Home

Confessions of an Un-Runner

Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Truth has many colors – and yours is the virulent green of day-old vomit.

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Every time we open our mouths to speak we have a choice. A critical choice.

We can choose to use our words to build someone up, to brighten their day, to tell them they’re awesome, they’re loved, they’re creative, they’re resourceful. We can use our words to help them become stronger, more secure and able to take on life’s challenges. We can make their world better, simply by pointing out the positive.

We can choose to remain neutral.  We can talk about the weather, football, the government or what to make for dinner. These words don’t have a positive effect on the world, but they do no harm, either.

Our third choice is the most popular option. We can use our words to wound, to hurt, to embarrass. We can point out the other’s faults, shortcomings and imperfections. We can let them know we find them lacking, less than optimal, less than…..well, ourselves.  We leave them slightly stunned, trying to hide the wounds our words have caused.  Their world – and self-esteem – is diminished slightly; our words have found their mark. We shrug, turn away, and reassure ourselves that we did nothing wrong – we spoke only the truth.  We continue along our way, in search of our next victim.

As a recent victim, I say to you: the truth has many colors, and yours is the virulent green of day-old vomit.  If I do not ask for your opinion – do not give it. Do not tell me of my faults, I know them already.  I should, you’ve pointed them out enough.  Please note – they still exist; your notice did nothing to help me grow, indeed, it kept me small and helpless. Perhaps that was your plan, all along?

The Mid-Shore Parking Lot Season

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

It's that time again. Time for all major routes on the mid-shore to be inundated with traffic. It's time to start planning our drive to avoid said roads - in specific - anything eastbound on Friday and Saturday and anything westbound on Sunday.  Even last Sunday afternoon Route 50 west was a parking lot from Easton towards the bridge.

Fortunately, as we locals know, there are back roads that will get us there - eventually.

So, as we prepare to spend even MORE time in our cars - it's time to get prepared!

Cyndi's Car Preparation Guide

1. Water - just store it under seats so it stays relatively cool.

2. Snacks - our car is a veritable snack bar with Pop-tarts, pretzels, gum, fiber bars, fruit and our emergency standby - peanut butter and bread.

3. Books - these are for the kids, since folks get upset when I read and drive.

4. Books on CD (or MP3) - I love listening to books while I drive - especially when I feel like I'm learning something!

5. Tissues - for the chewed gum, banana peels and occasional nosebleed.

Can Weather be Menopausal?

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I’m so confused ….   I’m either hot, bundled under blankets and looking for warm socks ; or overheated,  throwing off layers,  grabbing for fans and fantasizing about central air conditioning.   I was wondering if I’d jumped off the deep end into menopause, but even my kids are showing identical symptoms.   It’s not me – it’s Spring that’s having hot and cold flashes and crying fits!

She (Spring) first made an early appearance, only to disappear for weeks while she was off, sulking.  She then returned with intermittent hot flashes, causing everyone to scuttle mid-day for cooler attire.  Then, as if ashamed of her burst of energy she turned cold, dampening us with days of rain, wind and – in some areas – tornados (talk about the ultimate hissy fit!).

Maybe she’s not menopausal – Spring’s all about growth, birth and renewal.  Maybe she’s jumped on the celebrity bandwagon and is flaunting her bipolar side.  Her moods certainly seem erratic – and she seems to be having difficulty establishing a calm mid-line.  Maybe it’s just stress – that nasty imp that can cause any of us to experience mood swings, sleeplessness (or excess sleep), crying fits and night sweats.   And let’s be honest – the overall stress level of the nation has been at an all time high.  

Couch Potatoes of the Mid-Shore: I’m abdicating my presidency!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I don’t understand folks who love to exercise – I just don’t get it. I’d rather curl up with a book, personally!  I have friends that run marathons (??????) and others who just (JUST)run a mile or two at a time. More and more friends are becoming addicted to CrossFIt in Easton – and from the looks of them – it really WORKS! 

These girl-friends must know something – because they seem happier and healthier in their daily life – and look fantastic in those “little black dresses”.  It might just be time for me to re-think my diet and fitness lifestyle.  (Nothing like a January cliché, no?)

Apparently the diet and fitness routine of my first 35 years (and pre-children) does NOT hold up to time and gravity.  Unfortunately it’s taken me over ten years to come to this conclusion.  I’m a fantastic procrastinator! 

Today I researched Weight Watchers and calculated how many points I’m allowed per day.  I then figured out the point value of the food I eat regularly - which turned out to be about 4-6 times the number of daily points I’m SUPPOSED to consume.

Oops.

Choose Door Number Two this New Year!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Wow. It’s almost 2011 – another year bites the dust.  Another year has passed without us realizing significant change in our lives.  We’re still overweight, under read, and standing on the brink of realizing our true potential.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Don’t get me wrong – I’ve had some actual accomplishments this year (like finally finishing my first manuscript!)  But there’s always more left undone.  I suppose I can look at it two ways:  1) everything I FAILED to accomplish with my life to date or 2) all these amazing things to reach for NOW. 

Hmm….I do believe I’ll take Door Number Two! So what do I win?

Well,  you’ve chosen an exciting path for 2011! Adventure, explosive growth and massive success stand behind Door Number Two! Of course, you’ll have to commit to the course and plan accordingly – you really can’t experience Door Number Two without actually getting up off the couch and DOING something!

You’ll also need to be prepared for anything. So make sure your passport & papers are in order, have someone on hand to care for the critters, and be sure to save money every month for last minute travel and opportunities!

Next, learn from the children in your life and ASK for what you want! Tell people your goals and expect them to help you reach them!  Accordingly, do whatever YOU can do to help other people accomplish their dreams, as well. 

After all, it’s a brand new year – and Door Number Two is YOURS for the taking. 

Will you take it?

"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us."   -Marianne Williamson

There's Nothing Like the Movies - To Make You Feel OLD

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I went to the movies this week - to see Harry Potter. There's nothing like a trip to the cinema to make you feel as old as Methuselah. First, of course, is being surrounded by teens, pre-teens and young adults. Although perhaps "old children" feels more appropriate.

But I didn't mind the younger crowd - and was rather grateful there were no new parents in the darkened theatre, so desperate for a night out they brought their crying offspring. (ok - I only did that ONCE - and she was quiet the ENTIRE movie!)

What really made me feel OLD - the Previews. You know the endless parade of upcoming films - with no fast forward button. Each one involved techno- enhanced super heroes, alternate worlds and explosive action. Yogi Bear was the only preview that didn't leave me shuddering - although I won't be running out to see that one, either. TRON, The Green Lantern and The Green Hornet will have to survive without me as well - since I found the previews to be more than enough.

Is this what the film industry has become? Each film more unbelievable than the one before?

I don't think I'm hopelessly out of touch (although I'm sure my children would disagree!). I enjoyed the Shrek series, love Harry Potter (although prefer the books and the audio recordings) and even read Twilight!

{sigh} Yeah, ok. I'm old. Guess I'll just stay home and watch Casablanca!

Take THAT, Kidney Stones!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I’m a natural healer kind of gal. I believe in alternative medicine, herbs and healing foods. So when I suddenly found myself bent double in agony, I did what any self-actualized, natural healer would do.

I went to the Emergency Room for some kick-ass pain killers. 

The hospital visit started out great, as visits go. First  - there was NO ONE in the ER!!!  The lady at reception got my name and address, gave me a better puke bucket, and sent me to the triage nurse.  The nurse listened to my tale of immediate and incredible pain and said “You’ve got kidney stones.” Then the angel of mercy took me immediately to a cubicle and started an IV so she could give me some pain relief! Ok, it took her three sticks and I’ve got some nice bruises – but she still gets a gold star from me!

Unfortunately, the pain relief was over-rated. It took the pain down a (small) notch, but my head was swimming nicely. Soon I had anti-nausea drugs, more pain relief and a couple of other things I don’t remember.  Still had a great deal of pain – but was happy to lay there contemplating my existence – in between teeth chattering chills.  

The doctor finally came in and announced I had a 6mm stone in the urethra, and more in my kidneys. Wonderful. He then announced that people usually couldn’t pass anything over 4-5mm. He said this to my shaking, chattering body. He gave me a handful of prescriptions and the name of a urologist to contact in the next day or so – AND SENT ME HOME!!

By the time we arrived home all the pain relief had worn out and I was in agony again.  I drank more water and took the prescribed medicines, praying for relief. 

Sucky Halloween Mom takes on The Great Pumpkin!

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

It’s time Halloween and I had a heart to heart talk. 

SUCKY HALLOWEEN MOM (that would be ME): Why do you do this to me every year?  Why do you rob me of time and money with the sole purpose of stuffing my kids on candy I don’t let them have the rest of the year??? Why???

THE GREAT PUMPKIN:  What’s your problem? Are you like the Bah Humbug Scrooge of Halloween? What did I ever do to you???

SHM: Ok, it’s not JUST you! But as soon as you raise your orange head we’re inundated in tinsel, Rudolph’s and long wish lists!

TGP: Let’s get this straight. You hate me because I’m close to Christmas? Gal, you’ve got ISSUES!  And what’s wrong with some candy? You certainly like eating it, by the looks of those love handles!

SHM: and that’s ANOTHER problem! My fat pants are getting tight!

TGP: So you blame a holiday instead of your obsession with fresh bread and cookies? And take it out on your kids?

SHM: NO! They dress up and go trick or treating – I just don’t like it very much! I don’t see the point!

TGP: Well, not everything has a point – and that doesn’t make it wrong. As it happens, however, I DO!  Halloween started as Samhain, a Celtic celebration literally translated “end of summer”.  Folks used to celebrate the harvest and enjoy the festivities before they were confined indoors for months of cold weather! It’s the break between the six months of light, and the six months of darkness!

SHM: and that’s ANOTHER reason not to like you – the DARK!!!

Explore the Shore with Kids – and Dogs!

