Op-Ed: A Chesapeake Bay Commentary by Philip Hoon

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I am an avid reader of the Washington Post but with all due respect take exception to the fatalistic sub-headline of its March 22 editorial that “The last, best hope to revive the estuary is now imperiled by the Trump administration.”

It is, of course, most unfortunate that the Trump administration has proposed a termination of Chesapeake Bay restoration funding.

But while there is good reason to contest that proposal as it makes its way through the Congressional budget process, the reality is that there are likely to be some, perhaps very significant, cuts to that funding. So now is the time to rise to the occasion. . . and begin to prepare for the stark reality ahead.

To that end, it seems appropriate to me that perhaps now is the time for private sector organizations and initiatives in the primary states in the Chesapeake Bay watershed – Maryland & Virginia – to collaborate in a common mission, and free of a organizational ego, with those in the secondary states – Pennsylvania, New York, West Virginia & Delaware– in trying to work with state governments to accomplish the shared regional goal of a clean and healthy Bay.

In other words, let’s not cry in our beer. After all, remember the challenges of The Greatest Generation and how it responded to the challenges of the times. . .

I am not a scientist, but from all that has been published, it does not seem that more study of the problems of the Bay is needed. It is clear that excess nitrogen, phosphorous and siltation are the primary culprits. So let’s get to work.

I believe that I read that annual Federal funding for the Chesapeake Bay is currently $105 million. While that is not an insignificant amount, perhaps it should be put in perspective.

The US Geological Survey estimates that 18 million people live in the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Therefore, the per capita cost of replacing that $105 million Federal Government funding is $5.83 per person per year . . . that is less than 2¢/day.

And while we are at it, there is a view of many that the millions of Federal dollars spent over the past several decades have been ineffectively applied to accomplish the Bay restoration goal. After all, many of its tributaries are impaired so it is a bit disingenuous to assert that the Bay is really improving as it should be.

Another interesting idea might be to request Washington to designate the Chesapeake Bay as a national park so that it would receive the protections and assistance that such a special status would afford. I am not sure of all the implications of that, and do not know whether the Trump administration has proposed budget cuts to our great national parks. But all in all, I would think that the Chesapeake Bay might qualify to be one of the first new national parks in the 21st Century.

At times like this, I think that “out of the box thinking” is needed. So while these ideas might not be viable, the reality may be that something like them needs to be pursued if our cherished Chesapeake Bay is to be preserved.

So let’s roll up our sleeves and do what the Washington bureaucrats have not been able to do. After all, we who live in its watershed are the ones who have the greatest opportunity to enjoy the mighty Chesapeake Bay.

We are that “last best hope” for the Chesapeake Bay, and there is work to be done.

Philip Hoon is a private attorney in Chestertown, Maryland.

Letter to Editor: Local Groups Seek Answers from Congressman Harris March 31

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This is an open letter from a number of constituent groups, all of whom share significant concerns about the many vital issues we face and the wholly inadequate amount of time you have allotted to the Town Hall on March 31. One hour doesn’t provide a fair chance to discuss our concerns and hear your views. We are concerned about these major items, among others:

Repeal of the Affordable Care Act and replacement with a bill that will cost Maryland $2 Billion annually, substantially increase those who are uninsured and increase the cost of health care. These are just a few of the many groups that oppose the current bill:
American Medical Association – “the replacement bill, as written, would reverse the coverage gains achieved under the ACA, causing many Americans to lose the health care coverage they have come to depend upon.”

American Hospital Association & Federation of American Hospitals: “As lawmakers work to re-examine this law, patients and the caregivers who serve them across America are depending on Congress to make continued coverage a priority. We believe that any changes to the ACA must be guided by ensuring that we continue to provide health care coverage for the tens of millions of Americans who have benefitted from the law. We are pleased that so many in Congress also recognize the need to preserve patient coverage.”

