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However you play it, natural gas export is a high stakes game

Have fun even with a sizzling sun

An American in Annapolis

Our flowering gardens are butterfly way-stations

Blue crabs at quarter-century low

Lesson 1: From the ground up

Road by road, broadband Internet is snaking your way

What are they doing on the side of the road?         They’re cutting trees and bush-hogging to clear a path. They’re trenching a couple of feet into the earth along roadways. They’re feeding bright orange conduit into those trenches. They’re threading fiber optic cable into the conduit. They’re bringing the world to your door, those men and women working inches from your speeding car.     The peripatetic roadwork up...

The Kniskerns’ yard is a sustainable smorgasbord

The fifth of an acre where James and Mary Kniskern live in Arnold was about what you’d expect for a suburban dwelling: grass, azaleas, daffodils in the spring, pachysandras year-round. As you’d expect, it required the drone of a mower and sweat non-equity to keep it in shape.     “I didn’t like to mow,” says James.     But what was the alternative?     Less than a decade later, the Kniskerns are living the alternative...

I can’t resist South Dakota’s 7 million pheasants

We hadn’t gotten a dozen yards into the thick growth bordering the harvested cornfield when the first rooster burst out — behind me. I whirled, shouldering my model 12 Winchester (circa 1929), swung through the bird and fired. The ringneck dropped like a stone.     Our 2011 South Dakota pheasant-hunting season had officially begun. Nearby, my oldest son, J.P., gave me a thumbs-up as I slipped the bird into my game pouch and re-established my place in our line...

If you want big blooms that last more than one season, you’ll need to dig deep

This is bulb-planting time. But if you plant tulips following the package instructions, the plant will reach its full potential only in the first year. That’s because those instructions were written for growing tulips in cooler regions. Here in Southern Maryland, tulip bulbs should be planted at least two inches deeper than recommended by the distributors.     Tulips are perennials, but when planted only six inches deep in our soils, they will only flower well the first...

Every so often, the planets align

This week is your last chance of the year to spot all five naked-eye planets, although it’s not easy pickings against the light of Thursday’s full moon.     As darkness settles, look for Venus and Mercury low in the west-southwest. Venus shines so bright you may spot her even with the glare of the setting sun. Not so with Mercury. While the innermost planet is only two degrees below Venus, it is so tight against the horizon that it is best located with binoculars, at...

Memorials and stories preserve our memories

Pilgrimages to the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C., are final journeys for many of the long-lived veterans of World War II. These elderly men and women from around the nation come every day of the year, but the days surrounding Veterans Day bring them in great numbers. The weather has been good to them this year, so they linger to ponder in comfort, seeing sights and refreshing memories beyond the imagining of one who has not shared them. Still, the atmosphere of the solemn place is...
In Take Shelter, Michael Shannon (Boardwalk Empire) plays Curtis, a blue-collar man who works hard to take care of his loving wife and deaf daughter. This tranquil life is shattered when Curtis begins having disturbing dreams about a coming storm.     He writes off the dreams as nightmares, but as the days wear on, the dreams become more real and he becomes incapable of functioning. Confused by these apocalyptic visions, Curtis can’t decide whether he’s a modern-day...
Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In casts aside subtle drama for the glory of colorful, twisting melodrama. At its heart a mad-scientist story, the film follows Dr. Robert Ledgard (Antonio Banderas) as he dives into obsession and insanity.     After losing his wife to an accident and his daughter to suicide, Ledgard kidnaps Vera (Elena Anya), a human guinea pig he uses to test a new fire-resistant synthetic skin. Though she lives in luxury, she is a prisoner who gets no...

An ode to panache*

Cyrano, an original adaptation of Edmond Rostand’s 1897 classic, is given a new staging by the Theatre at AACC. The set, costumes, incidental music and minimalist staging all covey timelessness to the well-known story. Guest director Patrick Elkins-Zeglarski adds strong moments and concepts.     Cyrano is a gifted poet, musician and swordsman. His brash confidence is overshadowed only by his large nose, which causes him to lose all confidence when it comes to expressing...

Read all about it in a big new book: Traveling the World for National Geographic

High-school sweethearts Tom and Lynn Abercrombie grew up when the world was big and globe-trotting journalists lived big. A legendary National Geographic photojournalist, Tom had carte blanche to travel to exotic lands and stay until he had the pictures and story he wanted. Lynn, a freelance Geographic photographer, was at his side.     Tom, a pilot, recalled in these pages the time he bought a floatplane for an assignment in Alaska, putting it on his expense account. When the...