view counter

Letter from the Editor (All)

If only the storyteller were as durable as the story

As a Bay Weekly reader, you may feel like you know us Bay Weekly writers pretty well.
    One way and another, our writers reveal a lot about themselves.
    Sandra Lee Anderson — Sandy — sure did in the eight years she helped fill our pages. On hearing the news of Sandy’s death on Saturday, March 4 at age 73 from an aneurism, I gathered up her stories for Bay Weekly. Twenty thousand words-worth between 2007 and 2015, when she turned her writing energies to her own book. All together, they record the life of a rare and wonderful woman, utterly different from each of us — and not so very different.
    Sandra Lee Comstock grew up in the west, but this daughter of a water reclamation engineer and fisherman couldn’t avoid the pull of Chesapeake Country.
    Her first experience was a waterfront place that had been the residence of a vegetarian society:

    Signs claiming Salt is Poison hung on musty walls. Locals maintain it was a nudist colony. We slept beneath rafters where a long wall divided the dorms for men and women. I fell asleep to the rhythmic waves through the screened window. On that beach I found my first great white shark tooth, two and a half inches long.
    I married another fisherman. Charlie bought a boat and moored it at Flag Harbor, down the beach from the vegetarian beach house. Charlie and I built two houses away, near enough to visit our friend, glimpse the water and easily comb the beach for sharks’ teeth.

    Her adopted home fell short in one way only: winter.

    I love winter, Sandy wrote four years ago this week. My growing up was Colorado, and cold-side Oregon, and cold and snow are in my blood.
    But not in Maryland. Real winter has been missing so long that I fear global warming has turned it into a memory.

        So, interviewing longer-time Calvert countians, the retired D.C. schools administrator chronicled the Great Blizzards of Yore, writing appreciatively of times when school closed for two weeks.
        In Chesapeake Country, she and Charlie became oyster gardeners. Many of her stories chronicled efforts small and large to restore our beloved bivalve.

    This story started when I met the ranchers, the westerner wrote on October 2, 2008. They wear chaps for protection, and they work on ranches, but they’re not wrangling cattle. They’re raising oysters.
    Richard Pelz, the trailblazer, brought oyster ranching to Maryland at Circle C Oyster Ranch. …

    She wrote of building homes for bluebirds, another species restoration effort shared with Charlie, who in turn took photos for her stories:

    Charlie’s anticipated carefree hobby placed us squarely against the travails of nature. We overcame territorial wrens, bad locations and opportunistic chickadees to welcome bluebirds to our home. In the process, we found some of that elusive happiness.

    The couple’s land garden also supported Chesapeake Country wildlife.

    Something has been nibbling on husband Charlie’s cantaloupe, she wrote in September, 2012:
    I suspected the squirrels, and Charlie blamed mice or voles. Friend Fritz Riedel happened to snap another candidate: an eastern box turtle. It’s circumstantial evidence, but very convincing. Charlie’s conclusion is a new twist on the fable of the turtle and the hare: Turtles are faster than humans at getting to a ripe cantaloupe.

    Calvert County history, especially school history, intrigued her, and she, in turn, educated us, introducing us to places like the Old Wallville School. And to the people who brought them to life, like the educational giants Ms. Regina Brown and her sister Ms. Harriet Elizabeth Brown, who hired the young Thurgood Marshall to win equal pay for Calvert’s black teachers.

    The second-grade students of Calvert Elementary art teacher Shari Adams, Sandy wrote in December, 2009, saw nothing they could recognize in the bits and pieces of the Old Wallville School, which opened last month, reconstructed for students of history.
    “What is it? Is it a shed?” today’s schoolchildren wondered from the windows of their modern, low-slung fortress of education.

