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January 2012

Eat, drink, see movies and strengthen your skills

Ye gads it’s been a difficult winter!         Today it’s bitter cold and windy, and the long-range forecast looks like a lot more of the same, except for the charming likelihood of a few days of freezing rain. With two of my offspring still in college, there is no fiscal possibility of escaping to the tropics.     I’ve got to face up to the inevitable, the imminent approach of the most agonizing month of the year, February.

Some seeds are worth trying; others you should avoid

My 2011 vegetable garden was the most productive I have ever had. Even as I write this column in early January, I am still harvesting kale, collard greens, kohlrabi, cabbage, mustard greens and Brussels sprouts. I also had the best harvest ever of fall peas, snap beans and carrots.

Behind this glowing mass of cosmic gas is a stellar nursery

The waning crescent moon reaches new phase Monday, leaving our night skies free of its overpowering glow. As darkness settles and the stars come into view, the familiar outline of Orion is appears above the southeast horizon.     Easily the most recognizable constellation, Orion has marched through the heavens and played a role in the mythology of every civilization and culture on earth.

Meryl Streep is all teeth, no bite, in this boring biopic

What do you do when you’re making a movie about a political figure whose politics you don’t agree with? Avoid the subject, cast Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher and give her an immense set of dentures. The formula worked. Streep and her dentures just took home a Golden Globe.     The teeth are right. But the rest of the film is all wrong.

Previews of the Maryland General Assembly

Americans have a thing for lawlessness.         If we had a mantra, it might go something like this: The fewer laws the better — except as they benefit us personally.     From the Pilgrims, Conquistadors and New Dutch to explorers, pioneers and cowboys — not to mention robber barons — we’ve made our own laws.     Nobody better tell us what to do.

People on the move in the Maryland General Assembly

Lawmaking is not the only thing on the minds of the members of Maryland’s 430th General Assembly. Among local highlights:

The dysfunctional family of this fractured fairy tale is the medieval equivalent of trailer park trash in a neighborhood populated by Grimms’ all-stars.

Ladies: Did you grow up on Cinderella dreams? How did that work out for you?     Gentlemen: Is the prince for real?     Parents: Which frustrates you more — the Disney princess culture or books such as the best-selling Cinderella Ate My Daughter that denigrate it?

Circulating is now free

    Going to Annapolis?          Since cars claimed roads designed for horse traffic, parking has made visiting our capital city easier by boat than by car.     Where to put the vehicles that bring the city a million visitors each year has kept city planners scratching their heads.     Over the month of December, free parking and trolley make the city more welcoming, and its shopping and cultural opportunities more accessible.

Grass beds survived storm to welcome waterfowl, Bay babies

Housing stock is on the rise for the young fish and crabs who’ll be sheltering at the top of the Bay come spring. The vast grass-filled Susquehanna Flats, the circular area where the Susquehanna River meets the Bay, appeared unexpectedly healthy in aerial survey images made late last year.     The valuable Bay habitats seem to have survived fall 2011’s deluge of runoff and sediment.

Who can resist the water on a mild day?

January’s first Saturday afternoon was a beautiful time to be on the water. It was near 70 degrees, sunny, calm and the incoming tide was making up nicely. Drifting in my small skiff over a shell bottom at the mouth of the Magothy, I threaded a piece of worm on a size-two hook. The upper hook on my top and bottom rig already sported a small, wriggling bull minnow.