On Phobias and Other Aberrations by George Merrill

While cleaning my library the other day, I came across a book. I hadn’t seen it before. It’s titled The Highly Selective Thesaurus for the Extraordinarily Literate. The book seemed too elitist for me.

Curious, however, I thumbed through the pages. The book contained two hundred and five pages and a ton of words ranging from A to Z, – roughly six thousand words in total. Each word had anywhere from one to five synonyms listed for that particular word. There was one exception. That was for the word ‘fear.’ There were no less than sixty-five words identifying our various morbid fears.

‘Fear’ constituted the only word in the book that had so many distinct synonyms.

All of the sixty-five words denoting morbid fears ended with ‘phobia’- the Greek word meaning fear – and the first part of each word, typically in Greek or another foreign word, designating the object of the fear. Reading this suggested to me that we’re scaredy-cats in a bewildering number of ways.

Temperamentally I have an anxious personality. However, I found some comfort in what the book revealed. The often goofy phobias that I’ve suffered over the years were distinctive enough to be dignified with a diagnostic term, in a foreign language, too. I thought that gave my anxieties a touch of class. It made me feel as if my fear of heights – acrophobia – left me well inside the human condition and that I was not just a scaredy-cat, as I’d so often thought. When you’re neurotic, it’s comforting to think of yourself as a normal one.

Phobias, as they’re commonly understood, suggest abnormalities and they can generate personal shame. In some instances they can be crippling. Other phobias are treated simply as quirks. My guess is that most of us have phobias and are shy about anyone knowing about them.

Years ago I knew a man who was a professional pilot and flew cargo all over the world. We were talking one day and he told me that he was afraid of heights. I asked him how that could be? After all he was spending half his life in the air. He had made some mental accommodations to his fear – maybe something like whistling in the dark – so that in the safety of his cockpit and in control of the plane, he could somehow manage his phobia. On a ladder two stories high? Out of the question.

When I lived in New York City I was plagued with claustrophobia. It was a phobia tailored particularly to my commute downtown. As long as the train moved along in the subway, even at a snail’s pace, I was fine. When it stopped between stations, invariably between 42nd and 34th Streets I’d feel frightened. As soon as the train started rolling, no matter how slowly, I’d feel safe again. I’d feel normal only from the 79th Street station south until the 42nd Street station.

As I see it, not all phobias are necessarily weird or pathological: galeophobia, latraphobia, phasmophobia, bathophobia, coasterphobia and taphophobia, to name a few. These are respectively the fear of sharks; the fear of doctors; fear of ghosts; fear of depths (like a deep well); fear of roller coasters and the fear of being buried alive. With regard to coasterphobia, the only reason hardly any kids have that phobia is they aren’t old enough to know better.

In Britain, during the Victorian era, the fear of being buried alive – taphophobia – was endemic. Pre-deceased planning included arranging a bell above ground and attached to the casket below. If the deceased discovered he wasn’t really dead, but that he had been interred prematurely, he could pull a chain, ringing the bell and alerting the living above ground that his relatives made a colossal mistake. While ringing the bell the interred also prayed that the mistake was just accidental.

I’d say confidently that anyone who does not suffer from galeophobia, the fear of sharks, is really crazy, or if not, an exceptional speed swimmer.

We had a dog-named Spunky, a lovable mutt. She suffered terribly from astraphobia, the fear of thunder and lightning. It was heartrending to see.

On summer nights, long before we had any indication that a thunderstorm was in the works, she’d exhibit preternatural instincts for sensing approaching thunderstorms. It must have been her acute hearing. When she began trembling, slinked away and hid under a table while scratching the floor as if making a foxhole, we knew a storm was soon in the making. We heard no thunder nor could see a darkened sky. Poor Spunky was inconsolable. When the storm finally passed she became her old self again.

We call someone cool who remains unperturbed in the face of danger. Cool is the post-modern word for equanimity. We admire cool people. Most Christians regard God as cool and see equanimity as our necessary condition for being gentle, loving, content, charitable and even prudent. Hot heads or nervous wrecks always make the worst calls. Jewish thinkers regard equanimity as the foundation of moral and spiritual development. Does God, then, keep his cool all the time? Does he get fighting mad as we do? Theologians debate the subject to this day. Literalists insist God has a bad temper and we’d better believe it.

