Young Artists Shine at KidSPOT!


Kaela Covey, grade 4, mask; Sukie Tilghman, grade 3, owl; Saraia Wilmoree, grade 3, doll; Elizabeth Healy, instructor; Alden Swanson,grade 4, owl

KidSPOT! is an after-school art program for, well, kids. Sponsored by RiverArts,  KidSpot has year-round activities including drop-in sessions.  This Friday will be the last day of  a special six-week KidSPOT! session in coordination with the Kent County Public Schools for students grades K-8 .  The younger kids made masks, dolls, cut-paper art and more. The middle school students did drawings in various media. And their KidSPOT! exhibit was up on the walls at RiverArts by First Friday.  And you can see it, too!

The People’s Choice award for the middle school went to Emma Porter, grade 8 for her big cat.

RiverArts will run another six-week after-school program starting in the new year.  Contact RiverArts for information.  The program runs from 3:30 to 5:00 pm, Monday through Friday.

Gabriel Nailor, grade 5, Super Dog; Sei-Aun Thompson, grade 3, doll; August Swanson, K, cut-paper art; Kato Swanson, grade 2, cut-paper art

Joy Maine was curator and instructor for the Middle School exhibit.  She has taught art in the Kent County Middle School in Chestertown for over 30 years.  Elizabeth Healy was curator and instructor for the elementary school students. She taught elementary school in Montana for 25 years before moving to Chestertown in 2014.  She is currently the co-chair of KidSPOT.

The RiverArts Gallery at 315 High Street, Suite 106 (behind Dunkin’ Donuts)is open Tuesday through Friday, 11 am to 4 pm, Saturday 10 to 4, and Sunday 11 to 3 pm.  Don’t miss it!

The KidSPOT! exhibit is in the second and third rooms at RiverArts.  The main room has another exhibit that is also worth taking a look at. The Spy article on the Chester River School of Art Student Exhibit is here.

Photo Gallery below by Peter Heck and Jane Jewell

Masks and dolls by artists ages 5-10



















Monster by Grant Barry, grade 6

Lexi Sullivan, grade 8

Trista Strong, grade 8

Caleb Schultz, grade 8

Chloie Massey, grade 8

Sebastian Aquilar, grade 6




























































“Special Rural Community Hospital” Legislation Could Save Hospital


Sen. Thomas “Mac” Middleton, chair of the Senate Finance Committee is the tall man standing front and center, next to Del. Jay Jacobs of Rock Hall, and surrounded by members of the Workgroup on Rural Health Delivery. Workgroup Co-chair Deborah Mizeur is behind Jacobs’ left shoulder, with Co-Chair Joseph Ciotola (nearly obscured behind Sen. Middleton) and Sen. Steve Hershey to her left. Shore Regional Health System President and CEO Ken Kozel is at far left, in the third row from the front. Heron Point Executive Director Garret Falcone is at far right, in the back row.

I have excellent news about the future of our hospital in Chestertown beyond 2022.

With the help of our doctors, delegates, Senator Thomas “Mac” Middleton, Workgroup co-chairs Deborah Mizeur and Joe Ciotola, and thousands in our community, the “Save the Hospital” campaign has cleared another hurdle:

On September 28, the state’s “Workgroup on Rural Health Delivery” unanimously agreed that the Chestertown hospital should offer in-patient medical and surgical services.  That means indefinitely, beyond 2022.  That is what our community has fought for since January 2016.

The hospital recommendation also approved unanimously by the Health Care Commission, now goes to the General Assembly as part of a comprehensive Mid-Shore health care plan.

If the in-patient endorsement wins legislative approval and Governor Hogan’s support, the facility on Brown Street will become a “Special Rural Community Hospital,” uniquely eligible for state funding.  The state subsidy is controversial, but it’s critically important.  More than 80 rural American hospitals have closed since 2010.

The Workgroup’s unanimous approval was gratifying.  Even members who had been skeptical or opposed to in-patient care here eventually agreed with messages we’d heard at the January 10, 2016, “Firehouse Meeting.”

