Upper Shore Anglers to Meet January 16

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The Upper Shore Eastern Anglers fishing club will hold its monthly membership meeting on Tuesday, January 16 at American Legion Post 36 (9155 American Legion Rd, Chestertown, MD 21620).  We meet at 6:00 PM for dinner (optional at $15 per person), and the meeting begins at 6:30.

“Upper Eastern Shore Anglers is a diverse group of fishermen from Delaware and the Upper Eastern Shore of Maryland.  We’ve been fishing together for over twenty years now.  Our goal is to share our love and knowledge of fishing with other fishermen.  We meet on the third Tuesday of each month to socialize, share a meal, plan events, listen to expert speakers, and swap fish stories. Members enjoy discounted charters, tournaments, and fishing trips, as well as annual fish fries and crab feasts.

“he public is welcome to attend.  For more information, check us out at https://tritoncollect.wixsite.com/uesa.

Snow Days and Spies by Nancy Mugele

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Winter Break was extended for me by the bomb cyclone that left the Chester River looking like frozen Arctic tundra. I used the extra days to continue my trek through the mountain of books waiting patiently on my coffee table. Curled up in my favorite spot on the couch with a warm blanket, hot tea sweetened with Lockbriar Farms honey, and a roaring fire, is the perfect staycation for me – especially when it is unplanned.

Snow days, for those of us in the education world, are a gift. A gift of time, welcomed and celebrated, in our often busy and over-scheduled lives. Snow days that glide into weekends are an even bigger gift! And, while I know from personal experience that it is never easy for working parents to juggle unexpected school closings, it is always best to err on the side of safety especially given the large geographic area that Kent County and Queen Anne’s County cover.

Some of you may know that I secretly wanted to be Nancy Drew, but in some of my dreams I was a spy in France. My acting experience and my long neglected proficiency in French would have helped me in this endeavor. I almost majored in French in college, with a planned career at the United Nations, but that is another story.

I spent my snow days immersed in an historical novel – The Alice Network by Kate Quinn. The story brings together two women—a female spy recruited to the real-life Alice Network in France during World War I and an American college student searching for her cousin in Europe in 1947—in a fictional account of courage, perseverance, revenge and personal discovery.

Louise de Bettignies (Lili in the novel) was a real French secret agent who spied on the Germans for the British during World War I using the pseudonym Alice Dubois. She was the leader of a group of spies (including many women) who provided important information to the British through occupied Belgium and the Netherlands. The “Alice” network is estimated to have saved the lives of more than a thousand British soldiers. Louise was so effective she was nicknamed “the queen of spies.” Jenna, who also enjoys historical fiction, is reading The Alice Network as we speak. I cannot wait for our mother-daughter book club discussion.

During World War II, “the most dangerous of all Allied spies” according to the Germans was American Virginia Hall. Hall is someone I feel like I know as I have written about her and given interviews about her for two books and a tv news report. Virginia Hall was a 1926 graduate of Roland Park Country School (my previous school in Baltimore). She worked with the British Special Operations Executive and later with the American Office of Strategic Services and the Special Activities Division of the Central Intelligence Agency. She was known by many aliases, each with a different persona.  I like to believe that she honed her acting skills at RPCS where she participated in theater in Upper School. I admire Virginia Hall’s gift for languages – she was fluent in five – and her intelligence. Unfortunately, her hopes of joining the Foreign Service were ended by a hunting accident that left her with an artificial leg. Resilient and very athletic from her days playing basketball at RPCS, she worked for British intelligence in France after the Nazis invaded and was also dubbed by the Germans as “the lady who limps.”

You can read about her in The Wolves at the Door: The True Story of America’s Greatest Female Spy by Judith L. Pearson. Actor Daisy Ridley (of recent Star Wars fame) will play Virginia Hall in an adaptation of Sonia Purnell’s forthcoming biography A Woman of No Importance. The book is scheduled for publication in spring 2019 but Paramount Pictures has already acquired the rights. I don’t think there is a director yet but I look forward to this film so Virginia’s story will become known to a wider audience.

I salute the amazing and daring women throughout history who have made a significant contribution to our freedom, especially  Virginia and “Alice.” They are truly role models and they continue to inspire me.

