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Articles by Sandra Olivetti Martin

If it’s right, the EPA needs to hear from us

This week we celebrate Maryland Day.    
    It’s a great thing to live in a state that knows its past and keeps it alive in legend, song, story and opportunity.
    Our feature story, Time Out from the March of Time, guides you to dozens of ways to experience segments of Maryland’s 380-year history, right in the places where history lives on.
    We’re also a state that puts great thought into our future. Smart Growth, renewable energy, restoring the Chesapeake are all on our agenda.
    With such good intentions, detailed in so many plans and agreements, I’d like to think we were getting our future right.
    But every good idea has opposition that calls it bad.
    And every step forward is countered by steps back.
    What’s a person to believe?
    Often, knowing what to believe takes science, analysis and judgment beyond our reach.
    So we take the word of others, forming our beliefs on faith.
    When I make that kind of a leap, I feel safer when I follow link by link along a strong chain of reasoning.
    That’s how I felt reading the Citizens Bay Agreement.
    Even though the Citizens Agreement calls the EPA’s 2014 draft Chesapeake Bay Agreement “fundamentally flawed.”
    That’s a conclusion I’d rather not reach. Now that the EPA has the authority — conferred by the president — to set standards and sanctions for all of us in the Bay watershed, I want us to get it right.
    I was initially willing to consider the bad news of fundamental flaws because of my faith in the integrity and expertise of the environmental leaders making the claim. (Even if they are all men.)
    The executive council making the charge includes former Maryland senators and Bay champions Gerald Winegrad and Bernie Fowler; former governor Parris Glendening; former congressman Wayne Gilchrest; Patuxent Riverkeeper Fred Tutman; Bay scientist Walter Boynton; Bay chronicler Tom Horton; and Bay gadfly Howard Ernst.
    The guys also did their homework, analyzing not only what was in the draft but also what was not. Indeed, all the major problems seem to be omissions.
    “Together with other fatal flaws, the omissions of polluted runoff from farms and stormwater and the failure to even mention the major threat of population growth and sprawling development, sadly makes the current draft a nothingburger,” said Winegrad.
    The Bay Agreement a nothingburger?
    It’s pretty easy to pick holes. We editors do it all the time. The rest of the job is coming up with fixes.
    The Citizens Plan proposed by this executive council and seeking signatures of readers like you and me proposes a 25-step action plan. The steps are grouped in six categories based on the EPA’s alleged omissions: 1. Significantly reduce farm runoff. 2. Control development. 3. ­Protect forests / Plant trees. 4. Upgrade septic systems. 5. Clean air. 6. Improve wastewater treatment plants.
    Will it make as much sense to you as it does to me? You won’t know till you read it: www.bayactionplan.com.
    I hope you’ll add that intellectual investment in our shared future to your celebration of Maryland Day. The Citizens Plan is brief enough to leave you plenty of time to go out and enjoy Maryland Day fun this weekend, when the weather forecast is good. It’s deep enough that it will give you plenty to think about whatever the weather.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Are you listening?

If the unusually chill nights of February and early March 2014 kept you fireside, you may have missed the first peeping of spring. Last weekend’s warming temperatures opened human ears, frog throats — or both. The peepers are calling from a wetland near you. If you haven’t heard them yet, you soon will.
    Those tiny frogs are but one of our amphibian harbingers of spring. Wetlands are home to a host of frogs and toads, creatures that not only signal the welcome news of warming weather but also “act as environmental indicators for factors that could negatively impact ecosystem and human health.”
    Amphibian’s “important role in the health of ecosystems,” adds Rachel Gauza, is one good reason to join in the preservation of the creatures. For they are endangered, with “one third of the world’s amphibian species currently facing the largest mass extinction event since the dinosaurs,” said the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ education and outreach coordinator.
    As frogs and toads awaken from estivation, the Association of Zoos and Aquariums’ FrogWatch USA goes to work.
    With our abundant wetlands, we of Chesapeake Country are ideally positioned to join the Watch. As citizen scientists in the cause, we sharpen our ears, spend a few precious minutes listening near wetlands and report what we hear.
    You’ll register your observation site and enter data on a new web platform developed with the National Geographic Society where you can see your results alongside those of volunteers throughout the country.
    “Seeing your observations reflected online in real time and comparing them to others adds a whole new element to what was traditionally an outdoors-only program,” says Shelly Grow, the Association’s director of Conservation Programs.
    If you love what you hear, you can go further. Maryland has only three FrogWatch chapters — in Howard County, Ellicott City and Frostburg University. Anne Arundel and Calvert county are waiting for you.
    Start with learning more about FrogWatch USA at www.aza.org/frogwatch.
    Register for training at the Smithsonian National Zoo on Sunday March 16, April 6 or April 20. All training programs run from 3 to 6pm: neffm@si.edu.
    Get a preview of frog calls www.dnr.state.md.us/wildlife/Plants_Wildlife/herps/anura/fieldguide_OrderAnura.asp.