In Exodus, when God learned that the Israelites had fashioned a golden calf to worship, God was furious and wanted to annihilate them. Moses tried to talk him down, but God was adamant and would have none of it. God said, “Now then let me alone that my anger may burn against them and that I may destroy them.” After some serious deal making Moses finally prevailed, but meanwhile I’ll bet the Israelites were scared witless. This makes Moses the dove and God the hawk. I have trouble with that.

Whether you’re a strict biblical literalist or interpret scripture more liberally, one thing remains indisputable: God isn’t scared of a thing.

That God can be a hot head does have some biblical precedents but, if true, that would make him like Kim Jong Il. Would anyone would want to emulate someone like that, much less worship him? I can’t imagine. Personally, I’m persuaded that God does not annihilate his enemies nor is he ever afraid. I do imagine he’s sad a lot. I believe he worries, too (that’s not exactly being scared because it’s more like compassion) when he sees how even after we’ve been around for over two hundred thousand years, we’re still too scared to love one another as he loves us.

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.


Spy Habitat Before and After with Jan Kirsh

HGTV’s programming such as “Love It or List It” introduced viewers to the concept of “staging” to sellers before their property went on the market. Ideas such as decluttering, touch-up painting, upgrading hardware, etc. were discussed and implemented during segments to make the property stand out to potential buyers. Little attention was paid to the landscape but savvy sellers know a house’s setting is equally important for “curb appeal.”

Landscape and garden designer Jan Kirsh understands that first impressions are critical. I have long admired Jan’s talent and I recently had an opportunity to visit one of Jan’s projects to see how she had transformed a site’s curb appeal for new clients. Jan needed to improve the gardens quickly so the property would be ready to place on the market.

Two site issues presented design challenges. The house was close to the street and sited slightly downhill from the road so making the house more visible and welcoming from the street was critical. Jan’s task was to revise and improve the existing landscaping while keeping the work effort and budget reasonable.

At her direction, Jan’s landscape crew worked quickly to remove overgrown shrubs and pruned additional shrubs and trees to open the view of the house from the street. The most dramatic change for me at the front of the house was seeing how the selective pruning of the crape myrtles revealed that had previously obscured the home’s stylish architecture.  Now the house was part of the landscape instead of being hidden behind it.

The rear yard sloped down to Peachblossom Creek and had also become overgrown. Overly large planting beds on the hillside were reduced in size and reshaped by bringing in new sod, rather than filling the space with yet more plants. This allowed the firepit area to become a focal point instead of being lost in the planting beds.

Finishing touches to the landscape included adding plants of a smaller scale to complete the foundation plantings, pulling weeds and removing the less desirable herbaceous plants. The result was a much tidier garden on a beautiful property with lots of potential for the new owners. 

Known for functional, artful four-season gardens, Jan Kirsh has worked collaboratively with clients for over 30 years to bring her unique hardscape and planting style to homes on the Eastern Shore and beyond. Ever conscious of the existing architecture and surrounding site, Kirsh’s successful garden making experience allows for dramatic results, whether she is providing a quick on site consultation, staging a home for sale or drawing a master plan.  She delights in turning her clients dreams into reality. Contact Jan at 410-745-5252 (o), 410-310-1198 (c)

A portfolio of her landscape work can be seen at her website www.jankirshstudio.com Or reach her via email at.jankirshstudio@gmail.com.

For more information about this property, contact Sharon Woodruff at Benson & Mangold Real Estate,410-770-9255 (o), 410-829-5026 (c), or swoodruff@bensonandmangold.com, “Equal Housing Opportunity”.


Spy Foodie Report: Mason’s 2.0 Selects a Chef

While Talbot County has been thrilled with the the news a few months ago that the greatly beloved Mason’s would be returning to Harrison Street soon, there was the lingering question of who would take on the challenging job of leading the kitchen of Mason’s-Redux.

