Volume 12, Issue 6 ~ February 5-11, 2004

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Dock of the Bay

Rallying the Troops
In Annapolis, Clark supporters thinking vice president

Even before retired Gen. Wesley Clark’s Oklahoma victory during February 3rd’s seven-state primary, his supporters had come to terms with reality.

On the first Monday of the month, supporters gathered to rally the troops for the former NATO head and Supreme Allied Commander and presidential hopeful during their regular meet-up at O’Brien’s Pub in downtown Annapolis.

“It’s a small gathering,” said a disappointed Anne Sealing, Clark’s events coordinator for Anne Arundel County. “I think people are dispirited by New Hampshire.”

photo by Louis Llovio
Supporters of retired Gen. Wesley Clark gathered at O’Brien’s last week in preparation for February’s primaries.
Dispirited did not mean beaten, however. So Carrie Stoehr — a 39-year-old lawyer from Crownsville working on her first ever campaign and recovering from a bout with pneumonia — did her best for her candidate.

“I am not disengaged; I’ve always followed politics,” said Stoehr. “But this was the first time I’ve found a candidate who makes me passionate.”

Still, Clark’s Annapolis supporters were ready to rally behind whatever man Democrats eventually field against President George W. Bush.

That sentiment was not strictly partisan.

“I had never not voted in an election,” said 75-year-old Judy Housley of Bay Ridge, a registered Republican. “But I couldn’t bring myself to vote for Bush or Gore in 2000.”

In November, she promised, “I’ll vote for a man who owns his own uniform and doesn’t show up in a borrowed flight suit.” That qualification would narrow her choice to Clark or Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry, himself a Vietnam veteran.

Don’t dare, Housley says, call her unpatriotic for disapproving of the president and his policies. “If we put a bad guy into the White House, it is our patriotic duty to get him out.”

In Gen. Clark’s Maryland army, Housley has done more than talk. The retired grandmother of eight joined two busloads of Marylanders who headed north to New Hampshire and went door to door for her candidate.

Thirty-nine-year-old Charlie Rewa of Crownsville was also steeled to switch his allegiance to a new commander in chief.

With Sen. John Kerry continuing as front runner, “Maybe,” said an undaunted Rewa, “we can get Gen. Clark on Kerry’s ticket,” meaning as the senator’s vice-presidential running mate.

But with the Democrat’s nominee yet to be decided, the bumper stickers, pins and yard signs Rewa handed out still put Clark’s name first.

“One thing is sure,” he smiled. “We aren’t going to quit fighting.”

— Louis Llovio

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Man’s Best Friend Moves Up in the Family
Colonial Players’ Sylvia imitates life

Pets have a hold on our hearts. The neighborhood children love them, and some adults are so enamored they have chosen to forego the kids and adopt an animal instead.

In A. R. Gurney’s play Sylvia, on stage at Colonial Players in Annapolis through February 7, the bond goes even farther. Too far, some might say, too far.

Sylvia is a dog to whom her owner clings during his midlife crisis for understanding and communication. Their excessive bonding leads to comic conflict, especially with the displaced wife.

This bonding and the ensuing conflicts are not limited to the stage. Sylvia director Mary James believes her audiences find joy in the play because they are able to relate to the couple’s issues with man’s best friend. Viewers are quick to agree.

“Joyce has her issues with him,” says Annapolitan Jim Miller about his significant other, Joyce Fink’s, relationship with his dog Skip.

For Bob and Katie Berry, also of Annapolis, it is not so much their issues with the family pet as her issues with them. Their 14-year-old cat Sadie likes to curl up on the sofa with his napping wife, said Berry. But matters are different when it comes to him.

“Sadie ignores him,” said Katie Berry. “He is a non-entity, or else a nuisance.”

photo by R.A.R.E. Photographic
In Colonial Players’ adaptation of Sylvia, human CeCe Newbrough plays the family canine (Vinny Ferrelli plays her owner), and as many pet owners see their dogs as real life one of the family.
Dog trainer Shane Beardsworth, director of AAA Dog Training, active in Anne Arundel and a dozen other Maryland counties, said that Sadie-like behaviors occasionally occur in dogs as well. A dog’s preference normally waivers depending on who is holding the treats, but if a new human is introduced into the mix, the dog may become jealous.

The problem arises because dogs, he explained, do not see their families as people but instead as fellow dogs who are part of their pack. He recommends training to establish the human’s position in the home as the Alpha or Top Dog.

Dogs are not alone in seeing their housemates as family. Humans, too, are extending their definition of family to include the animals in their homes.

“There has been a dramatic change in how people relate to their animals,” said PETsMART’s Andrea Davis, describing the shift away from animals as work partners. As baby boomers seek to fill their empty nests and young adults postpone childbearing, a new breed of parents has arisen: pet parents.

“People have come to think of their pets as children,” said Davis, a 20-something pet parent hoping to delay traditional motherhood.

“She’s my baby,” she said of her dog.

Davis is not alone in this belief.

“I’m the grandfather of a dog,” said Dave Barnes of his granddog Sunny.

