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Letter from the Editor (All)

Can our Free Will Astrologer break the late-winter blues?

Now is the winter of our discontent.    
    Cold February lingers like a crust of dirty snow. Pipes freeze and people shiver. Spring may be only weeks away, but getting there is a slog.
    You’ve got to be real creative to talk yourself out of such a state.
    Enter Rob Breszny, our Free Will Astrologer.
    His get-out-of February advice for you Scorpios is so good that I’ve made an editorial decision to give it to each of us, whatever our sign. I promise you’ll find it provocative, even transformative. Since taking it to heart yesterday evening, I’ve felt new spring in my step. My bad attitude is improving. I’m cheerier. I bet you’ll feel better, too. Here’s Breszny:
    Be in nature every day. Move your body a lot. Remember and work with your dreams. Be playful. Have good sex. Infuse any little thing you do with a creative twist. Hang out with animals. Eat with your fingers. Sing regularly.
    Now, here’s my plan and progress.
    Be in nature every day. That’s a hard one. Walking isn’t so appealing in gusty winds and blood-freezing cold. That crusty snow has buried the garden. Snow shoveling doesn’t much improve my mood. Guess I’ll have to make an inspirational visit to the National Botanical Garden (100 Maryland Ave., SW, Washington, D.C.) where warmth is ever-green.
    Move your body a lot. Just what I need to hear. I’ve been clinging to the fireplace like a limpet to a rock and citing cold blood as an excuse to avoid the gym. Time to load James Brown into my iPod and get up off of that thing.
    Remember and work with your dreams. What does Breszny mean? Your life dream? Or, as I suspect, the stories of sleep that fade on your wakening into the dark cave of the unconscious? If I’m right, husband Bill ­Lambrecht has his work cut out for him. Last night he dreamed he was the only guest in a bed and breakfast. Imagine his surprise when on opening the bathroom door he found a person in the tub. A living person, I’m glad to report. But who? And how to work with that?
    Be playful. Does driving a fantasy car count? Our office neighbor Linda Sefick at The Learning Edge turned up in a Mazda MX-5 Miata while her much duller Honda is repaired. Hmmmmm, I said, and picked up my husband last night in a Mercedes Benz GLK 350. Alas, I couldn’t keep it. But an extravagant test drive is one good way of playing make believe.
    Eat with your fingers. Okay, I’ll put down my fork. Especially for my husband’s homemade pizza. In celebration of its goodness, we’ve evolved a little playful ritual: I sing for my supper. My verses are tortured and I can’t hold a tune, but we laugh a lot and the pizza keeps coming.
    Sing regularly. See Eat with your fingers.
    Have good sex. Sorry. In this family-oriented newspaper, only Breszny gets to talk about sex. We’re substituting Have stimulating crushes. With Robert Redford-reminiscent James Norton playing Sidney Chambers in The Grantchester Mysteries on Public Television, crushing has been easy. The six parts of the premier series took us through February.
    Hang out with animals. Our dog Moe died on November 29, leaving us with serious animal deficiency. The birds are helping us out, gathering in flocks at our feeders, where squirrels add to the entertaining spectacle. Of course we can’t pet these birds, but I have, as you’ll read in this week’s feature story, petted an owl. In fact, it may be animal deficiency that got me into this story.
    Infuse any little thing you do with a creative twist. That’s our mission at Bay Weekly. I tell myself that your reading means we’re living up to it. That’s why you’re reading this editorial instead of the dull one I couldn’t bring myself to write.
    All together, today I’m feeling notably less discontent. But more snow is forecast. Time to pretend you’re a Scorpio and take Free Will Astrologer Rob Breszny’s advice.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Harriet Tubman now conducting tours