Read on; dreaming is ageless

For generations of kids, summer was what you wrote home about. For the week or two of camp — even the whole expansive summer for the lucky ones who lived on the water or traded inland homes for once fashionable boarding houses — you might as well have been in heaven, were it not for the sea nettles.
    Those times have never ended.
    This week, Bay Weekly shows you how, where and when the kids in your life can continue the tradition. With or without jellyfish.
    We created this week’s Summer Camps Guide in the spirit of seed catalogues. Whether you plant a garden or not, you can enjoy seed catalogues for beauty and variety. Whether you have kids or not, you can romp through these camps for fun, as writer Michelle Steel and I have, savoring the experience of armchair camping.
    It’s so readable that we’ve restructured this week’s paper so the Guide can be pulled out for future reference. Calendar has moved up to the front of the paper to accommodate it. Find Sporting Life, Bay Gardener and Sky Watch in the back of this week’s paper.
    Have kids? Read with them and dream. There’s so much to be made of this summer that you’ll wish you were the kid instead of the parent. Kids from toddlers to teens can learn to swim, sail and paddle; ride a horse or act like an Oscar winner; climb a rock wall, row a boat, sing a song or create a masterpiece. You can sharpen your brain, build your muscles or strengthen your game — in most any sport. You can train with midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy or go to college early at Anne Arundel Community College or the College of Southern Maryland. Field trips all over Chesapeake Country and beyond add to the fun at many camps.
    If you’re in the right age range, you can share in the fun no matter what your abilities or disabilities. We’ve made special effort to include camps for every taste and person.
    Wherever you live, you’ll find many choices within your commuting circle — on the Bay, on rivers and creeks, at yacht clubs and boat docks, in pools and at beaches, in parks and recreation centers and schools public, private and specialty. Our Camp Guide is organized by geography, so your dreams don’t take you too far from reality. A few camps offer bus service from local elementary schools; with those you can widen your dreamscape.
    Most of our listings are day camps, ranging from half to full days. But don’t shorten your dreams. You’ll also find overnight camps and camps offering both options.
    We’ve written each listing as a tempting overview. For prices and full details, check the camps’ websites. Some, especially city and county parks and recreation camps, are surprisingly affordable. One — Game Plan Camp sponsored by Mount Zion United Methodist and other Southern Anne Arundel County churches  — is free. For others, you’ll have to break open the piggy bank.
    In making this Camp Guide, we’ve tried to turn every stone. No doubt we’ve missed some; let us know for our Last-Minute Summer Camp Guide in May — for all who aren’t early birds.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Put in the right hole, our money — and effort — makes a difference.