    Best of all were her stories of people who without paying much attention were making modern history. We need love stories for Valentine’s Day, I’d tell Sandy, or mothering and fathering stories for Mother’s and Father’s Day features, or jobs people do for Labor Day stories. Never fail, she’d find a couple of deeply human stories, like Guffrie M. Smith Jr.’s Father’s Day recollection of Guffrie M. Smith, Sr.:

    Because of his humble beginnings, you were in awe of what my father accomplished. His mother died when he was five, and he was raised by his uncle, who worked him from sunup to sundown and hired him out to a dairy farmer. He always said, “Work never killed anyone.” If work killed anyone, it would have been him.

    Sometimes, we learned more about Sandy from one of those assignments, as in a story on our first jobs:

    I was a carhop in Phoenix at a Dog n Suds Root Beer drive-in. People parked beside a speaker and placed their orders. We carried hotdogs and root beer in mugs to the car on a tray that fit into the window slot. Diners ate in their cars. It didn’t pay much, but I loved working nights under the desert sky.

    Among the love stories Sandy told was How I Met Your Father.

    Our match was made, not born, she confessed of a pursuit and retreat that spanned the continent, from the campaign headquarters in Northern Virginia where they met to California.
    “I want to get married,” I told him a couple of years in.
    “What if I don’t?”
    “Then I’ll go away.”
    I accepted an invitation to work on a political campaign in California.
        “Don’t come for me without a piece of paper in your hand,” I told him.
        I packed my car and headed west.
    Eventually, he followed.
    I got a message that Charlie was in the air and would arrive at 5pm. I didn’t know that Charlie broke a Saturday night date and got drunk on champagne with his roommate, toasting his future married life.

    That was 45 years ago last month.
    Charlie recalled a bit of that story when he called to tell me that Sandy had died and he wondered what kind of a life he’d have without her.
    How I wish the storyteller were as durable as the story.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

You’ll wish you could leave the kids home and go to camp yourself

It’s going to be a long hot summer.    
    Hot is a bet. When February runs to the 60s and 70s, what can we expect in June, July and August? In this era of wacky weather, we might have snow for Labor Day. But I’m betting on a hot and humid summer with plenty of storms.
    Long is a fact. By executive order of Gov. Larry Hogan — acting on the revenue-rich idea of Comptroller Peter Franchot — summer vacation now runs through Labor Day.
    School summer — which is the standard for most families — begins June 14 in Anne Arundel County and June 15 in Calvert County, or maybe as early as June 7 if snow days go unused.
    So summer lasts 12 weeks, a quarter of the year.
    Sounds wonderful, doesn’t it: three months of release for nine months of regimentation. Many a kid is gleeful at the prospect, and not a few adults envious.
    I’d sure like to have that spread of lazy days on my hands. I imagine lounge chairs and cool drinks, beach, Bay, boats and books — plus more than a little time at the pool. I’d lose my cell phone and discharge my computer.
    Parents may not look so rosily at 2017’s endless summer. For when school is out, they’re mostly not. Working or not, they’ve got to figure out what to do with the kids. For the stay-at-home parent, that means entertainment — for who can bear the nagging repetition of Mom, I’m bored? For the conscientious parent, it also means education, lest bored and fallow young minds forget much of what they’ve just crammed in.
    That’s why we send the kids to camp.
    Reading Bay Weekly’s Early Bird Camp Guide this week is like reading travel invitations to exotic places.
    The camps partnering with Bay Weekly offer very attractive ways to keep minds and bodies active when school is out.
    If outdoor living is what you and your kids want — or what you want for your kids — you’ll find plenty that we all remember, and way more. Zip-lines and white-water rafting add extremes of fun at Camp Hidden Meadows, in the Allegheny Mountains, while Girl Scouts at Camp Conowingo get to choose to live in yurts, cabins or tents.
    Closer to home and more affordable are Recreation and Parks day camps in Annapolis, Anne Arundel County and Calvert County that not only take kids outside but also develop special interests. Yoga, fencing, colonial adventures, rock climbing, Broadway & Bop — those are only the tip of the iceberg of summer fun.
    You can infuse summer fun with religious values at camps operated by Annapolis Area Christian School, Grace Brethren Church Summer Adventures, Mount Zion UMC Camp, Saint Margaret’s Day School Camp and Saint Martin’s Summer Fun-in-the-Field.
    Read on, and you’ll fine that special interests are the specialty of our many camp partners. Archaeology, art exploration, ballet and dance, drama, glass blowing, eco-adventures, horseback riding, ice skating, Native American heritage, math, rock music, sailing and STEM skills are all here. Kids with those enthusiasms can become young masters in a week or two. Camps are so diverse that one, Naptown Sings, meets in Metropolitan Lounge, an Annapolis music venue.
    With choices like those and much more, you’ll wish you could leave the kids home and go yourself.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Now show us where Bay Weekly takes you

