view counter

Articles by All

Bay Weekly’s All-Age Guide to Finding the Help You Need

In this issue, we haven’t told you quite everything you need to know to spring into your homestead’s seasonal renewal. For that inadequacy, you will be glad. Anymore than we’re offering would make you wish for assisted living before your time.
    Why, come to think of it, should assisted living be reserved for the very old and infirm? Most of us need assisted living nowadays, when our work for our livings is so often demanding plus far from home. At the Martin-Lambrecht household, for example, we fit in time for chores or projects — seldom both. So there’s always far more that needs to get done than does get done.
    Is it any different at your house? I bet not, unless you’re like my efficient neighbor whose telecommuting schedule lets him do his paid job and manage all sorts of masterful home-improvement projects. Of course you need skill as well as time to be so self-sufficient.
    For the rest of us, assisted living is a generous concept affording permission to hire out chores and projects, inside and out, that can be better done by experts than ourselves.
    So in this week’s paper, you’ll find not only problems but also solutions.
    The Bay Gardener gives us three full months of advice for planting, pruning and lawn care. I promise you, there are a lot of projects in his generous offering. Read him to know what to do, when and how. Then you’ll have the knowledge to do your favorite projects yourself, and you’ll know what questions to ask and parameters to set for the projects you hire out. In this very same Bay Weekly, you’ll find experts to hire.
    Home is just as demanding as garden competing for your precious time. On these scores, too, we’ve called in the experts with assistance on chores and projects from house cleaning to window washing, air cooling and cleaning, plumbing and water purification, painting and roofing, furnishing and accessorizing, selling your old home and buying a new one.
    Their expert assistance gives you more time for living.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Spring’s sirens are sounding

The chirping call of spring peepers, Pseudacris crucifer, is my favorite sound of spring. Perhaps it was my upbringing in swampy Louisiana that draws me to frog songs. I often find myself rolling down the windows as I drive home along Muddy Creek Road in southern Anne Arundel County to catch a wave of springtime from the marshes and wetlands along the road.
    The chorus of these tiny frogs is one of our first harbingers of warmer temperatures and longer days. You’ll hear them long before spring’s official arrival.
    “It’s that time of the year, getting a little warmer,” says DNR’s Glenn Therres. “We heard them a couple of weeks ago. Then the cold front quieted them down. Now they’re itching to jump out and start singing.”
    Peepers spend the winter in hibernation, to the point of being frozen alive. Surprisingly, they can survive up to a week after being frozen. Their blood contains a biological antifreeze that prevents immediate death. Peepers emerge from hibernation once temperatures being their annual rise.
    The song we hear is the males’ inflating their vocal sacs to attract the ladies. Biologists think the females prefer the loudest singers. Their calls have been compared to a refrain of sleigh bells, and that’s music to my ears.
    While they are easy to hear, I can’t recall seeing a spring peeper. Trying to sneak up on one is near impossible as this species is primed to jump for its life.
    These high-pitched amphibians are tiny brownish-yellow, olive or gray frogs with a dark X on their back. They are also small; one can fit on a fingertip.
    “Listen and look for them in shallow-water ponds without fish; otherwise tadpoles become fish bait,” Therres advises. “They show up in wet depressions in woods and fields, sediment ponds, in almost any shallow body of water that persists for a couple of months.”
    After Romeo has wooed his Juliet, tadpoles emerge in two to three weeks, meaning more peepers to sing us into next spring.
    They are probably Maryland’s most common frog species, Therres says, “and definitely the most vocal.”

This remake is doomed by its very concept; transforming the characters from cartoons into actual people kills the magic