By Cyndi Paxton Johnson

Hate seeing those sad puppy eyes when you leave the house for some well-deserved fun and adventure? Take heart! There are a ton of dog-friendly places and activities on both sides of the Chesapeake Bay!

Let’s start with every four-legged friend’s definition of a doggone good time: off leash adventures with other dogs!

                                              Western Shore

Quiet Waters Park in Annapolis offers canine heaven. Leashed dogs are welcome all over the park, including the playgrounds and trails. Two fenced parks offer a safe off-leash play area for small or geriatric dogs that don’t enjoy the occasional rough play of the larger, younger versions. There are benches in shaded corners and two refillable kiddie pools for cooling off. Children younger than 6 are not permitted in the larger park – a very sensible precaution given the speed of these energetic pups.

The best feature of Quiet Waters – an off leash doggie beach! It’s not fenced in, but is isolated and the dogs are having too much fun with each other to plot escape routes. There’s no way you could use a leash safely – at least not with weekend crowds. Dogs hurled back and forth on the sandy beach and raced each other to fetch sticks, balls and toys from the water. Several dogs would join together to retrieve a large branch, while another barked instructions: “Get that end, it’s going to sink!” “Don’t swim that way!” “Over HERE – don’t you SEE me???” HBO has nothing on the doggie beach. Older children joined in the fun – wee ones watched from a safe distance.

The park offers real bathrooms for two-legged visitors, and a hand held outdoor shower to de-sand the dogs and kids. The park costs $6.00 per carload to enter, and is closed every Tuesday. Take your bikes – paved trails cover the large park. Their website is: http://www.aacounty.org/RecParks/parks/quietwaters/.

Downs Park in Pasadena offers another secluded dog beach, along with playgrounds, trails, handball and basketball courts. Like Quiet Waters, it costs $6.00 per carload to enter and is closed on Tuesdays.

Those Bus Trip Blues

by Cyndi Paxton Johnson

I'm an independent traveler - give me a map and get out of my way! I like meandering through unfamiliar places, asking the locals for input on where to go, where to stay and where to eat.  Crowds make me nervous – and I avoid tourist traps like the proverbial plague.  I’ve been known to veer off main highways to make my way on unknown back roads – just to avoid sitting in traffic.  I’m also known for marching into kitchens, demanding better food or service. 

So why did I spend last week on a bus trip to Myrtle Beach, surrounded by women who were 20-40 years older than I?  Love. My mom loves traveling with her Red Hat group, and invited me to go with her. I went.  Didn’t even complain when we had to get up at 3am to catch a 6am bus (which finally arrived 2 hours late).

The speeding bus with harried bus driver (he had been stuck behind an accident), turned into where we were waiting, and sped by us without blinking. How he missed a group of 30 well-padded women wearing bright red and purple (and red hats!), jumping up and down amidst enough luggage to dress a small country, is beyond me.  He finally figured out his mistake and returned.

We loaded the luggage into the bus (the bus driver had a bad back) and claimed the seats that would be ours for the week. Mom insisted the “Fun” group sat near the back of the bus (can you tell she was a trouble-maker in school?) so back we trudged – carrying enough food to survive for a week. I couldn’t fit through the aisle with all my packages – but my cousin rescued me before I was overrun by anxious women wearing purple.

We took off to pick up the next group of Red Hatters – and I immediately flashed back to a cab ride in Boston many years ago as the driver alternately sped and slammed on the brakes for non-existent obstacles. I was suddenly grateful we hadn’t had a big breakfast!

Country Canning Corner

Abundance: the inner peace that abounds when we gaze at our overflowing gardens and our stocked pantries and freezers. Canning is simple - we can all learn to preserve and savor nature's bounty!

James R. Coffey

It’s Time to Can Soup and Chili

by J.R. Coffey

It is hard to believe another canning season will soon be over.  This is the best time of year to can soups to have for the Winter ahead.  Hunters will soon be going out and I have included directions on how to can beef or venison.  All of these make for quick meals.  Just heat and serve.  You also do not have to worry if the power goes off and losing your food.  I will give you some general information for all of the recipes that will follow:

General Directions for Soups

1). I prefer to make my broth or stock the day before.  This allows you to skim off the excess fat and discard it or use it for soap.  Some fat should be left in, but too much will prevent jars from sealing.

2). Prepare all vegetables just as you would to cook.  Peel and chop or dice every vegetables.  String and cut or break green beans, shell limas or peas, cut corn off of cob etc.  Some of this can be done the day before and items refrigerated to finish the next day.  Soup spoils easily so work with help or in amounts you can do quickly.

3). Leave 1” headspace in all jars.  Clean jar rims and seal.  Failure to clean jar rims can result in seal failure.

In a Cucumber Pickle

By James R. Coffey

I hope everyone had a good Winter and Spring season.  It is hard to believe another canning season has arrived.  It seems like everyone at some time has a glut of cucumbers and the recipes that follow are some of my favorite ways to preserve them.

Bread and Butter Pickle

This is a recipe I have won a Blue Ribbon on at Cecil County Fair.

3 pounds medium size cucumbers

2 large white onions, sliced
½ large red pepper, washed, seeded and choppe
2 T. canning salt
1 ¼ C. cider vinegar
1 ¼ C. sugar
1 ½ t. mustard seed
1 t. turmeric
1/8 t. ground cloves

Wash cucumbers and cut off and discard a thin slice from each end.  Slice cucumbers as thin as possible, either by hand or use a food processor.  Layer cucumbers, onions, peppers and salt in a bowl.  Let stand for 1 hour.  Drain vegetables and rinse in cold water.  Combine vinegar, sugar and spices in large kettle and bring to a boil.  Add vegetables and heat, but do not boil.  Remove from heat.  Pack pickles into clean jars, leaving ½ “ headspace.  Wipe jar rims.  Seal.Process 5 minutes in a boiling water bath.Makes 4 pts.

Let’s Can Apples

by JR Coffey

The smell of cooking apples seem to say Fall.  It is that smell and taste that we want to capture in the canning jar.  I believe Fall is one of the busiest times in regard to canning and preserving.  Many fruits are in during the Fall season, including grapes, apples, pears, plums and figs.  Let’s get started canning! 

The varieties of apples are endless.  I prefer Golden Delicious to can for Baking, Ginger Gold for Apple Chutney, Winesaps, Grimes Golden or my favorite Northern Spy for applesauce and apple butter.  The early apples such as Summer Rambo and Transparent are good for sauce and cooking as well.  I use the same apples for pies as for sauce.

Apples for Baking

1 gallon apples, peeled and quartered

1 C. sugar

1 t. Fruit Fresh

Mix sugar and fruit fresh and sprinkle over apples.  Cover and let stand overnight.  Next morning, pack apples into clean jars, leaving ¾” headspace.  Add hot water to juice left in container and dissolve sugar and divide liquid among the jars.  Add more water to fill jars to within ¾” headspace.  Wipe jar rims, seal and process (cold pack) 5 to 10 minutes in boiling water bath.  Do half gallon jars 15 minutes.  Do not process too long or they will turn to sauce instead.  Golden Delicious are excellent canned this way.

A slight variation is to use 2 to 3 pounds sugar for a 5 gallon container of prepared apples.  To serve, put your apples in a casserole dish.  Sprinkle with about ¼ C. brown sugar and dot with about 1 or 2 T. butter.  Bake at 300 degrees for 45 to 60 minute.

Apple Pie Filling

Please see Peach column for my pie filling to can recipe.  Just add 1 T. ground cinnamon per double batch of glaze for each ½ bushel of apples.  This will can 14 to 16 quarts each time.  You could add some apple pie spice (1 to 2 t.) instead of or in addition to the cinnamon.  Some also like about a teaspoon of vanilla as well in apple pie filling.

Let’s Can Tomatoes

by James R. Coffey

It is hard to believe August is here and Fall is around the corner.  Hopefully everyone is stocking their canning shelves with food for the coming Winter season.  This article will deal with several ways to preserve tomatoes by canning, juices, soup and sauces.  I am hearing that tomatoes are very plentiful so let’s start canning them.  Several sources for canning supplies are your local Walmart, Good’s Store in Quarryville, PA. And also Byler’s Store in Dover, DE.  Check at also local hardware and also within your bulk food stores if you are near an Amish/Mennonite community.

Plain Solid Pack Tomatoes

Peel, core and remove hard green spots.  Leave whole, halve or quarter.  Pack tightly into clean jars, pressing down so juice will cover them.  Leave 1” headspace.  Add NO water! Add 1 t. canning salt to a quart or ½ t. canning salt to a pint.  Add also ½ t. citric acid to each quart or ¼ t. citric acid to a pint. If you do not have citric acid use: 2 T. Realemon juice to a quart or 1 T. Realemon juice to a pint.  You may add also ½-1 t. sugar if you desire as well.  Do not omit either the citric acid or the lemon juice in any canned tomato recipe.  Wipe jar rims, seal and process by one of the methods below:

Hot Water Bath: Pints: 20 minutes; Quarts and Half Gallons: 30 minutes.

Pressure Canner: Pints and Quarts: 15 minutes at 5 pounds pressure or 10 minutes at 10 pounds pressure.  Half Gallons should be fine for the same time.

The USDA recommends all raw packed tomatoes be processed 85 minutes in the boiling water bath.  This is overkill in my opinion and results in mush.  My time follows the old recommendations and that in other areas of the United States.  Be sure not to can a low acid tomatoes.  I always use a high acid type to can.  For easy peeling, wash tomatoes and drop in boiling water.  Leave ½ minutes.  Remove and put in cold water.  Leave about 30 seconds and the skins will slip off.  I like mine still warm to peel quick. For all raw packed cold tomatoes, I have cold water in my canner and I do not time it until the water is at a rolling boil.  For all hot packed jars, use hot water.  If you forget, you will have broken jars either way.