We haven’t had such fun with squirrels since the days of the great Bill Burton. The dean of Maryland outdoor writers, Burton chronicled his battles of wits with bushy tails, as he called them. He patterned his story-telling on the Looney Tunes and Merry Melodies formula. Despite the contraption he installed to deter them, he’d usually come out the loser while his squirrels got fatter, smarter and happier.
    The game has changed. Since Dennis Doyle’s Sporting Life column of January 12, much of Chesapeake Country has been playing Where’s the Black Squirrel. Everywhere seems to be the answer.
    You’ve recorded sightings in Pasadena, Gambrills, Arnold, downtown Annapolis, West Annapolis, Eastport, Edgewater, Mayo, Galesville, Tracys Landing, Dunkirk, Lusby and St. Mary’s County. Plus D.C., Landover Hills, Cheverly, Kensington, Montgomery County and beyond.
    It’s getting so a person can’t go anywhere without seeing a black squirrel.
    Not to be outdone, the white squirrel has also joined the game. We’ve had reports from near and far, including Washington, D.C., Olney, IL, Brevard, NC, Marionville, MO, and Kenton, TN.
    White squirrels, at the risk of turning Queenstown into a tourist haunt, abound through the town, writes correspondent William Hopkins from Annapolis. There is even one on the town Crest of Arms seen in the town hall at the traffic circle.
    I have seen five to six at a time, mixed broods (both white and brown females with mixed-color babies, but never a pied in brown or black and white.
    I’ve enjoyed Where’s the Squirrel as much as you have for I love seeing Chesapeake Country — and the wider world — through your eyes.
    Now I’m hoping you’ll expand your range.
    Besides squirrel hunting, would you show me where else Bay Weekly takes you? As we’ve seen, smart phones make it so easy.
    I’d like to see you picking up Bay Weekly — and shopping in the stores where you get your Bay Weekly. Our hundreds of distribution partners give Bay Weekly free space. In return, you’d help us show them that Bay Weekly readers are their customers, too.
    I’d like to see you enjoying events you learned about in Bay Weekly. Hold up your paper and snap a shot while you’re visiting Smithsonian Environmental Research Center in Edgewater to hear Bert Drake talk about climate change. Catching the Ruth Starr Rose art exhibits at Mitchell Gallery or Banneker Douglass Museum in Annapolis. Joining the crowd in Bay History Museum in North Beach to hear Chesapeake Country writer Mick Blackistone talk about his book Just Passing Through.
    I’d especially like to see you, Bay Weekly in hand, doing business with the advertisers whose support keeps us publishing week after week. Show me your picture enjoying the music at Pirates Cove in Galesville, The Old Stein in Edgewater or Anthony’s in Dunkirk. Carrying out your lunch at Bowen’s Grocery in Huntingtown. Shopping for historic treasures at Second Wind Consignments or Vintage Stew in Deale and Then and Again Antiques in Annapolis. For whimsical reuses at The Shops at Ogden’s Common in Port Republic. Browsing Turn Around Consignments, also in Deale. Buying new tires at Granados Automotive Center.
    You get the idea.
    I’d love it, and so would our advertisers.
    Send me your pictures. On Facebook and in our pages, we’ll show the world how Bay Weekly brings us together in Chesapeake Country.
    I’m waiting to see you.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