The original it isn’t

Belle (Emma Watson: Regression) is stifled in her provincial French town. She’s smart, progressive and inventive. The village is repressive, and the villagers mock her. Only the town meathead Gaston (Luke Evans: The Girl on the Train) seems to appreciate Belle, though she repeatedly rejects his offers of marriage.
    Belle tries to lose herself in books. But when her father Maurice (Kevin Kline: Bob’s Burgers) is kidnapped by a horrible Beast (Dan Stevens: Legion), Belle volunteers to take his place.
    Instead of life in captivity in a drafty dungeon, Belle is received into a lavish castle and treated as a cherished guest. The Beast and castle staff are former humans cursed by an enchantress angered at the Beast’s cruelty. To break the spell, he must earn the love of a woman. Belle is their hope, but she isn’t enamored with the loud and angry Beast who holds her prisoner.
    Can the Beast learn to look past his ego? Can Belle learn to look beneath the surface? Why would Disney remake its best film?
    The answer to the last question is profit. Disney will make a bundle of money on this remake of the 1991 classic, the first animated movie to earn a Best Picture nomination at the Academy Awards. In adapting the film to live action, director Bill Condon (Mr. Holmes) loses much of the charm that made the original wonderful.
    The remake is doomed by its very concept. Transforming the characters from cartoons into actual people removes the fantasy, and some of the silliness, so that the brutal fight between Beast and Gaston takes a much darker, scarier tone. The cartoon didn’t reference death by plague (or show its welts), and it certainly didn’t hint that villainous Gaston was suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder due to his time in the war.
    Belle adds another problem. Watson is certainly a beauty, and looks lovely spinning in her outfits, but as Belle she’s woefully miscast. She’s a poor singer whose voice is clearly autotuned to the right notes. Her performance, too, is surprisingly one-note. Belle is full of bluster rather than wonder and curiosity. Nor does she make a convincing connection with the Beast.
    The hero who saves every scene he’s in is Gaston. As the villain jock who hounds Belle for a date, Evans seems to be the only actor who understands the tone of the tale. His Gaston is hilariously vain and frighteningly violent, making him the most compelling and complex character in the movie. He can also sing.
    Many small viewers cried several times, so make sure your child is prepared for scary creatures, loud fights and violence before you buy a ticket.

Poor Musical • PG • 129 mins.

Allen Delaney takes second place

This is our lucky week. Allen Delaney is back in fine form.
    If you’re a recent Bay Weekly reader, you may not know what you’ve been missing. Delaney’s recent contributions have been brief, semi-serious dispatches. But in his Bay Weekly heyday — 2002 to 2009 — he could make his readers fall from their chairs and burst into tears — all the results of the felonious assault of laughter.
    Delaney’s comic alter-ego was a heavy-handed fellow, bulling around in various china shops and always dipping at least one toe over the edge of propriety. This persona would be downright obnoxious in real life, but in print Delaney kept him at safe distance. He also sweetened him with irony, boomeranging the joke back on its teller. Maybe — or maybe not — he knew he’d been hit. Self-awareness wasn’t a big virtue with him.
    Every year for a while there, Allen Delaney, Block Party Chairman, would report on Another Holiday Block Party. Typically, in the form of public letters of apology, his dispatches began something like this:
    I would like to apologize to the Pine Lake community for the mishap that occurred during the annual block party. As you know, the Block Party Committee’s motto has always been Safety First, Hopefully, which is why we held the Fried Turkey Cook-off near the lakefront.
    Delaney was not the odd man out in his skewed version of life in Chesapeake Country and, occasionally, our nation’s capital.
    In Keep Your Shirt On [www.tinyurl.com/shirton] he advised fellow suburban fellows that topless mowing was a civic offense.
    In Confessions of a Duck Captain [www.tinyurl.com/duckcaptain], he commented on passengers as well as captain.
    Over the years in Bay Weekly, Allen Delaney has given me a boatload of belly laughs, from crab feast antics to domestic hi-jinks, wrote fan M.L. Faunce.
    But his voyage to become a captain of a D.C. Duck tops them all. This man is a sea-faring psychoanalyst of the first order. He may be a good captain, docking skills notwithstanding, but as a humorist and observer of human habits both on land and water, he is unexcelled. I can’t wait for his next career move, which I trust will have a sequel in Bay Weekly.
    Delaney’s multiple new maritime careers — from certified Coast Guard captain to swimming instructor — kept him busier than his old work, sitting at a computer in a converted women’s locker room. You couldn’t even pick up a radio station down there. It was time to get out, he wrote. Over nearly a decade in the same, windowless space, Delaney’s alter-ego had been the escape artist. Freeing the man put the comedian out of business — at least in print.
    Now disturbed Delaney is on the loose again.
    He returns to our pages this week, at the approach of April Fool’s Day, to instruct on practical jokes.
    In case you didn’t know, there are four rules for a funny practical joke. It must be funny to others, not necessarily the victim. (If the victim finds it funny, all the better.) It must be clever. It cannot harm anyone or anything. It does not involve explosives.
    Enjoy Delaney’s full exemplification of the practical joke in this week’s paper. But please do not try it at home.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com

Proper preparation prevents poor performance

You can never trust Maryland’s March weather. Another certainty is the march of time, which puts us only a couple of weeks from Trophy Rockfish Season, opening April 15. Cold or warm, snow, sleet, rain or sun, the striper season is fast arriving.
    So don’t make opening day your first day on the water. I take at least a week for a shakedown cruise or two plus scouting trips to get ready. That means now is the time to get going.
    My first act of preparation is to remove all my reels from their rods and examine them. Over a long winter, grease and oil can congeal, making the mechanical functioning of the reel stiff and uneven. This can also be true of drag operation. Check each reel and correct any problems.