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.

Community Garden Meeting Jan. 24

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Would you like to start a garden but don’t have the space to do it? A community garden just might be the answer to your dreams — and there’s one starting up near you!

The seed catalogues have been delivered. Memories of past weed and pest problems have faded. And even though we are in a deep freeze, it’s time to plan your garden! This year, Pam and John Vogel will open up their farm on Round Top Road for a community garden. Pam has been gardening for years and shares a lot of her produce with neighbors and at a local food bank. She is a believer in having a diverse selection of flowers and vegetables in order to attract many types of beneficial bugs and birds. Bird houses are all around their 15-acre property, and they even have a bat house on their barn. She also loves to seed save the heirloom varieties she grows. John grows hops, beans, peanuts, and tends their 6 bee hives.

Their vision is that area residents will have access to fertile and sunny ground to plant flowers and vegetables. John planted a cover crop of clover a large space and will till it in the early spring so Gardeners can start their early cool weather seeds by mid-March. Gardeners must be willing to use organic practices. There will be straw and composted manure available. A limited amount of tools will be available to share as well.

There will be a planning meeting on January 24th at 7 p.m. at 218 Round Top Road. A seed swap will happen on February 21st at 7 p.m. as well. You can get more information through Meetup.com under the Chestertown Organic Gardeners and Farmers. Or contact Pam by email at pam.vogel123@gmail.com

 

Bay Ecosystem: Ocean Deoxygenation Changes Pose Real Threat to Marine Ecosystems by Amy Pelsinsky

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An international team of scientists warns that the ocean may run out of breath unless action is taken to rein in climate change and nutrient pollution. In the first sweeping look at the causes, consequences and solutions to low oxygen worldwide, published in Science, researchers reveal that the amount of oxygen in the world’s oceans and coastal waters is steadily decreasing.

The oxygen content of the open ocean and coastal waters has been declining for at least the past half century as a result of human activities that have increased global temperatures and nutrients discharged to coastal waters.

“Oxygen is fundamental to life in the oceans,” said Denise Breitburg, lead author and marine ecologist with the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center. “The decline in ocean oxygen ranks among the most serious effects of human activities on the Earth’s environment.”

In the past 50 years, the amount of water in the open ocean with zero oxygen has gone up more than fourfold. In coastal water bodies, including estuaries and seas, low-oxygen sites have increased more than 10-fold since 1950. For the upper ocean, oxygen and heat content are highly correlated for the period of 1958-2015 with sharp increases in both deoxygenation and ocean heat content beginning in the mid 1980s.

Many areas around the globe are looking at how we used sound science to make wise environmental management decisions to improve the water quality of Chesapeake Bay.

The study came from a team of scientists from GO2NE (Global Ocean Oxygen Network), a new working group created in 2016 by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission that includes Mike Roman and Kenny Rose from the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science’s Horn Point Laboratory.

The review paper is the first to take such a sweeping look at the causes, consequences and solutions to low oxygen worldwide, in both the open ocean and coastal waters. The article highlights the biggest dangers to the ocean and society, and what it will take to keep Earth’s waters healthy and productive.

The Stakes

In areas traditionally called “dead zones,” like those in Chesapeake Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, oxygen plummets to levels so low many animals suffocate and die. As fish avoid these zones, their habitats shrink and they become more vulnerable to predators or fishing. But the problem goes far beyond “dead zones,” the authors point out.

Even smaller oxygen declines can stunt growth in animals, hinder reproduction and lead to disease or even death. It also can trigger the release of dangerous chemicals such as nitrous oxide, a greenhouse gas up to 300 times more powerful than carbon dioxide, and toxic hydrogen sulfide. While some animals can thrive in dead zones, overall biodiversity falls.

The ongoing recovery of Chesapeake Bay, where nitrogen pollution has dropped 24 percent since its peak thanks to better sewage treatment, better farming practices and successful laws like the Clean Air Act, is an example of what’s possible to reverse this trend. While some low-oxygen zones persist, the area of the Chesapeake with zero oxygen has almost disappeared.

“Many areas around the globe are looking at how we used sound science to make wise environmental management decisions to improve the water quality of Chesapeake Bay,” said Roman, co-author of the report and director of the UMCES’ Horn Point Laboratory in Cambridge, Maryland.

