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Leon Tucker’s tour in Mongolia has him longing for Southern Maryland’s balmy winters

To step out into December’s minus-20-degree weather, Leon Tucker layers up “in bundles and bundles” with long underwear, thermal sweatshirts, camel wool socks and a North Face parka. This is not what he meant back home in Deale when he called himself “an outdoors person.”     Mongolia is not what Tucker’s mother, Kathy Norris, imagined for the son who always dreamed of travel. “I thought he was going to take off,” she says, “but not that far!”

Craig Shelden is a believer

Craig Shelden’s two-car garage is his refuge from the world. From this lair, he runs his spare-time robotics business, Shelden Robotics. The two family vehicles are parked outside the double doors.     Inside is neatness and order. A garden rake, trash can and recycling bins are the only clues to a family life beyond the closed door. Blue and red electric tape strategically stuck to the floor in circles and rectangles measures robotic achievement.

Mike Callahan’s Chesapeake Driftwood Tree

Mike Callahan was searching for creative ways to trim his Christmas tree this year. The president of the Southern Maryland Audubon Society wanted a unique, nature-themed tree that he created with his own hands. When a friend suggested using what Chesapeake Bay had to offer, Callahan hit the beaches, hunting and gathering for his creation. At home, he put his hands and mind to work.

A dozen neighbors share their blessings. What are yours?

Thanksgiving is America’s feast. Like all our holidays, it’s a celebration created by immigrants, with each new culture learning the traditions and mixing in their own. Diverse as we are, Thanksgiving unites rather than divides us. We celebrate it, regardless of age, race, region, religion or heritage — even vegetarians, for whom the turkey gives thanks.

Skip Smith has been makeup man for presidents and celebrities. But ­monsters and ghouls are his passion, which he shares in Twin Beach ­Players’ ­production of Frankenstein

“This is all you get,” Skip Smith tells me, drawing the gauze-covered prosthetic from the Walmart bag. Dark and empty sockets stare at me for the second before Smith re-seals the bag. To see the mask Smith had created for Twin Beach Players’ Frankenstein (now playing in North Beach), I had to brave the little shop of horrors of his St. Leonard home.     Monsters are Smith’s favorite subjects to work with, above even Audrey Hepburn and U.S. presidents.

I have been in many marinas in my 70 years of sailing, but none has been as interested in helping you as Sherman’s Marina in Deale, on the eastern shore of Rockhold Creek. Seven years ago when I moved my 35-foot Dickerson ketch to Sherman’s Marina, Frank Sherman became more than just my marina owner. He was someone who cared deeply about you and your boat: a real friend.

Who we are; what we do

Summer dreams aside, we Americans are working people. In our economy, employment is a blessing and unemployment a curse. That’s so true that the unemployment rate — 8.3 percent nationally as August began — could cost Barack Obama his job as president.     Maryland’s unemployment rate of 7 percent is under the national average. But it’s high enough that a job is a job — and a good job is cause for rejoicing.

Exceptional Hero inspires friends, ­classmates to support Maryland Therapeutic Riding

Katie Parry loves going to the movies and shopping with her sister. But what the 21-year-old loves most is riding horses.     Katie, who has cerebral palsy and uses a wheelchair, first climbed into the saddle at two years old, following the example of older sister Dayna. She had been riding in a county program for three years when her mother, Deborah, stumbled across Maryland Therapeutic Riding while flipping through a phone book looking for a tutor.

Randy Skinner left New York to bring Dames at Sea to Annapolis

Why does a three-time Tony-nominated New York director and choreographer come to a way-off Broadway stage in Annapolis?     Dames at Sea at Infinity Theatre Company is a blast from the deep past for Randy Skinner, who choreographed it as  a student in the mid-’70s. Nowadays, Skinner says, “people don’t write songs so tuneful.”

No need to check your eyes, that was Kevin Spacey in Annapolis

No, you’re not seeing things.         When you thought you saw Kevin Spacey getting coffee at 49 West, drinking martinis on Metropolitan’s roof deck or throwing darts at Stan & Joe’s it wasn’t a mirage from the extreme heat wave and lack of air conditioning. It was Keyser Soze, seriously.