The Scoop on Line
    Next I take all the reels spooled with mono to a sporting store and have the line replaced. The trophy season brings us into contact with the biggest rockfish of the year. Some of these guys will top 50 pounds. If this is my season to hook a fish of that size, I don’t intend to handicap myself with a line that may have been dragged across rough bridge piers, jetty rocks or pilings last year.
    I prefer to use fluoro-coated monofilament lines. There are all sorts of scientific explanations for fluoro’s superiority, from its invisibility to its superior hardness. I don’t believe any of them. If I can see the line in the water, it’s not invisible; nor will a harder finish keep a line from parting when a 30-pounder wraps you around a barnacle-encrusted piling and keeps on going.
    What I do believe is the test results of an old experiment. Berkeley Fishing Line Company strung a number of samples of mono- and fluoro- lines in a massive aquarium populated with large fish. The purpose: to count the number of times fish bumped into the mono lines vs. the flouro lines. The results counted twice as many collisions with fluoro as with mono.
    I’ve also found on my own when chumming that I can still catch fish with fluoro lines when the tidal current slows or stops. I rarely can get rockfish to bite in those situations with mono, and almost never with braid.

Tie a New Knot
    The next critical item on my opening day list is to cut off all knots in all lines and leaders and retie each one — carefully. If you wait till you’re on the water, the temptation to immediately begin fishing will be too great. Broken knots are the number one cause of losing big fish. A knot tied sometime last season is a prime candidate for failure.

Recharge Your Batteries
    You’ll also want to recharge all marine batteries. Then check them again the next day. Winter temperatures can be hard on battery cells. They may briefly charge to full capacity, but the faulty ones will lose that charge rapidly. Checking your batteries 24 hours after a full charge should identify the weak ones and save you from getting stranded out in the middle of the Bay.

If only the people were as interesting as the monsters

Bill Randa (John Goodman: Patriots Day) believes in monsters. Now he’s got the funding to prove it. Joining the Vietnam War-era exploration of an uncharted island in the Pacific are geologists, biologists and former S.A.S. officer James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston: The Night Manager). Anti-war photographer (Brie Larson: Room) manages to crash the top-secret mission, for no apparent reason. Completing the company is a helicopter platoon led by Col. Packard (Samuel L. Jackson: xXx: Return of Xander Cage), slightly deranged from fighting a long, bloody and unpopular war.
    Supporting the expedition are high-tech equipment, impressive firepower and equipment to maintain an island camp for several days. They’re prepared to take samples, acquire data and bring anything valuable back for the government.
    What they’re not prepared for is a 30-plus-foot gorilla that knocks helicopters out of the air like they’re mosquitos and a host of otherworldly wildlife.
    Nor are the survivors prepared for Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly: Sing), a WWII fighter pilot who’s been living on the island since crashing there in the 1940s. Marlow explains that Kong isn’t a monster but a protector keeping the people of the island and the earth safe from real monsters.
    With its amazing creatures and fun action sequences Kong: Skull Island is a beautiful example of the power of special effects. Director Jordan Vogt-Roberts (You’re the Worst) supplies all the necessities for a monster movie: Impressive creature, plenty of cannon fodder, one handsome male lead to tell everyone what to do and a blonde woman for whom both ape and men fall.
    The humans have less to offer.
    As cannon fodder the soldiers provide more chemistry and interest than the leads. Hiddleston must have been the only square-jawed personage walking past the studio during casting. He spends most of his screen time posing majestically while action happens around him. As his leading lady, Oscar-winner Larson has even less to do. Reilly’s castaway Marlow is the exception, with a performance that’s both entertaining and emotionally resonant.
    All is not lost, however. The creatures of Skull Island are wonderful. Kong (performed by Toby Kebbell) is an impressive, stoic warrior with a face far more expressive than anything these humans show us. He is joined by frightening toothy lizards and many more bizarre critters, including a giant spider that has the audience squirming.

Fair Action • PG-13 • 120 mins.

