Volume 12, Issue 52 ~ December 23 - December 29, 2004
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Dock of the Bay

photo courtesy of Crown Theatres
Movie goers check out the new Rear Window closed captioning screens added to Crown Theatre’s Harbour 9 during recent renovations.
Reels and Renewal
Refurbished Crown Theatres Harbour 9 Adds an Art House

The fresh smell of newness mingles with that of buttery popcorn in the lobby and theaters of Crown Theatres Harbour 9 & Art House cinema these days, the reward of a three-month renovation now complete.

Attesting to the renewal is a splash of color in the lobby, luxuriant high-back rocker seating with cupholders and the latest digital sound systems in each of the nine theaters. Though still not as grand as the new generation of stadium-seating theaters and their mammoth screens, such as at Crown’s Annapolis Mall 11-theater cineplex, the Harbour 9 is substantially improved. The unobstructed view, comfortable seating and acoustically sound theaters make a fine setting.

There’s also more culture in the new Harbour 9, which has recently inherited the role of Annapolis’ sole venue for art and independent film from Eastport Cinema when the esteemed but aging two-screen film house was decommissioned earlier this year. The new home will save space on its marquee for at least one art or indie film, with more added to the schedule depending on releases and demands of the season.

The crowning touch on Harbour 9’s rejuvenation is its new Rear Window captioning system for the hearing impaired. With Rear Window, captions have been taken off the screen and set directly before the viewer’s eyes. Text appears on a small, smoke-tinted rectangle of Plexiglas affixed to a flexible arm that fits into a seat’s cupholder. The Rear Window screens can be adjusted much as you would a rear-view mirror in a car. The Plexiglas reflects captions broadcast by yellow LED lights at the theater’s rear; only these monitors detect the lights, and they don’t distract other viewers. Two screens have been outfitted with the technology, which can only be used with compatible films; only a dozen or so films so far have used the technology. One, National Treasure, is now showing at Harbour 9.

Coming soon is Descriptive Video Service, which pipes descriptive narration through headsets for the visually impaired. Both are services free with admission; interested filmgoers can sign up for a heads up on upcoming open-access movies at the theater.

Crown Theatres Harbour 9 & Art House at the Annapolis Harbour Center, 2474 Solomons Island Road. See Bay Weekly’s What’s Playing for show times, or log on to www.crowntheatres.com.

—Mark Burns

Taking It to the Curb
Leftover Leaves and Discarded Trees Will Live Again

Out with the old and in with the new: While some citizens of Chesapeake Country still wrestle with the foliage of fall, others ponder what to do with the eight-by-four-foot tree standing in their living room. Whether you’re getting rid of deciduous or evergreen, help is on the way — in the form of curbside pickup and collection centers, that is.

If leafy stragglers still linger on your Annapolis lawn, fear not: The city of Annapolis has extended its leaf collection schedule until after the holidays. Just rake your leaves into a debris-free pile in the curb, away from cars and storm drains. Check the city website to find out when leaf-collectors will be visiting your ward with their giant vacuum-topped trucks.

Collection continues into winter because city trucks were disabled by the leafy muck from all of last month’s rain.

“Our four trucks are getting older; they’ve put in a lot of years of good service,” says Marsh Patrick of Annapolis City operations. “We’ll continue to pick up leaves and we have a full crew out there working overtime. We just keep plugging away.”

As Annapolitans recycle autumn’s leaves, citizens throughout Chesapeake Country can send winter’s Christmas trees on their merry way.

The evergreen that looked so stately and lush prior to Christmas — by now, perhaps, beginning to shed needles on carpets and furniture — will soon become a holiday visitor that’s overstayed its welcome. Across Chesapeake Country, homes will soon trade in their festive trees for a few square feet of space reclaimed in the living room.

As you pack away ornaments, tinsel and lights, consider the fate of your tree so carefully selected just weeks earlier.

In Anne Arundel County, you can cast your Christmas tree curbside. On your regular recycling day, place your tannenbaum out by the curb and say farewell by 6am that morning. To make your evergreen more manageable, the county asks that you cut your tree into four-foot lengths. Picked up trees are shipped to Maryland Environmental Service, which composts and mulches to resell.

If you prefer to haul your own tree, you can drop it off at one of the county’s three convenience centers in Millersville, Glen Burnie and Owensville. There, Christmas trees become mulch used in the landfill.

The city of Annapolis will take your un-decked tree on your normal yard waste pickup day. Trees will be shredded into mulch by the Yardwaste Division for city gardens.

In Calvert County, citizens must transport their own trees. Drop them by one of six compactor sites — Barstow, Ball Road, Lusby, Huntingtown, Mt. Hope or Plum Point — or straight to the Appeal Landfill to be mulched. Eight to ten tons of holiday trees were collected last year. The mulch, mixed with yard waste and storm debris, is free at Appeal landfill or Barstow to Calvert countians.

“It’s single-ground, untreated mulch,” said Shirley Steffey. “It’s wonderful mulch, and it does get used.”

If you’re not yet ready to part with your tree, the National Christmas Tree Association suggests placing it in your garden, trimmed with orange slices, suet and seed to attract winter birds or submerging it in your private pond, if you have one, to create hiding places for fish and other critters. (Don’t put your tree in public waterways, though; that’s littering.)