AARP “…opposes this legislation, as introduced, that would weaken Medicare, leaving the door open to a voucher program that shifts costs and risks to seniors.”
American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network “ACS CAN has long advocated that any changes to the health care law should provide equal or better coverage for cancer prevention, treatment and follow-up care than what is currently available. These bills have the potential to significantly alter the affordability, availability and quality of health insurance available to cancer patients and survivors. Changing the income-based subsidy to a flat tax credit, combined with reducing the standards for quality insurance could return cancer patients to a world where many are unable to afford meaningful insurance or are left to buy coverage that doesn’t meet their health needs.”

“In 2015, approximately 1.5 million people with a history of cancer between 18-64 years old relied on Medicaid for their insurance. Nearly one-third of childhood cancer patients are insured through Medicaid at the time of diagnosis. The proposed repeal of Medicaid expansion along with significant federal funding changes could leave the nation’s lowest income cancer patients without access to preventive, c”rative and follow-up health care.”

National Partnership Women and Families: “House Republicans’ Affordable Care Act repeal bill would wreak havoc on our health care system by making health coverage more expensive and inadequate for millions of women and families. The shroud of secrecy surrounding the Republicans’ process and their attempt to sneak through a bill that would have such a devastating impact, without allowing anyone to review it, is shameful.”

“Now that the bill has been revealed, it is clear why Republicans didn’t want people to see it. Their proposal radically overhauls and cuts Medicaid while simultaneously gutting the ACA by repealing financial assistance for low-income families and making it harder for people to afford coverage. It also defunds Planned Parenthood from the Medicaid program, denying 2.5 million people access to essential health care.”

“Moreover, the Republican bill interferes with women’s ability to make health care decisions by making abortion coverage inaccessible. It would harshen and expand already harmful abortion coverage restrictions, denying women the ability to access the care they need.”

Over 50 organizations oppose the proposed healthcare plan that will make Americans will pay more for less. The list includes nurses, doctors, hospitals, teachers, churches, and more. You can see a few here:

https://cooper.house.gov/groups-opposing-republican-health-plan

Why did you co-sponsor H.R. 610 to take funding away from public education through vouchers, repeal the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965 and limit the authority of the Department of Education (ED) to award block grants to qualified states. Why did you, as a physician, co-sponsor a Bill that repeals nutrition standards for national school lunch and breakfast programs? Why repeal standards that require schools to increase the availability of fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and low-fat or fat free milk in school meals, reduce the levels of sodium, saturated fat, and trans fat and meet children’s nutritional needs? Whose side are you on?

https://www.congress.gov/bill/115th-congress/house-bill/610

H.R.861 – a bill to terminate the Environmental Protection Agency. Your constituents are entitled to know where you stand on efforts to eliminate environmental protection of the Chesapeake Bay, its rivers, steams, and farmlands. Whose side are you on?

This is just a partial list of our concerns. If you have a genuine interest in listening to your constituents, we demand you allot at least 3 hours to the Town Hall to hear our concerns and explain your views.

We have sent copies of this letter to news organizations throughout the 1st District and expect your early and positive response.

Thank you.

Talbot Rising
Michael Pullen

Together We Will, Delmarva
Emily Jackson
Deborah Collins Krueger
Michele Copper

Together We Will, Harford County
DeLane Lewis

Easton Huddle
Naomi M. Hyman

Kent and Queen Anne’s County Indivisible
Erin Anderson
Kitty Maynard

Talbot County Democratic Women’s’ Club
Lesley Israel

The Eastern Shore PAC for Social And Economic Justice
Meredith Girard
Michele Drostin
Lauren Harton

Kent County Democratic Central Committee
Pamela White

Md. 1st Dist. Indivisible,
New Harford Dem. Club
Allison Galbraith

Md 1st Dist. Indivisible
Baltimore County
Kirk Fairfield

African American Democrats
of Maryland
James A. Sweeting, III, Esq.