White perch make good sport and better eating

March brings a springtime treasure that almost makes up for its treacherous weather: white perch. These tasty fish have just begun to show up in the creeks, though the winter storm that tormented the Northeast coast might delay the bulk of their numbers.
    A close cousin of the striped bass, white perch (Marone americana) are the most numerous fish in the Tidewater as well as the species most often caught by recreational anglers. They can reach 18 inches in length, but due to Maryland’s largely unregulated commercial netting in the Chesapeake, not many taken by hook and line are over 10 inches.
    The largest white perch on record anywhere was caught in 2012 in a Virginia private pond by Beau McLaughlin of Virginia Beach. It weighed three pounds two ounces and measured 17 ¾ inches. The previous record of three pounds one ounce was taken in 1995. The current record for the Chesapeake is two pounds 10 ounces.
    Living 15 or more years, white perch is a particularly prolific species. The male fish move upstream toward fresh water and await the arrival of females. The females arrive next, usually on an incoming tide, and move into the warmer shallows when they feel the urge to spawn. Each gravid female produces 150,000 or more eggs as she releases her roe in stages in tributary headwaters over one to three weeks from mid-March through May. The males follow, broadcasting their milt over the roe. The eggs will hatch out in one to six days. Fingerlings remain in the shelter of the headwaters for a year or two before descending to bigger Bay waters.
    Finally spent of eggs, the females return downstream to Bay waters while the males stay on station until the females stop arriving. After the spawn has been completed. The fish then regroup and move out to their preferred haunts. Some gather near the Bay shorelines or over shell bottom flats in about 10 to 15 feet of water, others prefer moving back into the estuaries in two- to five-foot depths.
    Fishing for white perch in the springtime is generally a shallow-water experience. A light-action spin rod with six-pound test mono is the optimum tackle. Tipped with a small, weighted casting bobber and a shad dart, a grass shrimp, a minnow or a piece of worm as enticement, the rig is cast out from the shoreline and worked back in a slow, twitching motion.
    When fishing from a boat, target shallow shorelines during the flood tide, particularly areas near submerged brush, fallen trees, rocky edges and around docks or bulkheads. As low tide approaches, the fish tend to retreat to the deeper water. Then a top-and-bottom rig with a one-ounce sinker is a better producer for both shore and boat anglers.
    There is no minimum size nor possession limit for white perch, but a fish much under nine inches lacks enough meat to warrant harvesting.
    Their table quality is unequaled, whether baked, broiled, fried whole or filleted, rolled in panko and crisped in hot peanut oil. If you haven’t tried them, you’re missing out on a Bay treasure.

Due date gets earlier year by year

On the first day, he soars through the air in a rollercoaster dance, weaving the sky with his fish flight: the dance of courtship. On the second day, she is with him, perched comfortably in their solitary tower. The osprey have returned to Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary. This year’s return date was February 22.
    Isn’t that early? Don’t osprey usually arrive after St. Patrick’s Day?
    Not so, explains Greg Kearns, veteran naturalist at Patuxent River Park, across the river from Jug Bay. This year’s date is a reinforcing statistic in the steady, downward trend of the last 30 years. Just about every year, osprey have arrived earlier than the year before.
    Kearns may have the perfect explanation for this trend.
    “Birds are an ecological litmus paper,” said famous naturalist Roger Tory Peterson. Like those little color-changing strips for testing pH, bird behavior is a prime indicator of our changing environment.
    Osprey, in particular, are key adaptors. “They’ve been here for the last two to five million years, and they’ll likely still be here after we’re gone,” Kearns says. They know when it is the right time to soar on back to their summer stays. As our winters become warmer, the birds arrive earlier.
    And you don’t need to be concerned if winter weather returns for a few days. Osprey can withstand the cold, and their key food source, fish, have already begun spawning over this year’s warm winter months.
    To spot your first osprey of the year, head to the water. About 85 percent of the birds, recognizable by their brown and white plumage, nest in constructed towers close to docks and beaches.
    You’ll see them until late September, when they head back south.

Hoe them out and bury them — or eat them

Winter weeds have loved mild winter we’ve been having. Annual bluegrass, cardamine, chickweed, henbit and mares-tale, to name a few, are twice the size they were this time last year. Unless you eradicate them now, they are likely to cover the ground by the time you’re ready for planting. They may already be flowering and producing an abundance of seeds.
    Attack them without chemicals with a hoe or pull them out of the ground. Then collect them and bury them deep in your compost bin. If you leave them lying, they will most likely take root and resume growth. These cold-tolerant weeds can remain alive and capable of rooting even if they are all turned upside down. Their fibrous roots will retain sufficient soil to keep them moist and growing and the stems that will come in contact with the ground can form roots.
    Weeds are survivors, determined to thrive and reproduce.
    You can also eat them. Add some snap to your salad with cadamine. Common chickweed has a very mild lettuce flavor. Dandelions are quite mild providing there are no flower buds forming on the plants. Wild mustard should now be ready to be harvest, adding zest to any salad. If you like a vinegar taste, add a little oxalis to the salad blend.


