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You won’t want to go through this looking glass

Jan Miles was bred to captain Maryland’s ­historic clipper ship

We have food pantries all over the state. Why not furniture pantries?

Three years in, I’m planning ahead for optimal success

See them again this year on the Osprey Cam

Here be dragons

If Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen: The Wolverine) weren’t a wizard, he would have been an excellent travel agent. He seems to live for organizing meandering trips through Middle-earth, acting as activities director for a ragtag group of his choosing.     When The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug begins, Gandalf is still leading a band of dwarves and one hobbit toward a dragon lair. The dragon in question, Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch: The Fifth Estate), once swooped into the...

While never the comet of the century, it piqued our curiosity

It’s official: comet ISON is no more. NASA confirmed Tuesday that after its first-ever venture from the outer limits of the solar system to the sun, the comet did not survive the onslaught of solar radiation. Born 4.5 billion years ago during the formation of the solar system, ISON had resided in the so-called Oort Cloud a full light-year away. Roughly a million years ago, perhaps after a cometary collision, ISON began its journey toward the sun. It was discovered in September of 2012 by...

The lessons at Anne Arundel Community ­College’s Culinary Institute will last well after the new yearBob Melamud

Food eaten between November 1 and New Year’s Day contains no calories. I suspect I’m not alone in honoring this conviction. Yet a lifetime of stepping on the scale January 2 has convinced me that our cherished belief is a cruel urban legend.     This year I faced an additional challenge. Our editor assigned me to take and report on an Anne Arundel Community College Culinary Institute holiday class. Biscotti, cookies, Scandinavian baking and truffles tempted me...

Courthouse Square now looks a lot like Christmas

On December 3, the Parish Hall At Christ’s Church in Port Republic bustles with four dozen Calvert Garden Clubbers preparing to decorate the county courthouse with evergreens harvested a day earlier at four local farms.     “We call it the Greening,” says cochair Mary Berkley.     Wearing monogrammed aprons, they work likes elves trimming magnolia, grapevine and boxwood for wreaths, fragrant sprays and evergreen ropes.     The...

No need to put out the welcome mat

The mouse stood high in ancient Greece, where the god Apollo took the creature as one of his namesakes, Apollo Smintheus. White mice were kept under the altars in temples to that incarnation.     Most of us can better relate to the Indo-Aryan Sanskrit tradition wherein musuka means thief or robber.     Sanskrit may not be familiar to you, but the burglary antics of the common house mouse probably are, especially this time of year.     Freezing...

The trip starts with Maryland’s Bike and Foot Master Plan

Hey, car … van … SUV … RV … bus … truck, can you give walkers and bikers a little room?     If that’s your plea, you’ll find fascinating reading in Maryland’s Draft Twenty-Year Bicycle and Pedestrian Master Plan.     Developed by transportation planners and interested walkers and bikers throughout the state, the plan aims at “making walking and bicycling an integral part of Maryland’s transportation...

A fresh-cut Douglas fir is the safest tree you can buy

Believe me when I say that not all Christmas trees are created equal. I know because I was assigned to set fires under the five most popular Christmas species.     In 1995, I was asked by the Maryland Christmas Tree Association and the State Fire Marshall’s office to research the most fire-resistant species. I tested white pine, Scots pine, blue spruce and both Douglas and Frazier firs. The State Fire Marshall set the rules. I rolled a single sheet of newspaper into a ball...

Some days, everything’s wrong but the fish

It was cold on the Bay, colder than we wanted to endure. But it had been a long time since either of us had caught a rockfish. So there we were in mid-morning in my 17-foot skiff off the mouth of the Severn in about 35 feet of water with temperatures barely above freezing.     At least the winds were mild, as were the seas. But the skies were stalled in a dark overcast. I could feel the fingers of cold, damp air trying to creep under my expedition-weight fleece unders. Shivering...

The only time zone big enough for Season’s Bounty in Chesapeake Country

Don’t you love it when you finally find a use for some of the stuff you learned in school?     We liberal arts majors at St. Louis University, a Jesuit school, had to minor in philosophy, and most of those 18 hours of theoretic thinking buzzed right by me. Yet here I am, reveling in my recent illumination of a new way to understand time, that favorite subject of philosophers. For I’ve realized that I am a denizen of The Eternal Now.     Think of The...

Everybody gets into the spirit

Mayhem meets knee-slapping ­comedy when the Herdmans collide head-on with the Christmas story.     Barbara Robinson’s Christmas alternative — it’s no Christmas Carol — is a good choice for Twin Beach Players: Both have to do with a small town where everybody has a part to play in making Christmas.     The fictional small town’s kids have grown weary of wearing bed sheets to play the same role and speak the same lines year after...