History is a bigger hall nowadays, with room at the table for more people than the old white guys who used to rule there. So a good story for any week of the year is the new prominence coming to Harriet Tubman as a hero of Maryland, New York and our nation.
    Harriet Tubman, a contemporary of Abe Lincoln, escaped slavery only to return home, to Dorchester County, to conduct many more enslaved people along the Underground Railroad she had followed to freedom.
    In “Harriet’s Homecoming: The road was long and never smooth for Harriet Tubman,” Emily Myron tells you more, including the Congressional honor making Tubman the first individual woman to have a National Historical Park named for her.
    As the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park comes together, the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad State Park is under construction on Tubman’s Eastern Shore homeland
    Blackwater Wildlife Refuge marks the spot in a landscape that’s mostly open space, farm or preserve. Listening to a new audio tour that’s part of the package will inform your drive along the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad Byway. You can bike the flatland too, with bike and kayak rentals near the Refuge.
    But that’s down the road …
    In the here and now, we’re telling this story in Black History Month.
    Why bother with Black History Month now that Black History is all our history? Or, for that matter, Women’s History Month in March?
    Memorial times still matter because we know so little of what we know.
    Our own personal history slides into forgetfulness as we march away from back then into the advancing years.
    How much — or little — do you know about the other people in your own life? Your friends? Your brothers and sisters? Your parents? Even your partner?
    Unless you’re a genealogist or writing a family history, I bet we share the same kind of amnesia. Test yourself: Do you know when and where your mother was born? If you can answer those questions, can you go a step further? How did she enter this world: by midwife or doctor or quite spontaneously in a car en route to the hospital?
    (Send me your answers and I’ll send you mine.)
    Even the people drilled into our collective consciousness in school — Lincoln, Washington and all those other presidents we honor February 22 — live on in our memories as a few semi-bright images in a fog of oblivion.
    If we know a little more of black history, it’s because such a big deal has been made of it over the last half century. Memorials, museums, monuments and, yes, Black History Month, make our pictures of the past into bright murals — maybe even movies.
    This week’s feature puts Tubman into focus and opens the way for us to see more. A landscape looks empty until you’ve learned about the people who lived in it before you. Now, 102 years after her death, Harriet Tubman can conduct you through the Shore as she knew it.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Start with a little resveratrol, add tryptophane …

My mother was not always right.    
    But in hitting the nail on the head, she had far better accuracy than I credited.
    A woman who believed she could do anything, she invested even more of her capital in cooking than she did in looking good. And she looked very, very good.
    The way to a man’s heart is his stomach, she advised.
    Ohhh mother! I scoffed, for that was back in the day when I believed love sought you for yourself alone.
    I have since learned that in this wisdom she nailed it.
    On the feast of love, Valentines Day, this is advice worth taking. Especially if you’re among the third of Americans who say they are only “a little” — worse, “not at all” — satisfied with their sex lives.
    That sad condition is reported by the survey company Survata, which invites online newspaper readers to share their opinions for a fee. The finding is not entirely scientific, but it is thought-provoking.
    Could a lovely dinner improve a lovelorn love life?
    Like love, sex and reproduction, food is a biological necessity.
    Can the pleasure of one enhance the pleasure of another? Can a satisfied stomach lead to an enamored heart — and beyond?
    Tradition tells us that’s so, offering a rich menu of foods supposed over the ages to be aphrodisiac. Oysters, chocolate, coffee, honey, artichokes, avocados, figs and an assortment of Valentine-red comestibles, including wine, beets, chili peppers, pomegranates, strawberries and watermelon.
    How could you resist loving the person who serves you foods so delicious? Foods so amorously beautiful?
    Modern science adds chemistry to the equation of lovely foods and love. Each of these contains chemicals that promote wellbeing and enhance libido. Phenethylamine and tryptophan in chocolate, for example, boron in beets and resveratrol in red wine.
    Scientific my mother was not, but she knew a lot about love. She had well-fed husbands and admirers aplenty. On this subject, I’ve taken her advice, and the results are good.
    Odds on, your mother as well as mine believed in this old wives’ tale. Think about it. Who should know more about the love that binds a family than old wives, who had just that as their job descriptions?
    Cooking for love is a womanly art to which men aspire in this modern world. Equality is fine with me. I love a meal cooked by my husband.
    This Valentines Day, food writer Caiti Sullivan continues the womanly tradition, offering a four-course meal planned to unite eye, tongue, stomach and heart in a feast of love.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Six more weeks of winter? Let it snow.

