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Tour the state in one visit

It takes six to 10 years of attention to get it right

Artist John W. ‘Bud’ Taylor inspired an ethic of land preservation

Take advantage of the quiet — and of migration — to go birding

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...

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).      Wiseau is an odd role model. He has plenty of money, but he won’t discuss its source or his past. His writing, acting and directing are terrible. But his blind confidence and deafness to criticism inspire...

The Colonial Players’ fresh take on this classic offers laughs, emotion and good doses of nostalgia

       What’s Christmas season without nostalgia? What’s nostalgia except a look back at how things were? Or, for George Bailey of Bedford Falls, a look back at how things might have been?             You know the story from the initially panned but now classic 1946 movie starring James Stewart and Donna Reed. George Bailey sacrifices his dreams of getting out of his small town to keep the bank from the hands...
The Mystery of the Missing Birds, Continued      Yes, Mr Stewart, I am seeing this also. I too live on four-plus acres and have always had birds at my feeders. This year I filled the feeder first with a mixed bag of seed. No birds...thought seed rancid or ?? Dumped the mixed and then filled the feeder with black oil sunflower seeds. Still no birds. Next step? Clean the feeder completely and try another brand? Not sure. Open to suggestions! Please! –Ellen O’Brien,...
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.” ...
     With the coming weeks offering events and attractions promising to wow you, amaze you and fill your hearts with holiday wonder and glad tidings, how do you choose which of the season’s pageants makes it on to your calendar?      Here’s a bit of guidance that may help you to inspire a new tradition or rediscover a forgotten favorite.   What: Illuminated London Town   Cool Factor: Yes, a garden can be magical in December, thanks to festive...

We add another family favorite to our holiday list

      The ghosts of Christmas haunt the Twin Beaches this time of year. One is angelic, one is joyful and one is downright frightening. Yet their messages penetrate to the heart of the season.       The three spirits, characters in Charles Dickens’ classic tale A Christmas Carol, made quite an impression on my family last weekend, as we attended the opening of the final production in Twin Beach Players’ 20th season.       Part of a vast...
You’ve gotta have hope to wring the last fish out of the season
     The pictures Mike showed me were what I hadn’t seen for too long, two nice 35-plus-inch rockfish with heavy bellies and dark, shiny stripes. They’d been caught by friends earlier that day.       Then he made an offer I ­couldn’t turn down.       “Ryan’s picking up the menhaden, chum, snacks and water in the morning,” he said. “Meet us at the dock at 7am.”        The morning...

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.       If you can’t transport the tree in the trunk of your car, in...

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.       The billboards detail the specifics of her daughter’s death and call out Sheriff Willoughby (Woody Harrelson: LBJ)....