As winter hangs on like a bad cold, my hibernating nature has sought no bigger decision than whether to devote the 9pm Sunday hour to Downton Abbey or True Detective.
    Yet in the wider world, big stuff — actual transformative change — is going on. So I’ve poked my head out of the burrow to take a look.
    Bob Melamud — who doesn’t make hardship weather a stay-home-from-work excuse — reports this week on promising news on oyster restoration. He tells us that findings in Florida and Virginia suggest we’ll get results from at least some of the money Maryland has poured into the Bay to restore our hard-working, many-skilled native oyster.
    His subject in “Maryland’s $6 Million Shell Pile” is the use of fossilized oyster shell to sustain new generations of oysters — not to mention their many lively associates — in Harris Creek on the Eastern Shore.
    Harris Creek is one piece in a big picture. An oyster sanctuary, it’s part of the 25 percent of Maryland’s productive oyster bottom now set aside for oysters to grow for the Bay’s sake rather than for harvest. Sanctuaries, too, are part of a bigger picture of oyster restoration.
    In other parts of the picture, people are making plans for native oysters’ future, a horizon we’d about given up on just a few years ago. Raising oyster seed. Raising oysters from seed on their piers to stock sanctuaries like Harris Creek or in their own communities’ waterways. Collecting empty oyster shell from packing houses and restaurants.
    And learning how to farm oysters as aquaculturists, helping create a new oyster economy and new oyster appetites while taking the pressure off wild oysters and adding their filtering power to cleaning up the Bay.
    All those separate actions and many others are painting a rosier oyster picture than we’ve seen in many years. Action by action, they’re adding up to the magic of transformative change, in economy and ecology. 
    It’s about time, as well, for reporting some good news about Maryland’s Watershed Protection and Restoration Program. All the bad-mouthing we’ve heard makes the Rain Tax seem like the worst thing that’s happened since the Flush Tax.
    Let’s hope we’re so lucky. Because of the dedicated funding source affectionately known as the Flush Tax, we’re working house by house and water purification plant by plant to keep toilet water out of the Bay.
    Under the Watershed Protection and Restoration Program, we take responsibility for our hard places — roofs and driveways and streets — by paying our share to reduce their bad effects on the Bay.
    County Executive Laura Neuman — who on taking office promptly vetoed the Anne Arundel County Council’s decision on how to make the plan work — is now putting our share of the fee to work by hiring the right man for the job. At South River Federation, Erik Michelsen captured stormwater in creative ways all over his watershed. Now his expertise is benefitting us countywide.
    At the same time, Neuman’s creating an advisory Stormwater Fee Committee of citizens “to have a seat at the table on issues that affect them.” That’s the best place we can be, and I’m rooting for my neighbor Mike Brewer, an environmentalist in practice and policy, to take one of those seats.
    Like restoring oysters and improving water purification, holding back the polluting torrent of stormwater is part of preserving our future. Don’t believe the naysayers. Making a difference is up to us, and we’re doing it.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Every love story has to start somewhere

Love is a quest we all have in common.
    But where to find it? Ah, that’s the question.
    Every story in Bay Weekly’s now 21-year-old annual Valentine’s Day perusal of life and literature’s great theme has touched on that question.
    Don’t look to this year’s pair of love stories to break the rule.
    The quest is the adventure of “Winking at Mr. Darcy,” pseudonymous writer Liz Bennet’s chronicle of her one-month trial of Match.com.
    Our second, “For Better through Worse,” is a story of love’s promise fulfilled. In it, writer Marilyn
Recknor chronicles the indomitable love of Mike Kinnahan for Debbie Gurley in their 16-year shared battle with her metastatic breast cancer. You’ll learn in passing, however, that they met at a support group for people newly divorced.
    For love to flower, disparate paths have got to cross. The intersection is often a point of shared interest — even obligation. The high school or college campus. The circle of friends. The church group. Best of all, a wedding.
    Nowadays, love’s intoxication pushes many seekers of love into the roulette of electronic matchmaking.
    Are the odds better? Who knows? Stories of matches made online are regular reading in the wedding pages of The Washington Post and New York Times. Early in this century, Bay Weekly’s Louis Llovio found Petra online, beginning a still-playing love story [www.bayweekly.com/old-site/year04/issuexii07/leadxii07.html].
    Those, of course, are only the successes. Our Liz Bennet is still looking for her Mr. Darcy.
    Maybe she needs to spend more time in bars.

Love over Cocktails
    Bars are where my story begins.
    Mother was a waitress in the Mark Twain Hotel in St. Louis when Dad made dropping by his routine. “Marry him,” her immigrant mother advised. “He’ll take good care of you.”
    They were married in a priest’s parlor and feted by Grandmother Olivetti with good Italian cooking and homemade wine. Their honeymoon was a car trip to New York, with a rider along to pay for gas. They’d found his ride-wanted note posted on a bus-station bulletin board. “This was 1941,” Mother explained. “And your father was like that.”
    For the next quarter-century, they made their lives and living in bars. When Dad served a couple of years in the Navy, Mother earned enough in the free-spending war economy to shuttle between St. Louis and Key West, where Dad spent an easy war as a shore patrolman. At the same time, she was supporting me and her mother- and grandmother-in-law. Some leverage from the GI Bill and a small inheritance helped them buy the Stymie Club in 1948 or ’49. Business was good, if marriage wasn’t.
    Divorced, they stayed business partners. At the Stymie or the other bars they and their crowd frequented, both met a succession of new partners, including a spouse or three.
    Some of those years we lived upstairs above the Stymie, a supper club and cocktail lounge, and I grew up with my eyes and ears open. Customers were regulars. The same small-businessmen who took a long drinking lunch every day stayed for afternoon cards and came back for dinner, with their family if they still had one. In the off-season, pro-football players doubled as bartenders, and the same winsome women with off-the-shoulder dresses and good perfume sat at the bar every night. The crowd was young — 20s to maybe 50 — and energy was high and hot and infectious, though I didn’t recognize the hormones at the time. I saw them all fall in and out of love, and I listened in on the women’s stories of intoxication, hope and broken hearts.
    Mother dated the handsome golf pro with Robert-Wagner hair but married the ex-Marine who had the looks and build of Burt Lancaster in From Here to Eternity.
    Dad had so many girlfriends he bought Christmas presents — one year it was alligator purses and shoes — in threes. But he fell hook, line and sinker for the hotel manicurist who happened in one night. “I saw him fall,” Mother said. “He was like a puppy dog.” That was not a description that would have otherwise suited my father. That marriage lasted. Mother’s didn’t.
    Mother’s great love, a short and stocky man she never married, had roots in those days. So did her third husband, “a clean old man” she accepted and took fierce care of after she’d given up hope of the kind of love that lights your fire.
    I never fell in love in our supper club and cocktail lounge. But my mother gave me my first wedding reception there. A month later, the Stymie Club closed.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

