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Not every species is a fan of the annual spectacle of light and noise

    No matter how much you like fireworks, your dogs — and maybe cats — are not looking forward to the July 4th tradition. All the festivities, lights and loud noises can frighten and even threaten your furry friends.     Phantom Fireworks, a rapidly expanding fireworks retailer supplying the explosives to national chains, knows the down- as well as the upside of fireworks. From its research come suggestions on how you can help your pet endure the celebration.

Eight restaurants compete for fastest honors

    You’ve got thick skin, you work well with a team, you know how to handle difficult people and your job is sometimes high-stress. What are you?     If you answered food server, you’re correct.     I’ve worked in restaurants for seven years. There’s a general hierarchy to restaurant work. If you want to serve or bartend but have no experience, you’ll probably start as a host. In an unusual twist, I began as a server.     I was not good.

Your guide to fireworks, parades and celebrations

Friday June 29

They don't read, but drivers do

    “Everybody here tries to do everything they can to take care of good ol’ Deale.”     So says Ryan Tucker, son of Joe Tucker, the man behind JT Restorations of Deale. From picking up trash along the road to helping turtles cross the street, Tucker has always had a heart for his hometown.     The recent death of a duckling gave him a new cause. A speeder careless of the creatures that share these backroads hit the bird.
Cape St. Claire Celebration

The 3,100-mile charity challenge ends in Annapolis this week

    Feet pedaling and hearts racing, some 1,300 cyclists from all over the world and all walks of life challenge themselves in the Race Across America from Oceanside, California, to Annapolis City Dock.     Race Across America is a test of speed, endurance and strength from the beginning to the end. Its intensive combination of distance, terrain and weather tests racers throughout their 3,100-mile journey. Across 12 states, cyclists climb more than 170,000 vertical feet.

    An update comes from the Eastern Shore on the immigration woes of crab houses.     We reported recently on complaints from family-owned seafood houses about the lack of crab-pickers as a result of a shortage of H-2B visas.     They contend that they can’t find Americans to do the painstaking, seasonal work so they rely heavily on temporary workers from Mexico. (Some folks reject that reasoning, as you may notice in this week’s Your Say.)

Then help your neighbors keep our forests healthy

    Mythology gave each of nature’s kingdoms its guardian. Forests and trees had Dryads, with oak trees having their own special nymphs, the Hamadryades.     Act quickly and you can step up as a modern guardian, training in a class of 25 as a Maryland Woodland Steward in a three-and-a-half day seminar October 4 to 7 at Shepherd’s Spring Center near Sharpsburg,

Unity Gardens grants grow leaders, plants, flowers

    Plants and flowers aren’t the only things that grow in a garden. Leadership and civic involvement can also bloom. That’s a motivating idea behind Unity Gardens, a nonprofit that backs its philosophy with dollars.     “We want projects that build community partnerships, bringing in volunteers and creating opportunities for leaders to emerge and take on new projects,” says Unity executive director Barbara Dowling.

Cheer your team over crushes

    Who has what it takes to be crowned the fastest server on the Bay?     Six-person server teams registered by local restaurants compete in an obstacle-course competition, dodging obstructions while demonstrating their skill. Teams vie for the chance to win bragging rights and a cash prize.     The challenge is free for the watching, but bring your pocketbook for food and drinks sponsored by Blue Dog BBQ Company and Jailbreak Brewing Company. Fresh-squeezed crushes and live music supplement the competition.