Archives for December 2017

The Face of Suicide in All Seasons with Beth Anne Langrell and Lesa Lee

For the record, there is no such thing as a “Suicide Season.” While it may be tempting to think of these long dark days of winter as a critical time for those contemplating ending their lives, this has shown to be statistically not the case.

In fact, the risk of suicide is a four-season phenomenon which makes it all the more understandable that our Mid-Shore’s suicide crisis and prevention center is called For All Seasons. A mental health agency tasked with being the community’s front line to save those suffering from these impulses, For All Seasons have significantly invested resources and public education programming over the years to provide a safe and caring place for those at risk and their families.

The Spy recently sat down with For All Seasons director Beth Anne Langrell and its clinical director, Lesa Lee, to talk about the ongoing threat of suicide in the region and their views of how best to attack this cry for help from loved ones.

As part of that interview, the Spy wanted to match some of Beth Anne and Lesa’s comments to the real and recent faces of suicide in our country that were found online.  Young and old, male or female, white or black, over one million Americans are trying to end their lives each year. Those images say so much more about these avoidable tragedies.

This video is approximately three minutes in length. For more information about For All Seasons please click here 

Following the Scent by George Merrill

Working on a bathroom cabinet recently, I accidentally knocked a bottle of Old Spice After Shave off the shelf. It’s an old American classic. I hadn’t used in at least thirty years. It dropped onto the sink. The lotion was in one of the original porcelain bottles and while it didn’t break, some spilled on my hand. I was surprised how just a brief smell of the shave lotion awakened such vivid and contradictory images and emotions.

I smelled the scent of Old Spice first in 1950. I remember it distinctly because during the summer that June, I was hospitalized for a hernia repair. While I was in the hospital, North Korea invaded South Korea. The man in the next bed to me used Old Spice after he shaved and I liked the smell. What gave the scent of the shave lotion its import for me was that while I found pleasure in the way it smelled, I felt an ominous cloud forming over my world at the same time. Five years after WWII ended, America was going back to war.

The power of smells to evoke deep memories is legendary. Of the five senses, I suspect we give the least thought to smell. Yet our olfactory system may well be one of the most significant senses for preserving particular moments in our lives.

Dogs and other animals check each other out regularly through smell. Dogs will go up to dogs of either gender – complete strangers – and boldly sniff them out. For dogs, it takes only a few whiffs to decide who’s your friend or your enemy.

Some scientists believe kissing among human beings is a legacy from the primal times in our evolution. Then, like other critters of the animal kingdom, we once practiced sniffing as the preferred way of getting to know others. Kissing is what has evolved from our ancient ways of sniffing. It’s a sure fire way of getting an idea of whether you’re well matched with this someone you may have just met. Kissing on the first date may not be rushing things at all, but a simple test for determining compatibility.

Perfumes are marketed typically with the goal of making women alluring to men. Harley Davidson, however, had a brief stint of making cologne specifically for bikers. I assume bikers are mostly men. I was not clear whether the cologne was to make a biker more alluring to another biker or to women in general. I can’t imagine at 55 mph on the open road that the scent of the cologne would last more than an hour on the biker. In either case, the cologne turned out to be a flop.

Skunks have perfected odor as their ultimate weapon. Like a Taser, their spray will stop any predator in his tracks – although not kill him. The skunk is one of the world’s few creatures that has no natural enemies. Because of a skunk’s capacity to make a big stink when provoked, it’s essentially left alone. In a way, the skunk makes a case for the power of smell in conducting our lives safely; even though I’ve rarely seen a skunk when one has been killed along the highway, I smell him long before I see him, if I seem him at all. I instantly want to distance myself from him either dead or alive. The skunk stays safe by establishing secure boundaries, and does it through the nose at that.

Marc Antony, in Shakespeare’s play, Julius Caesar, speaks these words: “The evil that men do, lives after them. The good is oft interred with their bones.” When it comes to smells, this is also true of mice.