Let's Can Peaches II

Recipes by James R Coffey

Peach Pie Filling

4 to 6 quarts prepared fruit, as for canning

2 C. Clear Jell (Check at Amish Bulk Food Stores or on line)

2 C. cold water

7 C. sugar

1 t. canning salt

6 C. water

Mix clear jell and 2 C. cold water until smooth.  Combine the sugar, salt and remaining  6 C. water and  bring to a boil.  Add clear jell mixture and cook until thick and clear.  Add fruit.  Fill jars, leaving 1 to 1 ½ inches of headspace.  Wipe jar rims, seal and process by one of the methods given below:

Water Bath (pints and quarts): 30 minutes

Pressure Canner: (pints and quarts): 10 minutes at 5 pounds pressure.

I only can Fruit Pie Fillings in my pressure canner as I feel it makes mush of fruit otherwise.  I use this for Peaches, Apples (add 1 to 2 t. cinnamon), Blueberries, Cherries (can add red coloring and a little almond flavoring, if desired), Blackberry, Apricot and other berries.

Let’s Get Peachy! Canning Peaches Volume 1

by James R. Coffey

It is hard to believe, but fresh peaches are starting to show up in markets and probably will be early due to all of the warm weather we have had here this year.  My next several articles will be on preserving peaches in several different ways.  I hope to do one on tomatoes as well as we approach August and September.  Some of my favorite varieties are Red Haven, Sun High, Loring, and Elberta.  I would say my absolute favorite is Red Haven.  I call them “If-y Stone Peaches!”.  The reason is sometimes they are freestone and sometimes they want to cling to the stone and they have to be cut off, but no other compares for flavor and the ability not to darken. 

There are several methods of preserving peaches.  I prefer canning them.  Freezing is easy as well.  Just peel, pit, slice and sprinkle a little sugar on them and add a little Fruit Fresh according to package directions and freeze.  Red Haven will really keep their color.  You can also grind them, add the Fruit Fresh and freeze in recipe amounts for jams, cakes and other uses.

Canning is my absolute favorite way to preserve fresh peaches.  Peaches are also high in acid and need a very short processing time as compared to low acid food.  It should be one of the first can items for a novice.  Peaches can be canned and sweetened several different ways.  I will give all that I know as well as how to use agave nectar as well.

How to Can Peaches

Peel, cut in half, and remove pits.  Save peeling and pits later for making jelly.  This is why I do not like to scald the peaches and I feel it makes them slimy and harder to peel.  Pack peaches, raw, cavity side down into clean jars, leaving 1 inch headspace.  Follow directions below as to how to sweeten and finish:

Direct Sugar Method: Add ¼ to ½ C. granulated sugar to each quart.  Some adds up to 2/3 C., but I feel the lesser amount is better.  Fill jar to the neck with cold water.  (This is about 1 inch headspace and is for all methods).  For pint jars, use half of these amounts of sugar.

Recipes for Strawberry Jam, Frozen Strawberries, Strawberry Lemonade, Strawberry Rhubarb Freezer Jam and More

by JR Coffey, author of Country Canning and Country Canning II

Preserved Strawberries 1
Cap, wash and weight strawberries. For every pound of strawberries, use one pound of sugar. It is best to cook one quart at a time. Combine berries and sugar. Let stand
several hours, then bring to a boil and cook for 20 minutes. Skim as needed. Remove from fire and plump overnight. Pour hot preserves in a shallow pan and allow to cool.
Shake pan occasionally. Cover with plastic wrap when cool. This makes the strawberries plump up and absorb the syrup. Next morning, pack cold preserves into jars.
Wipe jar rims, seal and process at 180 to 190 for 20 to 25 minutes. Do not allow water to boil or berries will shrink considerably.


Preserved Strawberries 2
Use firm, ripe whole berries. Scald 2 full heaping quarts, leaving them in boiling water 2
minutes. Drain and add 4C. sugar. Boil 2 minutes, counting the time after the entire
contents of pan are bubbling. Remove from fire and after bubbling has stopped, add 2
more C. sugar. Boil 5 minutes. Pour into shallow pans so preserves are not over 1 12"
deep. Let stand overnight. Cover with plastic wrap when cool. Shake the shallow pan
frequently so berries will plump and absorb the syrup. Can as directed in Recipe 1.
Makes 5 to 6 half pints.

How to Can Asparagus

by James R. Coffey

Enjoy Spring Asparagus throughout the year! More recipes are available from my two books, Country Canning and Country Canning II.

Remove scales from stalks and wash. Cut in jar length pieces. You can process cut asparagus pieces separately. Do not can the tough bottom part of the spear. Pack jar, add salt and water to fill jar. One most vegetables and meats I use 1/2 t. canning salt to each pint or 1 t. canning salt to each quart. Wipe jar rims, seal and process by one of the methods below:


Water Bath: 2 1/2 hours (pints and quarts)
Pressure Canner: pints: 25 minutes; quarts: 35 minutes at 10 to 11 pounds pressure Some do pints 2 hours, quarts 3 hours in water bath or pints 30 minutes, quarts 40 minutes in a pressure canner. Both methods work and keep well.

Pickled Asparagus by the Jar (Dill Type)
Remove tough ends and scales. Wash asparagus. Prepare jars and lids. It will take 1 to 2 pounds of asparagus for each jar. Use pints or quarts. Cut asparagus to fit jar. Leave 1" headspace. To each jar, add as directed below:

Canning Blackberries and Corn and Beans - Oh My!

By James R. Coffey

My! How fast Summer is flying by and how quickly the busy part of canning and freezing are fast under way. I have had request for blackberry recipes and I will add several vegetables that are in season as well.

In this post – Canning:

Blackberry Jelly,  Jam, & Blackberry Preserves!

Green Beans     Sweet Corn

If you need instructions on HOW to can, refer to earlier blog posts!

Making Bread Spreads Using Commercial Pectin - Multiple Recipes!

by James R. Coffey
Spring is the time to make delicious, easy fruit spreads that will preserve the flavor of spring all year! First, I'll teach you how to make your own spreads - then share many fantastic recipes! This column includes recipes for Cranberry Apple Jelly, Pomegranate Jelly, Dandelion Jelly, Rhubarb Jelly, Raspberry Rhubarb Jam, Blueberry Rhubarb Jam and More!

General Directions For Making Bread Spreads Using Commercial Pectin

Wash and rinse jars (this can be done using a dishwasher). Prepare canning lids according to manufacturer’s directions. Measure sugar and set aside for later use. This is where the two pectin methods now change.

Dad's Shore Life

John's PictureJohn's PictureI'm a lot of things, husband, son, business person, web site guy, photographer, wanna-be artist....the list just goes on; but the mostly, I'm dad.

John K. Johnson

Evening Contrails

Contrails at SunsetContrails at SunsetWe were heading to Cambridge to hear our friend Anne Watts and Boister play their latest CD live, when we got a feast for our eyes.

Life in a Jar -- Irena Sendler

It's time for another look at the email inbox, this time I found one of those emails that sounded to good to be real.  This had to be a made up story, just to get get people to forward it.  Turns out that reality was actually better (worse?) than the email.

I will not go into details, but I will encourage you to follow the links below and read more about this remarkable woman from the old world and the remarkable young women from the new world that gave a story life.

Here is the email, I have inserted dates/corrections in parenthesis to correct the context of the email:

Irena Sendler


There recently (May, 2008) was a death of a 98 year-old lady named Irena. During WWII, Irena, got permission to work in the Warsaw Ghetto, as a Plumbing/Sewer (actually she worked for the health department) specialist. She had an 'ulterior motive' ... She KNEW what the Nazi's plans were for the Jews, (being Polish.) Irena smuggled infants out in the bottom of the tool box she carried, and she carried in the back of her truck a burlap sack, (for larger kids..) She also had a dog in the back that she trained to bark when the Nazi soldiers let her in and out of the ghetto. The soldiers of course wanted nothing to do with the dog and the barking covered the kids/infants noises.. During her time of doing this, she managed to smuggle out and save 2500 kids/infants. She was caught, and the Nazi's broke both her legs, arms and beat her severely. Irena kept a record of the names of all the kids she smuggled out and kept them in a glass jar, buried under a tree in her back yard. After the war, she tried to locate any parents that may have survived it and reunited the family. Most had been gassed. Those kids she helped got placed into foster family homes or adopted.

The Spoiled Under-30 Crowd!

by John K. Johnson

We all have one (or more) friends who send us every stupid email in the world; every dumb joke, every cause - real or not, every outrage (again, real or not).  Most of us delete 99% of these emails and get on with our lives.  Me, I tend to read them, scream at them, research them and send them back to the original sender with the results of my research telling them just how WRONG the email was.

However, every once in a while, you get one that is worth your time, you read it, you enjoy it, you share it with your significant other, or forward it to you email list - or you post it on your website!

THE SPOILED UNDER-30 CROWD!!!

 When I was a kid, adults used to bore me to tears with their tedious diatribes about how hard things were. When they were growing up; what with walking Twenty-five miles to school every morning....

 Uphill... Barefoot... BOTH ways ...Yadda, yadda, yadda

And I remember promising myself that when I grew up, there was no way in &*^% I was going to lay a bunch of crap like that on my kids about how hard I had it and how easy they've got it!
 
But now that... I'm over the ripe old age of thirty, I can't help but look around and notice the youth of today.  You've got it so easy! I mean, compared to my childhood, you live in a $#^% Utopia!

There's a ???? ???? in the Toilet!

You just know that can't be good.

I'm just sitting there, minding my own business, and I hear the sound that makes every parent freeze in their tracks. At least, one of my kids is screaming with that voice; it's the voice that says "There is arterial gushing from my neck region", or "She touched me". I struggle to make out the content of the scream through the door that is separating us.

"There is ???? ______ in ???? upstairs toilet." Oh yeah, I wanted to hear that. Maybe I can pretend to be asleep?

Chickens are tough!

One Tough ChickenOne Tough ChickenIt has started getting cold here on the shore. (Not as cold as Tok, Alaska, -78F last I heard) It has been getting down into the 20s at night and, of course, we are concerned for the newest members of our family.