  • Healthcare, including in-patient beds, should be as close to home as possible.
  • Shuttling frail patients to Easton from Chestertown and the far-reaches of Kent and Queen Anne’s is bad—sometimes dangerous—medicine.
  • Leaving people who can’t drive with no way to get to Easton appointments and visits to loved ones in the hospital means sick people get sicker.

We’ve come a long way since early 2016 when Shore Health’s board was planning to retain our Emergency Department, diagnostics (MRIs, X-rays, etc.), same-day surgery, rehab, chemo and other ambulatory services, but to eliminate in-patient beds and any surgery requiring an overnight stay.

Ken Kozel, CEO and President of Shore Health, was one of the Workgroup members who endorsed the final report, and on October 28, he reiterated his commitment to the Chester River Health Foundation board.

Shore Health, he said, stands by its in-patient care promise through spring of 2022, and afterward if Maryland provides support as requested through the rural study.

“We feel if you can sustain the funding, then it’s an appropriate facility to have in this community in perpetuity,” Kozel said, adding his agreement with the Workgroup’s conclusion.

“It’s needed,” he said.

Here’s the Workgroup’s full report.  The rural hospital paragraph is at the bottom of page 16.

Margie Elsberg

“Save the Hospital”

Volunteer Communications Coordinator

The Slow Work of God by George Merrill


“Above all,” writes the famous paleontologist and Jesuit priest, Teilhard de Chardin, “trust in the slow work of God.” He continues, “ . . . it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability – and that it may take a very long time.” At eighty-three, I’m learning to trust the slow work of time, which is, I’m sure, the slow work of God.

It’s autumn on the Shore, harvest season. I, too, am well into the harvest time of my own life. In my mind I frequently survey the landscape where I once sowed, the Island I was born on, and the various landscapes through which I’ve passed since. I see some things are gone, others have changed, and a few brought to fruition. My landscape has widened. The world of my youth was an insular one and now, with time, it’s become a global one.

Fall heralds the end of one season and begins another. It’s a time of transformation and for me, heightened awareness. I first see transformation in falling leaves and vibrant colors, but also in the autumn light. It assumes a softer character, so different than the garish light of mid-summer. On the edges of significant changes, I become more alert, as I might while driving through unknown terrain. Having arrived at the harvest time of my life, I return occasionally to the fields where I’ve sown.

Even with fall’s beauty radiating everywhere, I must confess I also feel tinges of melancholy, or is it nostalgia? I’m not sure.

I suspect that melancholy is the deepening awareness of my own vanishing history that grows more dim with the passage of time. There’s magical energy associated with the “firsts” of our lives. The excitement diminishes with time: the thrill of the first bicycle (it was a second-hand refurbished one as the war was on and few were made); the smell of my first new car; my first puppy named Pete who died of distemper; the first trip to the Statue of Liberty where I walked up the spiral staircase to see the harbor from its crown; there was my first love. There was the first photograph I took, developed the negatives and made the prints.

As a teen I was a lifeguard on the beaches of Staten Island. I once rescued someone. It was the only time and I recall it vividly. The slow work of God, sixty-seven years in this instance.

Growing up on the Island, the ethnic and racial differences were not as obvious as they are today. I knew no Asian kids in school, only one African-American and no Hispanics except once when, as a lifeguard, I rescued a little girl. It was my first hand introduction to how vulnerable and lonely being a stranger in the land can be.

The surf is gentle on Island beaches and bathers have to walk some distance to get in deeper water. It’s a safe place.

One day a thin and frail looking woman (in those days I would have said a foreigner) came over to the observation chair and got my attention by tapping me on the foot. I could see she was frightened and she pointed out to the water and muttered something – I think now it was in Spanish – I couldn’t understand. She beckoned me frantically to follow her to the water line. She pointed to a little girl who was out some distance, but not yet over her head. I could see the girl was standing. The water, however, was up to her chin. She was frozen with panic, afraid to move. I took large strides into the water, put my arm around her waist and walked her toward the shore. She clung to me and I could feel her shivering with fear. As we made our way to the shoreline, I felt a surge of protective compassion for her even though I knew nothing about her and was sure she was not really in much danger. The mother rushed over, put her arms around her, and looked at me in a way that said she was grateful, but, I suspect, also feeling awkward that she couldn’t tell me since she spoke no English.

