Wheel LLC in North Beach. We’re an art gallery with 45 artists, a trendy gift shop and a tavern with fine wines and Ship Oat spirits — plus selling sophisticated clothing for men and women.
–interviewed by Tracy Contrino
Dan Starsoneck
60, Newly arrived in Annapolis: Global fire detection manager
      When Dan meets new people and they ask about his life, he jokes that he spent 26 years in prison — prison security that is, as a technician installing security systems for Johnson Controls at such notorious penitentiaries as Rikers Island. After 40 years in the business, he was recently promoted to sales manager for the northeast North Atlantic division.
      His first and worst job was baling hay, “exhausting and nasty work,” he says.
–interviewed by Jane Elkin
Mitzi Bernard
60, Friendship: Director, Bay Community Support Services
     After high school I worked at the ABC Wildlife Preserve where Six Flags Amusement Park now sits. The land was broken up and enclosed in sections each representing a major continent. We would ride horseback to round up the animals from each continent: cows and buffalo for North America, wild boar and ostriches for another and so on. It was the coolest job because we rode horses.
     I made my career in not-for-profits, working mostly for people with disabilities as I have for over 25 years as director of Bay Community Support Services for disabled individuals. This is my best job ever because we make a real difference in people’s lives. I call this a giving-back-to-the-community kind of job. We provide residential support in agency group homes as well as privately owned homes, employment services, day community activity programs, life-skills training, transportation and more to over 250 clients with all levels of disabilities.
–interviewed by Mick Blackistone
Greg Bowen
63, Prince Frederick: Executive director, ­American Chestnut Land Trust
      Right out of college I was a farmer. I farmed for a couple of years on the family farm in Prince Frederick.
      At American Chestnut Land Trust, I get to help preserve lands and be a good steward to that land. I get to go out on the trails and work with hundreds of volunteers who love the land as well. We have a little farm, so we are raising food and donating that to those in need.
      One of the most exciting things we started this year is doing science in the watershed, trying to set baselines for all the critters — all the flora and fauna — and then monitor trends to see how they are impacted by development, climate change and by invasive species.
     This is my best job. The camaraderie, the kindness that you see every day and the commitment to the environment is just incredible. I’ve had good jobs, don’t get me wrong. I loved being a planner for Calvert County, and I got to see so many good things happen over that time. But now I get to focus on the land and land preservation. What a life!
–interviewed by Sandra Olivetti Martin
Bill Driscoll
Annapolis: Hotel manager
     My first job was with the City of Pittsburgh’s Department of Parks and Recreation, where I was a recreation leader. At 16, I had a pretty cushy way to spend the summer and make money. My responsibility was distributing equipment for sporting events and games for kids. 
      A 48-year-old veteran of the hospitality industry, I graduated from Penn State University in 1968 with a degree in Hotel, Restaurant and Institution Management. I’m currently area general manager for the Westin and Sheraton BWI hotels. I’m the official GM of the Westin and also oversee the GM of the Sheraton. The responsibility for everything related to the profitability of both hotels is mine. My wife always has a large cocktail ready for me when I get home.
     My best job was vice president of development in the mid ’90s. I was able to use my hotel operations background when assessing new hotels for the company to buy. It was exciting growing the group one hotel at a time.
–interviewed by Debra Driscoll
Gale Gillespie
Severna Park: President, Anne Arundel Community Concert Association
     My first job was also my favorite job. Summers during college I worked keeping the books in my grandfather’s building material business in Norfolk. The office area conjoined the sales floor; there was constant interaction between the office staff and the customers. In those days Norfolk still had a small-town feel, and my grandfather knew all the customers by name. I very much enjoyed the friendly banter over those summers.
     My job as president of the concert association also lets me interact with many people and gives me the satisfaction of making this a better place to live. This is the start of our busiest time of year. We have sent out the mailings for our patrons to get their season tickets; shortly we will be processing them. We are also planning the hosting of our out-of-town artists and confirming the logistics with our venue, Severna Park High School.
     For our planning for the 2018-2019 season, I attended a showcase in Nashville where 24 artists auditioned. Now we need to sort through those and pick the four or five we want to make part of our season.
–interviewed by Bob Melamud
Linda Bouchat-Smith
Pasadena: Aquatic and land instructor
     Thanks to Miss James, my beloved kindergarten teacher, all I ever wanted to do was teach kindergarten. While in college, I worked my first job at EJ Korvettes in Glen Burnie.
     After college I found kindergarten jobs hard to come by. I taught second grade for four years. Finally, I found my dream job at Riviera Beach Elementary in Pasadena. There I spent 36 years teaching kindergarten and loved every minute of it.
     Water aerobics has always been my exercise of choice. After my retirement from the school system, I became certified through the Arthritis Foundation to teach both aquatic and land exercise classes. The classes I teach at Severna Park Community Center, Pasadena YMCA and Anne Arundel Community College promote flexibility and range of motion for persons struggling with arthritis and chronic pain. I also teach seniors how to do chair exercises through the Department of Aging. I’ve even had the privilege of teaching aquatics to my former kindergarten teacher, Miss James.
     I like to tell folks that by starting out with kindergarteners and working my way up to seniors, I’m trying to get to heaven. 
–interviewed by Diana Dinsick
Catherine Thames
89, Fairhaven: North Beach Bayside Historical Museum aide
      Right now I’m working part-time as an assistant at the North Beach Bayside Historical Museum. It is a great little gem.
     My first job was assistant playground director in Washington, D.C., during high school. I was also a Red Cross-certified swimming instructor at different D.C. community pools.
     Best or most interesting job? Well, teaching at Tracey’s Elementary for 12 years was a good one. But probably I would have to say being an elevator operator in the Longworth House Office Building, from 1964 to 1971. I got to know all the congressmen, and I could listen to their conversations about issues, the White House and so on. I would sit in the elevator, and when they heard the bell in their offices they had 20 minutes to get to the floor of the Capital to vote. When they were voting or in session I would go to the gallery and listen. When it was over I had to get back fast and have the elevator ready to take them back to Longworth. 
–interviewed by Mick Blackistone