This is our first winter with chickens and I have been having nightmares about getting up one morning and finding 8 chicken-sicles hanging upside down from the perch in their chicken coop. Guess what, chickens are a lot tougher than they appear.

Discover Space to Live In

Tips on organizing your home


by Debbie Bowden

Organize Your Day - Make a List

Feeling “list-”less?

by Debbie Bowden   Organize Now

I love, I mean really love, lists. To do lists, grocery lists, project lists. There is just something so satisfying about writing down what I need to do or buy, and then crossing it off.

The other day, I attempted to not make a listof the household chores I wanted to get done. I thought, “I can do this. I’ll just keep everything in my head and mentally click it off when done.” Admittedly, I was still making a list, only not writing it down. It was tough to get through the day’s work! I’d get something done and not feel the visceral satisfaction of pen to paper in crossing it off a written list. I felt as though I would forget to do a chore or do it out of order. I was a mess, but I did get through the day.

At the end of the day, I found that I got more satisfaction at completing the chore, I guess because my focus wasn’t on the list. I also found that I didn’t feel rushed to get things done with the only goal in mind of crossing it off the list.

All of this gave me insight into what my organizing clients probably feel -- that slight sense of panic, the burden of an outside force causing stress, and helplessness. It pains me to think of anyone feeling that way about her surroundings. I’m glad that I am available to help.

Basements – the underbelly of disorganization

by Debbie Bowden   Organize Now

If you are fortunate enough to have a basement (with the low ground of the Eastern Shore, some of us don’t have that extra space) you probably store a lot of stuff there. A LOT of stuff. It is easy for the sub-home space to be cluttered because you don’t see it everyday (or more importantly, your mother-in-law doesn’t see it!)

Basement organizing offers a special challenge because most of the items in the basement were put there to get out of the way of your living space. Therefore, it is especially important when you tackle a basement that you be in the frame of mind to purge.

It is easier to organize the basement in areas – it makes it less likely you will become overwhelmed. Divide the basement into quadrants, either literally or figuratively. Go through each organizing step – gather, sort, categorize, and distribute, in that quadrant. Give extra attention to the categorizing step. This is where you decide whether to keep an item, throw it away, donate to charity, or save it for a yard sale. Be mindful of the axiom, “if I haven’t used it in a year, then I don’t need it.”

You may have to tackle the basement project twice, perhaps once in the spring and then again in the fall. That’s ok because you are still regaining control of your space.

Cleaning versus organizing

by Debbie Bowden  Organize Now

With spring just days away, most people want to get the house cleaned and freshened (thus the term “spring cleaning”). It feels good to open the windows, air out the house, and wash away that stale winter feeling. It is also the time that most people start organizing projects. It seems to make sense that while you are cleaning to straighten those closets, rearrange that pantry, or (gulp) tackle the garage.

Allow me to offer a bold idea – do not organize and clean at the same time! This probably seems blasphemous from a professional organizer, so I’ll explain my reasoning.

When there is a lot of clutter around, cleaning the house is just that much harder. You are working around the “stuff.” Conversely, cleaning at the same time you are organizing adds time exponentially to the organizing project.

Therefore I suggest organizing and cleaning in two separate timeframes. You will actually accomplish both more quickly. Organize first because you’ll get rid of the clutter and that will make cleaning go smoothly. Plus, there is a bonus -- you’ll feel like you’ve renewed and refreshed twice!

Organizing Your Thoughts

by Debbie Bowden  of Organize Now

We’ve all had days, weeks, months where there is just too much to do. Let’s say you have three major projects at work, the kids all have after school activities, your mother needs a ride to the doctor, the dust is an inch thick in your house, and the laundry is looking like a monster from the Saturday morning cartoons. Whew! Where to you start? Everything needs to be taken care of now!

Just like organizing your space can help make you feel at peace in your home, so can organizing your thoughts. Situations like the one I describe above call for more than just a To Do list because of the pressure of the deadline. You need to take the mental organization one step further.

Despite the deadlines, not everything has to be now. In every case, there is an order of priority. It’s finding that priority that can seem daunting, and it calls for breaking down all that you have to do into manageable tasks day by day.

Taking the example above:

  • Work projects: which project or project task has the closest deadline? You should concentrate on that first. You might try to work on the least time-consuming yet productive task so that something is done.
  • Kids’ activities: Look for an alternate transportation option. Perhaps call in a favor and ask your neighbor to drop off and pick up the kids.
  • Taking Mom to the doctor: this may be your one number priority because the appointment can’t be changed. You will need some

Don’t Organize on Snow Days

by Debbie Bowden Organize Now

It would be so easy for me to recommend organizing while you are stuck in the house on these o’ so many snow days.

Let me be realistic. If you are stuck indoors, that means so are your kids. They are bored, as they will no doubt tell you every five seconds. So entertaining the children comes at the top of your to do list on a snow day.

Being organized can help with cabin fever. First of all, you will know right where the hats, gloves, and scarves are kept when the kids want to go outside. You may even have an idea if you have an old corncob pipe to place on the snowman.

Secondly, you can be prepared with activities and games for the snow bound. It helps to know right where all your craft supplies are or where that old Monopoly game is stored to make a quick answer to “I’m bored.”

Lastly, if your space is organized, you aren’t going to fret about “this mess” and be less stressed. You’ll be happy to spend the time in your home with your kids. And this winter, that’s been A LOT of time.

Distracted clutter; distracting clutter

by Debbie Bowden   Organize Now

One of the reasons clutter starts pulling up is because we are all so busy. Think about it – you walk in the door after a long day at work, flop your purse and keys and mail and tote on the nearest table, and put the milk and eggs in the fridge. You may be lucky to get your coat hung on the back of a chair, much less in the closet. Then while your better half and kids are all chatting with you, you try to make dinner.

In the middle of the melee, you do manage to get the mail in a basket on the kitchen counter, on top of a week’s worth of other mail and a note to sign for your kid’s school. Later, after dinner has been served, the dishes cleaned up, and the load of laundry in the washer, you sit down to answer all your emails. Suddenly, its time to put the kids to bed, and just as you lean in to give little Johnny a goodnight kiss, he asks about the school note.

Yikes! “Where is it?” you ask yourself. Panic ensues. Is it in the office? No. In your purse? No. How about on the stack of magazines near your chair in the living room? Nope. Now you’ve spent 20 minutes looking for a piece of paper. As you walk into the kitchen for a drink, your brain does that magical thing it does and you remember the note is under the pile of mail. Disaster averted!

Get Organized for the New Year!

by Debbie Bowden  Organize Now

New Year’s resolutions are as varied as the people who make them: lose weight, take a college class, eat healthy, keep in contact more with friends and family, and my favorite – get organized. Here’s a tip that can help you start and be successful in organizing any space.

Break your organizing project into small, manageable tasks. It can be a help to write down a plan in an outline form, for example:

Organize House

  • Linen Closet
    • Gather all towels and sheets
    • Sort towels and sheets
    • Categorize into keep, throw away, giveaway
    • Distribute: put the “keep” into back, put the “throw aways” in the garage as rags, take “giveaways” to Goodwill
  • Office
    • Gather all paperwork and files
    • Sort the bills, the junk mail, correspondence, pictures, etc.
    • Categorize into bills to pay/file, paperwork to trash or shred, pictures and letters to file
    • Distribute: file bills and paperwork, trash or shred items, put pictures away, put correspondence in the to do pile to take care of later.

By breaking the project into smaller tasks, you are more likely to perform each task because you will find you are the time and energy to “gather all towels and sheets” versus trying to tackle “organizing the whole house.” You’ll also find that your plan becomes a handy To Do list you can use to track your progress and show your success in keeping your New Year’s resolution!

Organizing your Email

by Debbie Bowden Organize Now

When I organize for a client, I focus mainly on the stuff in the house. But for my own organizing, I apply the principles to my email storage as well.

Like most of you, I get emails that vary from friends’ quick notes to requests for organizing services. And of course, the ever-present “junk!” I treat my email like the snail mail. The junk gets deleted immediately. I read the friendly notes, respond in kind, and usually delete them. I liken these types of emails to phone calls. I don’t record my phone calls so why would I save these emails. I will “save” the friendly email if I need to use it as a reminder (more on that later). Finally, I read and respond to business email, save to the appropriate folder, and print if necessary.

I have set up folders in the Inbox, much as I have hardcopy folders. The folders are labeled for the appropriate topic: “organize now,” “taxes,” “charities,” “saved,” etc. Some of these folders have subfolders to take the organizing one step further. As soon as I am done with an email thread, I file the LAST email in the folder and delete all the rest. I only save the last email when the person I am emailing and I reply to back and forth. That way, I have all that was written in one document.

I also use the “For Follow Up” option on my email as a reminder system. There are different colored “flags” and I assign one color per folder. This is a great system, and it keeps my main Inbox neat. Here’s an example: let’s say a friend wants to see a concert in a couple of months. We “e-chat” back and forth and finally decide on a date and time. Because I need the last email as a reminder for scheduling in a future date, I save it to my “friends” folder.” Then I flag it purple. Once or twice a week, I go through my “For Follow Up” folder to see what’s happening soon.

Email is a wonderful tool, but it can get just as cluttered as your home and then it becomes uneffective.

Maintaining a clutter-free home

 

 

by Debbie Bowden of Organize Now

Let’s say you get your house organized. You’ve worked hard, probably with a knot in your stomach, but you are rewarded with no junk, no clutter, no extraneous stuff. Good job. Now you can move on to the real secret of being organized – maintenance.

Maintenance isn’t nearly as time consuming as initially organizing, but it does call for diligence. This step in the process of being completely organized calls for a change in habit. Like any habit we change it means doing things differently and establishing a new pattern.

Here’s a tip that is a tremendous help with maintenance, and only takes 5 to 10 minutes a day. Go through your entire house and pick up stuff. It doesn’t matter what time of day as long as it is around the SAME time each day (I do this when I get home from work because I am NOT a morning person). To start this new habit, literally walk through every room. Look for stuff that is out of place and put it back in its spot. Remove items that don’t belong and put them where they do belong. Most importantly, finish the room before moving on to the next.