In retrospect I believe I read the scene accurately. The mother and her child could speak no English. My guess now is they were Hispanic. After I returned to the beach I felt an overwhelming sadness. What must it be like to be in trouble in a strange place that you know no one? What can you do when you are afraid, but cannot speak the language of the people around you? I can only imagine how acutely vulnerable she felt and how hard it must have been for her to trust anyone. She didn’t speak the language, which would only have marginalized her more.

I often took the ferry from Staten Island to Manhattan, passing the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island hundreds of times on the way. Both fascinated me. I saw them as the symbols of what America aspired to be, namely, a nation ennobled by offering hospitality to the stranger, a sanctuary for the tired and the poor.

Once I was a stranger.

A few years ago I took an elderly woman to a hospital while I was in Puerto Rico. She’d fallen and had lost considerable blood. She was diabetic and hadn’t eaten for hours. I spoke no Spanish. The halls were filled with patients milling about. I didn’t know where to go where to take my concerns. Doctors and nurses didn’t wear identifying uniforms. I asked some people where to register, where to go. They shrugged their shoulders in a kindly way, but indicated they spoke no English.

I felt desperate and lost.

“You don’t speak Spanish?” a short plump woman asked me. She had a lovely smile. I told her my dilemma. She oriented me to the hospital procedures, identified a doctor and even asked me where I’d parked. “The police will take your car if it’s in the wrong place,” she warned me. “It’ll be hard to get back.” Unlike the little Spanish girl of my Island epic, I could in this instance – with almost tears in my eyes –communicate my gratitude to her in a language she understood.

Columnist George Merrill is an Episcopal Church priest and pastoral psychotherapist. A writer and photographer, he’s authored two books on spirituality: Reflections: Psychological and Spiritual Images of the Heart and The Bay of the Mother of God: A Yankee Discovers the Chesapeake Bay. He is a native New Yorker, previously directing counseling services in Hartford, Connecticut, and in Baltimore. George’s essays, some award winning, have appeared in regional magazines and are broadcast twice monthly on Delmarva Public Radio.

Food Friday: Portable Pears for Thanksgiving


Countdown to Thanksgiving! 20 days!

Since there is a still a large bowl brimming with Halloween Baby Ruths, Butterfingers and Nestlé Crunch bars in our front hall, it might be a little early to start thinking about Thanksgiving. Or is it? Over at Martha’s, her cowering staff is probably tinkering with Easter jelly bean recipes. But in the venerated Spy Test Kitchens we are grappling with the weighty questions of dessert and wine for our contribution to Thanksgiving. These are two of our favorite problems to solve. Obviously.

We are taking a road trip with half of America for Thanksgiving this year. And since we will not have access to a kitchen en route, our dessert must be made ahead of time, and it must travel well. Desserts are pretty hardy, and remain delicious even if they get a little shopworn after spending six hours on I-95. I think it best not to count on bringing something with a beautiful glistening flawless surface, or towering and multi-layer. Admittedly you could reassemble your creation at the last minute just when the green beans beans are losing steam and the gravy is getting cold and the hosts are worn to a frazzle. Not good guest behavior, though.

Starting with the mundane – we could bring a traditional pumpkin pie. Or we could stop at Trader Joe’s and pick one up; they have a deft hand with pie crust, and I surely do not. But store-bought doesn’t scream love, or paying attention to detail. What I could do instead, is stop at Trader Joe’s for some heavy cream to whip up while the stuffing is being prepped. And then at the proper moment I can bring out the bowl of lovely sworling peaks of deliciousness, and apply generous lashings to plates of homemade dessert. There is almost nothing that whipped cream can’t improve.

I am thinking about pears this year. Pears always seem autumnal. They come in such a beautiful variety of colors. A few pears in an orderly line on the mantle piece, or up the middle of the dining room table, make a lovely simple decorations. And when the meal is finished, and the last coffee cup has been whisked away, a pear makes an effective palate cleaner. A light, juicy non-alcoholic digestif.