See a lost world; meet an Admiral; dig your Roots in Haley style

How much do any of us know of our history? Keeping up with the propulsion of the present is hard enough without carrying the baggage of the past. So we tend to leave it behind.
    Black History month makes February a deliberate time for remembering. At Bay Weekly, we use it to try to learn stories that are farther out of history’s spotlight, as history didn’t used to be written in black as well as white. Over the years, the heroes of black history — Benjamin Banneker, Frederick Douglass, Thurgood Marshall, Harriet Tubman — have become pretty well known. Like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., they have celebratory days, books and movies, statues, parks, even U.S. currency named in their honor.
    To find everyday life, you’ve got to dig deeper. But you don’t have to go farther.
    In this week’s paper, St. John’s College art educator Lucinda Edinberg introduces us to Mitchell Gallery’s current exhibition, Ruth Starr Rose: Revelations of African American Life. In it, you’ll be see a culture as richly portrayed as Tahitians in Paul Gauguin’s paintings and American Indians in the paintings of George Catlin. You’ll see in full vitality what Eastern Shore African American life looked like a century ago.    
    Like Gauguin and Catlin, painter Ruth Starr Rose opened a window into a world that would otherwise have been lost. Like them, she stood outside the culture she portrayed. Ruth Starr Rose was white, a woman and an assimilated rather than native Marylander. Perhaps her difference gave her an unprejudiced view. Certainly it opened up a dialogue still elusive today — black to white, white to black.
    I listened in on some of that dialogue at both Mitchell Gallery and across town at Banneker Douglass Museum, where another Ruth Starr Rose exhibit gives a second take on her work.
    At Mitchell Gallery, art historian Barbara Paca told a full house of not-so-young arts supporters how the privileged, upper-class painter of black life in Maryland had fallen out of favor. After Ruth Starr Rose’s death in 1965, she was accused of racism, as if what she painted couldn’t be true or taken seriously. Paca has taken on the job of rehabilitating the artist, including organizing the exhibition you’ll see through this month at Mitchell Gallery.
    I hope you will see it. The images lent to us for this story are shadows of the originals on display.
    At Banneker Douglass Museum, I happened in as outreach coordinator LeRonn Herbert was introducing the artist and a roomful of her paintings, sketches and lithographs to a busload of African American high school students on a field trip. They saw a pair of self-portraits of the white woman artist, as colorfully painted as her black portraits. Perhaps just as strange was African American life of the last century, with trains, chariots and Jeeps leading processions into heaven. Or 20 smiling women picking crabs.
    I’m glad to be able to see these sights. Ruth Starr Rose painted the life force as well as life scenes, putting you in touch with humanity across time and beyond race. Their recognition is timeless.
    But we all know it’s a good thing to be recognized in your own time. For that, this week’s paper reports the story of the newest Admiral of the Chesapeake, Eastern Shore black waterman Eldridge Meredith. Captain Meredith is the 101st Marylander and fifth African American to be so honored.
    “The predominant image of an African American working the Bay is oyster shucking and crab picking,” explains Vincent Leggett, director of Blacks of the Chesapeake Local Legacy Project and himself an Admiral of the Chesapeake. “To be recognized as an admiral, with its rich connotation, is something many people couldn’t wrap their head around.”
    The more we see, the more we understand.
    Learn to understand more of your own history in this issue as well, as Chris Haley, director of the Legacy of Slavery center at the Maryland Archives, gives a lesson in researching family roots.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