I bought a Hyundai last year. About six months after buying the car, we found mouse droppings in the interior and then a week of two later discovered a dead mouse on the passenger’s side floor. My wife and I couldn’t be sure whether it came from Korea or it was an American mouse. We disposed of the mouse and a month later the car developed a dreadful odor. The mouse had nested somewhere in the car (we never found where) and its brood eventually perished after the mouse died. The good these mice performed during their lives was interred with their bones. We were left with the evil odor that a year later still lingers along with the scent of air purifiers I tried – smells only slightly less gross than mice remains.

Speaking of good and evil, medicine has established tobacco as bad for us, but I must confess I have always found the scent of cigarette, pipe or cigar smoke, homey. I grew up in the forties and fifties when everyone smoked and if they didn’t, someone in the household did. I smoked cigarettes, pipes and cigars until I was about fifty and quit. I decided I wanted to live.

Regarding smoke, my olfactory senses make some distinctions, however. I find the residual scent of a woman who smokes cigarettes nostalgic and sweet. I can think only of my mother. The smell of a cigar freshly lit fires up fond memories of Thanksgiving when my Grandfather would first light his White Owl cigar after dinner. The charm of residual cigar smoke diminished as the day wore on, however. By evening it smelled worse than the mouse remains in my Hyundai. Uncle Arthur smoked Bond Street pipe tobacco and generally I found pipe tobacco of all kinds very aromatic and agreeable. I confess the scent of tobacco smoke, excepting stale cigar smoke, is pleasing.

The day after my discovery of the Old Spice and thinking about how various smells bring back memories, I thought I’d splash some on my face for old times’ sake. It still smelled aromatic, but it may not have been helpful to my memory bank; North Korea has recently been making rumbling noises about attacking America.

Going up in smoke like this does not encourage warm memories.

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.

Bilbrough Joins CBMM Board of Governors

Pat Bilbrough recently joined the Board of Governors of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michaels, Md.

Bilbrough has been a contributor to the community both professionally and charitably for most of his life. He leads the region’s largest “community bank,” as President & CEO of Shore United Bank. Having worked in the banking industry since 1995, he is a graduate of Salisbury State University with a Bachelor of Arts in accounting, and is also a CPA.

Bilbrough is active with the community in many capacities, including being a member of the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce. As a director on the Board of the Benedictine School, he serves as the Finance Committee Chair and Executive Committee. He has also served on the Caroline Center Board, Choptank Community Health Services Board, Greater Salisbury Committee, Salisbury Wicomico Economic Development Committee, Habitat for Humanity, and Boy Scouts of Caroline County.

A former waterman for a decade, Bilbrough is a native of Caroline County. He and his wife, Ann, live in Trappe.

Established in 1965, the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum is a world-class maritime museum dedicated to preserving and exploring the history, environment and people of the entire Chesapeake Bay, with the values of relevancy, authenticity, and stewardship guiding its mission. Serving nearly 80,000 guests each year, CBMM’s campus includes a floating fleet of historic boats and 12 exhibition buildings, situated along the Miles River and St. Michaels’ harbor. For more information, visit

Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival Now Accepting Author/Illustrator Applications

The Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival is now accepting applications from qualified authors and/or illustrators interested in participating in the 2018 festival.  The Third Annual Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival will feature 30 to 40 authors/illustrators.  Those with a new book out in 2017/18 will be given preference.

The Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival is sponsored by the Talbot County Free Library (and other partners), which will buy authors’ books through its traditional vendors.  Many of these vendors are restricted to buying traditionally published authors only.  Which means the festival cannot accept self-published or vanity press books.