Dorchester Indivisible
Mike Brown

Indivisible Worcester Maryland
Susan Buyer, Toby Perkins

Maryland 1st Congressional District Resistance
Joseph Riedel

Bipartisan Alliance for Democracy, Eastern Shore
Maureen Johnston

Queen Anne’s Co. Dem. Central Committee
Elaine Mcneil

Indivisible, Harford County
Irene Whalen

Wicomico County Progressive Caucus
Michael A. Feldman

UMBC Progressives

Mid-Shore Political Organizations Ask Andy Harris to Expand Town Meeting Beyond One Hour

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Numerous 1st District constituent organizations are demanding that Rep. Harris extend the Town Hall scheduled for March 31 beyond one hour. The Town Hall is scheduled from 6:00 to 7:00 p.m. on Friday, March 31, at the Todd Performing Arts Center at Chesapeake College in Wye Mills.

“It is clear that one hour will not begin to give Harris’ constituents the opportunity to ask questions and voice their concerns,” said Mike Pullen, a leading member of Talbot Rising, a group of concerned citizens from the Mid-Shore area. “So many of us on the Eastern Shore are worried about how congressional actions will affect us and feel that Rep. Harris has not represented our interests well.”

“His constituents deserve answers and a fair chance to voice their concerns,”Emily Jackson, from Together We Will – Delmarva, says. “Regardless of whether we voted for him or not, as constituents of his district it is important to feel that he is serving our best interests, and how is that
possible if he only allows interactions with him in such limited capacities as his very moderated
conference calls, and this constricted town hall?”

James Sweeting, of the African American Democratic Club of Maryland, weighed in as well. “Harris has co-sponsored or supported bills that many people oppose such as HR 610, which takes funding away from elementary and high schools, eliminates nutritional standards for school children, and virtually eliminates special education programs. Rep. Harris is cosponsoring HR 637 which amends the Clean Air Act to allow dangerous polluting chemicals to be released into our environment. These are important issues that need to be fully and openly discussed. Rep. Harris owes his constituents a fair chance to do
that.”

Another burning issue Harris’ constituents want to discuss with him is healthcare. The Affordable Care Act expanded coverage to millions of Marylanders, reducing its uninsured rate by a third, and its repeal will cost Maryland $2 billion per year. The State will be forced to raise that money or eliminate healthcare delivery services. The Congressional Budget Office estimates that approximately 18 million people will lose coverage next year and that those numbers will increase over time. “If Congress passes the bill before it, which includes eliminating Planned Parenthood, where will women on Medicaid receive healthcare and birth control?” asks Joyce Scharch, President of the Talbot County Democratic Women’s Club. “Whatever form it takes, we want assurance from Harris that he will fight for his constituents to have affordable access to the healthcare they need.”

The American Medical Association, American Hospital Association, AARP, and many other organizations are openly opposing adoption of the current bill before Congress.

“Congressman Harris has consistently overlooked the Eastern Shore and his constituents in terms of economic development, infrastructure improvements, failing to provide for adequate healthcare and now as part of the Trump team he states he will prioritize funding for Chesapeake Bay’s cleanup knowing the EPA’s budget is being slashed,” said Dorotheann S. Sadusky, President of the Democratic Club of Queen Anne’s County.

Attendees plan to gather outside afterwards to raise further questions for the congressman if the town hall is not extended. “People have questions and concerns, and they need a forum in which to voice them. If the Congressman isn’t going to give them that, they’re going to find their own space in which to do it,” Jackson said.

This release was distributed by the following organizations: Talbot Rising Together We Will – Delmarva Democratic Club of Queen Anne’s County Talbot County Democratic Women’s Club African American Democratic Club of Maryland

Governor Calls for Ban on Fracking in Maryland

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According to the Washington Post, “Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) called Friday for a ban on hydraulic fracturing in the state, adding a new twist to a legislative debate over whether to prohibit the controversial gas-extraction method or extend a moratorium on it for another two years.

Hogan has said in the past that he would support the practice, commonly called “fracking,” in Western Maryland if he believed it could be done in an “environmentally sensitive matter.” At a hastily called news conference Friday, he said he did not think there was a way to frack safely, and therefore would support a bill to ban the practice altogether.”

For the full story, please go here.

