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If there be spirits, now’s the time to find them

Al ­DeCesaris is running down the East Coast for Sturge-Weber syndrome

The Volvo Ocean Race is on its round-the-world blitz again

7 million Books for International Goodwill

While the wind blows, I’m ­getting a handle on things

Stay home with the kids instead of seeing this waste of celluloid

The Sitter is the kind of movie reviewers hate: It’s so tedious, lazy and humorless that it’s nearly impossible to mock.     Nearly.     In the last of his pre-weight-loss movies, Jonah Hill (Moneyball) plays Noah, a college dropout content to live off his barely-getting-by mother. He’s in a fake relationship with Marisa (Ari Graynor: Ten Year), who’s so obsessed with her ex that she uses Noah like a pudgy sex toy. Noah volunteers to...

Answer that December call with the Parade of Lights and the Volvo Ocean Race

Like you, we’re playing carols, stringing lights and decorating the Christmas tree. (Practicing what the Bay Gardener preaches, we sawed a fire-safe Canaan fir at his Upakrik Farm, plunged it into a bucket of 100-degree water and stored it in the shade before it came inside.)     The holidays are a time we savor. They bring us into the universe, husband Bill Lambrecht suggested the other day, as we counted the homes signaling their welcome to the season in codes of colored...

Volunteers take flight each year so that isolated Tangier Island has a green Christmas

The miracle of flight has long been Santa’s secret to guaranteed overnight delivery, but sometimes the reindeer need a break. During the pre-Christmas rush they’re in demand everywhere, including some pretty remote locales. So how does the big guy make a day trip to a place like Tangier Island in the middle of the Chesapeake Bay, a place where even the closest landlubbers depend on ferries to make the 12-mile crossing?     The answer is lots of planning and...

The Volvo Ocean Race is back on the water

The machines are scary sharp, the crews wear bright and sexy clothing and the thrills and spills will keep you coming back for your fear-factor fix.     That’s sailing we’re talking about, not Grand Prix auto racing.     While we await Christmas and winter, one of the biggest shows in the world is playing out. So take a break from holiday madness for a turn on the water.     Follow the racers round the world at www.volvooceanrace.com...

The Volvo Ocean Race isn’t the only high-profile sailing event

The Volvo Ocean Race is an around-the-world marathon showcasing 70-foot high-tech sailing machines. Precise rules govern boat and sail design, making each boat similar. It takes the racers nine months to sail the globe, with extended stops in eight ports. The boats are sponsored by syndicates that hire the world’s finest sailors to ride these carbon-fiber, sail-powered rockets. It costs about $100 million to play that game. The winner gets a silver chalice that can easily hold a couple...

Hang a gift on the National Zoo’s Enrichment Giving Tree

Grateful for the wild things that enrich your world? Choose a wild gift from the Animal Enrichment Wish List to hang on the Smithsonian National Zoo’s Enrichment Giving Tree.     Speaking for the animals, zookeepers and researchers have asked for toenail clippers, bubble machines, natural-colored feather dusters and shower radios with CD players.     Lest you worry that next year the lions will want iPads, understand that every item on the Zoo’s Wish...

How to buy and keep a fresh, fire-safe tree

The best way to purchase a Christmas tree from a corner lot is to buy as soon as the tree lot opens. The longer you wait to purchase that tree, the more water it will lose and the more likely it will become a fire hazard.     Even if the corner Christmas tree lot advertises fresh trees delivered weekly, check to see where the trees are grown. A number of Christmas tree farms in Maryland operate corner lots. Often they’ll display pictures of their farms, and their vehicles...

Bringing home the fish on a captain’s holiday

With winter approaching and their businesses winding down, Chesapeake fishing guides Frank Tuma and Tom Hughes finally had a few days off. Of course they decided to go fishing, and they invited me and my friend Maurice Klein to join them.     Cruising down from the Magothy in Frank’s 29-foot C Hawk Downtime, we reached the Bay Bridge at 11am. It was fantastic weather for early December, light winds, 60 degrees, bright and sunny with a nice running, outgoing tide.  ...

Bright lights warm dark nights

We’re still a couple weeks from winter solstice, the day with the least sunlight for us in the Northern Hemisphere. But we’re already enjoying later sunsets one day to the next. Wednesday the 7th, old Sol sunk beneath Annapolis’s southwest horizon at 37 seconds past 4:43, the earliest sunset of the year. By the solstice December 21, the sun sets more than two and a-half minutes later at 4:47:03.     December’s full moon Saturday is called the Yule Moon,...

A Christmas tale for the iPod generation

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the house, not a creature was stirring as a spaceship arrived.     Wait. Is that how the story goes?     In Arthur Christmas, a charming if not brilliant update on the story of Santa Claus, St. Nick is driven more by a palm pilot than eight tiny reindeer.     On the eve of his 70th trip around the world, Santa (Jim Broadbent: Harry Potter) is going thru the motions, letting his eldest son and...