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How some of the world’s most famous art found safe refuge in early-America’s Annapolis

You’d want to know if you were neighbor to a secret treasure of masterpieces.     So I’m telling you.     Sixty-three paintings by great Northern European masters — Jan Breughel, Rubens and Van Dyck among them — lived quietly in Annapolis for two years, and Prince George’s County for 16 more years.

That’s Charles Baker, streetside entertainer

On the corner of Ego Alley and City Dock at weekends when the weather is at its best, The Balloon Man pumps and twists latex into masterpieces to tickle kids and tease the stiffness out of adults.     On an average sunny Saturday, Charles Baker makes up to 100 balloons from Elmos to penguins, flowers to swords.     “My grandson thinks he is grandpa,” says a customer. “I am sure it’s the grey hair.” The grandson brandishes an inflated miniature sword just made for him by Baker.

Solving problems, finding solutions

If Kenneth ‘Kenny’ Claro and Ray ‘Ray Ray’ Werwie Jr. had not stepped up to help, Enzo Tannozzini would have been in long-term rehab.     Instead, through a series of happenstances, Tannozzini’s happily back home.     The World War II veteran had fallen and broken his hip. Now he could come home … if their Franklin Manor home had wheelchair access. With little hope and less money, wife Juanita Tannozzini didn’t know what to do.

No-kill shelter construction planned for 2018 in Prince Frederick

About animal well-being, Calvert County is a passionate place. Devoted animal lovers have made it so, pouring time, effort and fundraising into the creation of a half-dozen welfare organizations for animals in need, including shelters, clinics, a resale shop raising funds for neutering and spaying and a feral cat sanctuary.     Now county government is stepping up in a big way to create Calvert’s first dedicated, publicly funded shelter for homeless and neglected animals. It will follow a no-kill policy.

You can bring your dog to any of the public parks in Anne Arundel or Calvert counties, but most require that you keep them on a leash.     For off-leash play, six dog parks in Anne Arundel and two in Calvert offer large fenced areas for both big and small dogs to run free while getting the much-needed socialization and exercise that keeps them healthy and happy. Aggressive dogs are banned from dog parks.     Some of the dog parks are set inside larger parks where dogs are welcome on leash.

Where to turn for help and to help

Anne Arundel County Animal ­Control Shelter The central Anne Arundel county location for lost pets, reunites hundreds with their owners and operates a shelter that annually adopts out about 1,500 pets. As part of the county Police Department, it enforces all animal control laws. Services include a weekly $5 rabies vaccination clinic: 411 Maxwell Frye Rd., Millersville: 410-222-8900; aacounty.org/animalcontrol.

World Artists make themselves at home in Annapolis

Betty Mcginnis dreamed big. She wanted to bring together not just her community but the whole world. That’s how World Artists Experiences was born as an all-volunteer effort to bring international arts to Annapolis.     That’s a nice way of saying that World Artists Experiences depend on human resources rather than money. Especially as you see and hear all performances for free.

Through torrents and drought, rain gardens look good and do good for the environment, too

After a wet spring when rain was abundant in Chesapeake Country, we are now in the midst of a heat wave with chance blasts of short-lived rainfall.     Most of the water that fell for 15 days straight from April 27 through May 11 washed unimpeded into our rivers, flooding streets and carrying whatever was in its path into the Bay. The luckiest raindrops were caught by thirsty native plants and flowers and held in a rain garden just long enough to send that water into the soil below, clean and filtered from pollutants.

Skateboarding rewards diligence, not age

Skateboarders of all ages are grabbing their decks for a new era of the perennial sport. In Calvert County, 18-year-old Joey Jett and 46-year-old Wayne Cox represent opposite poles in a new skateboarding brotherhood supported by Joe Smialek’s Prince Frederick shop Aggro Joe’s. With hard-driven passion, all three have turned their love for skateboarding into careers. •   •   •

Your library card gets you access to fun destinations free

Your library card can open many doors in Chesapeake Country. Doors to museums, gardens, pools, parks, wineries and golf courses.     In Anne Arundel County, any Maryland cardholder can check out a family pass, good for one week and up to four people, for admission to Historic London Town and Gardens. You do not have to live in Anne Arundel County to use your card to get a museum pass.