The Spy has found the answer. One of our many agents has reported that Erin O’Shea, formerly a star at Rooster Soup Co. in Philadelphia will be moving down to Easton to be the new Mason’s culinary founding food guru.

While Rooster Soup Co. may sound like a modest venue, it was one of only a handful of places named by GQ as one of the best new restaurants in the country last year. And it certainly didn’t hurt the 100% of the restaurant’s profits were donated to hunger projects throughout the city.

Chance Negri, one of the partners of Mason’s, couldn’t be more pleased. “I am confident Chef Erin’s menu will spice and liven up the food scene in Easton, Talbot County and beyond…”

Mason’s is planning to formally open in the middle of November so stay tuned.




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. http://www.sfgate.com/food/article/whole-foods-mac-n-cheese-bar-tower-denver-12299853.php#photo-14022231 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”. https://www.wholefoodsmarket.com/recipe/macaroni-and-cheese

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: http://www.foodandwine.com/recipes/mac-and-cheese-cracker-crumble

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

Chesapeake College Commits to Solar Energy but Wind Turbine to Come Down

Solar Canopy on Parking Lot at Chesapeake College

Based on the success of its solar energy program over the past year, Chesapeake College is decommissioning its wind turbine on the nacortheast corner of its campus at Rt. 50 and plans to invest future resources in renewable energy produced by the sun.

Since installing a six-acre solar array and photovoltaic parking canopy on the south side of its property in 2016, Chesapeake has produced enough power in one year to offset approximately 45 percent of the college’s energy demand.

“Solar energy has propelled our renewable energy production,” said Dr. Stuart Bounds, Chesapeake’s Interim President.  “In the first year, the array produced 2.25 million kilowatts of electricity at a cost of $106,000. This represents a savings of $85,000 off of grid prices. We anticipate similar savings on utility bills over the next 19 years, which doesn’t include any additional solar installations constructed.”

Chesapeake is also incorporating solar energy into its curriculum. This fall, the college is offering workforce classes in solar photovoltaic electricity and electric vehicle technology.

“Our vision is for the college to be a living laboratory for studying renewable energy and sustainability,” Bounds said.

Chesapeake’s wind turbine, installed in 2011, marked the beginning of the college’s sustainability efforts and energy-savings measures on campus that now include solar energy.

In February, the turbine’s generator suffered catastrophic failure. Most likely caused by a power surge, repair estimates are between $20,000 and $25,000.

“The turbine was a catalyst in creating a culture of energy conservation at Chesapeake,” Bounds said.  “But we determined that the repair cost was too expensive and our resources could more effectively be invested in solar power, which will result in greater energy savings on campus.”

Being dismantled and removed from campus this week, the turbine will be sold on the secondary market, according to Bounds.

This year, Chesapeake has continued expansion of its solar energy program working with Pepco Holdings and Delmarva Power on a first-in-the-nation collaboration.

In July, the first phase of a 2MW utility-scale battery project was installed to provide ongoing electrical storage for the college.  The cutting-edge project integrates the college’s solar array with the campus and regional electrical grids.  The battery will also serve the regional grid by regulating voltage and frequency and smoothing out power fluctuations caused by renewable energy generation.

Other recent sustainability efforts at Chesapeake include installing electrical vehicle charging stations; working with Midshore River Keepers on stormwater infrastructure to improve the quality of the Wye East River and installing an on-campus recycling center with regular pick-ups.

Chesapeake has received significant recognition in 2017 for its commitment to sustainability. The Health Professions and Athletic Center (HPAC) earned LEED Platinum certification, and Chesapeake became the first community college in the U.S. to receive a Better Building Challenge Achievers Award from the U.S. Department of Energy.

Letter to Editor: In Divided Times, Let’s Look to Land to Unite Us


In a recent New York Times Op-Ed, titled “This American Land”, columnist David Brooks said, “We’re living in the middle of a national crisis of solidarity – rising racial bitterness, pervasive distrust, political dysfunction.” In the month and a half since the piece was published, the country has faced multiple natural disasters, greater racial disharmony and a rise in senseless violence.