There are many kinds of pears: Green Anjou, Red Anjou, Bartlett, Red Bartlett, Bosc, Comice, Concorde, Forelle, Seckel and Stark Crimson. Feel free to research the more obscure.

Anjous, Bartletts, Boscs and Asian pears are deelish eaten raw. Bosc and Anjous are excellent for holding their shape when cooked. Bartlett pears are perfect for sauces, or butters. Vivian Howard, who never wastes the tiniest bit of food potential, has an excellent recipe for the otherwise unloved Keiffer pear: Kieffer Pear Preserves:

This is a delightful dessert that should travel well: It will echo the cranberry jelly already on the table, only without the Ocean Spray trademark of can ridges along the surface. It is elegant.

Depending on your relationship with your family, you can bring this version of flourless chocolate cake. It does not call for a shimmering skin of chocolate ganache, but it does require for cricket flour. Won’t you be a hit with the youngsters! (There is not enough whipped cream in the world for me to eat this cake.)

The easiest-peasiest: pear-blueberry crumble. It is the most likely to shine with heaps of whipped cream and it has no delusions about holding its shape.

Here is the most labor intensive, but absolutely delicious pie that would be a hit at Thanksgiving. It also doesn’t have any hard-to-find ingredients, a major plus in my cooking book. I do not want to drive for 45 minutes to find an obscure (and expensive) spice. Gingered Cranberry-Pear Pie: It is fun to roll the pie dough out on the crumbled gingersnaps, though! Mostly because you need to test some of the smashed gingersnaps. Lots and lots of testing…

And what if your assignment and contribution to Thanksgiving should be a cocktail? Fabulous! Lucky you! Here is a pear nectar and tequila cocktail that should burnish your reputation for being a great guest: Pear Nectar and Reposado Tequila Cocktail

1 ½ oz reposado tequila
3-4 ounces pear nectar
Tiny dash of cinnamon
One drop vanilla extract
Light drizzle of honey
Half of a lemon, juiced
Cinnamon stick, to garnish (optional)

1. Fill a double old-fashioned or high ball glass with ice.
2. Pour in the tequila and pear nectar. Add the cinnamon, vanilla and honey to the glass. Squeeze in half a lemon’s worth of juice.
3. Mix by pouring into a cocktail shaker or another glass, give it a shake or stir well, then pour it back into the original glass. Garnish with a cinnamon stick.

“A fruit is a vegetable with looks and money. Plus, if you let fruit rot, it turns into wine, something Brussels sprouts never do.”
– P.J. O’Rourke

Sir Roger Scruton on Intellectuals, Conservatism and President Trump


For many in both Kent and Talbot Counties, Washington College professor Joseph Prud’homme has been a very visible presence in bringing both communities unique public programming in his role as the Director of the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture. So while it wasn’t too surprising that he invited Sir Roger Scruton to Chestertown yesterday, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a big thing. It is.

The reason being is that Scruton is one of those rare endangered species commonly called a conservative intellectual.  Similar to America’s late William F. Buckley, Jr., Sir Roger has reached a similar cultural status in Great Britain for his controversial writing on politics as well as art and music.

The Spy couldn’t resist the opportunity to chat with Mr.Scruton at the Brampton Inn a few hours before his campus visit to talk about a variety of subjects including what many consider to be a war against intellectualism in this country. Sir Roger also shares his thoughts on how the conservative label may also be at risk as the Trump presidency refines the concept itself.

This video is approximately nine minutes in length. For more information about the Institute for the Study of Religion, Politics, and Culture at Washington College please go here

Carrie – A Halloween Hit!


Carrie, now playing at Church Hill theatre, is an appropriate show for the Halloween season. Based on the 1976 horror film “Carrie,” which draws its plot from a Stephen King novel of the same name, the story takes place in a high school in Maine – and ends with a thoroughly traditional horror movie amount of blood and gore.