Climate change is the key culprit in the open ocean. Warming surface waters make it harder for oxygen to reach the ocean interior. Furthermore, as the ocean as a whole gets warmer, it holds less oxygen. In coastal waters, excess nutrient pollution from land creates algal blooms, which drain oxygen as they die and decompose. In an unfortunate twist, animals also need more oxygen in warmer waters, even as it is disappearing.

People’s livelihoods are also on the line, the scientists reported, especially in developing nations. Smaller, artisanal fisheries may be unable to relocate when low oxygen destroys their harvests or forces fish to move elsewhere. In the Philippines, fish kills in a single town’s aquaculture pens cost more than $10 million. Coral reefs, a key tourism attraction in many countries, also can waste away without enough oxygen.

Some popular fisheries could benefit, at least in the short term. Nutrient pollution can stimulate production of food for fish. In addition, when fish are forced to crowd to escape low oxygen, they can become easier to catch. But in the long run, this could result in overfishing and damage to the economy.

“Getting the effects of low oxygen on fish populations and supporting food webs correct, especially as it worsens, will enable more effective analyses and decisions on how to sustainably manage many fisheries, from artisanal that support local communities to large-scale industrial fisheries,” said Rose, a co-author of the report and a professor at Horn Point Laboratory.

Winning the War: A Three-Pronged Approach

To keep low oxygen in check, the scientists said the world needs to take on the issue from three angles:

Address the causes: nutrient pollution and climate change. While neither issue is simple or easy, the steps needed to win can benefit people as well as the environment. Better septic systems and sanitation can protect human health and keep pollution out of the water. Cutting fossil fuel emissions not only cuts greenhouse gases and fights climate change, but also slashes dangerous air pollutants like mercury.

Protect vulnerable marine life. With some low oxygen unavoidable, it is crucial to protect at-risk fisheries from further stress. According to the GO2NE team, this could mean creating marine protected areas or no-catch zones in areas animals use to escape low oxygen, or switching to fish that are not as threatened by falling oxygen levels.

Improve low-oxygen tracking worldwide. Scientists have a decent grasp of how much oxygen the ocean could lose in the future, but they do not know exactly where those low-oxygen zones will be. Enhanced monitoring, especially in developing countries, and numerical models will help pinpoint which places are most at risk and determine the most effective solutions.

The Global Ocean Oxygen Network (GO2NE) is a scientific working group organized by the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Established in 2016, its scientists from around the world are committed to providing a global and multidisciplinary view of deoxygenation, advising policymakers on countering low oxygen and preserving marine resources.

Amy Pelsinsky is Director of Communications at  the University Of Maryland’s Center For Environmental Science. For more information please go here

 

Cummings Cancels Appearance, Suspends Campaign

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Maya Rockeymoore Cummings

The Kent County Democratic Club announced in a Jan. 5 email that Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, who was scheduled to visit the  club Saturday, Jan. 13, will not be appearing. Ms. Cummings has suspended her campaign for governor for personal reasons.

According to the Baltimore Sun, Ms. Cummings’ husband, Rep. Elijah Cummings of Baltimore, has been hospitalized for about a week. No details on the congressman’s condition, or on the possible relation of his health issues to his wife’s suspension of her campaign, were available at press time.

First Friday: Artists’ Gallery Spotlight on Linda Hall

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“Jug of Sunflowers”, watercolor by Linda Hall

On First Friday, The Artists’ Gallery would like to invite everyone to celebrate the new year with them!  Along with their well wishes, the partners of The Artists’ Gallery are offering a discount of 15% off each of their original works of art during the first two weeks of January.  The partners of the gallery are Bonnie Foster Howell, Sally Clark, Nancy R. Thomas, Barbara Zuehlke and Evie Baskin.  For more information about the partners and the work that they do, please see the gallery website.

In addition, The Artists’ Gallery will extend a discount of 15% on paintings by Linda Hall.  Based in Betterton, Linda Hall’s work in watercolor is well known on the Eastern Shore and beyond.  She has participated in numerous juried art shows, both nationally and internationally, winning over fifty awards.  Linda is a signature member of the Baltimore Watercolor Society, Pennsylvania Watercolor Society and the Northeast Watercolor society and an exhibitor with The Artists’ Gallery, and a member of River Arts and the Working Artists Forum in Easton.