When things seem so bleak, what remedies are around to unite people, to bring about a consciousness of plurality, or to provide a simple calm in a seemingly endless storm?

Brooks concedes that when he asks Americans as to what percentage of our problems can be solved through policy and politics, indeed, most folks think these problems are “pre-political” – so entrenched that the remedies require systematic attention and scrutiny.

That may be true. And in fact there might not be a panacea, but we do know is that land and nature have markedly positive mental, emotional, physical, and societal impacts.

As John Muir once said, “Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop away from you like the leaves of Autumn.”

Certainly, land hasn’t always been a uniting force. In fact, we have a past where North American land – and those who controlled it – used it as a tool of great division, separation, and pain. Today, we are blessed to live, work, and play in a region that has vast amounts of open space, but much more can be done to create stronger communities – ones where there is more public access to natural resources, enhanced trails and connectivity, greater access to nutritious foods, and more.

To learn how Maryland’s conservation efforts are evolving and how land can be a force for good in your community, please join us on November 9th at the Chesapeake Bay Beach Club, for our 18th Annual Planning Conference, “Conservation Saves the World: Using Land to Unite”.

We will be joined by dozens of regional and national speakers, including: National Wildlife Federation President and CEO Collin O’Mara; the legendary author, facilitator, and consultant, Peter Forbes; and renowned author, Tony Hiss. Early Bird tickets are currently on sale for $45 and this event is expected to sell out.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please visit here

Josh Hastings
Policy Manager
Eastern Shore Land Conservancy


Easton Sidewalks: A Donut Chaser on North Street

While much could be said about the special beauty of a late 1920s Packard Motors Eight, one of which was spotted by the Spy on North Street the other day, nothing can compete with its exquisite hood ornament that signals a stately arrival on any road in America.

Sadly, Packard’s “Goddess of Speed,” which is heavily sought after as a rare collectible, even without the car, is now referred to in the trade as the “donut chaser.” Hardly the kind of respectful name worthy of such a striking and dramatic emblem.


Wanted: Landowners on the Upper Shore to Help Reverse Northern Bobwhite Declines by Dan Small

The Natural Lands Project is looking for landowners interested in setting aside marginal cropland to help declining Northern Bobwhites. Since 2015 we have been working throughout Kent and Queen Anne’s Counties, in addition to these current efforts we would also like to target two areas that currently have small quail populations. These two areas, one each in Kent and Queen Anne’s, have some existing habitat, but we could have a major positive impact on the quail population by installing additional acres of nesting and brood rearing habitat. In Queen Anne’s we are looking to work with landowners along Lands End Road from Southeast Creek south to the Corsica River and in Kent, farms between Betterton and Still Pond (see accompanying maps).

Male Indigo Bunting in a wildflower meadow planted in 2016 by NLP.

People growing up on the Eastern Shore in the 60’s and ‘70s remember well the loud expressive whistle ‘BOB-white’ emanating from around the farm in late spring and lasting throughout the hot summer months. In the cooler months, bird dogs searched for the scent of nearby quail coveys through wooded edges, scrubby briar tangles, hedgerows and bean fields across property boundaries followed closely by their owners. This characteristic bird, the Northern Bobwhite, of Maryland’s agricultural landscape has disappeared from all but a few isolated areas throughout the Shore. Along with the decline in quail populations, we hear fewer grassland birds and see fewer pollinating insects and wildflowers.

There are myriad theories for the drastic decline in grassland biodiversity in such a short period of time and most, if not all, have a grain of truth to them. However, without a doubt the single largest driver of bobwhite decline on the Eastern Shore is habitat loss. Several factors have contributed to habitat loss; there are simply more people living on the shore and as a result we have more developed areas. Additionally, our farms have changed. The acceleration of farming technologies after World War II brought with it larger equipment and increased use of herbicides and pesticides, tools that allowed farmers to till more ground more of the time. This, in turn, led to larger and larger farms and fewer and fewer small fields. Suddenly the ‘back forty’ that was periodically fallow and permanently surrounded by a hedgerow was no longer. Today much of landscape on the Shore is defined by crops, forests, waterways and buffers of exotic cool season grasses—similar to lawns—with little in between.