A joint production of Chesapeake College and Church Hill Theatre, the play ran three performances at the college’s Cadby Theater, and opens at Church Hill for two more weekends beginning Friday, Nov. 3. Many of the cast members are members of the Peake Players, made up of current or recent students at the college. This works well, considering that a large number of the characters are high school seniors. And, as director Robert Thompson notes, this gives them an immediate sympathy with the feelings and problems of their characters.

King’s 1974 novel, his first to be published, was set in the near future, 1979, in a fictional small town. It used letters, fictional newspaper and magazine stories, and excerpts from Carrie’s own journal and poems to give the story an air of reality. Probably because of its use of a high school setting to generate a terrifying, blood-thirsty plot, it is one of the most frequently banned books in high schools around the country. The film, starring Cissy Spacek in the title role and Piper Laurie as her mother, appeared two years after the book.

Carrie – Queen of the Prom    Photo by Jane Jewell

Carrie happy dancing with Tommy – her first date!      Photo by Jane Jewell











The play debuted in 1984, with Lawrence D. Cohen reworking the screenplay he wrote for the film version which became a big hit.  It was more the movie than the book that made King a best-seller and jump-started his writing career.  In contrast, the first version of the musical stage play did not do so well. Michael Gore wrote the music and Dean Pitchford the lyrics – the two had made their mark with the music for “Fame.” Cohen was reportedly inspired by a performance of Alban Berg’s atonal modernist opera “Lulu.”  The original production was panned by critics, and despite sold-out houses, closed after only five official performances. It was revived in 2012 with the new script and several new songs, and while it too closed after only 48 performances, the authors said it had accomplished their goal of giving the play new life. More recent revivals, including one in Los Angeles in 2015, have received good reviews.

The plot revolves around Carrie White, a shy teenage girl who has become the target of the pranks and insults of her schoolmates. When she experiences her first period in the shower during gym class, she panics – having made it to age 17 without learning the facts of life from her mother, a religious fanatic who thinks menstruation is the result of wicked thoughts. This home life clearly gives Carrie little guidance in dealing with her life at school.

Teens prepare to torment Carrie with a bucket of fake blood.     Photo by Jane Jewell

The teachers make attempts to help Carrie, and another girl, Sue, arranges for her boyfriend Tommy, a popular athlete, to take Carrie to the prom. Carrie at first refuses, but convinced Tommy really wants her as his date, accepts the invitation. Her mother is furious – but Carrie stands up to her and goes anyway.

Carrie wreaks her revenge. Photo by Steve Atkinson

The twist in this otherwise fairly typical story of the teen misfit at the prom is that Carrie has telekinetic powers – the ability to affect and move objects by sheer mind power. When the stress reaches a peak, her psychic powers cause havoc – with the climax coming at the prom, when several of the mean students play a final trick on her.

Carrie The Musical is more than just a teen story or a horror movie transferred to the stage.  It is that.  And Halloween is exactly the right season for it. Horror movie fans will love it.  But it is also a close-up look at what can happen when idle pranks go too far and become cruel; when a lonely teen is seduced years ago and ends up a lonely single mother, embittered and hiding behind extreme religiosity.

Two of the guys dance around as the decoration committee gets the gym ready for prom.  

But don’t worry, it’s neither all horror nor all deep insight.  There are also light moments, poignant moments when a young teen watches her boyfriend ring the doorbell to pick up another girl for the prom. Even humorous moments as when the English teacher confiscates a joint from a student then takes a toke himself as soon as the student’s gone.

Shannon Whittaker, who has numerous CHT credits and who served as director of the CHT Green Room Gang this last summer, plays Carrie. With strong acting chops and a good singing voice, she makes the character both believable and sympathetic. Whittaker gives an excellent portrayal of a shy but sweet teen who finds her strength too late.  Her performance is outstanding.

Maureen Currin plays Carrie’s mother.    Photo by Steve Atkinson

Maureen Currin plays Margaret, Carrie’s mother. The character is possibly the least sympathetic character in the play, but Curris, who has appeared in a number of productions with the Tred Avon Players, gives it a strong interpretation.  Her aria, sung alone in her kitchen after Carrie defies her to go to the prom, is especially poignant, showing both insight into her own fallibility while clinging to her own religious mania.

