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You won’t want to go through this looking glass

Jan Miles was bred to captain Maryland’s ­historic clipper ship

We have food pantries all over the state. Why not furniture pantries?

Three years in, I’m planning ahead for optimal success

See them again this year on the Osprey Cam

Without a soil test, you can’t know what your lawn needs

Fall is the season to renew your lawn. Earlier this month, I advised you that lime is the best treatment you can give to your lawn. Now, I’m cautioning you that fertilizing your lawn may well be counterproductive.     If you have been applying conventional lawn fertilizers for years, most likely you are wasting your money and contributing to the pollution of the Bay.     Lawn grasses require very little phosphorus (P) as compared to nitrogen (N). A single...

Sometimes you have to hunt for the night’s best sights

Just a week past equinox, the balance between day and night is shifting fast, with a loss of nearly 20 minutes of sunshine already.     The sun sets this week before 6:50, with Saturn and Venus in its wake tight against the horizon, although you may need binoculars to find them. At week’s end, the two are just a couple degrees apart, but Saturn is on its way out of our evening skies, while Venus in its retrograde orbit climbs a bit higher night by night.   ...

A trio of killers leaves a bloody path and a pretty entertaining movie in their wake

Let’s get this out of the way now: Killer Elite is not high art. Though veiled under the pretense of a globe-trotting spy thriller, the movie is basically an excuse to watch attractive men beat the heck out of each other.     And that’s fine. In fact, it’s pretty fun.     The movie follows mercenary Danny (Jason Statham: Gnomeo & Juliet) as he leaves the gun-for-hire business and tries to start over after nearly killing a child on his last...

In two new local novels, truth wears the thin disguise of fiction

Captivity, corruption, escapes, flights in truth and fantasy, murder, messages from the dead, revenge, suicide …     The stuff of thriller fiction. But in the lives of authors Donald Shomette, Helena Mann-Melnitchenko and Eugene Melnitchenko, such events were terribly real.     Wars, internments and such tragedies can be buried in memory, but they’re not forgotten. Writing puts a frame around memories, rendering them more manageable. These authors...

After Irene and Lee’s one-two punch, hands big and small help Chesapeake Country rise

It’s taking hands big and small to help Chesapeake Country rise from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee’s one-two punch. Lending those helping hands have been neighbors, combined efforts of individuals, local and state agencies, the American Red Cross and big corporate citizens like Dominion Cove Point.     “Virtually every local organization has helped in some manner or the other,” said Susan Shaw, president of the Board of Commissioners in Calvert...

Death interrupts but does not end the osprey cycle

As the osprey head south this year, we say goodbye forever to one special bird: Olive Osprey.     Like many of her species, she was shot. Not over Cuba or the Dominican Republic, where fish farmers consider osprey birds of prey. Olive was shot as she sat on her eggs in her nest in Southern Anne Arundel County, where she had been welcomed and had gained celebrity.     Her killers were neighborhood boys.     Olive was the heroine of my book, Oscar...

National certification hinges on finding 150 homeowners with backyard wildlife habitats

Annapolis is a city with a green ethic. We’ve been cultivating greenspaces for half a century with street-end parks, our Greenscape city beautification program, our commitment to cover half the city with a tree canopy and our cooperative program with Baltimore Gas and Electric to plant the right tree in the right place.     Beyond those greenspaces to nourish wildlife, we’ve installed osprey nesting sites and made purple martin and bat houses fixtures in city parks....

Use the down-time to clean your gear

Today I put on long pants for the first time since last June. Normally this is not entirely a bad thing because chilly fall weather means that bigger rockfish will be in the shallow water I love to fish. But not right now. Around our neck of the woods the fishing is pretty much on hold, and it may take some time before it returns to normal.     The upper- to mid-Chesapeake has been a disaster zone for angling. Satellite maps of the Bay (http://mddnr.chesapeakebay.net/...

Don’t bother trying to put them back together

Irene left us many trees with split trunks. Splitting occurs mostly on shade trees with narrow crotches. Narrow crotches are weak and break easily when strong winds whip the branches back and forth.     I have seen many people, including arborists, bolt these trees back together. It may seem that the operation was a success. But within eight to 10 years, the patient will have developed a good case of heart rot, and the tree will become a hazard. Fertilize Hollies in the Fall...

Enjoy the balance while we can

The waning crescent moon rises around 3am Friday, its upper tip pointing to the red planet Mars, only five degrees away. Both shine within the faint stars of Cancer, home to the Beehive star cluster, which appears as a smudge of light a half-dozen degrees behind moon and planet. By 5am, the moon and Mars are well placed about 30 degrees high in the east.     And then, five minutes past 5:00, our whole world changes.     At 5:05am est, the sun hovers directly...