If winter comes, can spring be far behind

It’s hard to get excited about Groundhog Day.    
    February 2 is a huge turning in our calendar of hope. As winter’s midpoint, it is the mark in time when poet Percy Shelley’s line — if winter comes, can spring be far behind — sparks a bit of optimism. But hope dressed up in a groundhog suit? Surely we could do better.
    We do, on Valentine’s Day.
    The holiday we name for a second-century marriage celebrant is far more heart-warming. By Groundhog Day-plus-12, nature is putting her force behind the promise of renewal. Look around, and you’ll see better prognosticators than the visible or invisible — I can never remember which — shadow of Punxsutawney Phil.
    Squirrels, for one. They’re chasing one another from tree to tree in acrobatic pursuit, suddenly as interested in frolic as in nuts.
    Not to be outdone, birds are beginning their spring song in prelude to courtship.
    This was Saint Valentine’s Day, when every bird cometh there to choose his mate, wrote another poet, Geoffrey Chaucer.
    Did Chaucer hurry the season a bit? The climate and species of 14th century are not those of Chesapeake Country, but it’s hard to say what is seasonal nowadays. The birds, however, seem to know. At the top of Chesapeake Country pecking order, bald eagles have already mated to give their slower-growing chicks time to mature before next winter. Another favorite species, blue herons, traditionally return to their rookeries on Valentine’s Day to begin their new generation. Osprey will return in another month to get busy on their seasonal business.
    At my feeder, songbirds are going about life with new interest, as if winter might really be gone and not only hiding.
    It’s getting to be pretty lively out there.
    By Valentine’s Day, the vegetable kingdom is also pushing into a new season. This moderate year, daffodil and hyacinth leaves are well risen. Looking down, I’ve seen some five inches high. Looking up, I read the seasonal clock of the maple tree that always bursts into hairy bloom just about now.
    We humans have insulated ourselves from the seasons. We need not be cold in winter or hot in summer. More than any other generation on earth, we have detached our survival from nature. Far more of us work in offices than on the land, and we depend on sources of power produced far from where we use them. But our seasonal clocks keep ticking, and we feel something stirring.
    Is it warmth? Is it longing?
    Could it be the force capitalized on by the Valentine’s Day industry, with cards and chocolates, flowers, fancy dinners and diamonds?
    Could it be why so many people have birthdays around October 22, nine months and one week after Valentine’s Day?
    The human creative force has, of course, more outlets of expression. You could write a love letter, as Samuel Barr did 200 years ago, chronicled in this week’s edition. Or a book, as romance novelist Laura Kaye is doing. You could start a new restaurant, as Bobby and Julia Jones are doing. You could envision a new career, maybe in marine trades. Reading those stories in this week’s paper may urge you to your own creations.
    Or you could simply salute the rising season with a Valentine’s card.
    Our Valentine to you here and on this week’s cover comes from Bay Weekly’s Miss Cora Smith collection of early 20th century Valentines.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Dining Guide 2017 leads the way to good times

I get nostalgic when this time of year comes around. It isn’t just that we’ve already sped through one-12th of this new year — though that recognition does make me want to throw out an anchor against the tide of time.
    It’s our annual Dining Guide — where we introduce you to two-dozen local eating and drinking establishments — that sends me traveling back in time.
    Restaurants and bars were my family’s business. My mother and father met in the coffee shop of the Mark Twain Hotel in downtown St. Louis. She was a waitress, and he ate lunch there. A succession of bars followed: The Midget and the 34 Club in St. Louis, and places, names long forgotten, in Key West, where Dad’s World War II Navy service in the Shore Patrol opened new doors for his wife and friends.
    Stuck on the dilemma of Key West, where Mother and Dad wanted to stay, and Grandmother Martin’s insistence on Miami, where she’d lived in the 1930s, we moved back to St. Louis. That’s where I grew up, my school years up through college centering on The Stymie Club, the cocktail lounge and supper club my parents opened with Dad’s bit of an inheritance — from whom, I now wonder? — and Mother’s hard-working conviction she could do anything.
    Fast-forward to now, where the week I’ve spent immersed in this year’s Dining Guide reminds me anew that people go to bars and restaurants to have a good time.
    Going out to eat and drink, you let somebody else take over an hour or two of your time. you’ve made an implied contract of your willingness to pay for that somebody’s ability to use that bit of your precious time better than you can.     On the other half of that contract are owners who’ve created eating and drinking establishments from the ground up for your pleasure, just as my family did in their bars and restaurants. They want to feed you, and they promise to do it well. They want to give you a place to find refuge and refreshment. They want to make you so satisfied that you keep coming back, whether to a regular refueling stop or a place so comfortable that it feels, like the Stymie did, like your club. A place that you like will feel that way, if you let it, as you get to know bar and wait staff, owners and regulars.
    Newer versions of the food, drink and camaraderie I remember from my childhood await you in Chesapeake country. In this week’s paper, you’ll see what awaits you in two dozen-plus establishments ambitious to satisfy you. To give you a sense of each place and who’s behind it, what to expect and what it does best, Bay Weekly staff and I have visited repeatedly, eaten and drunk and talked to owners and customers. Each in its own way is committed to living up to that implied contract with you.
    I hope this Dining Guide gives you many good times. I’m starting on mine tonight.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Get to better know Chesapeake Country in this week’s paper