Greg and Jon Mort Return to Massoniart with “Full Circle” April 1

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On April 1st, Massoniart welcomes father and son Greg and Jon Mort for the opening of the Spring 2017 exhibition – FULL CIRCLE. For over twenty-five years, the Carla Massoni Gallery has represented internationally acclaimed artist and amateur astronomer Greg Mort. His artwork reflects a fascination with the intersection of art and science and his passion for ecological issues. His work can be found in museums throughout the world and in the private collections of three United States presidents, two vice presidents, as well as in numerous embassies as part of the State Department’s Art in Embassies program. Greg serves as a member of the executive board of the Lowell Observatory and in 2007 established The Art of Stewardship Project, which supports and encourages artists to use their talents to promote awareness of the Earth’s fragile beauty and the delicate balance between sustainability and the needs of mankind.

Sunburst by Greg Mort

Sunburst by Greg Mort

His son, Jon Mort, is no stranger the gallery or the larger art world. He began participating in juried showings as a teen and has been in over twenty gallery exhibitions. His first showing at Massoniart was in the Next Generation exhibition in 2007. A graduate of Franklin and Marshall College, Jon went on to earn a masters degree in architecture from the prestigious Rhode Island School of Design. There is no effective way to measure the enormous value of the tutelage provided by his father throughout Jon’s life. Both father and son are balanced on the seesaw of art and science in virtually all of their undertakings.

Also featured in the FULL CIRCLE exhibition is sculptor and installation artist Sara Bakken. She holds a BFA in glass and fibers from the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Sara has exhibited widely and is also an alumna of the 2007 Next Generation exhibition. Her goal to create art and create a positive impact on the planet resulted in her selection to participate in a biophilia research residency this summer in Canada.

“Creative journeys often begin with wonder,” Greg Mort said when discussing his new body of work. “On a recent visit to the Uffizi in Florence, I viewed Michelangelo’s Doni Tondo and was captivated by the image: its circular design, and especially the three-dimensionality of the figures. This experience ignited my desire to transform a two-dimensional surface into a three-dimensional – as well as spherical – form, forcing the viewer to see and wonder beyond the image. I have long admired physicist Steven Hawking’s use of a sphere to illustrate that while the universe has no edges, yet it is limited, not limitless. He says, ‘Think of the surface of a sphere. On that surface you can travel North, South, East, and West and every direction in between. From this curved plane perspective you indeed never find an edge. That surface has a finite area but really no beginning or end… there’s only the surface; there is no place above or below the surface. So what is above the curved plane of the sphere becomes a meaningless question.”

Like a circle or a sphere, the Full Circle collection of Greg Mort paintings has no edges, borders, or endings. Mort wanted the images to relate to the continuous surface of our Earth and the mystery of space. The paintings are all the same size: 48 inches in diameter, coincidentally, the same size as the Doni Tondo.

In the last few years, Jon Mort has found himself captivated by circles.

Greb and Sphere PaintingThey have appeared more frequently in his work and once he noticed this happening and started looking for them, circles were everywhere: in art and architecture, and engineering and technology. In discussing his new work he shared, “Always a storyteller first, the cyclical, infinite narrative potential of circles settled over me, for the best stories in reality have neither end nor beginning; which is to say, they have both, and each is the other. Inalterably the son of an astronomer, I saw circles echoing both the false blue dome of the daytime sky and the inky, star-peppered abyss of night.”

Jon Mort’s work reflects his belief that there is an ancientness to the universe and to the heritage of living systems, that there is a connectedness of all living organisms and systems, that there is a connectedness of life to all non-living matter and structures, and there is a cyclicality to all living systems. It all comes Full Circle.

Full Circle is opens on Saturday, April 1st. There will be an Open House reception from 11-3 pm and an Artist Talk at 1 pm. For those unable to attend the opening reception, you are invited to Chestertown’s April First Friday town-wide celebration and a reception at Massoniart from 5-7:30 pm. All events are free and open to the public.