Reilly Claxton, a first-year student at Cheaspeake, takes the role of Sue, one of three popular girls who lead the laughter at Carrie.  But as things get out of hand in the locker room, Sue begins to feel guilt and shame at her behavior. She tries to apologize to Carrie but isn’t believed, so Sue makes the ultimate teen sacrifice of getting her boyfriend Tommy to take Carrie to the prom.  Claxton conveys all these emotions beautifully. While this is her first Peake Players appearance, she has many previous credits both at CHT and in TV commercials. Her experience shows – a nice job in an important part.

Sue convinces Tommy to take Carrie to the prom to make up for all the mean tricks.      Photo by Jane Jewell

Jacob Wheatley is well cast as Tommy, the boy who takes Carrie to the prom.  He is a good match for Sue. He’s one of the guys  – yet he, too, balks at the continued, excelerated bullying of Carrie.  Wheatley comes across exactly right as the all-American boy next-door, fun-loving but not really mean. Wheatley, a student at Chesapeake College, has acted in two previous productions there, including the lead in How to Succeed in business Without Really Trying.  Hope to see more of him on stage in future.

Olivia Litteral, a recent Chesapeake College graduate, takes the role of Chris, the “bad girl” who targets Carrie for her practical jokes.  Litteral shows the stubbornness and cockiness of a teen leader who won’t admit things have gone too far. A good job.

Brandon Walls, who has numerous credits both with the Peake Players and at CHT, plays Billy, Chris’s thuggish boyfriend. He does a fine job too, using his physical presence to give the character an air of menace while playing the disruptive class clown.

Among the other cast members, Samantha Smith and James Kaplanger are very good in supporting roles as teachers who try to take Carrie’s side and reign in the bullies.

The music is a challenge, which the cast mostly rises to, especially since much of the dialogue is presented in the form of songs. This requires the singers to enunciate very clearly – a challenge most but not all of them met at the performance I saw. The music as noted is more sung dialog than song, so the emphasis is on the words not pretty melodies – perhaps the influence of the Berg opera. The small band, directed by William Thomas, does a solid job, for which due credit.

Photo by Jane Jewell

The choreography, by Evelyn Paddy, is one of the show’s strong points, especially in the large ensemble scenes where several things can be going on at once. There are several particularly acrobatic performances by some of the cast members, notably James Kaplanges who executes a flawless, exuberant aerial maneuver in one of the dance scenes.

Spirits raised by Carrie’s psychic powers. Photo by Steve Atkinson

The use of masked dancers to represent the telekinetic spirits called up by Carrie lends an air of menace to every scene they appear in, lurking silently in the edges of the scene – and when they do break into action, it is especially powerful. Thoroughly spooky!

Costumes range appropriately from preppy to punk ’80s.  The prom dresses are pretty even on the the punk girls with punk purple hair.


“Carrie the Musical” is probably too intense – both in style, subject matter, and strong language – for very young audience members. But for anyone who isn’t put off by horror-movie material, it is worth seeing if only for the fine performances by a large cast of actors, many of them college age – a real testimony to the wealth of talent in the local community. And it’s good to see CHT willing to stretch the boundaries of “safe” community theater fare.  And if you stick around afterward, you can watch the cast and crew rise from the dead – as should happen in all good horror tales – and bring mops & buckets out and wipe up all the “blood” before the next show.

“Carrie” runs through Nov. 12, with Friday and Saturday performances at 8 p.m. and Sunday matinees are at 2 p.m. Tickets are $20 for adults, $10 for students. Groups of 10 or more qualify for special prices. For reservations, call 410-556-5867 or visit the Church Hill Theatre website.

Photo gallery below by Jane Jewell

Teens torment Carrie with a bucket of fake blood.


Margaret, Carrie’s mother, faces her own inner demons as she becomes aware of Carrie’s very real demons. 

Carrie’s “spirits” rise as her mother warns her about boys. 

Carrie and her mother just before the prom



Carrie calls her spirits – her revenge is coming…

Carrie realizes they are mocking her. Her mother was right!


