Let me repeat that – finish the room before moving on to the next. It is too easy to get distracted by trying to tackle multiple rooms all at once. Distraction is probably the number one culprit of not having a good maintenance routine.

When you first start a maintenance routine it may take you longer than 10 minutes. But each day the time you dedicate to maintaining will shorten. Before you know it, your house is consistently organized, and that is a habit you can definitely live with.

Does Empty Space Attract Clutter?

by Debbie Bowden of Organize Now

box

I hear, “Well, there sure is a lot of space now.” That statement puts fear into the heart of an organizer because when most people are faced with empty space, they feel a strong urge to fill it. Then guess what – more clutter!

Here are a few tricks to fool the eye that the empty space just doesn’t exist:

Arrange your clothes with 2 to 3 inches between each piece. This gives the illusion that the closet is full, but gives more actual space if needed. (An added benefit – your clothes won’t get wrinkled being crammed together.)

Dude, You Gotta Hear This!

Spotlighting the best of Maryland's music scene.

Travis Mamone

An Afternoon with Chester River Runoff

By Travis Mamone

Despite the rainy and cold weather, Chester River Runoff warmed audiences with an afternoon of toe-tapping bluegrass at Easton’s Night Cat.  With their smooth three-part harmonies, excellent musicianship, and topical lyrics, it’s no wonder that What’s Up Magazine recently named them a band to watch in 2010.

Chester River Runoff has no drummer, so bassist Marc Dykeman and guitarist/singer Ben Arminger provided the rhythm section.  The voices of Arminger, Dykeman, and banjoist Sam Guthridge blended perfectly, while Nate Grower’s fiddle complemented the harmonies.  The set listed included both originals and covers.  Covers included an old Chesapeake Bay sea chanty called “Lynchberg Town,” the Osborne Brothers’ “Up This Hill and Down,” and a John Hardford number that featured an extended fiddle solo by Grower.

The originals included classics like “Old Brown” (a tribute to their maroon touring van), “Breakthrough,” and “Too Many Sunny Days.”  The latter is a true story about a terrible drought that occurred when Guthridge and Arminger used to work on a pumpkin farm.  The boys got topical with the song “Plastic Houses,” which voices fears about overdevelopment ruining the beauty of the Eastern Shore.

                        For future gigs and sound samples, visit their MySpace page at www.myspace.com/chesterriverrunoff.

Review:DEANNA BOGART—LIVE AT NIGHTCAT

By Travis Mamone

No one can deny that Deanna Bogart has soul.  It just seeps through her pores whether she’s singing, blowing her saxophone, or playing the piano.  And this past weekend, fans got a double dose of that soul at Easton’s NightCat.

Bogart draws such a crowd that she had to play two shows this weekend:  one on Friday the 8th and the other on Saturday the 9th.  Opening Saturday’s show with an instrumental jam, Bogart pounded the piano keys and stomped on the floor while Mike Aubin kept time on the drums.  She then launched into the boogie-woogie-inspired “Over Thirty (Down and Dirty),” a song that she claimed she wrote when she was 29.  Bogart stuck with originals, mostly, although she did do a soulful cover of John Hiatt’s “Have a Little Faith in Me.”

Of course her set list included her signature song, “Still the Girl in the Band.”  The bouncy number ended with an extended improvised coda that kept the audiences attention no matter where she went (she even hit a high note on the piano with the heel of her boot).

After a 20-minute break, Bogart and Aubin got back onstage and went straight into “Baby You Got What It Takes.”  Things calmed down a bit during the touching number “Soulache,” written for Bogart’s daughter Alix.  The show ended on a high-spirited note with “Down the Road,” which featured a scat solo by Aubin.

This is the second year Deanna Bogart has played at NightCat, and I don’t think it’ll be her last.  To find out where she’s playing next, go to www.deannabogart.com.

RHIANNA LAROCQUE: RISING STAR

By Travis Mamone

Meet Rhianna LaRocque:  former Severna Park native, current Northeastern University student, and a promising talent.  Her laid back acoustic melodies and stunning voice have already garnered the attention of such seasoned veterans as Rob Levitt. 

Q:  How did you get into music? Was there a lot of music in your house?
A:  I always loved music, but was always too shy to sing in front of people. It was really when my aunt's boyfriend came to our house for a visit and taught me couple chords on the guitar. For about six months, I sat in my room for hours at a time and practiced. An opportunity arose to perform when I decided I wanted to audition for a school production, and for that audition I sang in front of people for the first time. After that, I realized playing music was what I wanted to do.

My grandmother was a singer, but nobody in my immediate family plays any instruments. My mom claims my musical abilities came from her playing The Beatles, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young, and James Taylor when I was a baby.

Q:  Who were some of your influences?
A:  There is a ridiculously long list of artists that influence me, but to name a few, Joni Mitchell, Andrew Bird, Wilco, Feist, and Radiohead. I'm also lucky enough to be surrounded by a ridiculously talented group of friends, and I get a lot of ideas, support, and input from them.

Q:  When did you start writing songs?
A:  My first few songs were written in tenth grade about a failed relationship. They're really quite silly to me now, but it's cool to look back at how I've changed in the last few years.

Q:  What inspires your music?
A:  Honestly, I wish this wasn't the case, but for the most part...boys.

INTERNATIONAL JET SET AND BLACKWATER REFUGEES

INTERNATIONAL JET SET AND BLACKWATER REFUGEES—LIVE AT THE GREEN TURTLE

By Travis Mamone

Despite a crappy soundboard, local bands International Jet Set and Blackwater Refugees delivered an outstanding show this past Friday at the Green Turtle in Easton, MD.  And with a standing-room only crowd, it turned out to be the sports bar’s biggest show to date.

            Blackwater Refugees, a new alt-country trio from Easton, was the first act.  Led by Mike Shorter on bass and vocals, the band takes the grit of old school country and adds a twist of rock and roll.  At first it was unclear whether or not the Refugees would get to perform, since the soundboard blew out right when they were set to begin.  But after some tinkering, the boys kicked off their 40-minute set with signature song “County Jail.”  The Refugees did mostly originals, but through in a few covers, including “D.U.I. or Die” by Those Darlins.  That was supposed to be their last song, but after a couple of audience members called for one more song, Shorter yelled, “I can’t disappoint my fans” into the mic, and the boys delivered a killer encore.

JAYME PLOFF AND MINUS ONE—LIVE AT NIGHTCAT

By Travis Mamone

           After a few months off, Jayme Ploff returned to NightCat on August 29 singing jazz with the trio Minus One.  And it was well worth the wait!  Her expressive and dynamic voice dominated throughout the evening, and Minus One’s classic jazz sound proved to be the perfect match for Jayme.

            Minus One opened with four tunes.  Their sound is reminiscent of the classic piano-led jazz trio sound of Vince Guaraldi.  Musically all three members--Rodrigo Pinchiera on keyboard, Bob Kammann on drums, and Gary Barnes on bass—were perfectly in tune, giving each other enough room to follow the songs wherever they lead.  Barnes, however, was the one to watch for during his impressive bass solos.

            After a short break, Minus One returned to the stage with Jayme on the mic.  The set list both opened and closed with two of her original compositions.  The opener, “Imperfect Me,” would fit perfectly in Cole Porter’s songbook, while the closing “Noah’s Song” was a sweet and beautiful lullaby written for Jayme’s newborn nephew.  The rest of the songs were jazz standards.

TOMMY: AN AMAZING JOURNEY

by Travis Mamone

Easton High School has done it again with their production of the Who’s rock opera “Tommy.” Under the direction of Tom Quimby, the cast and crew bring Pete Townshed’s masterpiece to life with excitement, drama, humor, and great rock and roll.

Based on the Who’s 1969 double-album, “Tommy” tells the story a boy who, after witnessing his father kill his mother’s lover, becomes psychosomatically deaf, mute, and blind. He is abused by his Uncle Ernie and Cousin Kevin, grows up to be a champion at pinball, and, when he regains his senses, becomes a messianic figure to his fans.

“Tommy” was made into a move in 1975, and then went to Broadway in 1993. Easton High performs the Broadway version, so don’t expect to see Tommy’s mom roll around in a pool of beans.

But do expect to see an outstanding cast that includes Jacob Porch as Tommy, Sarah Lowe as Tommy’s Mother, Shane Taylor as Captain Walker, and Matt Filbert as Uncle Ernie. Filbert is a standout; he can bring out both the humorous and lecherous sides of Uncle Ernie convincingly. Another cast member to take notice of is 7th grader Ian Young, who plays Tommy as a child. He’s mostly quiet during the first act, but in the second act he finally gets a chance to display his tremendous voice.

Jordan Page

By Travis Mamone

Jordan PageJordan Page
“Listen to the sound that you hear,” Jordan Page sings, “like an echo in your head/ there’s a strange vibration rising/ from the heart of America.” Page challenges his audience to do just that: listen. Listen to what’s going on in the world, to what our leaders are doing, and to an incredible local talent with a powerful message.

His brand of acoustic rock--a mixture of Bob Dylan and Pearl Jam, among other influences--is a powerful call-to-arms against injustice and war. "I will not submit to authority of man/ I'm alive I'm awake," Page announces on the percussion-driven "Listen." "Song for Bob" is an acoustic plea for peace dedicated to Dylan. “You taught us that war is a sin and a sham and a shame,” he sings, “and the penance we pay for our silence is more than just taking the blame.” But Page also has a softer side. “Evergreen” is a catchy, romantic song dedicated to his wife. “My love is evergreen,” he sings, “she’s got the ways and means to give me the heart of my desire.”

To find out more about Jordan Page, visit his website at www.jordanpagemusic.com.