With strong legs ending in well-balanced feet, we humans are made for walking. We’ve used those extremities to spread out over the earth. That evolution may well have swelled our brainpower, which in turn has increased our scope by the invention of wheels and imitation of wings.
    Walking, running, rolling, riding, flying — how we love to move! We’ve made heroes of explorers and both simulated and stimulated our own mobility with stories of exploration and adventure.
    Century by century, locomotion by locomotion, we’ve covered more territory with more speed and less effort. Nowadays, when air travel is commoner than auto travel was a century ago, travel for fun has become America’s first-ranked hobby, by some surveys.
    So it’s a good thing that developmental topographical disorientation is a rare disorder, for otherwise we’d never know where we’d gotten ourselves.    
    The thing to do on getting to a new place is to look around and get your bearings.
    That’s just what artist and writer Suzanne Shelden has been doing in her Route 4 series of paintings. “I never thought I could be so inspired by a road,” she writes this week in Maryland Route 4 Became My Roadmap. Her paintings illustrate the story, so you’ll see what she saw through her eyes.
    Stay a while in a place, and you go beyond your amazement at discovering its features to amazement at your ignorance. Your ‘discoveries,’ you realize, are the culture and often the creation of people who’ve been there longer than you.
    Who of us comers-into Chesapeake Country doesn’t become fascinated with its culture? Doesn’t read James Michener’s Chesapeake and William Warner’s Beautiful Swimmers? Doesn’t meet the past through the photos of Marion Warren and Aubrey Bodine? Doesn’t try to crack crabs and maybe catch them? Doesn’t learn the lore of working the water?
    This week another writer, Mick Blackistone, takes us on board an oyster boat to show us the present tense of the time-honored Chesapeake tradition of oystering in Working Winter’s Water. ­Blackistone, who enjoys the honorary title Admiral of the Chesapeake, knows his subject well. The author of Dancing with the Tide, stories of the year-round cycle of working the water, Blackistone has worked as a waterman, fishmonger and administrator of marine trades associations in both Annapolis and Washington, D.C.
    Eventually, as you live in a new place, memories of the places you once called home are likely to catch up with you. With a certain nostalgia, you find yourself missing old familiar sights and practicing customs that remind you of home.
    That’s why Billy Greer, owner of Jing Ying Institute of Arnold, celebrates the Chinese New Year, beginning on January 28, with lion dancing and tea tasting. And at Maryland Hall, as you’ll read in Kathy Knotts’ story, Enter the Year of the Fire Rooster, World Artists Experiences brings Chinese acrobats, artisans and musicians in festival this weekend.
    Reading this week’s paper, you’ll discover that a place’s culture is ever expanding with what all of us make it.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Read on for winter relief in food forests, seed catalogs and squirrely tales