A reception for the public will be held at The Artists’ Gallery on January 5, 2018, from 5-8 pm.  Located at 239 High Street in Chestertown, The Artists’ Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10-5 and on Sundays from 12:30 to 4:30.

“Getting Dinner”, watercolor Barbara Zuehlke

“Fringed Edge”, oil by Bonnie Howell

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“Koi Fish Frolicking”, mixed media by Sally Clark

 

Country Road”, oil by Nancy R. Thomas

“Good Friends”, oil by Evie Baskin

Year-End Tax Tips from Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. (December 27, 2017) – The office of Maryland’s Comptroller Peter Franchot forwarded these year-end tax-tips.  You can still make donations and take other actions to help your tax situation.  But hurry!  Many things must be dated or mailed by December 31!  Others have later deadlines.

As tax filing season approaches, the Internal Revenue Service is reminding taxpayers that there are things they should do now to get ready for filing season. Here are some tips to get ready:For most taxpayers, Dec. 31 is the last day to take actions that will affect their 2017 tax returns. For example, charitable contributions are deductible in the year made. Donations charged to a credit card before the end of 2017 count for the 2017 tax year, even if the bill isn’t paid until 2018. Checks to a charity count for 2017 as long as they are mailed by the last day of the year.

Taxpayers over age 70 ½ are generally required to receive payments from their individual retirement accounts and workplace retirement plans by the end of 2017, though a special rule allows those who reached 70 ½ in 2017 to wait until April 1, 2018, to receive them.

Most workplace retirement account contributions should be made by the end of the year, but taxpayers can make 2017 IRA contributions until April 18, 2018. For 2018, the limit for a 401(k) is $18,500. For traditional and Roth IRAs, the limit is $6,500 if age 50 or older and up to $15,500 for a Simple IRA for age 50 or older.

Taxpayers should be careful not to count on getting a refund by a certain date, especially when making major purchases or paying other financial obligations.

Taxpayers who have moved should tell the U.S. Postal Service, employers and the IRS. To notify the IRS, mail IRS Form 8822, Change of Address, to the address listed on the form’s instructions. For taxpayers who purchase health insurance through the Health Insurance Marketplace, they also should notify the Marketplace when they move out of the area covered by their current plan.

For name changes due to marriage or divorce, notify the Social Security Administration so the new name will match IRS and SSA records. Also notify the SSA if a dependent’s name changed. A mismatch between the name shown on your tax return and the SSA records can cause problems in the processing of a return and may even delay a refund.

Some refunds cannot be issued before mid-February. By law, the IRS cannot issue refunds before mid-February for tax returns that claim the Earned Income Tax Credit or the Additional Child Tax Credit. The IRS expects the earliest EITC/ACTC related refunds to be available in taxpayer bank accounts or on debit cards starting on Feb 27, 2018, if they chose direct deposit and there are no other issues with the tax return.

Some Individual Taxpayer Identification Numbers must be renewed. Any Individual Taxpayer Identification Number not used on a tax return at least once in the past three years will expire on December 31, 2017. Additionally, all ITINs issued before 2013 with middle digits of 70, 71, 72 or 80 (Example: 9XX-70-XXXX) will also expire at the end of the year. As a reminder, ITINs with middle digits 78 and 79 that expired in 2016 can also be renewed. Only taxpayers who need to file a U.S. federal tax return or are claiming a refund in 2018 must renew their expired ITINs. Affected ITIN holders can avoid delays by starting the renewal process now.

Those who fail to renew before filing a return could face a delayed refund and may be ineligible for some important tax credits. More information, including answers to frequently asked questions is available on IRS.gov/ITIN.

Keeping copies of tax returns is important. Taxpayers may need a copy of their 2016 tax return to make it easier to fill out a 2017 tax return. Some taxpayers using a software product for the first time may need to provide their 2016 Adjusted Gross Income, or AGI, to e-file their 2017 tax return.