Bay Weekly’s 17th annual Mid-Winter Movie Escape will see you through

A lot about February makes a person want to nestle with a good movie.
    The groundhog’s advice is good: Burrow deep, leaving temperamental winter to howl through its moods. In the era of Netflix, successor to Blockbuster, we enjoy our escapism in the comfort of home. Pisces stands between us and spring, and what can we expect from the winter water sign of the Zodiac but the full spectrum of wintry mix delivered in wet sheets of rain, bullets of hail, ice showers of sleet and feet of snow? Bring on the movies! Hence our 17th annual Mid-Winter Movie Escape.
    You won’t lose yourself entirely because this year’s movies are tagged to Dates to Remember. February 6, when the issue hits the streets, is the date the great game of Monopoly came into play in the year 1935. Hence three of this year’s movies — The ­Seventh Seal, Clue and Jumanji — feature great games, under the heading Do Not Pass Go.
    February 7 is opening day for the Olympics in Sochi, Russia. When your television is not tuned to the winter games, you can Go for Gold with three movies in the Olympic spirit: The Cutting Edge, Miracle and Cool Runnings.
    A popular day, February 6 was also wedding day for Beach Boy Brian Wilson. This year’s Good Vibrations category warms you up for Valentine’s Day with a heart-wringing trio of love stories: Casablanca, The Painted Veil and WALL•E.
    The little month of February has room for a couple more commemorations. We bow to black history month with three movies honoring the black experience: Carmen Jones, In the Heat of the Night and Love & Basketball.
    February is our month of presidents, too. The Buck Stops Here with three presidential movies: Dave, The American President and The Contender.
    Our final category remembers 2014 as the centennial of the beginning of World War I, the war to end all wars. The Great War has inspired great movies. Our three picks: Wings, The African Queen and Joyeux Noel.
    To guarantee you variety in taste as well as theme, the Mid-Winter Movie Escape is the work of no one person. Assisting movie critic Diana Beechener were film fans Dotty Doherty, J. Alex Knoll, Bob Melamud, Marilyn ­Recknor, Elisavietta Ritchie and Heidi Schmidt.
    As February is tough on fishing, Sporting Life columnist Dennis Doyle has joined in the fun, with recommendations for four fine fishing movies to watch when you can’t wet your own line: Captains Courageous, To Have and Have Not, The Old Man and the Sea and Salmon Fishing in Yemen.
    We’ve given you three weeks’ worth of movies to help you wait out winter. But as we all know, the groundhog promises six — not three — more weeks of winter. We hope we inspire you to do us one or two better in each category. Watchers all, writers and readers are waiting for you to help us fill out our winter nights. Send your picks to editor@bayweekly.com.
    For my Mid-Winter Movie Escape, I’ve set up a nest of pillows and blankets close enough to the fireplace to singe me, and likely the dog and cat, too. Left to my own devices, I’d not be going any place soon.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