Map showing target area in Queen Anne’s County, an area where additional habitat would substantially help Northern Bobwhite populations.

But all is not lost. In 2015 Washington College’s Center for Environment & Society (CES) partnered with the Chester River Association (CRA) and Tall Timber Research Station, the nation’s leader in bobwhite research and management of fire-dependent ecosystems, to launch the Natural Lands Project (NLP) with a $700,000 award from the Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Using the remarkable habitat restoration success at CES’s research station on Chino Farms in Queen Anne’s County and CRA’s success at promoting best management practices on local area farms, NLP set out with the goal of creating a balance between cropland and wildlife habitat to improve water quality. NLP promotes and installs native warm season grasses as best management practices that will help reverse bobwhite population declines and reduce excess sedimentation and nutrient runoff in our waterways.

Map showing target area in Kent County, an area of small farms and hedgerows – the addition of nesting habitat would help Northern Bobwhites.

In addition to buffers and fields for bobwhite NLP also installs wetlands in poorly drained areas of marginal farm fields. Wetlands are phenomenal at reducing nutrients and preventing sediment from entering the Bay’s tributaries, with the added benefit of proving critical habitat for over-wintering waterfowl. Following up on the successful launch of NLP in 2015, CES was just recently awarded another round of funding from the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation to continue adding habitat for grassland biodiversity and to help improve the Bay’ water quality – see http://chestertownspy.org/2017/09/24/500k-grant-to-center-for-environment-and-society/

It is important to note that productive farming, vibrant wildlife, and healthy water are not mutually exclusive. By taking marginal cropland out of production and planting a mix of native warm season grasses and wildflowers we are creating areas for bobwhite, other grassland birds, and pollinators to find much needed food, shelter, and breeding sites.

Male Northern Bobwhite on Chino Farms.

On Chino Farms there is a thriving native bobwhite population, in fact, now the largest in Maryland. This is a result of well-managed grasslands and early successional habitat that weave throughout a for-profit conventional agricultural operation. Since 1999 when marginal areas of row crops were converted to native habitat, these grasslands have reduced an estimated 80 lbs phosphorus, 1200 lbs nitrogen and 40,500 lbs of sediment from entering our local waterways annually. Our experience and results on Chino make us confident that habitat is the key missing ingredient for quail to once again to thrive on the Shore. As an Eastern Shore community we now need to work on landscape-level change, installing and managing grasslands and wetlands alongside of our farming priorities.

If you would like to find out more about the project, arrange a farm visit or see/hear quail on Chino Farms contact Dan Small, dsmall2@washcoll.edu or 410-708-4479 or visit www.washcoll.edu/nlp. We are looking forward to working with many more of the Eastern Shore’s best land stewards as NLP grows.


Food Friday: End of the Summer

Fall is here, although it doesn’t feel like it. Hurricanes are churning their ways up the coast from Florida. It is still sub-tropically warm and damp. And yet I am anticipating cooler weather and warmer foods. I know, come February, I will be pining away for summertime treats. Sometimes I feel like Milo in The Phantom Tollbooth, always longing for the next experience. I should be like the cat, happily napping in pools of warm buttery sunlight, but in truth I just flipped through the L.L. Bean winter outdoor clothing catalogue with relish!

Cooler weather means I will return to the kitchen and will rummage about for the big stew pots, the loaf pans, the Crock Pot and the recipes that will stick-to-our-ribs. And, I fear, enlarging our expanding waistlines… Stews, chilies, spaghetti sauces, meatloaves, lasagnes, breads, brownies and pot pies. Spices swirling in the air. Baking. Anticipating Thanksgiving. I’m dreaming of a change from the hot, all-too-familiar sameness of this stinking hot old summer. And then there are the sugar plums that arrive in December! Plus having to figure out what to do for the Christmas card this year!

