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Happy Neuter Year!

January $20-campaign makes ­forward thinking a bargain

The beginning of a new year is time for thinking ahead. The unfettered fertility of male animals is a direct cause of the some 45,000 cats and dogs euthanized each year in Maryland at a cost of millions of dollars.
    So if your pet is part of the problem, the time is right to get the problem fixed. This month, Rude Ranch’s Spay Spa & Neuter Nook, in Davidsonville, is offering 150 Happy Neuter Year sterilizations at the affordable price of $20.
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54 projects share $1.4 million

With losing weight the number one New Year’s resolution — and keeping fit and healthy number 5 — you’ll no doubt agree that the $1.4 million Marylanders just invested in trails is money well spent.
    The state’s $1.4 million-share of Federal Highway Department recreational trail spending will create or improve 54 trails from ocean to mountains in 2015.
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And the Winners Are ...

We’ve saved the best for last.
    That’s Best of the Bay, Bay Weekly’s 17th annual report on what, and who, gives you the most satisfaction in Chesapeake Country.
    I love this issue because of its scope.
    First, Bay Weekly’s Best of the Bay encompasses more than 200 ­categories ranging from Best Crab Soup, Best Overall Restaurant, Best Gift Shop, Best View and many more.
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After nearly 50 Christmases in the department store’s windows, he’s now part of my family’s tradition

A life-size Santa Claus — donned in authentic red velvet suit, black belt and patent leather boots with a full angel-hair-spun beard — stands by my living room window all year round.
    He’s too fragile a chapter of history to stuff away in a corner of my two-car garage.
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Our family visits make us ­reconcile good and evil
 

Once more this year, my family and I spent part of the Christmas season in Germany. The tradition began because of my husband Jonathan’s good memories of the year his family lived in Munich, when he was 10.

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DNR’s calendar makes your indoors out

With your 2014 calendar just about used up, what are you going to hang on the wall in 2015 to replace it?
    Maryland Department of Natural Resources’ 2015 calendar is a best bet for us whose lifestyles keep us inside looking at walls rather than out in Maryland’s beauty.
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Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center plays Santa to injured critters but needs your help

Dozens of raptors were among the thousands of animals rescued this year by the Orphaned Wildlife Rescue Center in Lusby.
    One stands out for her size and the relationship she formed with her rescuers.
    Big Bird, as she was called, was rescued from a farm in southern Maryland. A nesting mother with three babies and a mate in a nearby tree, she had a broken left wing. What caused her injuries was never learned.
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This time of year, even Congress takes a worldwide view

With Capitol Hill intractably divided, juggling the fallout of the midterm elections, the CIA Torture Report and local law enforcement controversy across the country, it seems an unlikely time to turn our attention abroad toward foreign aid.
    Yet that’s what Congress did.
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Fresh from the woods, we dug up more than we bargained for

The family agreed. This shapely 10-foot Norway spruce with beautifully spaced branches was our perfect Christmas tree. After Christmas, the living tree would find a new home in a corner of our half-acre lot.
    But this was an out-of-the-way farm, and the tree digger was unavailable. So we would have to wait a few days before we could take The Tree home.
    No problem. Christmas was four weeks away.
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How do we know if our oyster dollars are paying off?

Open any local newspaper these days, and you’ll probably read about the dollars we are pouring into restoring oysters. In writing a few myself, I pondered how we would cut through the hyperbole and verify, in a scientifically reliable way, whether the efforts were bearing fruit — or in this case, oysters.
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