Barnes and his wife Mary, both of Annapolis, say they are frequent babysitters, with the dog being asked by his parents, much as a child would be, “Do you want grandpa to watch you tonight?”

Director James understands.

“They’re my kids,” she said of her two dogs, Señor Henry and Miss Jingles. “Everybody thinks I love my dogs more than anybody else.”

Animals, she said, are worth the conflicts they cause in the play and in real life.

“They give unconditional love and they never talk back,” she said.

— Naomi Smoot-Kimble

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Earth Journal ~ Brown Creeper
by Gary Pendleton

The woods are quiet except for the sound of leaves underfoot. Even in their leafless state, the bare trees muffle traffic sounds. A flock of geese breaks the silence before fading off toward the river. The place is so still that it seems to be asleep.

The winter birds are here. Many species congregate in mixed winter flocks: chickadees, tufted titmice, kinglets, nuthatches, downy woodpeckers and brown creepers. Because they tend to flock together, large areas seem empty of bird life. But somewhere farther down the trail they will be coursing through the woods. There is safety in numbers.

A specialist, the creeper probes for food.
They are an eclectic mix, but they are not just a variety of species. They represent very different types. Often in a single flock you can find seven species representing five families. That makes for a remarkably diverse group. They are all small birds and they share the same wooded habitat, but the range of physical differences between them is striking.

Adaptations that evolved out of different approaches to foraging for food account for the physical differences. The chickadees, titmice and kinglets are generalist; they eat a little of this and a little of that: fruit, seeds, buds, insects. As they have no need for specially adapted beaks or feet, their appearance is generic.

The woodpecker, nuthatch and creeper are specialists. Their food-finding methods include pounding, tapping or probing for insects. These birds have highly specialized body parts: strong skulls and beaks, purposeful feet and tail feathers.

The brown creeper is a short, slender bird with a downward curved bill and cryptically patterned brown and tan plumage. The long, curved bill is good for probing under bark for insects and spiders. Like the woodpeckers, the creeper has very stiff tail feathers.

Instead of perching on branches, woodpeckers and creepers usually hang on the trunks and large branches. This is where their specially adapted tails come in. The stiff tail feathers act as props that helps them stay upright as they grip the trunks of trees.

True to their name, brown creepers creep. In their search for food, they creep up, never down. They are only capable of perching vertically and moving in one direction: up. Up, up and up.

Eventually they reach a point where they don’t want to go up anymore. Being birds, they then fly. So when they reach a certain point on the tree, they swoop down, like a falling leaf, to the base of another tree and start over.

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With the Watermen’s Expo, Can Spring Be Far Behind?
But for rockfish, winter is the season

The singular success story of Chesapeake Bay is the recovery of the rockfish, as the striped-bass gamefish is known locally. When rockfish populations collapsed in the 1980s, prompting a five-year fishery moratorium, Maryland rockfish anglers and seafood lovers of the flaky white meat fish tightened their belts and looked to the future.

The future is now. Rockfish are abundant, and for the sixth year the Maryland Rockfish Cooking Contest — upcoming Saturday, February 7, in Ocean City — has the word Celebration in its title. The cooking contest, a showcase for local chefs to strut their stuff, or stuff their fish, will be wrapped into a three-day affair sponsored by the Maryland Waterman’s Association at its 30th Annual East Coast Commercial Fisherman’s and Aquaculture Trade Exposition (February 6 through 8) at the Ocean City Convention Center.

Rockfish is on the menu at this year’s East Coast Commercial Fisherman’s and Aquaculture Trade Expo.
On tap for the three days are aquaculture and fishing seminars, charter boat and sportsfishing gear and equipment, workboats, inshore/offshore equipment, exhibits and sales plus popular truck and boat raffles.

But if the trip down makes you hungry, join professional and amateur chefs at the rockfish cook-off. Ten finalists were chosen by a committee of judges that includes watermen, says Noreen Eberly of Maryland Department of Agriculture’s Seafood and Aquaculture Marketing.

Contestants hail from Annapolis, Baltimore, Columbia, Havre de Grace and, on the Eastern Shore, Ocean City, Tylerton and Galena. Each has an hour to prepare two one-pound fillets, with demonstrations every 10 minutes.

“Rockfish are plentiful, and the winter rockfish is known for its quality and taste,” says Eberly.

Whet your appetite on 2003’s first-place winner, Rich Hoffman’s Seared Rockfish Fillet with Oyster and Corn Stew. Hoffman is chef at Rudy’s 2900 in Finksburg. Or third-place winner Andy Weber’s Maryland Rockfish with Roasted Yellow Pepper Grits and Poblano Sauce. Weber dreams up his recipes in his Edgewater kitchen. Or Marty Hyson’s Lemon Herb-Crusted Rockfish on Home-Style Garlic Mashed Potatoes.

Hyson — a mortgage banker in Baltimore and past grand-prize winner in the National Oyster Cook-off in St. Mary’s County — calls Maryland seafood-cooking competitions his “hobby.” Hyson got honorable mention in the 2003 rockfish cook-off after placing second in 2002 with his Rockfish Braised in Apple Juice on Baby Wilted Spinach with Pine Nuts.

