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Our best family night at the theater — ever

Not all Christmas trees are equal

He has many faces; here you’ll see some

Where will he be on Christmas Eve?

Spoiler alert: Don’t let the kids read this

Venison is benison to area food banks

Snowy Owls popping up all over

Is it a bird? A plane? A creature flown out of Harry Potter? Or a white paper bag frozen in a field?     This year, it may be a snowy owl.     The white bird with bright, yellow eyes, huge talons and a five-foot wingspan is usually a rare sight in Chesapeake Country. So rare that the first-ever snowy owl sighting and photo was recorded in Calvert County this week.     The big bird was perched on a Ford tractor in Prince Frederick.   ...

A tottering old soul

King Coal’s crown seems to be teetering.     The second fuel of America’s prosperity may be losing the race to the future, just as wood did before it. Scarcity is not the problem; many of America’s coalfields continue producing high yields. At issue are the consequences of the fossil fuel’s combustion: carbon pollution clogging air and lungs.     More than 150 coal-burning plants have retired since 2010. This week, two of Maryland’s...

Gardening tools you can grow with

Fellow gardeners often ask me which gardening tools are my favorites. In case you’re shopping for one of those gardeners, here’s my list. I don’t stint on price because I want quality tools that last.     The Weed Bandit hoe is my favorite because of its long rake handle and stainless steel head with a corrugated blade that stays sharp. I like the small Weed Bandit for hoeing onions and closely spaced plants, and the medium blade Weed Bandit for all other...

Stuff their stocking with a good book or video

The dedicated outdoorsman or woman is, by definition, equipped. The few things such a person might lack are likely so specialized as to be a mystery to outdoors outsiders.     Books and movies, however, fall into a safe-gift zone. If you’re intent on pleasantly surprising an outdoors lover with your gift, the following suggestions might help.     Kayak Fishing (Sportsman’s Best www.Florida Sportsman.com) details in both book and DVD the fastest...

Can the Geminids outshine December’s full moon?

The moon lights up the night this week, starting as a waxing gibbous, reaching full moon Tuesday and waxing slowly through the middle of the week. Look for the near-full moon beside the Pleiades star cluster Saturday.     You know the Big Dipper and the Little Dipper. The Pleiades, also known as the Seven Sisters and categorized as celestial object M45, could be called the Mini Dipper. The belt stars of the constellation Orion point up toward Taurus the bull and its orange-...

Here be dragons

If Gandalf the Grey (Ian McKellen: The Wolverine) weren’t a wizard, he would have been an excellent travel agent. He seems to live for organizing meandering trips through Middle-earth, acting as activities director for a ragtag group of his choosing.     When The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug begins, Gandalf is still leading a band of dwarves and one hobbit toward a dragon lair. The dragon in question, Smaug (Benedict Cumberbatch: The Fifth Estate), once swooped into the...

While never the comet of the century, it piqued our curiosity

It’s official: comet ISON is no more. NASA confirmed Tuesday that after its first-ever venture from the outer limits of the solar system to the sun, the comet did not survive the onslaught of solar radiation. Born 4.5 billion years ago during the formation of the solar system, ISON had resided in the so-called Oort Cloud a full light-year away. Roughly a million years ago, perhaps after a cometary collision, ISON began its journey toward the sun. It was discovered in September of 2012 by...

The lessons at Anne Arundel Community ­College’s Culinary Institute will last well after the new yearBob Melamud

Food eaten between November 1 and New Year’s Day contains no calories. I suspect I’m not alone in honoring this conviction. Yet a lifetime of stepping on the scale January 2 has convinced me that our cherished belief is a cruel urban legend.     This year I faced an additional challenge. Our editor assigned me to take and report on an Anne Arundel Community College Culinary Institute holiday class. Biscotti, cookies, Scandinavian baking and truffles tempted me...

Courthouse Square now looks a lot like Christmas

On December 3, the Parish Hall At Christ’s Church in Port Republic bustles with four dozen Calvert Garden Clubbers preparing to decorate the county courthouse with evergreens harvested a day earlier at four local farms.     “We call it the Greening,” says cochair Mary Berkley.     Wearing monogrammed aprons, they work likes elves trimming magnolia, grapevine and boxwood for wreaths, fragrant sprays and evergreen ropes.     The...

No need to put out the welcome mat

The mouse stood high in ancient Greece, where the god Apollo took the creature as one of his namesakes, Apollo Smintheus. White mice were kept under the altars in temples to that incarnation.     Most of us can better relate to the Indo-Aryan Sanskrit tradition wherein musuka means thief or robber.     Sanskrit may not be familiar to you, but the burglary antics of the common house mouse probably are, especially this time of year.     Freezing...