Spotlight: Jayme Ploff

By Travis Mamone

Jayme PloffJayme Ploff
For the past couple of years Jayme Ploff has been dazzling audiences across the Eastern Shore with her soulful and dynamic voice. Originally a jazz singer (she studied Jazz Vocal Performance at the University of Miami), her repertoire also includes pop covers and original songs. Whatever she sings, her voice brings each song to life.

Ploff has two CDs; the first is a four-track demo of original compositions. “Release the Beast” is an empowering anthem written after some one referred to its author as a female dog. “Take your lips and plant them firmly on my ass,” she snarls, “’cause I’ve been to your house and I know you built it out of glass.” “My Life” explores the struggle between our parents’ wishes and our desires. “I hate to tell you it’s a fact of life,” she sings, “not everything you say and do is right/ I go my own way.”

Ploff also has a live jazz CD, which features standards like “What a Difference a Day Makes,” “Blame it on My Youth,” and “Besame Mucho” (the only song Ploff says she knows in Spanish).

For more information, go to her website. And if you go to any of her shows, she likes it when the audience says, “Woo-hoo!” Just something to keep in mind.

Punk Rock at Easton Historical Society

Procrastination RecordsProcrastination Records

by Travis Mamone

Local punk bands Press Black, World Class Defects, and Psycho Rainbow will perform at the Historical Society in Easton, MD this Saturday, January 24th, at 7 p.m. The show celebrates the release of a new album featuring Press Black and World Class Defects. According to Press Black’s MySpace blog, the CD “will have four unreleased originals from each band, and each band covering one of the other band’s songs.”

For those expecting radio-friendly pop punk like Blink 182 and Good Charlotte, look elsewhere! Press Black and World Class Defects--from Easton and Greensboro, respectfully—are bringing back the original sound and attitude of classic hardcore punk. These aren’t catchy little numbers about skater boys and high school proms; these guys sing about destruction, mind control, death, and nonconformity.

Psycho Rainbow is an up-and-coming indie band from New York. Don’t let their huge ironic sunglasses fool you—these guys have the talent! Their blend of psychedelic, surfer rock, and noise pop make them a band worth seeing live.

Coffee Cat: What's In a Name?

By Travis Mamone

The Coffee Cat in EastonThe Coffee Cat in EastonMany of you have noticed several changes with Coffee East coffee shop in Easton, MD, especially their name. Is it Coffee East, Coffee Cat, Night Cat, or what? And will anything else change? Hopefully this will clear things up.

Coffee Cat is the café portion, where you can order lattes, sandwiches (try the chicken Panini with goat cheese!), and pastries. Night Cat is where you can see live shows every weekend from a variety of artists. It’s the same building, of course.

But why change the name? As you may or may not know, the coffee shop is now under new management. The same people who now own Coffee Cat also own Hair o’ the Dog Wine and Spirits. So to keep with the pet theme, Coffee East

Erin's Bookshelf

Erin Mawn

Dance Your Way Through Summer

by Erin Mawn

One thing that I have always loved about the beginning of summer, besides the obvious answers like the smell of fresh cut grass, warm breezes and flowers in full bloom, is that it is dance recital season. I started dancing when I was three years old, and I continued all the way through college. I loved the excited murmurs and shouts of joy in the dance studio when the costumes finally arrived. We couldn’t wait to try them on, and imagined what we’d look like on stage performing in front of all those smiling faces. The weeks leading up to the performance were hectic in a wonderful way: frenzied mothers asking about tights, little girls parading around in adorable costumes that made them look like dolls come to life, older girls practicing their routines around the clock, and harried dance instructors frantically trying to corral their students. Being on stage was, and is still is, one of the greatest feelings, but it was also a little disappointing to know that dance classes were over until the fall.

Don't worry- you get a do-over!

by Erin Mawn

I recently came across a “Choose Your Destiny” young adult novel at a thrift store. I always look at the children’s book section in all thrift stores, hoping to find an old favorite or something I’d heard about, or even something completely new to read and add to my collection. This book is titled “What if Everyone Knew Your Name” and it is one of the books in the “Choose Your Destiny” series that follows Haley Miller, an average teenager who has lots of adventures (and misadventures) during her high school years. Of course, she does not have any particular adventure unless you choose for her to have it. These books are modeled after the now-outdated "Choose Your Own Adventure" books.

I remember those type of books from my childhood, and it never really occurred to me that an author might choose to re-vamp the style for today’s young adult audience. But that is exactly what Liz Ruckdeschel and Sara James have done in these books which are quickly gaining popularity among teenage girls. There are currently seven books in the series, but even a single book can be read several different ways depending on the choices the reader makes.

Ghost Stories and More by Maryland Writer Mary Downing Hahn

by Erin Mawn

One of the first books that I remember loving- not just liking, but loving- is Wait Till Helen Comes. This book was so wonderfully frightening that it fueled my young imagination to create and write my own ghost stories. They were, of course, very crudely written because I was only eight years old at the time. I was just beginning to learn how libraries work, and so I went to the same shelf to see if I could find any more scary stories by the author. There was another book, which I read an enjoyed but it was not a ghost story, so I went to the librarian and promptly asked for her help. Being an elementary school librarian, she probably expected me to describe the story or the cover art on the book, but when she asked if I remembered the author’s name so she could look it up in the card catalog, I promptly answered “Mary Downing Hahn.”

(She was impressed that I remembered the author’s entire name.)

Ever since then, that name has stood out to me as I browse books. In bookstores, library book sales, tag sales, and even online, I could never resist scooping up a book by Hahn because I knew it was guaranteed to be a good read. Even now, twenty years later, I continue to read and collect these books.

Irish Dancing

 by Erin Mawn                                             My name is Erin. Erin comes from the word Éirinn, which is a form of the word Éire. Éire, of course, is the Irish word for the country of Ireland. When I introduce myself to people, they sometimes ask “Are you Irish?”. Sometimes it’s a tongue-in-cheek comment, but sometimes it seems to be an honest question, as if the person asking it wants to confirm that I am of Irish ancestry since I am using the name of an entire country to represent my own little self.

Although in March, everyone can be Irish, right? St. Patrick’s Day is widely celebrated in America by Irish and non-Irish alike. Why? Because it’s fun! Watching parades, singing folk songs (if you know them), having a drink (or two). What’s my favorite part of being Irish?- the dancing! (It certainly wasn’t the Catholic school uniforms I wore for years). Irish dancing is one of my favorite things to do, and instead of just getting to do it on the 17th, I get to do it this entire month!

I am teaching an Irish dance class at nearby Chesapeake College all through this month. After learning just a few basic steps, such as the 1-2-3 and the 7, you’ll be able to learn an entire set dance.  Irish dancing is great fun, and a great work-out as well. The music is very catchy, and before you know it, you’ll be doing 1-2-3’s in your sleep!

If you missed out on this course, then don’t fret; the Irish dance course is going to be offered again in July. Just check the Chesapeake College Continuing Education course catalog.

New Cookbook Introduces Healthy Persian Cooking

by Erin Mawn

I suppose every nationality takes immense pride in its food; each St. Patrick’s Day my father insisted on having a traditional Irish dinner complete with corned beef, potatoes and cabbage. As a self-described ‘foodie’, one of my joys in life in trying new foods. When I was young I visited Australia and actually tried shark meat, kangaroo meat (it’s equivalent to Americans eating venison) and the pride of the Aussies: Vegemite. In college I went to England, and I was more than happy to go out each night to a different pub and try the fare. However, rather than spending all the dough to travel to a foreign country every time I want to try a new food, I have learned to look for local venues that offer interesting dishes. My newest experience though, is a do-it-yourself one.

stuffed grape leavesPersian cuisine, or the cuisine of Iran, is deliciously diverse and also very health conscious. Many of the dishes use rice as a staple ingredient, and almost all of them have fruits and vegetables either as main ingredients or as sides. I realize that most people would have no idea how to begin cooking a Persian dish, and so to make the process easier, here is the book to lead the way: Simply Persian Cuisine. The book is presented in a very straight forward manner, so that anyone, even those whose free time is at a premium such as working mothers or college students, can pull together a healthy and delicious meal.

Review: The Lovely Bones Movie

by Erin Mawn

This past Friday night, I was one of the many people who saw “The Lovely Bones” on its opening night. I was surprised at how many young people there were in the theater, but that was probably due to the fact that the movie is rated PG-13, so no parents are required. I must admit that I was concerned about the quality of the movie; beforehand, I could not resist looking up some reviews of it and the majority of them seemed disappointed that the movie did meet its potential.

It is true that the movie takes some liberties, but I was relieved that it leaves the more important things alone. For example, the reader and movie go-er are not surprised at what happens to Susie Salmon because both the book and the film tell us immediately that something horrible befalls the young narrator. I was worried that perhaps the film would focus on that one terrible scene in order to increase the drama and horror of the story, but like in the book, the terrible incident is merely the catalyst for the story, not the focus of it.

Since I already talked about the story when I reviewed the book a couple months ago, I’ll focus on the film aspects of it: I was impressed with Stanley Tucci’s portrayal of George Harvey. I did not even realize that it was Tucci in this role when I saw the movie trailers because he looks like the quintessential creep. (I am used to Tucci in more likeable roles, such as “The Devil Wears Parada” and the Kit Kittredge American Girl movie.) His performance almost overshadows that of

Saoirse Ronan, who plays the protagonist Susie Salmon because the audience is so horrified by his character. Not to say that Ronan is not ideal for the role of Susie Salmon: her adolescent beauty (caught perfectly between a girl and a woman) is striking and she emanates an innocence so endearing and believable that the audience is truly saddened when she is robbed of it.

Enjoy the Works of Laurie Halse Anderson

By Erin Mawn

Hello readers (and editor)! I apologize not posting again sooner, but I have adopted the popular mantra that everyone seems to be saying lately: “life’s crazy right now”. If anyone is curious, I HAVE been doing a ton of reading lately, I just have been lax in the writing part. Sometimes when I read a book, I think “I cannot wait to write a blog about this incredible story!”. Other times, I enjoy the story but it just does not motivate me to write.

