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Volume xviii, Issue 23 ~ June 10 to June 16, 2010

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Music to Soothe Wounded Warriors

Ensemble Galilei’s June 13 concert promotes their Walter Reed music

Every Friday, Carolyn Surrick, Ginger Hildebrand and Sue Richards drive from near Annapolis into Washington, D.C., to practice their music. For a year and a half, the Ensemble Galilei performers make the trek every week to Mologne House, an outpatient hotel for Walter Reed soldiers who manage without round-the-clock care.

These practice sessions were the brainchild of viola da gamba player Surrick, who thought she could get more out of her practice time.

“As musicians, you practice all the time. It occurred to me that our practice sounds pretty darn good,” says Surrick. “I could practice just as easily somewhere where it would mean something as I could in my own living room.”

Surrick recruited Hildebrand and Richards to play with her for wounded warriors at Mologne House.

“We come in and make it seem like not such a hospital one day a week,” Surrick says.

Soldiers told Surrick she has so improved their lives that they wanted more.

“These guys can’t sleep,” Surrick says. “They’d ask if we could come back at night.”

Schedules made evening lullabies impossible. So Surrick and her trio gave the soldiers copies of Ensemble Galilei’s CDs. The sound of the full six-person ensemble, however, was not what the soldiers were used to.

So Surrick, Hildebrand and Richards recorded Above and Beyond, a CD specifically for the Mologne House soldiers.

“The music is really beautiful and calm,” Surrick says. “We designed it so it would be really helpful to people who have PTSD and who have trouble calming down.”

The recording has been a big hit at Mologne House, where free copies were distributed. To raise funds, however, the trio had to start raising their profile. They sell the CDs for $15 at performances and thru West Annapolis’ Art Things store. All funds support producing new CDs and Operation Warrior Fund, a charity that sends the children of felled soldiers to college.

Hear for yourself, Sunday, June 13 at a free concert in Annapolis’ St. Margaret’s Church. Pick up your copy of the CD after the show.

But heed Surrick’s warning.

“Don’t listen to the CD during long car rides,” she warns. “It’s very soothing.”

See 8 Days a Week for concert details.

–Diana Beechener

Treat Our Flag Right

It’s Alive, U.S. Code Says

On Monday June 14, our nation celebrates Flag Day, a national holiday that honors the Continental Congress’ adoption of the official American flag.

With 13 bars and 50 stars, the American flag is one of the most recognizable symbols of our union. Here’s how to treat it with the care it deserves.

• Don’t wear the flag. Resist the temptation to buy apparel imprinted with the American flag. The United States Code forbids the flag to be used as “wearing apparel, bedding or drapery. It should never be festooned, drawn back, nor up in folds, but always allowed to fall free.”

The flag may, however, be worn as a patch “affixed to the uniform of military personnel, firemen, policemen and members of patriotic organizations.”

• The American Flag comes first. In hoisting multiple flags up the pole, check the order. The American flag should fly above state, decorative and organization flags. If you are honoring another nation, the flags are separate, but equal.

“International usage forbids the display of the flag of one nation above that of another nation in time of peace,” according to the Code.

• When in trouble, flip your flag. Traditionally, all American flags should be flown with the Union — the blue section with the stars — at the upper left corner. If you find yourself in need of help and without a telephone, try flipping your American flag and flying it with the union down. It’s our national distress sign.

• Your flag has a bedtime. When the sun sets, you should lower your American flag, properly fold it and store it until the next morning. If you want Old Glory aloft over night, you need to give it a nightlight. In terms of the code, you must have at least one light dedicated to spotlighting your flag.

• Flying a tattered flag is worse than flying no flag at all. Weather-beaten and damaged flags are considered an affront to the nation. Why? Because the Flag Code defines the American flag as a living thing, meaning any damage is equivalent to damaging the nation. If your flag is in disrepair, you must dispose of it respectfully.

• You can burn the American Flag respectfully. Though typically a symbol of protest, burning the American flag is also the preferred disposal method under code. If you don’t have the heart to set the flag ablaze, a local branch of the American Legion will end the life of your tattered flag.

–Diana Beechener

This Week’s Creature Feature

How Many Oysters Does It Take to Restore the Bay?

Severn River Association lowers the magic number

Fran and John Zarkowski dump oyster spat into the Severn River.

Marylanders are planting oysters as if they can save the species by their effort alone. Perhaps they can.

The Severn River is among a dozen waterways where Marylanders Grow Oysters, joining in a state program supported by the Maryland Department of Natural Resources and the Oyster Recovery Partnership.

To rebuild oyster reefs in the Severn, more than 250 volunteers have tended 1,100 cages of spat suspended from docks along the river. Oysters were raised at private and community docks from Round Bay south to areas around Annapolis, including at Annapolis City Docks in Ego Alley and at the National Sailing Hall of Fame.