No Sun, No Fruit

Q    We are hoping you can help us with a problem in a fruit orchard. The trees in question are Malus Spartan, Prunus armenica Harlayne, Prunus persica Red Haven
    They were planted about five years ago. They initially produce fruit early in the season, but the fruit ­doesn’t mature. At first the problem was assumed to be birds or other pests, but we’ve tried various bird barriers and still no luck. No amendments have been made to the soil recently. I know we don’t have a lot of information to offer, but perhaps you could provide some initial thoughts about what we should explore?
     Does it look to you like the trees are too crowded with underplanting? Or perhaps the surrounding trees are shading them out? Would it be recommended to move the trees to a different location?

A    You are trying to grow fruit trees under crowded conditions and in partial shade. Also the trees do not appear to have been properly pruned to allow sunlight to penetrate the canopy, which is necessary for fruit to ripen. Fruit trees must be grow only in full sun, and they must be pruned properly for the fruit to be exposed to a certain amount of direct sunlight for ripening.


Ask The Bay Gardener your questions at DR.FRGouin@gmail.com. Please include your name and address.

Whatever the weather, we want to know where Bay Weekly takes you

Seems like we’ve gone through a whole year since we last met here.
    In weather ways, we have. Tuesday through Thursday in both the first two weeks of March brought spring warmth, with temperatures in the 60s and 70s. Last Thursday, March 9, was so warm we had to roll up our sleeves. March 14 brought ice. Now we’re back where we should have been in February, except that nine of that short month’s 28 days anticipated spring with temperatures above 60. Don’t look for balmy days again until the end of the month or beyond.
    With one exception, that is. The weather gods have agreed to bless Maryland Day, Friday March 25, with balmy weather. We’re grateful, because the annually celebrated anniversary of the landing of Maryland’s first permanent colonists in 1634 brings us a weekend full of good things to do, many out of doors. It’s a time so rich, and so rewarding, that we’re pledging good weather and giving you a week’s notice so you can mark your calendar. Plan ahead now, and I’ll see you then to celebrate Maryland history.
    Where will Bay Weekly take you this week?
    With St. Patrick’s Day on Friday, need I ask? I’m betting you’ll be eating green, listening green and drinking green, from Irish beer to Irish whiskey to Irish coffee. Easy to do if you follow 8 Days a Week to the Irish restaurants’ celebration. I’m hoping you’ll send me photos and share the highlights.
    As for eating in season, this week you’ll read Bob Melamud’s corn-your-own beef recipe. I got the story early, so mine is in the brine. I’ll let you know how it compares to that highly seasonal commodity store-bought corned beef. Growing up in a Jewish neighborhood, I ate corned beef sandwiches all year long; with Bob’s recipe, I plan to revive that old habit. The next step, he tells me, is homemade pastrami; I’ll be following.
    Where else will Bay Weekly take you? Will you see your first osprey? Telescopes will be out Saturday at Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary, where, as first-time writer Sarah Jablon tells us, osprey have been in residence since February 24. Patuxent River osprey expert Greg Kearns talks about our spring harbingers at Captain Avery Museum Saturday afternoon and at Smithsonian Environmental Research Center Tuesday evening.
    See an osprey or not, send your photos.
    Almost seasonal mid-March temperatures in the 50s make Saturday good for doing and seeing outdoors. Follow 8 Days a Week to Patuxent Refuge Birthday Bash or to hike at Chesapeake Bay Environmental Center, Jug Bay or Beverly Triton Beach Park. At the latter, you’ll be searching for the voice of spring: the tiny frogs known as spring peepers.
    Whatever the temperature, that longed-for season returns to our hemisphere Monday, March 20. So Saturday is not really too soon to burn your socks at Annapolis Maritime Museum — though, in weather-fickle Chesapeake Country, your feet may regret your decision for many weeks to come.
    Wherever Bay Weekly takes you to pick up your paper, shop our advertisers or fill your week with facts and fun … whatever the season or weather, send your pictures and stories to see yourself in our pages.

Sandra Olivetti Martin
Editor and publisher
email editor@bayweekly.com, www.sandraolivettimartin.com