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Turning a pop phenomenon into challenging life lessons

Highway medians become home to the birds, bees, butterflies

My guests were not who I expected

Billed as a smart and energetic musical comedy with a pop rock score and immensely likable story, this show delivers

A waterspout may get you if you don’t watch out

Reflections on heroes and superheroes

Menhaden gain recognition and protection

Friday, December 14, 2012, is a day that makes a difference. On that day, menhaden — a fish virtually inedible to humans and once numerous but now endangered — gained recognition and protection as a vital component of our complex marine ecosystem.     Meeting in Baltimore, the Atlantic States Marine Fisheries Commission declared its intent to protect Atlantic menhaden from continued commercial over-fishing, which has reduced the species to eight percent of its...

Two books with local connections are treats to put under the tree for younger children.

Denise Blum’s Chesapeake Bay Crab Challenge is about Jay, a young boy who wakes up one morning to find his pet crab Clay missing from his aquarium. Where could Clay be? Will Jay find him?     Blum takes readers on a hunt through Chesapeake Country’s Lusby, Oxford and Cambridge — to stores, restaurants and parks.     Children will recognize some of the local landmarks; the story begs a field trip to the unfamiliar places. (I wanted to climb into...

Can Canada’s answer to Neil Simon match the American’s wit?

Snows may soon cover the golf course, but golfers can escape to the links this winter at The Bay Theatre, where Norm Foster’s comedy The Foursome is now playing. If you long to crack open a few beers and play verbal tackle over a friendly wager, then this is the play for you.     Foster, Canada’s answer to Neil Simon, is the Great White North’s most produced playwright. Despite his immense popularity, I found his humor — save for some zippy one-liners...

A winter’s wind blows water from the Bay, revealing relics from the past

On a cold winter day, with a stiff northwest wind blowing the Chesapeake Bay south toward the Atlantic, 11-year-old twins Cole and Wyatt Greene stumbled on a strange sight as they explored the exposed mudflats of Herring Bay. Buried in the mud appeared to be the remains of an old ship. A really big ship.     The two boys announced their find to their mother. Back they ran with an iPhone and tape measure to record the shipwreck. It measured a whopping 129 feet by 25 feet. Nearby...

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, “...

The rediscovered Chesapeake woodcuts of Eastport’s Philip McMartin

When Philip McMartin arrived in 1963, Annapolis was still a watermen’s town with workboats coming and going.     The 33-year-old journalist-photographer-filmmaker-sailor had fallen under the spell of the water, which drew him to Eastport, where he and his wife and four children lived a stone’s throw from Back Creek.     McMartin was fascinated by the rugged independence of life on the water. He carved images of Chesapeake watermen, skipjacks,...

Peace, goodwill and Slack Winery’s Pink Shoals

Read any good Christmas lists lately?         Good will and peace on Earth continue to top every list, as we haven’t gotten there yet. Despite the best efforts of Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, those eternal aspirations remain elusive.     Perhaps our continual striving is the point. Perhaps each round of striving is actually a cycle in an upward spiral. I’ve held onto that hope these many years, ever since my esteemed professor...

AACo connects families in need to people who want to help

What if you could see the child’s face light up when you drop off a new toy? Or watch the worry slip off the faces of a family when you deliver a Christmas dinner they weren’t sure they were going to have?     The Anne Arundel County Department of Social Services’ Holiday Sharing Program has been matching people who want to help families and seniors during the holidays for 32 years.     Tanya Steele, the special program and volunteer coordinator...

These tropical plants demand warmth and sun

A tropical plant that originated in Mexico, the poinsettia is very susceptible to chilling temperatures. If you purchase your plant on a cold day, wrap it completely before moving it from the store to your car. Place it in a sleeve stapled at the top to prevent rapid heat loss and to keep cold air from blowing onto the plant. As soon as you start the car, turn on the heat to a comfortable temperature.     When you arrive at home, the poinsettia should be the first package...

Barking up the Christmas Tree

As a field of expertise, Christmas trees — like medicine — has generalists and specialists.     Generalists decorate their trees with the collections assembled over lifetimes by inheritance, early childhood artistry, gifts and outright purchase.     Specialists prefer a theme.     A pair of animal-themed trees won our hearts this Christmas. After all, animals have a time-honored place in the Christmas story. They gathered at the manger...