Last weekend, dozens of boats joined in the culmination of a year’s work. Severn River Association volunteers collected three-quarters of a million yearling oysters to plant on a new reef built by the Army Corps of Engineers as the Severn River Association’s oyster sanctuary.

Traces Hollow Reef, near the Rt. 50 bridge, is across from the U.S. Naval Academy on the Scenic Severn River.

Santuary oysters are never harvested; they live to restore the Bay, its many species and their own kind.

The Severn River Association is the oldest river association in the U.S. and Anne Arundel County’s only river group in continuous operation since 1911. Join the association’s second century by sitting in at a monthly third Tuesday meeting — that’s June 17 this month — at 7pm at Calvary United Methodist Church in Annapolis.

–Sandra Olivetti Martin

Patron of the Arts

Student artists knock on opportunity’s door

An empty park bench brought 17-year-old Calvert High School rising senior Justin Astafanous to the attention of the most powerful man in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Under the title My Ideal Thinking Place, Astafanous entered his photograph of a bench in Washington, D.C.’s, Tidal Basin in 2010’s Fifth Congressional District Congressional Arts Competition. The Fifth Congressional District includes parts of Anne Arundel, Calvert, Charles, Prince George’s and St. Mary’s counties.

Congressman Steny Hoyer and Justin Astafnous stand before the Calvert High School student’s photograph, titled My Ideal Thinking Place, which he entered in the Fifth Congressional District Congressional Arts Competition.

A jury of artists and arts council organizers from the counties gave first prize to Caitie Dorshefski of Fort Washington, whose 3-D photograph created from five copies of the same image will hang for a year in the halls of Congress.

But Astafanous got to meet the man, Steny Hoyer — Maryland’s Fifth District congressman and majority leader in the U.S. House — at a reception at CalvART Gallery in Prince Frederick honoring the 21 students who submitted their work to this year’s competition.

“You have such extraordinary talent,” Hoyer told the young artists, whose work he described as “all different, all deep.”

Smart kid that Astafanous is, he asked Hoyer’s help in getting a photography job in Congress.

The young photographer, who started taking pictures on a camera given him on his sixth Christmas, says photography “has been my job” since his father challenged him to use his camera or lose it. He’s still an amateur as far as payment goes, but he has a studio and shoots events, including political events for state Sen. Anthony Muse, who represents Prince George’s County.

High school teacher Kristen Ratcliff urged Astafanous to enter his photo and helped him frame it. The bench is in clear focus; an American flag waves unfocused in the background. Beneath the bench a bee buzzes. At first unnoticed by the young photographer, the bee underscores the spring promise of an image from the Cherry Blossom Festival.

Anne Arundel County’s Rachel Roth preferred a painted self-portrait for her entry — though the Southern High School rising senior is the granddaughter of Keith Jewell, who for 29 years was photographer for the U.S. House to which Astafanous aspires.

It’s a small world full of big opportunities.

That’s the train John Schaffner’s thoughts followed as the CalvART sculptor watched the young artists meet their congressman.

“I won a prize in Ohio when I was in high school,” Schaffner reflected. “We had to put William Tecumseh Sherman on a letterhead for the Historical Society of Lancaster County, where the Civil War Union general was born. My design won. So I know what these kids are feeling.”

One way or the other, Astafanous — who is already a student member of Calvert’s Board of Education — will get his job. Take the first step, and anything is possible.

–Sandra Olivetti Martin

The Osprey Saga

Week 13: We Have Babies

On the morning of June 5, I saw Olivia and Oliver standing on the edge of their nest and staring down into it. There was no doubt that the blessed event had taken place, and that the eggs had finally given up their occupants. I couldn’t see into the nest from my vantage point, so I’ll have to wait at least a week to 10 days for the hatchlings to grow enough for me to count their heads.

Oliver now spends his days fishing and bringing his catch to the nest for our little mother to feed to the voracious newborns. He always first eats the head off the fish before delivering it. This is to ensure that it is dead and will not flop around in the nest, or out of it.

Every morning there is much fussing about, both parents peering down into the nest, admiring their offspring and congratulating themselves on their achievement. During the day, Olivia stands and spreads her wings to shield the babies from the hot sun.

It will take about eight weeks of care and feeding before the hatchlings are ready to fly. Then the process begins of teaching them to fish for themselves. Independence for the newborns is still a long way off.

Thus continues Michael Koblos’ 26-week saga of the doings of his nearest osprey family. A 78-year-old retired naval officer, Koblos lives in a small cottage on the water, Home Port, in a place called Cobb Island, located in the wide Potomac River about 50 miles south of Washington, D.C.

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