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Trains live on in more than our memories and our hearts

Trains are just another form of transportation to some folks, no more interesting or glamorous than the bus that takes you from long-term parking to the airport terminal.     But if you’re one of the countless train lovers, like me, read on to discover three local ways to bring to life your train fantasies.

Have a toy ready to give when he visits your neighborhood

This Sunday, Santa chooses a shiny red fire truck over a red-nosed reindeer and sleigh. The reindeer are getting a break as Santa needs more horsepower this year to carry the load of presents from generous neighbors.     On the annual Annapolis Santa Run toy drive, Santa makes 57 stops, to collect rather than give — though candy canes reward givers. Later this month, the toys you donate are delivered to kids in need throughout Annapolis and Anne Arundel County.

Familiar buildings give a starting point

What will the new Annapolis Public Library look like? We’ve just come a step closer to the answer to the third big question about the surprisingly controversial future of the popular flagship of Anne Arundel County’s 15-library system.     The first big answer was that the new library will stand on the spot of its half-century-old predecessor at 1410 West Street.

Play Santa in ways that matter

Taking care of each other is one of the cornerstones of the Christmas spirit, for everyone deserves a gift from the heart — especially those for whom any gifts are hard to come by.     You can give in small ways, like dropping a donation into a Salvation Army red kettle. Or in large ways, like fully funding a family’s Christmas meal and wish list.

Local theaters serve a mix of seasonal cheer

The spirit of Christmas is a more complex concoction than a dash of ho-ho-ho and a splash of jinglebells. For this is the season of deliverance: hope is born, sorrow and loss salved, our better selves risen over our baser. Getting it right — mixing big dreams with dark regret, leavened by love and served in hope — is an annual job done for us by our local theater companies.

The sounds of Maggie’s Music bring on the season

Need help transitioning into the holiday mood? My go-to solution is playing seasonal music. This year, I’m jumping out of the same old rut with Cold Frosty Morn at West River, by local Celtic musician Maggie ­Sansone.

Calvert Garden Club offers next-generation grants

Got a great idea for a community-focused gardening project? If it involves educating the next generation, you are invited to apply for a mini-grant with the Calvert Garden Club.     This annual program awards amounts from $100 to $1,000 to nonprofit organizations in Calvert County.     The 60-year-old Calvert Garden Club has awarded grants totaling more than $4,300 in the past two years.

And keep it open all winter long

It’s a great time of year to take up or enhance the hobby of bird feeding, especially since we can watch outdoor birds from the cozy warmth of the great indoors with hot drinks, field guides and binoculars. It’s good for the birds, too. When ice and snow cover everything in sight, providing food, water and grit (bits of sand, stone, or shell that birds need for digestion), may mean survival for our backyard birds.     How then to best serve the feathered ones? What kinds of foods and feeders? How to manage water? Who might show up?

On the hunt in November

The antlered buck posed statue-like in full-focused attention in a valley surrounded, at a fair distance, by the houses of Fairhaven Cliffs. Perhaps he’d seen me seeing him from my perch well above him, but not assuring him safety were I a bow hunter. That hunting season lasts most of November, the month — this odd sighting reminded me — when Maryland’s 227,000 deer are at their most visible.

For Rod ‘N’ Reel’s Chef Rudy, Thanksgiving is a piece of cake

From the first-time turkey roaster to the kitchen master, who among us can anticipate cooking the Thanksgiving dinner without a bit of a flutter?     Chef Rudy Volpe can.     The 54-year-old chef looks forward to serving 1,000 to 1,200 hungry eaters at Rod ‘N’ Reel’s Thanksgiving Day Buffet.     For a chef who’s worked 20-plus years in gaming, most recently at Maryland Live!, Rod ‘N’ Reel’s seven-hour buffet is, well, a piece of cake.