FULL CIRCLE
Greg Mort – Jon Mort
April 1-30, 2017
Also featuring sculptural installation by Sara Bakken

OPEN HOUSE
Saturday, April 1
Reception to meet the Artists – 11-3pm
Artists Talk – 1 pm

APRIL FIRST FRIDAY RECEPTION
Friday, April 7 – 5-7:30 pm

 

In Memoriam: Kent County Philanthropist Rosalind Havemeyer

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Rosalind Everdell Havemeyer, age 99, died peacefully at home in New York City on March 8, 2017. Rossie, as she was known, was born on August 8, 1917 in Watch Hill, RI and was the daughter of Rosalind and William Everdell and the wife of the late Horace Havemeyer, Jr.  She was looked after, these past few years, by a group of wonderful caregivers – the Magnificent Seven.  She went to Foxcroft School and later in life received honorary degrees from Hofstra University and Washington College. She was devoted to her family, opera, the sea and gardening.  She was a great sailor who started a small yacht club in Islip, Long Island; a strong supporter of Planned Parenthood; an historic preservationist in making two 17th century farmhouses into homes with beautiful gardens – first in Dix Hills, NY and then at The Reward in Chestertown, MD.  

Screen Shot 2017-03-11 at 7.06.53 AMIt was in Chestertown where, in 1997, she helped start the Sultana Education Foundation by supporting the building of the schooner Sultana, a full-scale reproduction of a vessel that sailed the Chesapeake in the years before the American Revolution. Rossie said she had “a love affair” with Union Theological Seminary in NYC where she joined the board in 1965 and then became the Chair of its board in 1970, the first woman to chair the Board of a Seminary in the US and she continued to serve on that board until 1982.  In 1988, she received the Seminary’s highest honor for her service “because she embodied the prophetic role of women in theological education…”

Rossie was predeceased by her eldest son, Horace Havemeyer, III (survived by Eugenie Cowan Havemeyer) and by her youngest granddaughter, Emily Roosevelt Foehl (survived by Peter Foehl), as well as her two brothers, William and Romeyn Everdell. She is survived by her children Rosalind Havemeyer Roosevelt (Christopher duPont Roosevelt), William Everdell Havemeyer (Jane Litzenberg Havemeyer) and Christian Havemeyer, also her grandchildren Kate Roosevelt (Caroline Maillard ), Christopher Havemeyer Roosevelt (Christina Luke Roosevelt) and William MacGregor Havemeyer (Rebecca Schulman Havemeyer) and also her six great grandchildren Noah and Wiley Roosevelt, Mason and Liam Foehl and Nellie and Nate Havemeyer.  

The interment will be private and a Memorial Service is being planned to take place in the late Spring at Union Theological Seminary in NYC.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made in her name to Union Theological Seminary utsnyc.edu or to Sultana Education Foundation sultanaeducation.org

“A Musical Journey” by Eastern Shore Wind Ensemble Set for March 19

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The Eastern Shore Wind Ensemble celebrates music from different parts of the world in its third concert of the season, “A Musical Journey.” Music Director Dr. Keith A. Wharton will conduct this free concert, beginning at 4 p.m. on Sunday, March 19, at Emmanuel Episcopal Church at Cross and High streets, Chestertown. The church is handicapped-accessible, via the ramp and automatic doors on the courthouse-green side of the building.

Front row, L-R: Dianne Cimba, Monica Rosanova, Charles Thai, Antoinette Smith, Helen Noble, Jodi Bortz, Amanda Carter, Carla Gerber, Brenda Lyons. 2nd row: Ann Baldwin, Kathy Blyman, Marge Fallaw, Katie Williams, Ray Diedrichs, Ann Carter, Isabella Williams, George Boyd, Aaron Locke, Kyle Webb. 3rd row: Donald Greene, Brad Hollomon, Charlie Kallay, Laurie Quinn, Joe Diamond, Christopher Harrison, Grace Kelley, Eric Bishop, Glaeden Boyd, Keith Wharton (Director). 4th row: Skylar Landis, Frank Gerber, Jim Pileggi, Christopher Grant, Sheila Walker. Joined since photo taken on 12/4/16: Brayden Buie, Elizabeth Bergstrom, Alexus Abner, Sam Carter, Bob Hamel, Gregory Jones.