In honor of the 200th anniversary of Frederick Douglass’s birth, the 2018 Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival will take place in conjunction with Talbot County’s Juneteenth celebrations.  Carole Boston Weatherford will be the featured author.  The festival welcomes applications from people of diverse backgrounds.  Authors/illustrators may apply to participate in the Third Annual Chesapeake Children’s Book Festival at:

Academy Art Museum Receives Substantial Bequest from Judy and Erik Straub

The Academy Art Museum recently received a substantial bequest from the estate Judith and Erik Straub. Judith “Judy” Stegman Straub passed away on Monday, December 19, 2016 at the age of 75 years old. Her husband Erik passed away on September 13, 2017. Ben Simons, Director of the Academy Art Museum, comments, “We are so grateful for the foresight and generosity of Judy and Erik Straub in making a bequest to the Academy Art Museum. As we celebrate our 60th Anniversary in 2018, we are standing on the shoulders of Judy and all the visionary leaders who laid the foundations for the Museum’s future.”

In 1979, Judy and her husband, Erik, moved from Monkton, MD to Easton to go into the marine construction business. Judy later worked with the Talbot Bank planning their 100th anniversary celebration. Upon Mr. Straub’s retirement, they moved to Florida in 2006, but kept their home in Talbot County. As a very active volunteer in Easton, Judy worked with United Fund for several years and with the Republican Party.

Judy joined the Academy Art Museum Board as Membership Chairman and later became Board Chair. According to former Museum board members, Judy implemented new bylaws for the Board and also was involved in the first building expansion of the Museum. According to Joan Cox of Easton, former Board Chair, Straub invited her to serve on the Executive Committee of the Board, in the 1980s, and strengthened the Museum’s Board by expanding its membership.

Cathy McCoy, current Board Chair of the Museum, adds, “I am inspired by the dedication of Judy Straub as former Board Chair. This bequest memorializes her outstanding service to the Academy as a Trustee and Board leader, and contributes mightily to our ability to continue the work about which she cared so deeply.”

Londonderry’s Jammers and the Power of Music to Remember

One Jammer remembers singing for the Pope; a couple were encouraged to join when a son became a music professor, another sang professionally to pay for college, while a native Chestertownian got the itch to sing by listening to the Sutton Brothers quartet while growing up around Kent County. In total there are twenty-seven stories like these that have led them to join the Jammers singing group at Londonderry on the Tred Avon.

What first started out as a local drumming circle, the Jammers reorganized quickly into a singing group that gathered to harmonize and enjoy that special zone that only music can provide.

But recently the Jammers have taken an entirely new role. Beyond their singing get-togethers, they have started to take the “show on the road,” as they began to realize that the musical zone they enjoy could also benefit those with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, allowing many in the audience to recall words and other memories that bring a remarkable level of joy into their lives.

Starting with their next-door neighbors at Heartfields, where the Spy recently caught up with them, the Jammers have scheduled a few Easton-based concerts aimed at those that suffer from these chronic memory loss conditions.

The Spy spent a few minutes talking to Jammer members Ed and Jean Brown, Nancy Burns,Peggy Sloan, Elaine Utley and Londonderry director Irma Toce about this special kind of performance “gigs” at the Londonderry dining room and wanted to share some highlights.

This video is approximately two minutes in length. For more information about Londonderry on the Tred Avon please go here


The Virtue of Slow By Tom Horton

My bike has but one speed, unfashionable in a high-geared, tech-fueled world that now affords cyclists push-button shifting through a range of gears sufficient to conquer the Alps and pass Porsches.

Single-speeding is limiting — but also liberating. It makes you respect the lay of the land, seek the gentler slopes that meander alongside the hills, value the wooded corridors that block headwinds. Your pedaling becomes more efficient, your legs stronger. There is more to the joy of bicycling than more gears, more mileage, higher speeds.

The virtues of slow are especially relevant now to saving the Chesapeake Bay and the larger environment, as Congress debates major tax reforms based on a single, awful premise: We must grow the economy faster and bigger than ever.

“We face a crushing burden of debt which will take down our economy,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said. But his tax plan will add an acknowledged $1.5 trillion to $2 trillion to national indebtedness. It’s the only way “to get faster economic growth,” Ryan said. And “faster economic growth is necessary for us to get our debt under control.”