At first it shone fresh in memory, the gold filigree earring formed on a redbud leaf bought for me by my husband on a book tour visit to Nebraska’s Arbor Day Farm, where good practical environmentalism pairs abundantly with good food. But in the cold days and weeks after I lost it — after I’d searched coat collars, scarves, carpets and car crannies —it faded into forgetfulness.
    So its reappearance months later on the bulletin board of my post office sweetened my remembered appreciation with the shock of recognition and the surprise of recovery.
    That’s just how I felt running again into old friends among the movies in our annual Groundhog’s Movie Guide to Surviving Six More Weeks of Winter.
    Bay Weekly Moviegoer Diana Beechener is the big brain behind our guide in recent years; hence her credit as curator. Her suggestion to make Je Suis Charlie one of our categories sent me straight — do not pass go — to Richard Pryor. In my memory, nobody’s funnier or more outrageous.
    But memory fades. Tastes and styles change. Would Pryor be all that I remembered?
    With some trepidation, husband Lambrecht and I considered Netflix’s delivery of the first of six on my Pryor list, a 1979 performance filmed at Long Beach, California. We’d just sample it, we agreed. An hour and 19 minutes later, properly scandalized and aching from laughter edging on pain, we reaffirmed our faith. Pryor was even better as we traveled back in time.
    Will The Godfather hold up as well? The Nights of Cabiria? Life Is Beautiful? The Lives of Others? The Great Escape? The Fisher King? To Have and Have Not?
    Hurry up Netflix! I’m eager to see.
    Other movies I’ll be seeing for the first time. So I’m hoping to make new friends and new memories.
    There are 30 in this year’s Guide, reflecting the disparate tastes of seven Bay Weekly moviegoers as well as that of Beechener and me. So you’ll find variety, from science fiction to sleepers. Particularly attractive is the In Memory Of collection featuring seven of the great talents who died in 2014: Maya Angelou, Richard Attenborough, Lauren Bacall, James Garner, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Mike Nichols and Robin Williams.
    Six more weeks of winter? Let it snow. I’ve got all these movies to keep me warm.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Friends and foes, we’ve got a lot to thank him for

The Tax Man. That’s the tag the incoming Republican establishment wants to pin on the back of the governor no more as he walks out the door.
    Former Gov. Martin O’Malley did indeed oversee hikes in the sales tax, the gas tax and taxes on corporations and big earners.  
    But before all we remember of Martin O’Malley is the epithet of the victors, I want to summon a few other images.
    O’Malley didn’t disgrace Marylanders. Leaving office, he moved to Baltimore, not to jail, as has been the path of many another governor in several states. Consider Illinois, where I lived for 14 years before my ascension to Maryland. Of Illinois’ last seven governors, four moved on to prison, most notably Rod Blagojevich. No other state comes close. Maryland has only one jailed governor, and his conviction was overturned.
    (On the other hand, we have Spiro Agnew, who rose to the vice-presidency. So his fall, for evading taxes on bribes paid when he was governor, was farther. Still, it never landed him in prison.)
    Nor did O’Malley embarrass us — or himself. He didn’t, for example, follow in the footsteps of William Donald Schaefer. O’Malley’s predecessor as mayor of Baltimore (two mayors later) and governor (two governors later) grew so irascible that he’d show up at the doors of critics to harangue them at home.
    Not even in his alter egos did O’Malley rival Schaefer’s flamboyance. Schaefer donned an old-fashioned bathing suit and straw bowler to open the National Aquarium in Baltimore and the white and gold-braid uniform of a Naval officer to move from mayor to governor. O’Malley’s alter ego is a Celtic rock musician, leader of O’Malley’s March, dressed in sleeveless T-shirts that showed off his rock-star muscles.
    O’Malley was said to have been more outraged than embarrassed by his surpassing pop culture achievement: Inspiring in good part a character in the television drama The Wire. Wire fans loved his caricature as Tommy Carcetti, the ethnic, boyishly handsome, scheming white guy who beats the racial odds to get elected mayor while dreaming of moving up to the State House.
    (If O’Malley hated the joke, his gubernatorial predecessor Bob Ehrlich relished it. Ehrlich appeared as a State House security guard in an episode that had Carcetti waiting on a governor of the opposed political party — presumably the invisible Ehrlich — who kept him cooling his heels before offering him the devil’s deal.)
    What other politician achieved such on-screen fame — albeit by backhanded compliment — while alive and in office? Even Louisiana’s legendary Huey Long was dead before his appearance in All the King’s Men as novel or movie.
    So, friends or foes, we’ve got a lot to thank Martin O’Malley for.
    I suspect most of us could add a personal benefit to this list, an action of O’Malley’s eight years as governor that made our lives better.
    He got a fair amount done as far as social policy: legalizing same-sex marriage, repealing the death penalty and removing criminal penalties for small amounts of marijuana. These actions made huge differences in the lives of many people and began to redefine the culture of our state.
    For people — and institutions, like Bay Weekly — committed to the environment, O’Malley is the governor whose administration put the stalled Chesapeake Bay cleanup into gear. On a bipartisan note, Ehrlich gave those advances a head start, spending political capital to engineer the environment-friendly flush tax.
       O’Malley demanded new accountability, partnering with the federal government in far-reaching initiatives and putting faith and resources into the restoration of native oysters. Those acts, and many more, give our Bay a fighting chance — and Gov. Larry Hogan a worthy act to follow.