The only time zone big enough for Season’s Bounty in Chesapeake Country

Don’t you love it when you finally find a use for some of the stuff you learned in school?
    We liberal arts majors at St. Louis University, a Jesuit school, had to minor in philosophy, and most of those 18 hours of theoretic thinking buzzed right by me. Yet here I am, reveling in my recent illumination of a new way to understand time, that favorite subject of philosophers. For I’ve realized that I am a denizen of The Eternal Now.
    Think of The Eternal Now as a time zone that works like a really big purse: You can put everything you want into it, and there’s always room for more. The capacity of The Eternal Now expands endlessly, no matter what you’re doing or how much more you add to your program —until you look at the clock.
    Then panic ensues, for you may find your Now is finished before you ever got around to your original purpose. Avoid that sorry state simply by turning your back to clocks — or their backs to you.
    The Eternal Now is a good zone to live in as we enter the busiest weeks of the year. For no other time zone — even vacation time — is capable of stretching far, long and wide enough to accommodate all you want to do these days.
    On the busiest day of the busiest week, this Saturday, December 7, I’m cramming a dozen stops into the elastic expansiveness of my Eternal Now.
    I promise to begin the day at the gym because we’ve got to skip the Jingle Bell Runs, both in Solomons and Annapolis.
    From there it’s my winter citrus pickup from the Lothian Ruritans, just a few miles north of my house at Lothian Middle School. Afterward, I’ll have time to stop by the Bulldawg Holiday Bazaar at Southern High School and the London Towne Craft Show before I dash up to Annapolis for some holiday party preparation. Out of the salon, I’ll rush to Eastport Gallery’s Holiday Group Show and SoFo Holiday Festivities at the Village Green Shops at South Cherry Grove.
    Even in The Eternal Now, keeping up with December 7’s variety takes speed. So I’ll have to forego all the greens crafts I’d love to spend hours doing at American Chestnut Land Trust, Jefferson Patterson Park and Museum, Jug Bay and Willow Oak Flower and Herb Farm.
    Next it’s speeding — but within the legal limit — down to North Beach for the town’s fabulous Christmas Parade. Alas, I’ll be watching — and just the last half — rather than parading this year, which means missing half the fun. But even half is very good.
    Then it’s over to the Christmas Open House at ­Artworks@7th, where both art and refreshments — created by artist Julia Musengo — are high quality. Next begins my annual open house tour of Calvert antique shops at Nice & Fleazy and Chesapeake Antiques.
    Heading south, I’ll visit my animal and human friends at the Calvert Animal Welfare League Holiday Open House before dashing into the Calvert Historical Society Open House at Linden for a spot of history. Then it’s into CalvART for a spell of shopping at the Small Works Holiday Show.
    You work up an appetite living in The Eternal Now, so it’s lucky for me Trinity United Methodist Church’s 49th annual oyster and ham dinner lasts all afternoon.
    Blissfully full, I’ll have to head back north — no Lusby Christmas tree lighting for me this year, alas, and no tea at Historic London Town. I’ve got a big dinner date in D.C. at 6:30. Still, I’ve got time to drop by Medart Gallery’s open house in Dunkirk to hear Bill Resnick while meeting artists Paul McGehee — A Virginia Bay lover who does wonderful paintings and drawings of familiar people and places — and Calvert County’s Robert Fiacco, who’ll be showing lots of new oils on canvas, including his specialty, naval aviation and lighthouses.
    Friendship is right on my way home, so I’ll get to poke my head into Friendship Antiques and Vintage Collectibles’ Open House. Of course I’ll dart across the street for a quick browse in one of my favorite neighborhood places, The Magnolia Shoppe.
    Sunday, December 8 is almost as full, so it’s a good thing The Eternal Now starts anew every morning, noon and night. Among other things, I’m looking forward on Sunday to making my first visit to Bayside History Museum’s new home to see what curator Grace Mary Brady tells me is its “vastly expanded collection.”
    Then comes a whole wonderful new week of holiday opportunities. You’ll fit it all in if you join me in The Eternal Now. Chart your timeless path long-range in Bay Weekly’s Season’s Bounty and a week at a time in 8 Days a Week.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher; editor@bayweekly.com

This weekend, meet author Gary Pendleton and the artists he covers

We English speakers lack words for what the French call plein air painting, the Italians al fresco and Spanish speakers al aire libre.
    But fresh air painters we’ve got aplenty, as Gary Pendleton’s new book 100 Plein Air Painters of the Mid-Atlantic lavishly illustrates.
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Maryland bears and hunters coexist

Maryland is a pretty wild place, and getting wilder all the time. Foxes are joining deer, groundhogs, opossums, raccoons and squirrels as regular neighborhood families; skunks and coyotes are occasional visitors.
    Lest black bears rejoin the list of wildlife returning to their original statewide range, some 1,100 hunters stalked them, killing 69, in Allegany and Garrett counties from October 20 to 23.
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Before you vote them in, read their words on the Bay
 

How do you use the Bay, and what will you do to keep this great resource alive and well?


District 27 State Senate
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