Carrie – Mopping Up Afterward for Next Show!




Tall Ships and More


The tall ships crowding the Chestertown landing included in addition to the Sultana, the Kalmar Nyckel, Lady Maryland, Pride of Baltimore and A.J. Meerwald

Saturday, Downrigging 2017 was as near a perfect day as you could order up – clear skies, a nice breeze, and happy crowds in Chestertown to view the tall ships. In addition to the host, schooner Sultana, they had the opportunity to board – and if they were among those canny enough to get tickets in advance, to sail on – Kalmar Nykel, Lady Maryland, the Pride of Baltimore, and the A.J. Meerwald. The Chester River Packet was also doing a brisk business taking festival-goers out to see the river and the tall ships.

Smaller ships representing all kinds of craft were also on display at the docks.

But there was much more to be seen and enjoyed at Downrigging. A fine selection of smaller boats was available for inspection along the docks, including shipwright John Swain’s E.E. Moore, a Chesapeake Bay sharpie, and Pathfinder, a 1926 Elco cruiser that once belonged to a member of the Dupont family. Along the foot of High Street, a small flotilla of wooden speedboats vied for attention with an array of classic cars, including several vintage Ferraris. And just for variety’s sake, a group of cyclists came to the festival on their old-style “penny-farthing” two-wheelers.

Wooden boats were on display on their trailers – brought by their proud owners from all corners of the East Coast.

A couple dozen or more classic cars were parked on High Street by the town dock.

Downrigging is multidimensional – if you wanted to step into the Sultana Educational Center, you could enjoy a display of boat models, a booth by Tales and Scales with two live owls and a kestrel hawk, an art exhibit by Marc Castelli showing the building of Sultana, and kids’ activities. The Massoni Art gallery on High Street had another Castelli exhibit, “Swinging the Lantern,” with striking images of watermen at work.

There was music, too – a tent behind the Fish Whistle restaurant had a variety of local bands in rotation all day long, with food and drink available for audience members. Among the attractions were the High and Wides, Dovetail, the Lions of Bluegrass and the Chestertown Ukulele Club. At the High Street pier, WCTR had a booth set up with recorded music – and prizes for one and all.

The Lions of Bluegrass

Saturday night, the Pam Ortiz Band took the stage at Garfield Center, offering a selection of songs with nautical themes. Elsewhere in town, there were plenty of private parties for those inclined to stretch the celebration into the evening hours.

Sunday, the rains came – but Saturday was more than enough to make Sultana’s annual celebration a resounding success. If you missed it for some reason, don’t worry – there’s always next year!

Penny-farthings. big-wheel bicycles from the era of tall ships, were also at Downrigging.

Pirates and the Jolly Roger entertained all.

Boat models on display

The Downrigging Fleet at Dawn, previous year – photo by Chris Cerino

Stern of Sultana

Schooner Sultana under sail

Kalmar Nyckel figurehead

























Food Friday: DIY Mac & Cheese


It is time to get a grip on our ridiculous expectations. Do not give into temptation. There are so many slippery slopes on which we can easily glide. You know me – I hate to set foot in the kitchen during the summer months, except on my way to the refrigerator. I encourage my over-worked partner in his grilling enthusiasm, because I am basically lazy. And I firmly believe that food prepared by other people inevitably tastes better.

When I read that Whole Foods is planning a new, self-service macaroni and cheese bar I had to stop and take a deep breath. I do not normally shop at Whole Foods, but I was visiting family recently, and stopped in to get a handful of flowers and some breakfast items. Already deeply ashamed that I had forgotten to bring my own reusable, organic, hand-made shopping bag, I stood in line, clutching my hydrangeas and a large plastic container of blueberry muffins. The mommy in front of me, clad in stylish yoga leggings, with an enviable balayage-streaked hairdo, swiped her sapphire credit card through the card reader for her triple-digit tab. I wasn’t that nosy that I was looking at the precious organic foods that she had hunted and gathered, but I was rather taken aback by her snarling at the store clerk. She demanded the credit for having schlepped in her own bags. At about 5¢ a bag I really couldn’t see her savings. Or see the spirituality guiding her after her yoga session. I wanted to hand her a quarter. But that would have called attention to my sleep-tousled hair and my rather shabby Old Navy leggings. I was a poseur at the fancy grocery store, but at least I was nice to the clerk when my time finally came to check out. $12 hydrangeas were looking fine to me.