Front row, L-R: Dianne Cimba, Monica Rosanova, Charles Thai, Antoinette Smith, Helen Noble, Jodi Bortz, Amanda Carter, Carla Gerber, Brenda Lyons. 2nd row: Ann Baldwin, Kathy Blyman, Marge Fallaw, Katie Williams, Ray Diedrichs, Ann Carter, Isabella Williams, George Boyd, Aaron Locke, Kyle Webb. 3rd row: Donald Greene, Brad Hollomon, Charlie Kallay, Laurie Quinn, Joe Diamond, Christopher Harrison, Grace Kelley, Eric Bishop, Glaeden Boyd, Keith Wharton (Director). 4th row: Skylar Landis, Frank Gerber, Jim Pileggi, Christopher Grant, Sheila Walker. Joined since photo taken on 12/4/16: Brayden Buie, Elizabeth Bergstrom, Alexus Abner, Sam Carter, Bob Hamel, Gregory Jones.

Several of the pieces on the program have a jazz theme. “Single Petal of a Rose,” by Duke Ellington, will be played on the bass trombone by James Pileggi, accompanied by Virginia Andrews on the piano. It is one of the seven movements of the “Queen’s Suite” that Ellington wrote for Queen Elizabeth II, who was presented with a single pressing of the recording (which was not commercially issued during Ellington’s lifetime). “A Night in Tunisia,” by John “Dizzy” Gillespie and Frank Paparelli, is a jazz standard that helped to pioneer the Afro-Cuban style of the 1940s. The arrangement played for this concert features the saxophone section and alternates between Latin and swing styles, as did the original.

A movie set in an exotic place is the basis for “Themes from Lawrence of Arabia,” by Maurice Jarre. It is taken from the epic film of the same name and consists of an Arabian motif with blazing color and almost barbaric effects plus the Lawrence theme, a haunting, poignant melody that reflects both his love of the desert and his internal psychological conflicts.

Spain’s tragicomedy hero Don Quixote is celebrated in “Suite from Man of La Mancha,” by Mitch Leigh, that captures the Spanish spirit embodied in its classic themes: “Man of La Mancha,” “Dulcinea,” “Little Bird,” and “The Impossible Dream.” Spain is again represented by “La Paloma,” a popular Spanish song written by the Basque composer Sebastián Yradier, who died soon after composing it and never knew just how popular his song would become.

The music of central Europe is represented by “Friska,” an arrangement for band of the finale from Franz Liszt’s “Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2.” “Friska” is the name of the fast Hungarian dance that inspired the fast section of the finale.

A mythological note is struck by the opening fanfare from “La Peri,” ballet music by Paul Dukas that was his last major work. It tells the story of a man’s search for immortality and his encounter with a mythical creature, the Peri.

Robert W. Smith’s “Rites of Tamburo” is an eclectic blend of various musical styles drawn from many different cultures around the world. It uses percussion for its driving force and draws upon the concept of celebration, both liturgical and secular, of human existence.

The Eastern Shore Wind Ensemble is an all-ages community concert band. It was formed in 2001 to offer area wind and percussion musicians the opportunity to continue or return to the pleasures of playing quality music in a large ensemble. New members are always welcome, without audition or fee.

Rehearsals for the next concert, on May 21, will begin on March 20. They start promptly at 7:00 p.m. and run until 8:30 p.m. in the Washington College band room in Gibson Center for the Arts. For further information, call 410-778-2829. The ensemble is partially supported by a grant from the Kent County Arts Council.

Mid-Shore Food Culture: Psst….The Bartlett Pear is Totally Open for Business

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The Bartlett Pear has been one of those special gifts that a small community rarely is the recipient of. A beautiful historic downtown building is reactivated by a “from here” young couple who converts it to a first class boutique hotel and dining venue.

After years being mentored by some of the top chefs in America, Alice and Jordan Lloyd returned to their native home of Easton in 2009 to develop their own vision of what hospitality means regarding food and lodging. And throughout a particularly painful economic recession, the Bartlett Pear persevered by offering locally-sourced culinary delights from the morning until the late hours of the night.