Never mind the circularity of that argument, or the fact that economists across the political spectrum think the level of growth Republicans are counting on is unachievable. The real dirty secret is that virtually no one on either side of the political aisle thinks that roaring faith-based growth would be undesirable; just unrealistic.

But environmentally, such growth would be disastrous, as will be Congress’s all-out, desperate attempts to achieve it if the tax package passes with its present, pedal-to-the-metal economic expansionism — think repeal of regulations, fast-tracking fossil fuel energy projects, suppressing troublesome climate science.

And what’s bad for the planet is bad for the Chesapeake, where a warming climate and sea level rise threaten wetlands, water quality and habitat. Plus, even under the best of circumstances we’re going to be hard-pressed to meet air and water quality goals by 2025.

And, environmental success is linked to economics as surely as my rear wheel is chained to my pedals.

The day may come when we achieve the inspiring vision articulated by green architect and designer William McDonough: “Imagine they announce a major new mall and your reaction is, ‘great’ that will mean cleaner air and water and more habitat for wildlife.”

In the meantime, despite progress in greening our economy, we still can’t grow without a negative impact on air and water, without depleting the habitats and natural resources we share with a shrinking array of other species, without adding to climate change.

And we scarcely even know how to hold a meaningful conversation about the broad implications of economic growth and environmental quality. Nor how to talk about the very real alternatives to high growth, and the benefits of steady-state economies that put no premium on growth at all.

An economy not devoted to growth is usually disparaged in grow-or-die terms, but it is more about quality over quantity. It emphasizes moderation of the rampant depletion of natural resources or filling the air and water with wastes like carbon dioxide. Education, innovation, community, time to ride a bicycle — all these can still grow. Population would not need to.

We need such conversations — not just because of growth’s environmental impacts — but because uncritically chasing after high growth as the path to greater national well-being is a dead-end strategy.

Consider the 4- to 6-percent annual economic growth projections spouted wishfully by supporters of current tax reforms — the way Congress pledges to atone for all the loss of revenue.

There were several decades where growth did come at least near the current, wild projections, writes economist Robert J. Gordon in his epic, The Rise and Fall of American Growth (2016; Princeton University Press).

But that ended by the 1970s, and was fueled by truly fundamental innovations, such as the automobile, the electrification of the United States and antibiotics, as well as the kind of world-shaking events we always capitalize: World War II and the New Deal that followed the Great Depression.

That period is not repeatable, Gordon and others argue, and the modest economic growth of recent decades bears him out. Productivity, or output per unit of labor and capital, is key to real growth, and it has been comparatively sluggish for decades.

But Congress persists in chasing high growth like an old dog that in puppyhood found something gloriously stinky to roll in, then revisits the spot daily with undiminished expectation.

An old dog may be indulged, but the crew in the U.S. Capitol would profoundly change our economy, environment be damned, addicted to growth that can’t happen.

Let them ride single-speeds.

Tom Horton has written about Chesapeake Bay for more than 40 years, including eight books. He lives in Salisbury, MD, where he is also a professor of Environmental Studies at Salisbury University.

Time, Talent and Treasure Dinner to YMCA Volunteers

Volunteers are valued in Talbot County. There are so many not-for-profits that need help for events, day to day operations and everything in between. Showing gratitude to volunteers is a must. At the annual Time, Talent and Treasure Dinner, on December 5, 2017, the Easton@Peachblossom Family YMCA thanked all of its volunteers.

Pictured L-R: Derek White – Executive Director, Kiara Berry – Teen Volunteer of the Year, Nick Papson – Service Above Self Award (Pickleball), Rebekah Byrnes – Service Above Self Award (Youth Volleyball), Nancy Orr – Ellen Rajacich Legacy Award, and Jesse Michaluk – Coach of the Year Award. (Not pictured – Al Sikes and Richard Marks – Visionary Leader Award (Take the Helm).