Taxpayers who do not have a copy of their 2016 return and are existing users can log in to IRS.gov/account if they need their AGI. Otherwise the IRS will mail a TaxReturn Transcript if requested online or by calling 800-908-9946. Plan ahead. Allow five to 10 days for delivery. Visit the IRS’ website to learn more about identification verification and electronically signing tax returns.

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Be the Light by Nancy Mugele

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Not a creature is stirring at my house after a heartwarming week of laughter and loud conversations amidst endless loads of dishes and laundry. The last bird flew out this morning and truth be told I am feeling a bit melancholy. For 30 years of married life Jim and I always hoped to raise children of character and integrity who would one day lead independent lives of purpose. Somehow we have managed to do just that – despite a few bumps and detours along the way.

Now, having our children pop in and out of our lives for precious bits of time is both awe-inspiring and bittersweet. The girls and I took our annual trip to NYC right before Christmas and enjoyed our day of sight-seeing, light-seeing and fun. Jenna, always a thoughtful gift giver, surprised me and Kelsy with tickets to see the Rockettes at Radio City. It was spectacular! James arrived this year with presents for everyone that he had made himself. Creative and thoughtful and totally surprising! I helped Kelsy by purchasing and wrapping a few of the gifts she gave to family members, but don’t tell anyone.

The chaos when they are all here with us in Chestertown is invigorating and I greatly enjoy sharing my love through cooking. (I would not mind help cleaning the kitchen once in a while though!) On Christmas Day Jim’s family arrived to help us celebrate and we had our traditional lasagna dinner.  Today, as I finish eating the leftovers and begin the holiday clean up, I do feel a little sad to be alone on the river. Fortunately, this is the season of lights so my house is brightly decorated even at mid-day. I know the lights are telling me to smile and find joy in the memories made this Christmas.

‘Tis the season for several religious celebrations where light is a central tenet. Hanukkah, Christmas and Kwanzaa all share a joyful feast with family and loved ones. Kwanzaa and Hanukkah include the lighting of candles on consecutive nights (Kwanzaa has 7 candles and Hanukkah has 9), while Christmas is the culmination of the weekly lighting of 4 Advent candles in December. Christmas also includes a decorated tree with lights. This year I received a gift of two bayberry candles from a former Kent School family and was introduced to their bayberry candle tradition. The legend is that if you burn your bayberry candle on Christmas or New Year’s Eve it will bring blessings of abundance in the coming year. I love candles and really appreciated this thoughtful and meaningful gift. We burned ours on Christmas night with all of our extended family present – hope it still works!

In The Merchant of Venice, William Shakespeare wrote: “How far that little candle throws his beams! So shines a good deed in a weary world.” I have been thinking about these words all morning as I have been storing the Christmas china, washing stemware and vacuuming poinsettia leaves, while my Lodestone Holiday Hearth candle fills my senses with orange, ginger, and balsam. While I am not one for resolutions, in this quiet moment in my empty house, I have decided to be the light for others in the coming year and find ways to celebrate good deeds at my school and in my community. Will you join me?

And while my own children have returned to Baltimore, Nashville and Denver, I am so blessed to have 141 children who attend Kent School to fill my heart with light and good as we welcome the New Year this weekend. All the best in 2018!

Nancy Mugele is the Head of School at Kent School in Chestertown and a member of the Board of Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s.

Insight Meditation Community Offers Introductory Class 

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The Insight Meditation Community of Chestertown is offering a 6-week Introduction to Mindfulness Meditation class on Sunday afternoons from 3:30 to 5 p.m. beginning  January 7, 2018.

At the heart of insight meditation is the practice of mindfulness, the cultivation of clear, stable and non-judgmental awareness. Anne Briggs, the group’s leader, and Wendy Morrison, a mindfulness and yoga teacher, will be teaching the classes, which will be held at the Chester River Friends Meeting House, 124 Philosophers Terrace, Chestertown.

There is a $25.00 registration fee, which can be mailed to Anne Briggs at 220 N. Kent Street, Chestertown, Md. 21620. Checks should be made payable to IMC – Chestertown, and accompanied by your e-mail address and telephone number.

For further information, please get in touch with Anne Briggs by phone at 410-778-1746, or by e-mail at info@imc-chestertown.org, or consult the group’s web site