Seed Money Waiting to Be Planted

Apply now for garden grants in Anne Arundel and Calvert

    The Calvert Garden Club is seeding natural resource preservation and conservation in Calvert County with mini-grants of $100 to $1,000. Applicants must be nonprofit organizations, not individuals, and projects must help conserve natural resources and the environment. Deadline Feb. 1: 410-535-6168; www.calvertgardenclub.com.
    Unity Gardens’ 2015 Spring Grant Cycle offers grants up to $1,000 to Anne Arundel County, non-profit organizations in support of greening projects, environmental enhancement and education. Deadline March 15: 410-703-7530; www.unitygardens.org.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

From Jim Toomey to Charlie Hebdo, we need their levity

In any of 150 newspapers around the world — including the Washington Post and Baltimore Sun — you can bump into Jim Toomey any day of the week.
    But Bay Weekly kept the world-famous creator of Sherman’s Lagoon waiting in line.
    What kind of way is that to treat a neighbor?
    Toomey, who draws Sherman the shark and his aquatic friends from his West Annapolis home, makes a good story any week of the year. But I wanted the perfect week.
    “What’s our news peg?” I asked writer Bob Melamud, using the newspeak term for that perfect place in time to run his long-awaited story on Toomey.
    I never imagined we’d be hanging the story on a peg so newsworthy it reached round the world.
    Yet there’s no better time to feature a cartoonist than the week the world is reeling from the assassination of five French cartoonists in a wave of terrorism that’s taken 17 lives, put Paris on Red Alert and mobilized support across the free world.
    Charlie Hebdo, the satiric newspaper hit in the initial wave of terror, featured a comic style far more irreverent and raunchy than Jim Toomey’s. In wry Sherman’s Lagoon — as in the famous mid-20th century comic strip Pogo — we are our own worst enemies.
    Left, right or in the middle is pretty much irrelevant on the spectrum of free speech, Toomey tells us. In his own words:

    “There seems to be a prevalent reaction that goes something like this: I defend Charlie Hebdo’s right to express their opinion, but I question their judgment in this particular matter.
    I disagree with that assessment.
    We can’t live in a world where we fear the disproportionate reaction of a fanatical few, and as a result, muzzle our opinions. I believe there are limits to our freedom of expression, but the Hebdo cartoonists did not cross that line.”