For more details, check your county’s website.

Find more information on local government websites: Annapolis City, www.annapolis.gov. Anne Arundel County, www.aacounty.org. Calvert County, www.co.cal.md.us.

—Carrie Steele

photo courtesy of Seahorses by the Bay
Starfish, outside Adam’s the Place for Ribs in Prince Frederick, was kidnapped this summer, but returned two months later.
Calvert Seahorses’ Swimming Success
Summer’s Seahorses Find Holiday Homes

Calvert’s 25 colorful seahorses found new habitat for the winter months. Since their unveiling on May Day, the giant fish had been on display all over Calvert County, welcoming patrons to local businesses and beckoning citizens and visitors to explore nearby sites. Created by local school children as public art, each of the four-by-six-foot seahorses also raised money for art.

Though final numbers have not yet been crunched, Seahorses by the Bay exceeded everyone’s expectations. At both live and on-line auction, the seahorses sold for thousands of dollars each.

“They went from $1,500 to over $5,000,” said Stacey Hann-Ruff, director of Annmarie Gardens. “None of them sold for less than a thousand dollars.”

The highest price went for King of the Seahorses, the progeny of Mount Harmoney Elementary School, who spent most of the year at the sculpture garden.

The auctions alone raised more than $70,000. Other events — among them a raffle for Artie the Seahorse and a silent art auction of seahorse-inspired art by local artists — each earned more than $1,000.

“The good news is that everything goes to the schools,” Hann-Ruff said.

Funds raised from the sale of the seahorses make sure Calvert County art students are well-equipped to express their creative energies and that art programs continue in the schools.

“We’ll distribute $1,000 to each of the 25 participating schools for their art programs. A granting fund will allow teachers to apply for art project money,” Hann-Ruff explained.

Who reeled in these giant fish?

“Local people who were entranced by the art project,” Hann-Ruff said. “One buyer just loved seahorses.” Some schools, including Mutual Elementary, brought home their own seahorse, helped out by their PTAs. “People just wanted to display them at their homes” Hann-Ruff said. “Everyone who bought a seahorse knew about the project,” she added, and wanted to support it.

Some people just couldn’t wait to take a seahorse home: One seahorse-napping over the summer made news before Starfish was safely returned nearly too months later to Calvert Middle School.

With every seahorse in a new home by the holidays, Annmarie Garden considers the project a resounding success, raising more money than ever dreamed.

“Our seahorses raised amounts comparable to professional art projects done in other areas,” Hann-Ruff said.

The secret to their success was in their curvy, playful vertical shape.

“We started with a great shape.” Hann-Ruff said, “Coupled with great designs, that got results that pleasantly surprised us all.”

—Carrie Steele

Ask the Plant Professor

Spring Outdoors; Fall In

Q I am trying to winter-over my hibiscus indoors. How can I maximize growth?

A The hibiscus will probably lose many or all of its leaves until it readapts to the indoor conditions. Don't despair. Water moderately when the top inch of soil has dried; don't fertilize until next spring. It will like bright light with some direct sunlight daily. Hibiscus can continue to flower and flourish indoors if regular watering and feeding continues, but many people prefer to let their plants rest during winter months.

Q My bulbs are coming up already! What should I do?

A Our autumn weather tricked bulbs into thinking it is already spring. Their requirements for hours of cold were fulfilled, and then it got warm. A hard freeze will stop foliage growth and won’t hurt the foliage.There may be some foliage browning or yellowing, but flowers should arrive on schedule in spring — as long as flower stalks have not already emerged.

Ask the Plant and Pest Professor is compiled from questions sent to the website of the Home and Garden Information Center, part of Maryland Cooperative Extension, an educational outreach of the University of Maryland. Ask a home gardening or pest control question and find other help: 800-342-2507 (Mon.-Fri. 8am-1pm) • www.hgic.umd.edu.

Way Downstream

On Chesapeake Bay, it may be an illusion that crabs are rebounding, the Virginia Institute of Marine Science has concluded. The institute’s forthcoming report concludes that further restrictions are needed to forestall a collapse of Bay Country’s famously grumpy crustacean, the Associated Press reports. The problem? Too few females. The solution? “Spatial management zones” that alternate as no-harvest zones …

In Pennsylvania, Christmas trees may be scrawny this season, but just wait. Millions of cicada carcasses from Brood X will be supplying a rare treasure of slow-release fertilizer, feeding evergreens and everything that blooms, the York Dispatch reports…

In Minnesota, they’re setting an example for the Eastern Shore poultry industry. Rather than dumping manure on land and letting it run into rivers, Homeland Renewable Energy is building the nation’s first plant that will convert turkey droppings into clean power for 55,000 homes. Britain already has three such plants …

Our Creature Feature is a Christmas tale from Poland, where kind-hearted souls are urging mercy for the lowliest of fish: the carp. These bony Asian transplants are on the minds of many in Poland given their traditional Christmas Eve fare: An appetizer of carp in gelatine with raisins and nuts; another preparation of the fish is also eaten as the main course.

So carp advocates complained this week that people are taking them home in plastic bags, often without water, before reviving them in the bathtub for a day or two. Shouldn’t they at least be transported in water, they ask? To protest, a group called Gaja is buying carp in markets and giving them Christmas presents of their own: their freedom in rivers around Warsaw.

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