January seems the grayest of times. But nature is at work, nurturing new life in often-invisible ways.
    In this week’s paper, we turn to some of those ways. You’ll read about a new frontier in local eating, a food forest. Planted last spring at American Chestnut Land Trust in Calvert County, it is taking root in earth’s magical soils in preparation for its first burst of growth this spring.
    More visible are the seed catalogs filling gardeners’ mailboxes. This week the Bay Gardener explains the benefits — beyond the beautiful pictures — of ordering early.
    Squirrels are also keeping the juices flowing.
    In response to Dennis Doyle’s January 12 Sporting Life column, Bay Weekly readers are reporting back on black squirrels and their antics throughout Chesapeake Country.
    Your everyday squirrel is an acrobat, flying through the air from branch to twig with the greatest of ease, racing along electrical tightropes and hanging upside down to eat from your bird feeders.
    For many a year, outdoors writer Bill Burton roused the empathy of Bay Weekly readers with his love-hate relationship with squirrels. Plain old gray squirrels, as Burton reported no blacks among his Riviera Beach bushytails.
    As Burton died in 2009, we’ve long been in deprivation from his squirrely tales. So here, for more January entertainment, is a sample from February 28, 2002.

Matching Wits with Squirrels
When you’ve tried and have not won, never stop for crying.
All that’s great and good that’s done is just by patient trying.
    Among the two score or more bushytails that romp on my side lawn up here on the shores of Stoney Creek in North County, there is one quite familiar with that advice.
    This particular squirrel took the message to heart, practiced it and made a fool of me.
    Almost daily, friend Alan Doelp of Linthicum and I update each other on the latest maneuvers bushytails have taken to outwit our attempts to keep them out of bird feeders — at least to make it difficult for them to feed.
    Alan shares with me a reputation for trying time and again, only to be outsmarted by persistent creatures that could fit in our pockets if we dared put them there. I cringe at the thought. Ouch!
    It’s not that we don’t like squirrels or that we don’t want them feeding on our lawns. It’s just that they fascinate us. We like the challenge, and we’ve learned time and again they will eventually have the last laugh — also a bellyful of bird feed. And peanuts.
    As well as trying to keep the thick-tailed rodents from getting the lion’s share of birdseed, we also work on squirrel feeders — but with a built-in hitch. Whether it’s corn on the cob on a propeller-type device, peanuts and sunflower seeds secreted in a homemade feeder with a maze of baffles within or some other contraption we devise in our workshops, we challenge squirrels to get their breakfast, lunch or dinner.
    We get much enjoyment watching them work out our puzzles, and obviously they get as much pleasure out of this game as we do. Probably they get more pleasure because they usually win. And long as it takes them to claim the prize the first time, from then on it’s easy.
    So much for the old claim among squirrel hunters that the creatures have poor memories. They well remember the route to a snack. And use it.
    For us, it’s back to the drawing boards.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

We hope (with compliments to Yogi Berra) it’s better than déjà vu

The Maryland General Assembly isn’t the only big thing beginning anew this month.
    (Does beginning anew agree with you? Strictly speaking, anew is a tautology in the phrase as beginning is beginning. Still, in the spiral of life, renewal is a great force, giving us second, third and more chances, if we’re lucky. There! I’ve reasoned myself into beginning anew. How about you?)
    I’ve tried not to bore you in writing about the General Assembly. Important as it is to your life and mine, it’s a subject that quickly runs into technicalities. So I’m telling you only the least you need to know, with leads on where to go for more if you find an area interesting.
    If you’re a wonk, you’ll know most of this. But I bet not all, as some surprises are tucked in. The best is your introduction to the man to whom everyone in the House of Delegates listens, Reading Clerk C. Rhoades Whitehill.
    Second, third and more chances are regular business in the General Assembly, where a tussle over a Renewable Energy law passed — and vetoed — last year is likely to get the session rolling. Also back this year are lots more ideas that didn’t quite make it last year. On Gov. Larry Hogan’s side, a big one is his second try to get lawmakers to approve giving manufacturers a tax-free decade for setting up shop in areas of high unemployment. Sick leave for employees will be back, too. A bill passed the Senate last year but failed in the House. This year, Hogan has his own proposal, so there’ll be wrangling over that, too.
    Wrangling is not such a bad thing. In my book, it’s a very good thing. In the General Assembly, as opposed to on the ranch, it means that people championing different ideas are talking to each other, maybe even listening, maybe even working toward consensus. In the General Assembly, a consensus bill is negotiated between both chambers, the House and the Senate, until most everybody sort of agrees on it. Because it depends on give and take, nobody is ever 100 percent happy. But it’s the best that can be done at the moment; thus, it will do.
    Making a law is like getting a very big family to agree on what to watch on television. It’s the best compromise that can be reached among people who, as people do, think differently.
    That’s one reason they say lawmaking, like sausage making, doesn’t bear close scrutiny.
    I promise you not too much sausage making in this story, and just a little as the Assembly continues its 90-day session.
    Here at Bay Weekly, as in the General Assembly, we’re tooling up for a new year. At this moment in time, making only the second of 52 editions of Volume XXV, the year ahead looks like a mountain to climb. But as we’re doing so for our 24th time, we know the ropes. Already many stories, some far into the future, are taking shape. As are some big new ideas I’ll soon be telling you about.
    Our own calendars are filling out, too, as we feel that surge of new year’s energy. We’ll celebrate three birthdays this month, on top of the one birth we’re already celebrating. Henry Mika Gardner couldn’t wait until the new year, surprising Chesapeake Curiosities columnist Christine Gardner three weeks early. So she begins this year on maternity leave.
    I hope you, too, are swept up in the spiral of beginning anew.

