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It’s a big production

When the days are too hot, try the hours before midnight

Clear skies forecast for this weekend’s Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival

Sarah Petska says every year that it’s her last. And every year her friends remind her that she said that the year before. Yet here she is again, prepping hard for the 16th Chesapeake Bay Blues Festival.     “I literally work up until the Monday after the festival, when the stages are finally gone. I guess I must really love it because I keep coming back.”     Petska was there from the beginning, when her father Don Hooker hosted the first...

Ridley Scott is more interested in philosophy than chills in this latest sequel

Leaving Earth in search of a habitable planet, The Covenant carries a crew of married couples plus 2,000 colonists and a few trays of embryos. While the crew and passengers hypersleep, android Walter (Michael Fassbender: Assassin’s Creed) cares for the ship.     A disaster ends the crew’s slumbers.     The crippled Covenant’s luck improves when the crew finds a habitable planet nearby. Shall they take a look?     The one voice of...

Joan raised me. Finding Mary took 55 years but filled me with happiness and a sense of resolution.

Among the many gifts I received as a young girl was one no one else had. The book was small, to fit a young girl’s grasp. Heavily coated white paper held an illustration of a girl being tucked in by her mother. Aloft, like a guardian angel, was a hazy drawing of a second woman, benignly observing the scene below. The title said it all: The Girl with Two Mothers.     I was just like that girl.     “When we married we were going to have four or five...

Jeanne Kelly’s Encore Chorale proves music can reverse aging

Silence falls. All eyes are focused on Jeanne Kelly. At her signal, the Encore Chorale bursts into song. Senior citizens one and all, the singers are primed, vibrant and ready for adventure.     “Is that your best?” Kelly asks. “Can you give me more excitement?” Of course they can, and they do; Jeanne Kelly brings out the best in every singer.     But is it true what she says? Can performance singing truly slow down the aging process?...

Building a safe place to launch lives

My youngest daughter, Alyson, recently graduated from the University of Maryland with a degree in politics and government and a part-time job with a non-profit in D.C. — plus hopes and plans for changing the world. How had this happened, I wondered, how had time tracked me down and pushed me along, insisting that I move it, move it, ready or not?     As the mother of six, there were times I daydreamed about an empty nest. I was guilty of wishing time along, dreaming about...

Or, if it’s too late, about her (in which case you can skip the flowers and candy, or enjoy them yourself)

In due to Anna Jarvis, who lobbied for a day to thank our mothers and give women a share of the limelight trained on men, I can think of a couple of good things to say about Mother’s Day.     First, it’s broad enough to include us all, for while all of us are not mothers, we all do have mothers.     Second, all of us children expect our mothers to do for us — or wish they would. Indoctrinated in being the center of interest, we tend to give...

Bats have a colony of mothers

Who knew that bats make excellent mothers? You and I do, thanks to Maryland Department of Natural Resources bat biologist Dana Limpert, who speaks highly of the brown bat.     “They take excellent care of their young. If a baby falls out of the roost or is injured, the mother will recognize its calls and rescue it.”     Myotis lucifugus is small, about three and a half inches with a wingspan of nine to 11 inches and weighing less than half an ounce....

Hunting license fees add 126 acres to ­Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge

Conservationists have reason to celebrate at funding for Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge’s growth by 126 acres.     Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge, in Dorchester County on the Eastern Shore, is home to one-third of Maryland’s tidal wetlands, earning its ranking as a Wetland of International Importance.     As well as marsh, it has two more major habitats, forest and shallow water. A sanctuary for birds migrating along the Atlantic Flyway, it...

Anne Arundel County Library adds bilingual children’s books

To inspire love of reading in every child, the Anne Arundel County Public Library has added bilingual children’s materials, dividing 500 copies of 100 titles among the county’s libraries at all 15 branches. The World Languages Collection supplements the library’s Spanish bilingual books with new board books in Urdu, Chinese and Vietnamese, the top four languages spoken by families in county public schools.     “The library is for everyone in our community...

Feed new plants or warm the soil

Like air, soil is slowly warming. When soil temperatures are below 60 degrees, soil microorganisms are rather inactive and plants have fewer nutrients to absorb. As the soils warm, the microorganisms become active and more nutrients become available.     The conventional gardener can readily solve this problem by side-dressing with a water soluble fertilizer such as Miracle Gro or by sprinkling calcium nitrate, ammonium sulfate or a complete fertilizer near the plants and...