    Like Sherman’s Lagoon, Toomey’s words reach me in a place very near home.
    Bay Weekly is not Charlie Hebdo. “We don’t,” as Toomey notes, “even run cartoons.”    
    For whatever kind of journalism we favor — mild or fiery — is but one part of the freedom at stake.
    As well as the five cartoonists, two editors and two columnists, a maintenance worker and two officers were murdered in the Charlie Hebdo attack.
    The policewoman killed the next day and the four Jewish shoppers the day following died because of who they were. What they might have said — their levity, their piety, their pleas — was irrelevant.
    At bottom, what’s at stake is freedom to be.
    If I make it my business to make your irreverence a capital crime, at what point on the spectrum does my rage stop? Your religion? Your color? Your tattoos? Your straight or curly, short or long hair? Your age (two of the murdered cartoonists were in their 70s; one in his 80s)? Your gender? Your sexual preference? The language you speak? The clothes you wear?
    From the French, we learned the phrase vive la difference. Modern France is a multicultural society, as are we. How many of the many differences we encompass — and which ones — can we still celebrate? At what point on the spectrum of difference do we allow our tolerance to end? At what point do you — or I — get to take offense?
    At that point, the slope turns slippery.
    Odd, opinionated and different we all are. If laughter helps us coexist — if irreverence keeps our fanaticism in check — bring on the cartoonists.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Birds and squirrels, horses and riders

I took Bay Weekly at its word.    
    “The best way to start learning about birds is to put up a feeder,” advised international birder Colin Rees, conveyed in Dotty Doherty’s Dec. 4 story Winter Is for the Birds. Today I’m reaping the rewards of refilling and hanging my feeders to celebrate Christmas for the birds.
    Snow has me and the birds home together. While I work at my livelihood via MacBook Air, they’re working at theirs, pecking up their fuel of safflower and black-oil sunflower seed. They’ve puffed up their down against the cold; I’m wearing multiple layers and keeping the fire burning. Even so, we can both feel the chill of temperatures in the 20s and falling.
    But we keep at it. Watching and writing, I’ve added blue jay and dove to make 11: Sparrows (all seem to be white throated), plus juncos and towhees. Plus, of course, titmouse, chickadee, cardinal, house finch, nuthatch and downy woodpecker.
    Whoops! Neighbor Sharon’s dog Cassie just walked past, scattering the flock.
    The ever-bold titmouse is the first to return. Then the nuthatch, which seems to be the white-breasted sort.
    My Snow Day bird count is small peanuts compared to the National Audubon Society’s annual Christmas Bird Count, with some 30 organized counts focused on separate 15-mile circles throughout Maryland between Dec. 14 and Jan. 5.
    The hundreds of species and thousands of birds counted by these serious birders keep science abreast of life in the avian world.
    In the big picture, 71,531 observers in 2,369 circles counted 64,133 birds of 2,296 species last year.
    This year, on Dec. 14, the first day of the count, 30 birders at Jug Bay counted a “very low” 106 species. “Surprising given that conditions were good,” reports compiler Sam Droege, “but perhaps a reflection of the fact that the weather had been warm up until then and many of the waterfowl had not moved into the area.”
    At Patuxent River Naval Air Station on Dec. 28, 30 people counted close to 100 species, according to Andy Brown, of Calvert County Natural Resources Division. The big news in “an average year” is a record 33 bald eagle sightings.
    At Sandy Point State Park, on Jan. 4, 80 birders tallied 112 species, including three area rarities: a raven (only Edgar Allen Poe’s poetic license gives Ravens to our Atlantic region), a pair of snow buntings and four sanderlings.
    I fear I won’t add such oddities as a raven or snow bunting to my domestic count. But as a low-grade birder, I’m tickled by the appearance and antics of the usual suspects.
    Whoosh! There they go again, three dozen tiny creatures disappeared in a single burst of speed. Yet not a soul comes walking by …
    Instead the intruder soars into my view, a hawk on the wing.
    I have my Number 12, perhaps a Cooper’s or sharp-shinned hawk judging by his russet-striped belly and small size. Or perhaps a kestrel?
    Make that 13! Mr. Red-bellied woodpecker just flew in.
    Not a bad day for snowbirds and snow birder.
    Count birds of the Bay on Jan. 18 with musician and birder Dan Hass of the Anne Arundel Bird Club. 8-11:30am at Thomas Point. Dress warmly. rsvp: 410-703-4664; ­nervousbirds@gmail.com.