But even with that remarkable track record, the “BP” has had to reset its business model to more accurately calibrate what the owners do and when they do it with the realities of being a young family with two children.

The result of this hard-nosed evaluation led to a different approach for the current Bartlett Pear. Jordan, at the height of his earning power as a chef, decided to commute to DC during the week and return to the extremely high-end dining scene there while Alice would operate the hotel and bakery.

The Spy had a brief chat with Alice about these changes as well as her gratitude for the Pear’s very loyal patrons for quickly adapting to its pivots over the last nine years.

This video is approximately one minute in length. For more information about the Bartlett Pear please go here

Recovery: When You Can’t Just Leave by Erin Hill

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It’s a special kind of lonely hell when you love an addict.

Your relationship is teetering on disaster – you’re barely surviving – you’re in a hole so deep the sky looks like a pinhole – you’re ashamed of what you and your life has become. You are afraid that if you let go, the world as you know it will crumble around you. Those around you encourage you to leave. But they don’t understand that you can’t “Just Leave”.

It’s complicated. It’s messy. It hurts.

They don’t understand that just like an addict starts with their drug – we are addicted to our addict. We didn’t get into these relationships thinking “Gee, I think I’m going to spend the rest of my life trying to control someone else’s crap” – just like they didn’t wake up one day deciding to be an addict. It evolves.

The dark, sticky, snake-like fingers of the disease constricts every aspect of our lives.

The finances, the employment, the physical health and the mental well-being of everyone in the home is compromised. Before you know it – you’re so entwined in the madness that getting out feels like death. Because it would be. You had hopes and dreams of a happily ever after, and if you leave, that dies.
But just as addiction can wrap itself around your relationship, so too can recovery.

My husband and I have been together 12 years, married for 10 – and he recently celebrated 5 years clean and sober. It’s still not perfect – it’s like that illusive “normal” you hear about – or unicorns and leprechauns. But it’s definitely better than it was.

It takes both of you to work on it.

I thought for sure that if he just quit the drug, things would get better. That if he would just quit drinking. Or get a job. Or spend more time with me and the kids… that it would be OK. I didn’t have the problem – he did. I could run the household, raise the kids, go to work, AND deal with him and his crap –

I was superwoman – right?! Wrong.

I brought a few suitcases worth of my own crap to this party.

It wasn’t until I was willing to take a hard look at my part in our relationship that I was ready to get really honest with myself. I was attracted to him because I thought I could fix him. That if I fixed him, he’d owe me – and never leave. And most of all – because I thought that was the kind of man I deserved – I wasn’t going to do any better. It was disguised as a noble attempt at fixing his problems, saving him from himself, and making everything alright with the world. It was just a thin cloak over the ability to distract myself from my own problems.

When you start looking at your stuff – unpacking those suitcases of stuff from your own history, and tossing what you don’t use or love (The Art of Tidying Up style) and repacking in a loving way what you want to keep, you make room for the stuff you really want. Like recovery. For you.

They don’t have to get sober for you to be happy.

Once you start seeing what it is you want for your own life, you can detach and work on YOU. I found that in our relationship it comes in spurts. He’ll work on himself, then I’ll work on my stuff. It’s a partnership like it’s never been before.

As we know better, we do better.

Getting clean and sober was just the beginning for us. There’s been times that have been more difficult in the last 5 years in recovery that were harder than the drunken rages or nights of fear, tears and despair. It doesn’t get easier, but you get stronger. And just like any other muscle, the more you use it, the stronger you get.

Start small.

Go for a walk, sit in silence with your breath for a few moments every day. Journal, write, sing, speak, or scream. Do something that’s just for YOU. As you come back to yourself, you develop your sense of strength and hope. You know that regardless, you’re going to be OK. And OK is good enough. YOU are good enough.

A Beautiful Mess was created by Erin Hill to educate and inspire women to Care for themselves, Communicate their needs, and Connect with their tribe of women who “get it”. Erin is a coach for women and blogger about life. She lives in Cambridge Maryland with her husband and 3 children. More information can be found at www.beautifulmesslife.com