Volunteers make up the Board at the Easton Y, are involved in programming and are performing tasks throughout the building from welcoming members at the front desk to teaching kids how to swim. They bring different experiences and knowledge to the table. Derek White, executive director for the Easton Y, feels that those gifts and service need to be recognized. “An event like this helps us recognize those individuals that ensure the YMCA’s programs can continue each and every year.  The work that our organization does would not be possible without these individuals who have either volunteered their time or helped support us with charitable gifts.  We are forever grateful to each of you for helping us ensure that the YMCA continues to be a place for all.”

All volunteers were recognized and received a gift; and some were given specific awards for their service.  It takes a special person to give of themselves and the Y always needs those kinds of people. Could you be a volunteer at the Y?

About the Y

The Y is one of the nation’s leading nonprofits and the largest Human Service organization on the Eastern Shore of Maryland; strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living and social responsibility. Across the Shore Ys engage over 35,000 members; men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the shore’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors.  In 2016, the YMCA of the Chesapeake provided over $1,226,000 in assistance to over 12,422 community members, turning no one away due to inability to pay.

Habitat Price Points: What $100,000 to $400,000 Buys You in Talbot County

This week’s feature is a property listed for $325,000 at 605 Elwood Ave. in Easton.

Easton has several older in-town neighborhoods that have great appeal for their convenience to Town amenities, affordable homes with mature trees for shade and alley access. This brick rancher caught my eye since it reminded me of the house I grew up in.

The open kitchen, breakfast area and family room with French doors to the deck and rear yard are the hub of the house. I must confess even though I have designed large kitchens for many clients, I prefer smaller kitchens like this one with its very functional “L” shape and island arrangement. The flow from this area to the living room, dining area and the sunroom beyond worked very well.

The living and dining area was my favorite room with the stairs open to the living room to expand the space, cozy furnishings grouped around the fireplace and details like the corner cabinet for family mementoes. I especially liked the neutral color palette of the living, dining and family rooms with their splashes of color in the upholstery and warm wood accents in the furnishings.

The deck off the family room opens to the large fenced rear yard with plenty of shade trees and one tree has a swing for kids of all ages!

For more information about this property, contact Brain Petzold with Chesapeake Bay Properties at 410-820-8008 (o), 410-725-6852 (c), or , “Equal Housing Opportunity”

Jennifer Martella has pursued her dual careers in architecture and real estate since she moved to the Eastern Shore in 2004. Her award winning work has ranged from revitalization projects to a collaboration with the Maya Lin Studio for the Children’s Defense Fund’s corporate retreat in her home state of Tennessee. Her passion for Italian food, wine and culture led her to Piazza Italian Market where she is the Director of Special Events, including weekly wine tastings and quarterly wine dinners.

Shore United Bank Welcomes Tracy Berrigan as Branch Manager

Shore United Bank, a member of Shore Bancshares community of companies, is excited to announce that Tracy Berrigan has joined the company as the Branch Manager of our Dover Street location in Easton, Maryland. Tracy joins Shore United Bank with 37 years of banking experience and management.

Ms. Berrigan is a graduate of the Community College of Baltimore County and holds a degree in business administration. She has also attended several courses and seminars through the Maryland Bankers Association including, deposit documentation, bank regulations and loan underwriting.

“Tracy is a great addition to the team at Dover Street. Her enthusiasm and her love for helping people go hand in hand when it comes to her leadership style that she demonstrates in the branch every day” says Jennifer Joseph, Chief Retail Banking Officer of Shore United Bank.

“I look forward to meeting and serving   the customers that visit our Dover Street location,” says Ms. Berrigan.

Ms. Berrigan serves on the Executive Board of the Talbot Chamber of Commerce, Board of Director for Friends of Hospice and the Brighter Christmas Fund and also serves as the Treasurer of St. Luke’s United Methodist Church in Denton.

Ms. Berrigan resides in Denton, Maryland with her husband, Tim.

For more information about Shore United Bank, visit