Snow Birds of a Couple More Species
    This time of year, many Marylanders join the flights of snowbirds escaping winter’s chill for Floridian warmth. Among them are two particular species, equestrians and their horses. One of the flock, Diane Burt, tells their story in this week’s paper.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

2015 gives us all we get: the gift of time

Time has been short as the old year withered and died. Now 2015 stretches before us in vast, unbroken possibility.
    Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
    when a new planet swims into his ken;
    Or like stout Cortex when with eagle eyes
    He star’d at the Pacific — and all his men
    Look’d at each other with a wild surmise …
    I look at the new year with the poet Keats’ wild surmise. (Yes, Keats confused Balboa with Cortez, but the poet, dead at 25 in 1821, had no Internet to check his every fact.)
    2015 is nothing much so far, so it can be anything.
    That is very good for me, for I never have enough time.
    About one hour and 45 minutes. That’s my estimation of my typical deficit. My husband says that’s about right. He should know. He’s spent two-thirds of his life waiting for me to be ready.
    Yesterday morning, for example, we made an early start for the gym, at least according to the schedule I’ve run on for most of 2014. It was about 8:30. Except that the car clock reported 10:15.
    And this clock runs slow, Bill said.
    That’s ridiculous! I said. We got going early.
    Yes, he said, except that we read newspapers for an hour, packed supplies for winterizing the boat, checked email, got to the car without your glasses and went back, went back again for the bottles of wine to remember Moe to the couple who hit him tennis balls …
    Well of course, I said. I live in the time zone of the eternal present. The eternal present stretches to hold any little thing you have to do on the way to a fixed goal, like getting out the door to go to work.
    What’s more, you get extra time when you’re doing two things at the same time, from reading the Style section of the Washington Post while getting dressed to checking email while on the phone.
    Do you mean, asked Bill, that doing two things at once doesn’t take longer than doing either of them separately? Because even if it’s Style you’re reading, reading slows down …
    No that’s not it at all, I countered. Doing two things at once breaks the time barrier. You can get them both done in no time. Multitasking to three or four things gives you time credit, like when you have a home wind generator and it feeds extra energy back into the grid.
    We talked our way the seven miles to the gym. But we were treating ourselves to biscuit breakfast sandwiches, and we couldn’t get them after maybe 10:45. So we wouldn’t have time to get them after we finished at the gym.
    While we were that way, we checked the library to see if the tennis players were out. Yes, they were, so we stopped to give them Moe’s gift and all had a bit of a cry about dogs …
    As long as we were that way, we better stop by the hardware store in case we didn’t have that long-necked funnel on the boat. I just needed another thing or two there …
    It was a little after 11 by the time we got to the gym, But that was way early compared to the time it really was (I misread the new misleading clock) when I decided to get ready to serve that night’s dinner.
    I blame it on short time. When the year is into its last days, time runs faster the way the last sand in an hourglass rushes through the funnel. The last days of December have almost no time at all. No wonder I can’t keep up. Time runs faster than any mere human, even on a fast program on the treadmill in the gym.
    So 365 days of infinite time is what I foresee in 2015. Except that they’re already slipping away …
    What do you see in your future in this fresh new year?
    That’s the point of Bay Weekly’s first feature story in Vol. XXIII, No. 1, in the year of our lives 2015. Our answers here and in that story are prompts to you …