As my best friend said to me recently, I have had quite a literary year. First, I attended a talk at my local library hosted by Joshua Wolf Shenk regarding his insightful book “Lincoln’s Melancholy”. I used this book for two of my projects in graduate school and I was very excited to finally meet the man who wrote it. Then, over my summer vacation, I traveled to Colorado where I was able to meet my favorite illustrator, Michael Hague. (I did write a blog about him; it is one of my earlier posts.) This was a very special experience for me because I grew up reading his books and those pictures have always stayed in my mind. Most recently, I drove to Newark, Delaware to see Laurie Halse Anderson “speak” (if you don’t get my little joke yet, you will in a minute.)

Laurie Halse Anderson has written both young adult novels and picture books; her first YA novel, titled “Speak” was a New York Times Best Seller, as well as a Printz Honor Book, and National Book Award Finalist. It was also made into a movie for television starring a now-uber-famous Kristen Stewart. Her other novels include: “Catalyst”, “Prom”, “Fever 1793”, “Twisted”, and “Chains” (another multi-award winner). During the event, she read an excerpt from her most recent novel “Wintergirls” which is available now. She the welcomed questions from her live audience as well as from readers across the country who were able to view the event through a live internet feed. Afterwards, she was available to sign books for her adoring fans, who ranged from middle-aged adults to little children. My favorite fan was the little eight-year old girl clutching a copy of one of the Vet Volunteer books, a series written for children about children who work in a veterinarian’s office.

Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

The Classic Regency Romance - Now with Ultra-Violent Zombie Mayhem!

by Erin Mawn

I have a confession to make: I have never read a Jane Austen book to the end. Believe me, I have tried. I feel I owe it to the world of literature that I love so much to not just ‘get through it’, but to actually enjoy reading it, too. I know the stories of Austen, especially when they are reimagined in modern cinema. For example, one of my favorite 90’s movies is “Clueless” which is loosely based on Austen’s “Emma”. (“What-ev-er!“)The book and movie “Bridget Jones Diary” is based on “Pride and Prejudice”; the sequel to this smash success (both book and movie) was titled “Bridget Jones: The Edge of Reason” and was based on “Persuasion”. I have seen the mini-series “Pride and Prejudice” as well as the more recent movie starring Kiera Knightley, and I dragged my boyfriend to the theater to see “Becoming Jane”, a biopic starring Anne Hathaway. I love Jane Austen’s stories, I just could not get through one of her books. Well, not until the zombies came, anyway. . .

Seth Grahame-Smith’s hilarious parody of Austen’s most well-known work has been exalted by readers and critics alike; you get all the goodness of social intrigues and blossoming romances, but there’s also a ton of zombies wandering around the English countryside that need to be dealt with before anyone can live happily ever after. Luckily, Elizabeth Bennet is an expert at weapons and martial arts. If you’re already familiar with the real “Pride and Prejudice” (either seen the movies or actually read it) then you pretty much know how the story goes. But that’s not really the point in this book; the point is to laugh at the ridiculous dialogue which follows early 19th century formality, but refers to battling the living dead:

“Mr. Collins tells me that you are schooled in the deadly arts, Miss Bennet.”

“I am, though not to half the level of proficiency your Ladyship has attained.”

“Oh! Then — some time or other I shall be happy to see you spar with one of my ninjas.

Are you sisters likewise trained?”

“They are.”

When asked what inspired him to re-write the Austen’s famous love story, Smith replied, “I just thought it’d be really funny to desecrate a classic work.” He seems like one of the geniuses with an off-beat, dark sense of humor that I’d love to meet sometime, if only to pick his brain. (Sorry, couldn’t resist the zombie pun.) Ever true to the modern literary discussion circle, Smith includes thoughtful questions for discussion at the end of the novel, such as:

Book Review: The Lovely Bones

by Erin Mawn

I was introduced to this book by one of my students while I was teaching literary terms. I was discussing the different points of view that literature has and when I was discussing the idea of the omniscient narrator, one of my students asked “Like in “The Lovely Bones”?” . Not having read the book myself, I asked her to explain the story to me. My student went on to explain that the story is being seen, literally from above, by the narrator of the story. However, “The Lovely Bones” differs from the usual type of omniscient narrator because unlike the majority of them, who are unnamed and who never reveal HOW they know the story or how they are significant to the story in any way, this dilemma is cleared up on the very first page of the novel:

“My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.”

Hollywood's Versions of "Little House" Fail to Impress

Little House on the Prairieby Erin Mawn

I am a fervent fan of Laura Ingalls Wilder. I own the whole collection of Little House books, all of her nine original books from “Little House in the Big Woods” to “The First Four Years”. I also have in my vast collection of books all of the prequels and sequels to her stories; the stories about Martha (her great-grandmother, Charlotte (her grandmother), Caroline (her mother, Ma Ingalls) and her daughter Rose. The prequels and sequels are written in the same simple style that made Wilder’s books so easily accessible to generations of readers. The stories possess the wholesome values that made these generations’ parents comfortable and able to enjoy the books alongside their children.

Spiritual Currents

“Spiritual Currents” is a regular column that promotes and explores the Mid-Shore’s deep spiritual diversity—with “spirituality” broadly defined as our search for enduring meaning in life. This ongoing quest can unfold within religious traditions and without them, within our relationships and in solitude.

If you would like to share a local event or a personal story that reflects this journey on the Shore, please contact me here (put “Spiritual Currents” as the subject line).

Dwayne Eutsey

Tough Economic Times Call for Community Action

By Dwayne Eutsey

About 10 years ago, I worked briefly in a small homeless shelter in Frederick, Maryland.

I remember thinking one evening as I looked out from the staff room to where our residents watched TV in the lounge that the televised images they saw must have seemed as alien to them as transmissions from Mars.

It was the late ‘90s, so the dot-com bubble was still inflating many Americans’ perceptions of endless prosperity while heralding a new faith in cut-throat corporatism. Popular shows like Who Wants to be a Millionaire and Survivor reflected these prevailing sensibilities while the persistently high homeless rate at the time barely made a footnote in the national narrative relentlessly promoted on TV sets around the country.

As I saw our homeless residents in the shelter’s lounge that evening watching commercials for shiny new luxury cars and SUVs, I wondered how they must have felt seeing the elusive promises of consumer bliss beamed into their impoverished reality night after night.

After watching an unsettling episode of Frontline recently, I think I may have an idea. Called “Close to Home”, the show “chronicles the recession’s impact on one unlikely American neighborhood -- New York’s Upper East Side.” http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/pages/frontline/closetohome/

Unlike most of the people featured in this show, I come from a poor, working-class background and can appreciate some criticisms viewers have expressed about the upscale people featured on the program. “If times are so hard for them,” many viewers have asked, “do they really need the expensive haircuts and massages some of them still charge to their overburdened credit cards?”

Relevant question, but overall, seeing how the worst recession in 63 years has shaken even the most affluent members of our society underscored for me just how unstable the economic situation is for all of us today. In particular the story of the not-so-affluent carpenter featured in the program was heart-wrenching. Not only did his business go under, but his wife died three days before the bank foreclosed their home and dumped all their belongings on the curb.

A Spirituality Rooted Somewhere between Science and Superstition

By Dwayne Eutsey

As Halloween approaches and autumn colorfully marks the year’s demise, two recent items in the news reminded me of our culture’s generally paradoxical view of death. At the risk of oversimplifying it, it seems to me the two main ways we try to make sense of what happens when we die involve either superstitions or science.  

On the superstitious side, for example, Rolling Stone reports that researchers claim a photo of Jim Morrison’s ghost haunting his gravesite is “unexplainable.” Although it isn’t clear who these researchers are or how they reached their conclusion, the article notes that they believe the photo of the dead rock-and-roll legend’s apparition “was in no way manipulated, and also rule out any possibility that it’s merely a trick of the light.”

http://www.rollingstone.com/rockdaily/index.php/2009/10/16/unexplainable-photo-snapped-at-jim-morrisons-grave/

On the scientific side, CNN ran a story about a neurological researcher who says that cryptic near-death experiences (NDEs) are actually quite explainable.

Dr. Kevin Nelson asserts “that near-death experiences are part of the dream mechanism” the brain uses to cope with a life-threatening crisis. He goes on to say, “The most common cause of near-death experience in my research group is fainting. Upwards of 100 million Americans have fainted. That means probably tens of millions of Americans have had these unusual experiences.”

http://www.cnn.com/2009/HEALTH/10/16/cheating.near.death/index.html

Personally, I don’t have a lot of faith in either view represented in these articles. The skeptic in me finds ghost sightings like the Morrison photo dubious (the “researchers” are selling a book of ghostly images, after all), while cold clinical attempts to explain phenomena like NDEs seem sterile and too narrowly focused to me. As Shakespeare might have said to the neurologist, “There are more things in heaven and earth, Dr. Nelson, than are dreamt of in your philosophy.”

The Not-So-Scary Origins of Halloween

by Dwayne Eutsey

Although I love a good horror film, I suppose I’m a bit old school when it comes to what I look for in celluloid spookiness.

For instance, I’m not much into slasher or splatter flicks like the popular Friday the 13th or Saw movie series. I find their slice-n-dice sadism more nauseating and depressing than entertainingly frightful. One exception to this genre is the first Halloween movie starring Jamie Lee Curtis, but I can’t really stomach its sequels, especially Halloween III: Season of the Witch.

The movie’s muddled plot—involving a scheme to sell Halloween masks that somehow cause snakes and spiders to crawl out of your head…or something—is just plain silly. And by linking this sinister plan to the ancient Celtic holiday Samhain (pronounced sow-in or sah-van), Season of the Witch perpetuates a negative falsehood about Halloween’s origins that we often hear this time of year.

The movie’s bad guy claims that “the last great (Samhain) took place three thousand years ago, when the hills ran red...with the blood of animals and children.” This claim echoes a modern misperception that characterizes Samhain as a creepy sacrificial rite for a Celtic “God of the Dead” by the same name.

