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Use the down-time to clean your gear

Today I put on long pants for the first time since last June. Normally this is not entirely a bad thing because chilly fall weather means that bigger rockfish will be in the shallow water I love to fish. But not right now. Around our neck of the woods the fishing is pretty much on hold, and it may take some time before it returns to normal.     The upper- to mid-Chesapeake has been a disaster zone for angling. Satellite maps of the Bay (http://mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/...

Don’t bother trying to put them back together

Irene left us many trees with split trunks. Splitting occurs mostly on shade trees with narrow crotches. Narrow crotches are weak and break easily when strong winds whip the branches back and forth.     I have seen many people, including arborists, bolt these trees back together. It may seem that the operation was a success. But within eight to 10 years, the patient will have developed a good case of heart rot, and the tree will become a hazard. Fertilize Hollies in the Fall...

Enjoy the balance while we can

The waning crescent moon rises around 3am Friday, its upper tip pointing to the red planet Mars, only five degrees away. Both shine within the faint stars of Cancer, home to the Beehive star cluster, which appears as a smudge of light a half-dozen degrees behind moon and planet. By 5am, the moon and Mars are well placed about 30 degrees high in the east.     And then, five minutes past 5:00, our whole world changes.     At 5:05am est, the sun hovers directly...

Farewell to one neighbor; bon voyage to another

For most of my earlier years, the neighborhoods where I lived were grids, and connections followed straight lines, side to side and front to back. Sometimes I was lucky and the next- or nearly next-door neighbors were people of shared interests beyond the chance of proximity. That’s how husband Bill and I developed dear friendships with the Kirkpatricks, next door but one, and the Ladleys, next door but two, in Holland Point, where we spent our first years in Chesapeake Country.  ...

A Hollywood stuntman moonlights as a wheelman but winds up in the mob’s crosshairs after a heist goes bad

Los Angeles stunt driver, Driver (Ryan Gosling: Crazy, Stupid, Love.), isn’t above moonlighting to make a little extra cash. He offers his services as a wheelman to robbers in the greater L.A. area.     He lives a monk-like existence, moving from one Spartan apartment to another and speaking with no one but his manager/boss/agent Shannon (Bryan Cranston: Contagion). Driver is content with that existence until he meets shy waitress Irene (Carey Mulligan: Never Let Me Go)...

Even the actors don’t know whodunit in this appealing mystery

The works of Agatha Christie, the queen of murder and reportedly the best-selling author of all time, are timeless because her characters transcend their settings. The privileged classes, it seems, are no happier than the rest of us, so we adore their frailties as much as the grandeur that surrounds them. Christie mysteries are box-office gold even when they’re so-so; Colonial Players’ The Unexpected Guest is diamond-studded platinum.     As this production’s...

Autumn’s Won My Heart Away

Summer on the Chesapeake is not a perfect season, but I sure hate to see it go. Summer 2011 showed us its terrible temper in plenty of ways: weeks in the stew pot, torrential rains, gale-force winds or none at all, stink bugs on the peaches, mosquitoes on me. But such moods don’t overshadow my love for the thrill of a breeze, the exuberance of the leaves, the moment to seize.     For summer does not stay. The pool where I swim opens only one more day, inviting humans in...

Phoenix-like, a local landmark ravaged by fire has risen in time to celebrate Oktoberfest

On the second Friday of the Old Stein’s new lease on life, the liter glasses — each bearing the logo of one of the resurrected German bierstube’s 10 taps — stand ranged and polished on the shelves of a new-old, laborious refurbished bar, ready to be filled, raised and joined.     But it’s not yet time to shout zum Wohl!     Carpenters Scott Griffiths and Jeff Mattero pace the brand-new Honduran mahogany floor. Wainscoting —...

Chesapeake Beach Resort unveils its all-new historic band shell for outdoor concerts

When Otto Mears first brought the railroad to Chesapeake Beach in 1900, he spent $6 million to build his dream town, a Monte Carlo on the Bay. More than a century later, Chesapeake Beach Resort partner Gerald Donovan is keeping that dream alive by rebuilding one of Mears’ original attractions.     “Mears built this huge boardwalk on the Bay, so people would come from around the D.C. area,” says Donovan. “He advertised it as one hour to the sea. It was...

How Patuxent animals coped with high water

The record-setting flood on the Patuxent River that shut down parts of Route 4 and Route 301 on September 8 also created chaos and danger for the animals living in Jug Bay marshes. Mattress-sized clumps of uprooted marsh plants and large logs floated fast downstream. The current in the river’s main channel was pumping three times faster than normal.     On the river’s edges, where wild rice and cattail stalks poked above the brown waters, the heads of red-bellied and...