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

The light is thin this time of year. But the sun shines bright enough on its rising and falling arc to gild everything in its path: windows, tree trunks, the marsala leaves of oaks, clouds and the heavens. That arc is brief, however, as we inch toward the darkest day of the year. On winter solstice, December 21, the sun gives us only nine hours and 28 minutes of light.
    Snatch the light while you can, my instincts tell me, so I watch the long dawn. Sitting through the late sunrises of these mornings — 7:20am on the solstice, Sunday — puts me on rush the rest of the short day. Even at solstice, darker mornings are still to come. This winter’s latest sunrise waits on the new year. Sunrise is 7:25am on Sunday, January 4.
    The sun’s long thin rays also light up human memory. Up in the treetops, the light show I saw this pre-solstice morning can’t be much different than a winter illumination seen by our prehistoric ancestors for whom the failing light was the biggest deal on Earth. What kinship that realization gives me, generation by generation in the march through time!
    This drive we feel to ward off the impending dark is nothing new. We who now walk the Earth use electricity as our strategic weapon, plugging in strands of lights all along the spectrum to shout take that! into the darkness.
    The darkest day, winter solstice, marks our turn to the bright side.
    So it’s all in the great weave of things that the celebrations of several great religious traditions converge at this time of year. Each welcomes the return of light; most, specifically the sun.
    America’s widespread Christmas celebration unites many traditions.
    For Christians everywhere, Christmas marks the birth of Christ, son of God. This celebration is the miracle of faith, the union of God with humankind bringing light to the world.
    The Christian tradition gives us Jesus born to Mary in Bethlehem, his birth marked by a brilliant star that marked the path the Three Kings followed to his manger.
    Santa Claus is likely an avatar of the god Odin transmuted into Old Man Winter and Father Christmas, Christianized by association with Saint Nicholas, a Turkish-born Greek Christian whose generosity and preternatural powers spread his reverence throughout Europe, from Russia to England.
    Evergreens are Norse icons as well, trees brought in and decorated to encourage the releafing of deciduous trees and the wreath, perhaps, originating as a circle of evergreen set afire and rolled downhill to lure back the sun.
    Days of parties with feasting, drinking and bonfires enliven every tradition, and on all sides gifts are given.
    Separate but similar is the Jewish celebration of Chanukah, a festival of lights honoring the miraculous endurance of the Temple lamp for eight days when its oil should have lasted only one. Hence the eight branches of the menorah and eight nights of festivities and gifts.
    Jews, Christians, pagans and sun-worshippers: With so many categories of faith, most of us can get into the swing of this season.
    We do at Bay Weekly, where it’s our tradition to illuminate your holidays with stories that turn up the light. This year Dotty Doherty takes her turn as our narrator, traveling to Germany to tell a story about the complex layering of history.
    On the lighter side, first-time contributor Dominic Laiti writes of Christmas trees, which can add their own complexities to our celebrations of comfort and joy.
    Santa Claus gets his story too, recounted by Michelle Steel, who shares her home with the real deal, who many readers of a certain age will recognize.
    More holiday fare is served by sportsman Dennis Doyle and Bay Gardener Dr. Frank Gouin.
    May your celebrations — of whatever — be merry and bright.
    We’ll see you next on December 24 with the Best of the Bay.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Many hearts out of hiding