Of Fenders and Gibsons, GE Smith and Eric Clapton

     American music grew up on American guitars.
     Mississippi Delta blues rose from the spirituals of African Americans but found a voice on National Resonator guitars built in California. Jazz and swing evolved from Big Bands on Gibson Archtops made in Kalamazoo, Michigan. The lonesome hillbilly folk we know as bluegrass was played on Martin guitars from Nazareth, Pennsylvania. When blues and jazz had a baby, they called it rock and roll and played it on Leo Fender’s Telecaster.
     In modern times, guitars that were once simply tools are hard-to-find classics. I’ve made it my business to find the coolest pieces I can for customers both in the States and abroad. 
 
Buying in Crisfield
     Back in the early 1990s, I got a phone call about a couple of old guitars down in Crisfield. About the guitars, all I knew was that one was a Fender and the other a Gibson. But I did know that the old fellow who had owned them had bought both in the ’50s.
     With an address and the old man’s name, I gassed up my van, headed across the Bay Bridge and down Route 50 on Maryland’s Eastern Shore.
     Usually, my blood pressure drops as I cross over the Bay as the pastoral landscape and salty air are a potion to my soul. This day was different. I was on pins and needles with anticipation.
     No one was home, so I went into Crisfield to poke around. At a small shack with a hand-painted sign offering crabs and beer, I wolfed down an immense crab cake and washed it back with a sudsy Natty Boh. Then I asked around for the old fellow.
     It didn’t take long to learn he worked up the street as a mechanic. Luck was with me, for I found him, and we headed back to his house.
     When the old fellow pulled out a brown Fender case and a black Gibson case, it was hard to maintain my poker face. First, I opened the tight latches of the Gibson case to reveal a beautiful 1956 Gibson Les Paul Custom.
      1956 was a year of experimentation for Gibson. The pickups they used were a combination of the tried-and-true P-90 single coil and the Alnico magnet version of the same design. This guitar was in original condition, having never been altered in any way. And it had that smell that only an old Gibson has. It had a lovely patina, and, though it had the typical crazing lines in the finish, it was in splendid shape.
     The Fender had the so-called Thermometer case, named for the bulbous shape at the top and its curvaceous lines, covered in a brown fabric. A spider jumped out as I pulled the Broadcaster from its case. This guitar carried the signs of use.
      Fender, like many companies back then, named its instruments after popular themes. The Broadcaster was named for the radio and television icons of the day. That name got Fender in a pickle because the Fred Gretsch Company had trademarked Broadcaster for its line of drums. For a few months in 1951, the model was simply a Fender. Later that same year, it was re-named the Telecaster, a name in continuous use ever since.
     We agreed on a fair price.
 
Selling in New York
      Back at my shop, I restrung both guitars and called G.E. Smith, then music director and guitarist on NBC’s Saturday Night Live.
      He agreed without hesitation to buy the Broadcaster and said that I could see the show if I brought it up on Saturday.
      On Saturday afternoon, I boarded the train for New York City’s Penn Station.
      Arriving at Radio City Music Hall carrying a guitar case and wearing my Wayfarer sunglasses, I was mistaken for the evening’s musical guest, Eric Clapton (I was much slimmer in 1992). Clapton is one of my musical heroes.
      Hearing Eric Clapton and the SNL band play was magical. He played through G.E.’s old Fender Tweed Twin amplifier, and the tone was inspirational.
      At the cast party in the wee hours of the next morning, I timidly went up to Clapton as he sat in a booth with friends and that evening’s show host, Debra Winger. I mumbled something about him being an inspiration and yada yada, and he asked what was in the book I was holding. It was a photo album of all the guitars I had for sale.
      Eric Clapton slid over and told me to sit down so he could see for himself. Like the couple of guitar nerds that we are, we spoke for some time about guitars — plus fishing and shooting pool.
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Rick Hogue, the owner of Garrett Park Guitars in Annapolis, loves music, guitars, travel and good food too. He considers himself luck in finding a job wherein he can combine these passions. Check out his songs at reverbnation.com/rickhogue

For their dogs, Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland will do just about anything 

         The conundrum of beagle love: bright loving eyes, silky tri-color fur, endless cuddling and a white-tipped, eternally wagging tail — all wrapped up with a deafening howl, the search for mischief and stubborn independence.

         When the beagle’s nose is engaged, the dog will track a scent unabashedly. Beagles are notorious for leaving the hunting pack, or digging under a standard fence, or breaking through an electric fence if they find something interesting and worth pursuing.

         Yes, the traits that make a beagle adorable often fail to outweigh the qualities that land dogs in a shelter. Without angels of rescue, a beagle in a shelter has a grim plight.

         The Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland exists to save beagles in need of a get-out-of-jail-free card. Mara Melton founded the non-profit in 2001, selling her house to help fund it.

         The first call to Melton’s shelter alerted her of eight beagles scheduled for euthanization. Melton wasn’t ready for business; she had no website and no advertising. Yet she came home with all eight dogs, one pregnant, which gave birth that evening, nearly doubling her pack of rescues from eight to 14 and jumpstarting Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland. Sixteen years later, Mara’s nonprofit is going strong.

 

Fostering the Pack

         “We learn about the dogs, love the dogs and ensure they’ll go to good homes,” said Patti Jakusz, fosterer and board member. “Some fosterers also train the dogs and help them get adjusted.”

         Many of the rescued dogs need training for domestic life. About half were hunting dogs, with little experience of a home shared by humans and pets. Others were surrendered by owners, while still others came into shelter by accident, perhaps led astray by an over-eager nose. “A beagle will follow its nose if owners don’t secure the yard well enough,” Jakusz warned.

         Regardless of the dog, open admissions is the policy at Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland.

         “We also take sick and older dogs that other rescues may pass over,” Jakusz said. Young, cute dogs are easier to rehome. But if an adopter is willing to take a dog that needs medications or treatments to stay healthy, Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland will help with expenses.

 

A Clean Bill of Health

         Getting each dog from rescued to rehomed is a feat achieved step by laborious step. Each rescue team is responsible for picking up and transporting the beagles from a shelter, then getting each dog to its foster home. Fosterers work with local veterinarians to ensure the beagles are healthy and up to date on their vaccinations, too.

         Most of these volunteers have other jobs. Yet they make the dog their first priority.

         “Often,” Jakusz said, “fosters pay for vet bills and other needed items out of pocket.”

         Young or old, every adopted dog is in peak shape before Beagle Rescue puts it up for adoption. Healthy dogs come relatively cheap to their new homes. But getting a dog healthy is anything but cheap.

         “Any dog heartworm positive is going to cost $800 to $1,000,” Jakusz explained. “Many of the older hunting dogs need dental cleaning and extractions, procedures that can cost from $200 to $1,000. Even a perfectly healthy young dog can produce vet bills beyond the $300 we request as an adoption donation.”

         Rescue organizations must also advertise the dogs up for adoption, keep up their websites, answer hundreds of emails and phone calls and ensure that adopters meet qualifications.

 

Fostering the Cause

         Rescue organizations always need more fosterers and more donations.

         It doesn’t take much beyond heart to be a qualified foster, according to Jakusz. If you have a good fence and other pets who are up to date on shots and heartworm prevention, you are well on the way to being accepted.

         Rebecca Crumlish has fostered eight beagles.

         “I had a beagle, and it passed away,” she explained, adding that her first foster was a “failed foster, meaning I fell in love and kept him.”

         She continued fostering. “It’s wonderful when the dogs find new homes.”

         That experience is part of the reason why most of Beagle Rescue’s 35 active foster homes have at least one dog, some several.

         Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland raises money by hosting adoption events and other dog-friendly activities, Jakusz said. “But our donations are primarily from people.”

 

Learn more at http://beaglemaryland.org/. Or see for yourself Sunday, September 17 at the 11th Annual ­Beagle Bash, 11am-3pm at Countryside Kennel, Owings: 301-855-8303.


Rescued by a Rescue

         Almost 1,800 beagles have been successfully rehomed through the work of this all-volunteer organization. Here’s how one of those rescues worked out.

         Six years ago, I was searching, writes Lia Keston. I knew something was missing from my life, but I never would have guessed that the missing piece was a little beagle.

         Jake was a stray rescued by ­Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland. Our connection was immediate, and we took him home.

         One night last September, Jake woke me around 1am. He pawed me, then stood on my chest and whined until I finally got up. Only then did I see that my cell phone was vibrating, notifying us that a tornado was headed directly for our home.

         We grabbed the dogs and ran to an inside room. Moments later, our house was torn to pieces. We were all unharmed. Jake saved our lives that night.

         The phrase Who rescued who? has taken on a whole new meaning for us. I am ­eternally grateful to Beagle Rescue of Southern Maryland for saving Jake and for bringing him into our lives. We couldn’t know it at the time, but Jake’s actions set off a chain of events that saved another very special soul.

         Jake also brings joy and laughter and boundless love to our home. Not a day goes by when he doesn’t make us laugh, and that alone is a blessing.

Osprey chick population at a record low

May on the Patuxent River — Weeks of harsh weather and rain hammer a lonely tower, resolute like a final soldier in battle. A mother osprey braces in her nest, doing everything she can to protect her offspring. Little does she know, it is too late. No chicks will hatch in her nest this year, and she and her mate will have a ­lonely summer on the river.

This season has not been kind to osprey, but at first glance, you wouldn’t know it.

v  v  v

When I accompanied Greg Kearns on an osprey-tagging trip, nothing about the sunny July day seemed amiss.

Jetting about the Patuxent River in a motorboat with a makeshift osprey research sign duct-taped to the side, I joined a team of eight researchers, checking every osprey tower within a 10-mile radius of Brooms Island.

From our boat, it was difficult to see the near full-grown osprey chicks, flat in their nests above the water. Harder still, as we’d come to find, because nest after nest was empty.

“This is unusual,” said Kearns, naturalist and environmental educator at Patuxent River Park. “Normally we’re tagging dozens of chicks in a day.”

That day, after eight hours on the river, we checked more than 100 nests — and tagged only 18 chicks.

Tagging the birds was surprisingly easy. Armed with a ladder, tagging equipment and an eager crew, we approached the nests over the water. Kearns steered the boat as close as he could, and using a line, we tied the boat to the posts.

One of the researchers climbed the ladder, reached into the tire-sized nest and grabbed the chicks by the talons. With careful hands, he passed them down to us for tagging and weighing.

It was a windy day, and at times the boat rocked perilously side to side. But we couldn’t wait for better weather to tag these birds. As Kearns explains, osprey follow a seasonal pattern that makes timing crucial.

Parents lay their eggs in the early spring. Hatching begins around May. Newly hatched chicks fit easily in the palm of your hand. At six weeks, they are big fluffy birds almost the size of their parents. At eight weeks, they can fly.

Kearns tags the chicks just before they are mature enough to fly away. That way, the tags, like metal bracelets, fit easily around the birds’ feet without sliding over the claws. Go out too early, and the tags won’t fit. Wait too long, and the birds will fly away.

