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October 2010

What fascinates us comes to define us

What fascinates you? I’ve built a career of getting people to tell me their answer to that question. Over the years, I’ve learned that people are fascinated by many things, often things you or I might call odd. Like stretch-and-sew sewing. That was the short-term fascination of one dear old friend whose obsessions, I’m glad to say, changed frequently. I’m glad because I’d hate to sum up Sue’s life by saying she hand-made T-shirts.  Because what fascinates us comes to define us.

An upstart horse owner rocks the racing world in this capable equine sports drama.

Penny (Diane Lane: Nights in Rodanthe) is a Denver housewife returned to the family’s Virginia horse farm by her mother’s death. She means to stay just long enough to set the stables in order. But Penny’s equestrian id returns full force, and her passion flares when she’s gifted with the prize foal that will become Secretariat. She’s hooked.

From Zeus’ paramour to Arthur’s kingdom

The waxing moon reaches first-quarter on the 14th, appearing due south as the sun sets, well before 6:30 this week, and setting around midnight. Each night the moon appears 15 degrees farther east at sunset, and each evening it sets almost an hour later. The night of the 19th, the gibbous moon passes six degrees north of brilliant Jupiter.  Jupiter, brighter than any star, beckons low in the east-southeast as darkness settles. Look for him high in the south around midnight and edging westward hour by hour before setting around 4am. 

2010 was a very good year for Maryland grapes

It’s been a wild weather year — record winter snowfall followed by record summer heat followed by record daily rainfall.  Weather that’s been inconvenient for most us has been terrible for Maryland farmers who grow conventional crops like corn and soybeans.  But for Maryland grape growers in all corners of the state, 2010 has been a very good year. 

Don’t miss this burnished Dignity Players’ production

Many of us studied The Crucible in high school. Arthur Miller used the Salem Witch Trials of America’s 17th century to tell a pointed cautionary tale about Red Scare fears and McCarthy Hearings of his own America in the 1940s and 1950s. The Crucible proves itself resilient for our times as well.

If you’re on the water, the fish may come to you

The sun was getting low in an overcast sky, night was rapidly falling — and still there were no fish. Conditions were perfect off the shallow-water point, the tide was up, there was good current, a chilly wind was lying down nicely — and only one other boat was present. But no fish.  Fish Are Biting

For the honorable knights of the Maryland Renaissance Festival, every charge is aimed for the win — knocking the other rider off his horse

“A piece of armor may fly into the crowd. If this happens, please do not be harmed,” says Sir Barchan of Dinglebury, who comes armed with a sense of humor and over 90 pounds of 14-gauge stainless steel to introduce his fellow jousters. As champion of the Maryland Renaissance Festival’s home field, Rebel Grove, the 60-year-old knight loves this contact sport. 

When not getting his hands dirty in the soil, the Bay Gardener keeps busy restoring old boats and making new ones

Wife Clara claims that my desire to build and restore boats can be traced to Viking genes in my blood. I remind her I am of French Canadian descent with Algonquin heritage. Her rebuttal is that Vikings invaded northern Europe where my French ancestors lived.

Avoiding water-logged bulbs

Anyone who has launched a boat via a trailer soon realizes that the lights on the trailer function correctly right up to the first submersion. After that, it’s anyone’s guess. The left turn signal will function, but not the left brake light; only the brake lights work, but not the signals; signals work at random and the running lights have disappeared.

From here to Venezuela

Where have our osprey gone after abandoning Chesapeake Country over the last six weeks? In general, we know that Chesapeake osprey fly from between 2,000 and 4,000 miles. Their journey takes 15 to 50 days, depending on the individual’s flight plans. Transmitter-tagged birds can tell us much more. So we turn to 40-plus-year osprey researcher Rob Bierregaard of the University of North Carolina. He’s been banding birds since 2000 on Martha’s Vineyard and in New York, Rhode Island, Delaware and South Carolina.