Open horizons and swans to unite us

     If Bay Weekly were a three-ring circus, you’d find swans in every ring. For that, there’s good reason.      This week’s paper, our first in December, marks the arrival of meteorological winter. Here in Chesapeake Country, it’s not the serious winter already chilling our northern-tier neighbors. As I write, it’s –2 degrees in Crosby, North Dakota, right up on the Canadian border.

Buy fresh evergreens and treat them for longevity 

     Wreaths, roping and swags sold in box and grocery stores may have been made in far-away Oregon and Maine, starting back in September, then stored in large coolers under high humidity. If the greens were harvested before the plants were exposed to freezing temperatures, they may well drop their needles before Christmas.       Purchase local Christmas greens, on the other hand, and they are most likely freshly harvested and have acclimated under our growing conditions.

This engrossing dramedy makes art from catastrophe

     Greg Sestero (Dave Franco: The Little Hours) is an actor seeking the courage to perform. A ball of nerves in his San Francisco acting classes, he finds inspiration in mysterious and fearless classmate Tommy Wiseau (James ­Franco: The Vault).
Turn on the lights. Bring in the tree. Rejoice in pageantry. 
     “There’s a big beautiful tree all lit up in the Smiths’ window.” That was the news my husband brought in with newspapers and coffee this morning. After seeing the neighbors’ tree in the late predawn, he was about to haul in ours, now soaking up water as the Bay Gardener directs in this week’s column.       “Don’t you think it’s a little early?” I asked. “It is still November.” 

How to buy and treat your tree

      A fresh-cut Christmas tree is not necessarily a safe Christmas tree. An evergreen tree loses water from its needles as soon as it is cut. It will lose more water after you tie it to the roof of your car and drive 50 miles per hour. If you don’t care for that tree properly after you arrive home, it can rapidly become a fire hazard by the time you bring it indoors and decorate it.

Grief makes monsters in this funny, savage film

     In the seven months since Mildred Hayes’ (Frances McDormand: Hail, Caesar!) daughter was murdered, no progress has been made in the case. Furious, Mildred decides to shame the corrupt, small-town police department into action. She uses her meager savings to rent three dilapidated billboards on the lonely road to her home. 

Into gifts that can change lives

     I hope that you are among the fortunate who counted and credited your blessings in the company of family and friends all anticipating digging into the Thanksgiving feast.      I hope your dinner was rich with food and fellowship and wine, the latter if you’re so inclined.      I hope your harvest was good, whether gathered by hand from fields and Bay or from resources of later invention.

Watering to keep your plants happy 

     More houseplants are killed by improper watering than by any other practice. Here are three faults to avoid in growing indoor plants year-round or over winter.   Fault 1: Too little water       If you add only enough water to wet the surface of the soil, the soil in the middle and at the bottom of the pot will be as dry as the Sahara dessert.

Still playing after all these years? That’s relevance

   There are many reasons that theater classics are classics. In most cases, the reason can be described with one word: relevance. No matter how long ago a work of art was created, its relevance to the human condition makes it timeless. Such is the case with George Bernard Shaw’s Pygmalion, in a funny yet sobering revival at Compass Rose Theater.

Good health or the Lemming Effect?

Charging into a nearly freezing body of water in the middle of the winter is a tradition for people around the world. Frequently, the plunge is made on New Year’s Day.     The first New Year’s Day Polar Bear Plunge is credited to Coney Island, New York, in 1903. Founder Bernarr Macfadden believed that a dip in the ocean during the winter could be “a boon to stamina, virility and immunity.” The Coney Island Polar Bear Club takes ocean plunges every Sunday from November through April, with the largest on New Year’s Day.