Am I going to sashay into Whole Foods and buy enough pre-cooked macaroni and cheese to feed a family, just because they have gone and cooked it, and surrounded it with a variety of amuse bouche taste sensations? Never! I will, however, go in and steal all their ideas. Because, as Pete Seeger once said, “Plagiarism is basic to all culture.” You read it here!

The new mac and cheese bar is being installed at a new Whole Foods in Denver in November. With six varieties of macaroni and plenty of add-ons, including pulled pork BBQ and roasted tomatoes. At $9.99 a pound, about par for the Whole Paycheck scale, I say we can do this at home and save a little money, as well as our dignity. Comfort food is best eaten in your jimjams. And look – Whole Foods even has a recipe for our “nostalgia favorite”.

8 ounces dried small whole wheat or spelt elbow macaroni
1 (12-ounce) jar red and yellow roasted peppers, drained
1/4 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cloves garlic
2 cups low-fat (1%) milk
2 tablespoons wheat or spelt flour
1 cup shredded sharp Cheddar cheese, divided
Salt and pepper, to taste

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Cook macaroni according to package directions and drain well. Meanwhile, cut peppers into quarters and place in the bowl of a food processor. Add mustard, cayenne, and garlic and process until smooth. 

Transfer mixture to a small pot and whisk in milk and flour. Cook over medium high heat, whisking constantly, until thickened. Stir in cooked and drained macaroni and 3/4 cup of the cheese and season with salt and pepper.

Transfer macaroni mixture to a 9×9-inch baking dish. Sprinkle remaining cheese over the top and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, or until browned and bubbly. Serve hot.

Now, you might be from the macaroni and cheese casserole side of the universe, and you like to have a little traditional crunch in your hot cheesiness:

To make your DIY Mac & Cheese shine, consider a couple of these add ons:
More cheese – how about some freshly grated Parmesan?
Roasted red peppers
Fried onions (not just for Thanksgiving green bean casseroles!)
Shredded BBQ (steal from the best)
Hot sauce
Truffle oil
Sour cream
Potato chips (just imagine the crunch!)
Sliced steak
Hot dog slices
Old Bay
Artichoke hearts
(Don’t forget to rummage around the fridge and assess your leftovers.)

And now you will need to re-invest in draw string pants. Yumsters!

And if you live in New York City, you have a variety of mac & cheese restaurants from which to choose!

“‘You don’t make a friend,’ Jacob said with a scowl. ‘It’s not like they come with directions like you’d find on a box of macaroni and cheese.'”
-Jodi Picoult

Delmarva Review: Grief by Daniel Ford


Grief goes unrewarded. We make death masks

of chalk dust, stuff our living selves into

hollow trees. A circling owl rips the seams

made of our lips and eyelids and returns

the thread to the spool with a simple cry.

It is not enough that we grieve among

heat sinks and cooling pools thickly carpeted

and layered with muted woods and tarnished brass

handles on drawers forever closed, no piles

of papers or skittering batteries,

push-pins, no heirloom spoons or silver-hafted

carving knives. No detritus of human lives.

Daniel M. Ford is a poet, novelist and teacher from Maryland. As a poet, his work has appeared in Soundings Review, Phoebe, Floorboard Review, The Cossack, Vending Machine Press, and the Delmarva Review. His first novel, Ordination: Book I of the Paladin Trilogy was published in 2016 (Santa Fe Writer’s Project). He can be found at or on twitter @soundingline.

The Delmarva Review, a nonprofit literary journal, publishes compelling new poetry, fiction and nonfiction from writers within the region and beyond. The Review celebrates its Tenth Anniversary edition in November. It is supported by individual contributions, the Eastern Shore Writers Association, and a grant from the Talbot County Arts Council with funds from the Maryland State Arts Council. For more information, please visit: