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Cheetahs named to honor America’s fastest man and woman

On top of their Olympic medals, America’s fastest man and woman have another cause for pride. They’re the namesakes of two of the world’s fastest animals, the Smithsonian’s National Zoo’s cheetah twins born April 23 at the Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute in Front Royal, Va.
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Stretching Your Comfort Zone: We dug deep to give the War of 1812 lyrics and song

“I write books, not music,” I told the big man with the guitar. “I’m a historian, not a songwriter.”
    Gary Rue — St. Mary’s County composer, musician and proprietor of the small recording company Millstone Landing Productions — had invited me to step outside my comfort zone.
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Good for the garden and for myth making

Masters of disguise, praying mantises camouflage themselves to capture beetles, bees, spiders, lizards and even frogs, then dine on the prey head-first.
    Mantises don’t hunt their prey. Instead, they wait unmoving and invisible on a leaf or twig, ready to seize any insect or amphibian unfortunate enough to cross paths.
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Plastic bottles sprout into art in Annmarie’s newest sculpture garden

Reuse. Reduce. Recycle. That’s Dale Wayne’s motto on merging the arts and the environment.
    This summer’s artist in residence borrows from the African tradition of bottle-trees — whose branches have been capped with bottles. Her bottle blossom trees are made from plastic bottles salvaged from Calvert County’s Appeal landfill.
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Touch a Truck fundraiser adds to $35K from county

Kara McGuirk-Allison was ecstatic that Anne Arundel County approved $35,000 to update the Broadneck Playground built in 1991.
    “There isn’t really a playground in Anne Arundel County that serves the needs of kids with disabilities,” says McGuirk-Allison. “We want it to be so cool that people go out of their way to the playground.”
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How I learned to defend against zombies

I can’t claim to be unfamiliar with the living dead. I logged enough hours watching zombie movies as a kid that I could have received a PhD in zombiology from the George A. Romero School for the Aaaaaarghts.
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A starting bell “makes for an orderly market”

Clusters of customers and a couple dozen sellers wait along Fifth Street for the bell to ring at 6 o’clock sharp. That’s the signal to start at North Beach Farmers Market.
    “We need a bell at a market of this volume,” says Mike Cox, a Mennonite farmer from White Oak Point Farm. “It makes for an orderly market where everybody’s on the same footing.”
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Maryland lawmakers return to take up gambling in their ­second special session of the year — here’s what you need to know

When?
    Opening Thursday, August 9 and running “two or three days,” according to Sen. President Thomas V. ‘Mike’ Miller, a champion of expanded gambling.
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Four Maryland farms — out of multitudes

Twenty-first century Maryland is still a farm state. About 1,400 produce, meat and dairy farms, orchards and vineyards thrive on the renewed appetites of Marylanders. We’ve rediscovered the old-fashioned taste of food grown locally, often by neighbors who’ll eagerly share their experiences as well as their results.
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Harvesting Furgurson’s Folly

In a 10-by-20-foot plot at Goshen Farm’s Sharing Garden in Cape St. Claire, my family has built a little organic city. Furgurson’s Folly, my father dubbed it.
    On one end are tomatoes, fat to the point of splitting, interspersed with basil plants. On the other, two trellises host green beans, one so abundant the trellis teeters over our plot’s edge.
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