At six weeks, the unfledged chicks lay flat in their nest, playing dead as we advanced. Ferocious as they look head-on, here they are helpless. Despite their deadly talons, they will not attack.

Protecting the Species

Folks on the river get defensive about osprey. More than once, residents approached us from their docks to watch. Some were hostile, but their attitudes changed when they saw what we were doing.

Mostly, people wanted to know why Kearns tags the birds.

“I’m leaving behind a very detailed collection of data showing a long-term print — more than 40 years,” he said.

Kearns has been in charge of the project for most of those 40 years, having taken over after the founder, Steve Cardano, retired.

“Tagging birds is going to leave behind a legacy of information for researchers,” Kearns says. “Ten years from now, if the population keeps going down, they’ll be able to look back and see when it began.”

But Kearns hopes the population will rebound. There’s no telling whether this year will be an outlier or the start of a devastating trend.

Kearns is not even sure what caused so many nests to fail, but he has a hunch.

 

“My belief is that it coincides with the weather,” he says. “In May, during critical hatch time, we had a long period of cold and rainy weather. If a mother gets agitated and gets off her nest, her eggs are ruined.”

Other possibilities are predation, disease and declining food supply. While the nests, in towers over the water, are safe from raccoons and other land predators, they still must contend with aerial foes.

Great horned owls pose the biggest threat to osprey, plucking chicks from their nests like apples from a barrel. Kearns says between 10 and 15 percent of chicks fall prey to owls each year.

Kearns speculates that increased boat traffic might also have been a factor in the ospreys’ poor luck. Any disturbance might cause a mother to temporarily flee her nest, leaving the eggs exposed.

Interestingly, the osprey fared worst in the more open parts of the river. In Jug Bay and other narrow parks downstream, the birds’ success rates were higher.

Still, when Kearns is used to seeing 75 percent or more of nests with healthy chicks in the summer, the 50 percent success rate of Jug Bay seems like failure.

In total, 107 chicks have been accounted for this year. In previous years, that number exceeded 200.

Time will tell if the numbers will rise again. Next year, you can join the osprey saga. Every June and July, Kearns takes up to 450 citizens out on the water to see the beloved birds up close.

“I try to accommodate everyone,” he says. “It’s important to get people excited about nature. When they’re out there getting their hands on a bird, it’s a totally unique experience.”

v  v  v

Throughout August, the newly fledged chicks will soar over the waters of the Chesapeake and its rivers, practicing independence. Some time during these weeks, their parents will wean them. After six weeks or so flying and fishing, their migratory clocks will go off, urging them on an overland and water-journey of thousands of miles. These chicks are the hope of the species.

Compost works for us at construction sites, landfills and wastewater treatment plants

Silt-laden water from construction sites and poorly managed farm fields are notorious for contaminating our streams, rivers, lakes and bays. Silt fences are mandatory at construction sites, but even when properly installed they do not hold back clay. Adding wood chips or straw bales won’t help.
    However, adding a berm of compost a foot tall on the lower side of the silt fence will stop the clay. Filling Filtrex-Sox with compost is an excellent solution. Compost works because of its high exchange capacity. Yet many state and county regulations still specify only silt fences.
    Seeding the berm with vigorous grasses such as tall fescue or rye makes it even more effective. The roots of the grasses not only stabilize the berm but also absorb nutrients both carried by the surface water and released by the mineralization of compost.
    Compost is also an effective filter for covering landfills. Research done in Australia and replicated in the U.S. has demonstrated that compost prevents methane — generated by decomposing organic waste under anaerobic conditions — from escaping into the atmosphere. The microorganisms in the compost convert the escaping methane gas into carbon dioxide.
    In composting biosolids using forced air, finished compost filters the air exhaust and controls odors.
    All of the progress we have made and knowledge gained is due to the Clean Water Act, enacted by President Lyndon Johnson. The Act established the USDA Biological Waste Management Laboratory in Beltsville, where I had the honor of working.
    At the Biological Waste Management Lab, we developed the science of composting, maximizing the rate of composting and assuring that composted biosolids are safe to use. I worked there from 1972 until it was disbanded in 1980 by President Ronald Reagan. My research contributions were developing uses for the compost in nursery, greenhouse crops and landscaping.
    I later became involved in developing composting systems for yard debris, crab waste, paper-mill sludge and garbage. I also established the first commercial composting school, The Better Composting School, which attracted students from across the country and world.