“Every year, my recipes seem to grab the judges attention,” says Hyson, who’s hoping his luck will hold this year, when he’s cooking Pan-Braised Rockfish with Champagne Butter Sauce.

Hyson and four other contestants are amateurs; the other five cook for a living. Eberly says she’ll balance the competition this year by awarding two first prizes of $500 plus a second-place prize, $350, and third place at $200.

To taste for yourself, see 8 Days a Week.

— M.L. Faunce

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Haiti Visits Maryland Hall
Wrap yourself in hot, tropical silk to support your Haitian sisters

In Matenwa, Haiti, art has become sustenance. Out of a rocky, arid, barren land where little thrives, now come silky, bright, color-rich scarves. The silk scarves produced by the women of Matenwa have brought hope and business to their small village.

At Maryland Hall for the Creative Arts, where the scarves beckon from the top of the staircase, they bring hot, tropical vitality to Chesapeake Country. In comparison to their Haitian sisters, all the women of Chesapeake Country are rich, but they are mired in ice and parched for lack of color. So they buy a Matenwa silk and feel warm and inspired with possibility, as well as rich.

“It’s very bright, colorful and very dramatic when you come in the entrance,” said Christina Manucy, who sets up at Maryland Hall’s four galleries and showcases.

These silk squares and rectangles are not native products of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere. Social injustice — a history of slavery, dictatorship and civil strife leading to crushing poverty — has robbed the Caribbean island of its natural resources. Villagers struggle to provide for their families. Survival takes all the land has to offer. Trees chopped down for firewood and charcoal have exposed the once-fertile soil, which erosion routinely washes away.

The new art came to Haiti from America. Ellen Lebow, daughter of two Maryland Hall members, first traveled to Haiti to be the artist in residence for a rural community school. On the island of Laganov, she hoped to strengthen the literacy program and focus on the visual arts. The poverty she encountered surprised her. Few Haitians had cars or electricity, and most walked miles through a dry and dusty landscape to collect water.

Beyond art, these people needed income. Lebow noticed that many Haitian women wore scarves on their heads, and from this observation blossomed an idea: hand painting silk scarves to generate income for living.

To bring the idea to flower, the American artist taught the technique called batik, using wax as a dye repellent. White shapes are created before adding color, so the images appear to be outlined in white. The women use non-toxic, permanent dyes to illustrate scenes from their everyday lives and culture: birds, trees, leaves, vines, village houses, women carrying baskets on their heads, stars and flowers. A decorative border envelops these images, offering a finished appearance.

Four years later, most of the women in the village participate in this new craft. “Even some men in the village want to participate,” said Janet Lebow, Ellen’s mother.

Ellen Lebow, who lives in Massachusetts, and other American artists continue to return to Haiti to work with the women of Matenwa and design new patterns. Lebow is there this month. The Haitian artists often recreate popular designs. Still, “each design is subtly different,” said Manucy. “No two scarves are alike.”

The simplicity and naturalism of the designs transports viewers back to the tiny village. Like tropical birds, the scarves boast brilliant colors, including vermilion reds, striking blues, sunny yellows and bright coppers.

The silk scarves have provided more than income. “The whole village is becoming alive because of the scarves,” said Lebow. As part of their new business, the women of Matenwa also have learned math and writing skills. With their new-found wealth and leadership in the village, “the women,” said Lebow, “are starting to assert themselves.”

See and buy the scarves thru February 13: $48–$55 plus tax. The women of Matenwa earn the wholesale price of each scarf.

— Carrie Steele

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Way Downstream …

In Annapolis, Marylanders cheered last week when EPA administrator Mike Leavitt arrived to announce a $10 million grant for sewage treatment in Bay country. But the Bush Iraq-war budget this week showed overall cuts of $50 million in programs that help the Bay, the Baltimore Sun tabulated…

In Lothian, Maryland’s Board of Public Works has approved spending $1.25 million in Project Open Space funds to purchase and preserve the Riggleman farm, a mile of waterfront along the Patuxent River near Jug Bay

In Norway, the scourge of the 20th century’s most evil man continues. Nearly 60 years after the defeat of Adolf Hitler, Nazi chemical weapons are oozing from their rusting containers at the bottom of European seas, sometimes harming fishermen who bring them up in their nets, Reuters reports…

In Germany, the beer barons are shaking their heads at a disturbing trend: For the fourth straight year and the eighth year in ten, beer-loving Germans consumed less brew. Why? A population growing older and, the barons say, a pro-environment 25-cent deposit on bottles and cans…

Our Creature Feature comes from Washington, D.C., where the Agriculture Department is taking the guts out of a polka tune by saying don’t eat the guts out of cows.

The polka standard goes, ‘Someone stole the kishka. Who stole the kishka from the butcher’s shop?” Kishka, of course, are the small intestines of cattle, a delicacy in many lands. But because of Mad Cow Disease, the USDA has banned their sale, meaning you’ll have to travel far to legally eat kishka or Mexican menudo or Vietnamese pho tai sach soup.

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Last updated February 5, 2004 @ 12:05am.