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

That’s our hope for you in 2017

Self-Care 101 was not in my college curriculum. I graduated knowing more about forms of poetry — I especially liked terza rima — than how to live healthy, let alone wealthy or wise. (Though the latter was supposed to be the road to which my liberal arts education led.)
    Not in high school or elementary school either did I learn when a cold was contagious, how to survive nausea or how to enjoy exercise and make it part of my life. Even motherhood left me clueless, so it’s a good thing my children played hard outdoors and had pets to desensitize them to life’s everyday germs.
    The knowledge I’ve acquired of basic survival skills I pretty much picked up on the go. Among those tidbits were folk remedies easily dismissed. A world away from my immigrant grandmother, my mother’s description of her prescriptions seemed pretty silly. Now I see that garlic does have healing properties and that a rub of olive oil and a warm cloth can soothe a stiff neck.
    Those are not among the wellness tips you’ll read in Bay Weekly’s first paper of our 24th year, Vol. XXV, No. 1. (Unless you take my word for it.)
    What you will find is a nice Whitman’s Sampler of ways to consider as you set out on the self-improvement campaign that’s comes with each new year’s jolt, whether or not we make formal resolutions.
    Our tips pop up all along the spectrum of well-being. They range from fitness to finance, wellness to wealth, bodywork to body care — and touch on food for our and our pets’ health.
    Do you want to find medical care that helps you stay well as well as get well? Owensville Primary Care makes you that promise in these pages.
    Do you want to stop smoking in 2017? You’ll read here how to take a first step with Anne Arundel County’s Learn to Live program.
    Is your resolution America’s third most popular: losing weight? Doctor James M. Wagner offers insight into that annual challenge.
    Are you ignoring what the sun may have done to your skin because you can’t find a dermatologist who has time for you? Maybe Calvert Dermatology is the one. I’m going to see for myself.
    Do you need to know where to go when you feel too bad to wait for your doctor? Maybe AFC Urgent Care is right for you.
    Is it finally time to learn CPR or upgrade your First Aid knowledge? Much of our community made that decision when a walker was stricken on our roads. Carrie Duvall of Duvall CPR & First Aid offers group and individual classes when and where you want.
    Just how sick is your kid — and when should you seek help? Dr. Azam Baig of South River Pediatrics gives you tips I wish I’d known way back when.
    Is fitness your goal? Get the help you need to succeed from Chesapeake Health & Fitness, Pilates Plus or Poston’s Fitness for Life.
    In assembling these tips, we partnered with local businesses that have a stake in your well-being. We’ve not sought to be comprehensive or conclusive. Our purpose has been introducing you to people, places and programs in our own community that guide you in making wise wellness choices. Each of our well-being partners promises you not only a service but also information and expert help in making your 2017 healthier, wealthier and wiser.
    I send you my best wishes in achieving those goals.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com
Plus a life in stories: www.sandraolivettimartin.com