Help with Rot and Blight

Q    I need help with two problems:        
    1. All of my squash, yellow summer and butternut, are developing blossom end rot. I added calcium nitrate upon seeing the first blossoms, but that has not helped.
    2. I have a spot in the Goshen Farm sharing garden. My tomatoes look like they have blight. These tomatoes have been stalked and lower limbs removed about eight inches up. Forty yards away in what they call the slave garden, I planted three tomatoes but had no stakes. These tomatoes are lying on the ground and have no signs of blight. Am I correct in assuming there is blight in my own space? If so, how do I get rid of it for next season?

–Paul Bunting, Annapolis

A    When was the last time you had the soil tested?
    If the squash is having blossom end rot, I suspect the calcium level is low or there is a calcium/magnesium imbalance. Applying calcium nitrate after you see the symptoms may help in reducing the problem for the rest of the summer, but it will not eliminate the rot.
    Have your soil tested by either Waypoint in Richmond or Ag Lab in Delaware.
    With regards to blight, I strip the foliage at least 12 to 14 inches from the bottom stems and also limit the number of stems at the bottom to three to promote good air circulation. The tomato plants that are not staked most likely have better air movement. Are both tomatoes the same variety? Some varieties are more susceptible than others.


Ask The Bay Gardener your questions at DR.FRGouin@gmail.com. Include your name and address.

The crabs were fat, plentiful and willing to be caught

I had violated my sacred rule never to promise blue crabs before they were caught. To further increase the danger of a dinner failure when an ever-growing number of people was expecting to be fed, I had not run a trotline in more than a year. Now, at well past dawn, we were only laying out the baited line at the mouth of a neighborhood creek.
    Friends from New Jersey were staying with us, and, while I had been intending to celebrate my 75th birthday with them as quietly and inconspicuously as possible, other influences were at work. I foolishly had not factored in my children, some of their friends and, not the least, my long-neglected and forgotten Facebook account, which had automatically spewed a birthday announcement far and wide.
    My wife had asked the night before, as Vincent Ransom from New Jersey and I were baiting my 600-foot line with chicken necks and sipping adult beverages, “what happens if you don’t catch enough crabs?”
    I answered that pizza would just have to do. She gave me the old arched eyebrow and stalked off. I was beginning to get a little tense and could only hope that my premature promise of enough jimmies for dinner would not jinx the crabbing.
    Adding to my growing terror, I had no actual idea where in local waters the crabs were. Luckily my charter captain friend Frank Tuma had given me a good idea of a nearby site to lay our line.
    The results of our first run of the baited line dispelled a great deal of my trepidation. With Vince manning a trotline net for his first time ever, we managed an even dozen fat jimmies that didn’t even need to be measured. After that, crabs kept flying out of his net and into our basket.
    Within an hour and a half, we were over the three-quarter bushel mark and lauding each other for our skill and luck. Of course at that same point the tidal current died, as did the crab movement. It took more than two hours to finish, but we were back at the ramp by noon with a bulging bushel of the blue beauties.
    Back at the house, Vince and I accepted our spouses’ surprised congratulations, settled our gear and cleaned up. I took a birthday nap, leaving the interim preparations in the hands of my sainted wife, Deb, and Tarin, the other half of the couple from New Jersey.
    Eventually, growing crowd noise and a constantly ringing phone woke me from my decadent mid-day slumber, and I was forced to rejoin the world below who were slowly accumulating to remind me how ancient I had become.
    My youngest son, Robert, who had flown up from his place in Florida, had taken on the task of assembling the propane tank and gas burner, tongs, cardboard platters and adding in just the right mixture of beer, vinegar and water to the crab cooker to steam the tasty devils just the right amount. Just as the feast was almost ready, our middle boy, Harrison, and his partner, Jerica, arrived from Baltimore, having finally extricated themselves from the weekend traffic.
    The pile of hot, fat crabs, heavily dosed with that familiar, steaming spice mixture, was soon heaped on the newspaper-covered dining room table, a sight as beautiful and fragrant as anything ever beheld.
    Somehow we all got seated, a platter of steamed corn and salad miraculously appeared, cold beverages distributed, a bottle of birthday champagne popped and the meal commenced. As I glanced around the room at what had transpired in my home, I wished that living on Chesapeake Bay would forever be just like this for all my family and friends.