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December 2011

Cutting excursions are fun for the family; plus, fresh-cut Christmas trees are safer and smell better

Until 1970, when I published the first directory of Choose and Cut Christmas trees in Maryland, only two growers in the state were marketing their Christmas trees — with limited success — by inviting people to cut their own. Thinking it was a good idea, I convinced another 10 Christmas tree growers to give it a try. The directory was printed using a mimeograph machine and was distributed to local newspapers and county libraries.

Endurance Racers John Crandell and Heraldic

Touch of Class, a Marylander, was the first non-human female equestrian honored by the U.S. Olympic Committee as Athlete of the Year. In 1984, this Hall of Fame horse won two Gold Medals for the United States, clearing 90 of 91 jumps in show jumping Olympic competition.     Her achievement inspired a new award to honor horses and people who demonstrate the highest standards of excellence in Maryland’s horse industry.

It’s time for the big guys

They started to arrive late last week. First you saw a few 38- and 40-inch rockfish in angler’s boat boxes. Then the really big guys appeared, up to 47 inches so far. The ocean-run migratory fish have reached the mid-Bay, and they are awesome.     Falling mainly to anglers trolling big lures deep, at 40 to 60 feet, the monsters are providing lots of thrills after we’ve been struggling the last several weeks to get fish over 18 inches. It’s a welcome change.

Ancient lava and endless impacts color our natural satellite

No doubt you’ve noticed the blazing light high in the east at sunset. The planet Jupiter rules over the rising stars of autumn and blazes until the wee hours before dawn. By 9pm it is a little to the south of the sky’s zenith; by 1am, Old Jove is high above the west horizon until finally setting in the northwest around 4am.

It’s easy to like green in this light-hearted tale

Brothers Walter and Gary (Jason Segel: Bad Teacher) are extremely different. Gary is tall, Walter is short. Gary has a girlfriend, Walter is single. Gary is human, Walter is a Muppet. Just typical family stuff.     In spite of these differences, the brothers are close and spend their nights watching reruns of their favorite show, The Muppets. Since Walter doesn’t have much of a life beyond hanging out with Gary, The Muppets become his obsession.

A father loses paradise but finds his family in this touching drama

Matt King (George Clooney: The Ides of March) is too busy for tragedy. The lawyer is the family trustee of the last untouched beach in Kauai, and his cousins are pressuring him to sell. But before King can make a final decision on which $100 million offer to take, his wife has a boating accident that lands her in an irreversible coma.     Now, King must come to terms with that fact and two daughters he barely knows. The process is even harder than it sounds.

In December, lots of people do

There are people who believe that December brings magic into the world.     They want more than sparkle of terrestrial and celestial lights against the deep, dark velvet of the long night.     More than the decorations of yard, house, door and home. More than full-scale illuminations of parks and gardens.     More than Christmas trees and candy canes and gingerbread houses.