Because so much information about Samhain has been lost or distorted over the centuries, specific details about the holiday remain obscure. However, according to Religious Tolerance.org, there never was a god of the dead named Samhain (although there was a minor Celtic hero named Samain).

http://www.religioustolerance.org/hallo_sa.htm

In fact, most sources agree that the Gaelic word Samhain, which literally means “end of summer,” simply refers to a harvest festival celebrating the beginning of winter in pre-Christian Ireland, Scotland, Wales, and England. Like many such Pagan festivals throughout Eurasia, this autumnal festival combined the agricultural cycle with a deep reverence for dead ancestors. 

Harriet Tubman’s Legacy Lives On

By Dwayne Eutsey

On October 3, 1849, 160 years ago this past Saturday, the following notice from Eliza Ann Brodess, from Bucktown in Dorchester County, appeared in a local newspaper called the Cambridge Democrat:

Three Hundred Dollars Reward.

Ran away from the subscriber on Monday the 17th ult., three negroes, named as follows: HARRY, aged about 19 years…he is of a dark chestnut color, about 5 feet 8 or 9 inches high; BEN, aged about 25 years, is very quick to speak when spoken to, he is of a chestnut color, about six feet high; MINTY, aged about 27 years, is of a chestnut color, fine looking, and about 5 feet high. One hundred dollars reward will be given for each of the above named negroes, if taken out of the State, and $50 each if taken in the State. They must be lodged in Baltimore, Easton or Cambridge Jail, in Maryland.

The “fine looking…5 feet high” Minty the notice refers to was an African American woman originally named Araminta Ross, now more famously known as Harriet Tubman.

Brodess posted the notice after Tubman and two of her brothers made their first attempt to escape race slavery on the Eastern Shore. They didn’t make it to freedom that time, but as Tubman would go on to demonstrate throughout her life, she wasn’t one to let setbacks hold her down.

Not long after she and her brothers returned to Bucktown, Tubman successfully escaped to the North with the help of the Underground Railroad and the community of Quakers living in the Preston area. Even so, she secretly returned to the Shore numerous times in the years leading up to the Civil War. At great risk to her life and liberty, Tubman helped lead hundreds of escaped slaves to the “promised land” of freedom, earning her the well-deserved epithet “Moses.”

Ghosts and Goblins Might be Trying to Tell You Something

By Dwayne Eutsey

With the hint of chill in the air and the morning and afternoon sunlight becoming a bit more golden with each passing day, I’m reminded just how much I love autumn.

I’m pretty easy going when it comes to all the seasons. However, summer’s stifling heat can drain me, soggy spring’s allergies irritate me, and I shudder to think about winter’s heating bills and the sore back I get from shoveling snow.

Fall, on the other hand, is a season that’s better suited for my more laid-back, contemplative nature. I can slowly ease into and savor it like a cup of hot apple cider late on a brisk afternoon. Autumn’s meditative appeal isn’t surprising when you consider that in many pagan cultures this time of year, traditionally marking the end of harvest, was literally a time for taking stock of your life amid the encroaching cold. According to one pagan source:

“This is the time when thoughts turn towards the culmination of a year’s work; for our ancestors it represented the culmination of the year’s endeavors in ensuring that they could look forward to enough food to see through the winter—the grain which would provide the following year’s bread and beer, the fruit and meat were laid down and stored for the coming months of scarcity.”

http://www.whitedragon.org.uk/articles/harvest.htm

As the natural world goes into its cyclical remission, fall is also known for its festivals of the dead. I’ll write more about these haunting celebrations as we get closer to Halloween. For now, however, I’d like to reflect on why ghostly folklore might be so inseparably entwined with this time of year like tangled vines in a pumpkin patch.

Cycling and the Art of Spiritual Maintenance

By Dwayne Eutsey

I just returned from an awesome bike ride, man.

Now, I’m not typically the kind of person who goes around saying “awesome,” but in this instance it fits.

Far from the bland, overused buzzword it’s become in today’s lingo, “awesome” literally means stirring within someone a sense of awe, which itself can be defined as an emotion inspired by the sacred or sublime.

Earlier today I was hunched over the dining room table counting and rolling coins to help us make the proverbial ends meet until the end of the week, so I was about ready for something a little more sacred or sublime than mounds of dirty pocket change. I’m happy to say I found it while cycling around my little chunk of the Shore on this late September Sunday afternoon.

The Dude Abides - Book Review

By Dwayne Eutsey

The Dude Abides CoverIn The Dude Abides—The Gospel According to the Coen Brothers, award-winning religious columnist Cathleen Falsani offers a unique and engaging look at the “spiritual messages” she finds permeating the Coen Brothers’ movies.

Now, “spiritual message.” Odds are, that’s not what most moviegoers expect to find in the darkly comic and brutally violent cinematic vision of Joel and Ethan Coen. Neither is the word “gospel,” for that matter. While wisely resisting the temptation to cram their films into what she calls a “God-shaped box,” Falsani succeeds in tracing the theological threads she sees holding the “Coeniverse” together.

She writes, “While marked by murder, mayhem, deception, and all manner of chaos, there is an order—a moral order—to the world depicted in Joel and Ethan Coen’s films. That’s the good news. The bad news is that when the moral order is upset, the consequences can be dire, brutal, and swift.”

Water, Water Everywhere…The Spirituality of Water

by Dwayne Eutsey

Last Sunday at the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship at Easton (UUFE), we celebrated the opening of our church year through a ritual called the “Water Communion.”

According to the Unitarian Universalist Association (UUA):

The water service is a UU ritual, usually conducted in the fall when friends and members return from their summer travels. They are invited to bring a sample of water from their travels or water that has other significance for them. All of the samples are poured into a common bowl or vase to signify coming together again. It’s a way of symbolizing that many are one, and a way of getting reacquainted.

The first Unitarian Universalist Water Communion in 1980 took the sacredness of water and originally transformed it into a symbol of empowerment for women. Organized by attendees of a Women and Religion Conference, the ritual was initially intended to speak to the worship needs of women, with the water symbolizing the birth waters; the cycles of moon, tides and women; and all the waters of this small blue planet.

Water, as the key ingredient of this service, is an appropriate symbol of such ingathering and also of true communion. It is, like the air we breathe, something we all need and all share in common. It is something vital that each of us must have in order to sustain the interconnected web of life to which we all belong.

Because of its importance to life, human beings have revered water as holy throughout our history: Genesis tells us that the Spirit of God moved over the surface of the watery depths before creation began; Jesus began his ministry after being baptized in the Jordan and the Spirit descended on him like a dove.

Cinema by Starlight Series Brings Community Together

By Dwayne Eutsey

One of the times I remember feeling like I was part of a larger community when I was growing up was when my family and I went to the drive-in movies together. This was back in the early ‘70s when there were still plenty of these outdoor theaters around, especially in Southern California where we lived at the time.

If you’ve been to a drive-in you probably remember that it was a lot different than going to a multiplex is today. I remember it being cheaper, for one thing. My family didn’t have a lot of money…we didn’t have any money, really. Yet my mom took us regularly to an evening at the drive-in.

This included admission, popcorn, sodas, maybe even hotdogs and a box of Raisinets. Today, I almost have to take out a small loan just to so my family and I can see a matinee over at Easton Premiere Cinemas.

Juneteenth Reminds Us of Victories Won

By Dwayne Eutsey

Based on the tragic shooting in the nation’s capitol this week, it appears as though some people are still sadly fighting battles that were long ago (and deservedly) lost.

Such incidents make it all the more important for us to celebrate the victories that have been won against racism and intolerance. One way to do that is to observe Juneteenth (also called Freedom Day and Emancipation Day) next Friday, June 19.

According to Juneteenth.com (
http://www.juneteenth.com[_new] www.juneteenth.com), the day (a combination of “June” and “nineteenth”) “is the oldest known celebration commemorating the ending of slavery in the United States.” It’s a holiday—or is at least observed—in 31 states and the District of Columbia. The day is even celebrated by people around the world, including countries as far apart as Honduras, Japan, and Israel.

The Centrevillain

"a funky blog about life in downtown Centreville, the capital of Queen Anne's County on Maryland's Eastern Shore"

Mary McCarthy

Centreville Goes to the Birds....er...Chickens!

Greetings, readers!

My name’s Mary McCarthy, and I am going to be your new Centrevillain blogger! I live in a Victorian house in lovely historic downtown Centreville, and I have four kids in four different local schools, so I am often out and about, and ready to report the fun goings-on, adventures you can share with your family, or exciting news about what’s goin on in Cville!

This week, the BIG THING coming up is the Delmarva Chicken Festival. There’s a great story about this famous Chickenfest in this month’s issue of What’s Up Eastern Shore (where I used to work as Managing Editor). My pal, fellow writer and musician extraordinaire Rik Ferrell did a great job of covering the event- so if you have a magazine lying around, check it out!

The DELMARVA CHICKEN FESTIVAL is going to be held June 19 and 20 at the Queen Anne’s County 4-H Park right here in Centreville! This year marks the 60th anniversary of the festival, but this year is the first time it’s being held in Queen Anne’s County. Great news for the local poultry industry and our economy. You name the style of chicken, and you’ll see it at the festival; I’m sure you’ll be able to smell the cooking chicken from miles around! It’s making me hungry just writing about it.

Read More Articles

Literary corner, product reviews and more!
Need something done? We'll introduce you to the local experts!
Sometimes....you just have to laugh!
Find eclectic shops and outstanding bargains!
Dancing Women
Local experts give advice on health & fitness!
Critters & flowers & veggies - oh my!
Restaurants, local produce, canning & food preparation!
Exhibits, concerts, plays and much, much more!
Learn, stretch, grow
Adventures, positive parenting & homeschooling information
Inner peace and community action
Near, far and everywhere in between
Small town happenings, festivals and events!
Create a home that blesses & restores your spirit!
Hiking, cycling, kayaking, fishing & more!