“My heart in hiding. Stirred for a bird, — the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!” wrote poet Gerard Manley Hopkins of a hawk called the windhover.
    In the week since I wrote in Farewell to My Dog Moe, I’ve learned that dogs release many a heart from hiding. Your letters brought me joy, comfort and consolation by introducing me to your dogs, echoing my loss and sharing the stretch to find words for a relationship so intimately wordless. Here is what you’ve said, from far and wide:
    Diana and Jack Alkire, George and Linda Beechner, Soze and Boss: I read your special tribute to Moe aloud at our Friday family dinner. There was not a dry eye in the house. I’m pretty sure even the collie, Boss, teared up. It was a beautiful tribute to a great dog.
    Steve Carr: Moe was indeed a magical beast. There is something about a very large Lab, be they white or black, that captures our heart. I think it is their uncanny resemblance to their bear roots They are truly loving and loyal bears. All roly-poly fur and smiling affection. Moe was a born comedian. He was like a Miro painting or a Calder contraption. He instantly brought a smile. He was whimsical.
    I lost my best friend Baggins — a dog I actually helped deliver in a snowy Davidsonville basement — many, many years ago, and the loss still stings. I have been unable to take that leap of faith ever again.
    Ariel Brumbaugh: I’m sure the house feels empty without him shuffling around. He was a good dog friend to have in Fairhaven, and he will be missed.
    Erin Coik: Moe was always a welcomed surprise to see here at Family Auto and by far the happiest customer to ever walk through our doors.
    Clementine Fujimura: I lost my Mayday this summer and I miss her so much. I remember and continue to love all my dogs, in heaven and here.
    Leigh Glenn: Indeed, he was a magnificent creature and yes, an angel. Because he is an angel you know he’s never really gone and will always be at your side and in your dreams. Dogs certainly are special kinds of angels and you have been fortunate to be blessed by such dogged wings.
    Tom Hall: He was a great dog, wasn’t he? I’m sorry for your loss of such a pal.
    Nini Hamalainen: How fast the time flew by, but even in dog years it was short. Are humans allowed in dog heaven? Shoot, I don’t want to go anywhere else.
    Steve Hammalian: I just read your beautiful editorial on Moe. Having just lost my beautiful English setter Cleo just one month before this resonated deeply with my wife and me. You really depicted the day-to-day life with a dog just wonderfully. Thank you.
    Maureen Hudson and Gracie: My heart is aching for you. I know we all think it about our own dear dogs, but Moe was truly special: such a gentleman, and such a wonderful presence in our community.
    Barbara Malloy: Moe’s story left me tearful. I adopted my yellow Lab Sunshine at the pound when she was four months old. She was to be euthanized in two days. When my husband met Sunshine, it was love at first sight. They were inseparable for 16 happy active years. Kevin was a heart transplant recipient, and Sunshine would spend many naps with him nestled in the crook of his legs. I would tease him saying if anything ever happens to Sunshine, you will be right behind her. That’s exactly what happened. Sunshine passed away in August of 2010, and my dear husband followed two weeks later. Four years have gone by, but I can still hear my Kevin saying to Sunshine, want to go to McDonalds in the truck for a Big Mac? She would twirl and bark with glee. Oh how I miss them.
    Amy Kliegman: I wept as I read of Moe’s passing. He was a sweet boy who I will remember with great fondness. Just seeing his picture makes me smile. Losing a beloved dog is one of the hardest things in life. My heart is heavy for you, as I know you are feeling a great void. I’m sure he has taken a piece of your heart with him, as did Max, and maybe others before him.
    Sue and Steve Kullen: There will never be a boy better than Moe. He had the best life, as you guys made sure of that. He was a city dog, a country boy, loved the boat, subdued fish, loved the Bay and charmed everyone he met. He charted a grand course. He was one lucky dog. We all loved Moe. He will be missed.
    Doug Lashsley: We have never met, but I read your publication very frequently and could not help but send you a note after reading your tribute to Moe. My attention was first drawn to the photo and then the title of the tribute. It is so easy for me to identify with your feelings having owned labs all 63 years of my life, Chesey, Shiloh, Gambo, Swiss … all of them either yellow or chocolate and each with a personality, character and spirit that made it easy to see why they are partners for life. You provided such a simple yet powerful image of Moe and the dignity he achieved with age. I am sorry for your loss but can tell from the article that he gave you 10 lifetimes of pleasure and hope that’s the memory you treasure.
    Farley Peters: Moe was my friend, my boyfriend. He was one of the most social dogs I ever knew; hated to be left alone. He was always seeking out new friends, and you knew you were his when he nuzzled his head between your legs. Then all you had to do was hug him, love him and feed him, a willing task I will now sorely miss.
    Andy Schneider and Kathy Best: These damn dogs just fill our hearts with joy while they’re with us and then rip them out when they pass.
    Michelle Steel: I will miss Moe so much. He was such a dear, sweet friend to me. Rest in peace, Sweet Moe. There will never be another like you.
    Gail Gash Taylor: I have tears streaming down my face. They are not just dogs, cats or my horse companion of 18 years. They become part of our very being.
    Plus condolences from Sandy Anderson; Margie Bednarik; Mick and Cindy Blackistone; Sharon, Mike, Sarah, Mary and Cassie Brewer; Diane Burt; Kathy Gramp and Scott Smith; Juanita and Cliff Foust, Gail Martinez and Jack Brumbaug; Mark McCaig; Bob Melamud; Don Richardson; Kelly Schneider; Luanne Wimp Slayback; Carlos Valencia …

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com