I love trailing through food halls, peering through shop windows and admiring perfectly arranged still lives of fruits, vegetables and meats, getting ideas and inspirations. In London at Selfridge’s palatial food hall a couple of years ago I marveled at the goose eggs, duck eggs and quail eggs artfully displayed in small packages in a case that also included tubs of duck fat. Interesting. Perplexing. Nearby there were the picture perfect piles of roasted meats and strings of sausages, and acres of fish and pretty shiny red lobsters, too. Much easier culinary concepts for my addled tourist brain to absorb.

Closer to home we have a butcher shop where all manner of imported specialities are stacked on every surface, and they are fascinating to contemplate while standing in line for my two pounds of Italian sausage; one hot, one sweet. Perched on counters and shelves and under the counter are day-glow pink pickled eggs in Jeroboam-sized jars, capers galore, an abundance of olive varieties, huge cafeteria-sized tins of La Bella San Marzano Italian Plum Tomatoes, gallons of imported light, plain, virgin and extra virgin olive oils in varying-shaped bottles and vessels, dusty packages of pastas, trays of fresh mozzarella, and I could continue the inventory all day. I always feel humbled when confronted by all the ingredients of what must be the potential for many feasts, when all I want is some sausage.

We do not ease our way back inside from the summer spent cooking on the grill. It is done abruptly. Labor Day has come and gone. The white shoes have been banished (except for sneakers). Football games occupy the weekends. I’d prefer to have my sausage and chicken cooked on the grill, but the grill is in semi-retirement. It will only cook steaks and hamburgers until the spring rolls around again, or if our Connecticut friend comes to visit and we prepare Big Love Pizza as a threesome. It is back to the kitchen for me – the summer holiday is over.

The End of Summer
Chicken, Sausage and Peppers

• 1/4 cup olive oil
• 2 large bell peppers, cut into strips (We like the sweeter tasting red or yellow peppers)
• 2 medium onions, sliced (I like Vidalia or any sweet onion)
• 3 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 pound hot Italian sausage
• 1 pound sweet Italian sausage
• 1 pound boneless chicken breast, cubed
• A generous sprinkle of crushed red pepper flakes

Heat oil in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add peppers, onions, garlic and sauté 10 minutes. Cook until tender, about 5 -10 minutes. I like to singe the edges of the vegetables.

Cook sausages in another heavy large skillet over medium-high heat until brown and cooked through, turning occasionally, about 15 minutes. Ditto with the chicken cubes. Scoop the peppers and onions onto a platter and pile the meat on top. Add a salad, a crusty loaf of bread, a tall glass of wine and candles.

This is a good meal to make on the weekend, because you can toss the leftover sausage and chicken with pasta or rice, and voilà! Dinner is made for a dreary Monday, when no one (least of all me!) wants to cook.
Summer is almost a dream again.



“What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness.”
― John Steinbeck

Grand Opening of Kent County Arts Council’s New Gallery Space

Join us on Friday, November 3rd – during Downtown Chestertown First Friday – for the opening of the inaugural exhibition in the new gallery of the Kent County Arts Council (KCAC). We are christening our new space with artwork from The Arts & The Military ART/ifacts Collection and from The Joe Bonham Project. Our inaugural show – War Front / Home Front: Through the Eyes of Our Military – is created in partnership with curator Tara Tappert, Founder and Principal of The Arts & The Military and Michael D. Fay, Founder of The Joe Bonham Project. It is funded, in part, by The Institute for Integrative Health.

The ART/ifacts Collection is the tangible legacy of art-making as activism, and the nature of the work allows for the exploration of military culture, and the history of war, and its costs. Themes include patriotism, nationalism, and perceptions of duty, suffering, heroism, and loyalty. Several grassroots veteran-art groups are represented in the Collection – Button Field Paper, Combat Paper Project, Peace Paper Project, Veterans in the Arts, as well as the work of individual veteran-artists. The Joe Bonham Project is named after the fictional, limbless, faceless protagonist of the 1939 anti-war novel, Johnny Got His Gun, by Dalton Trumbo. The project’s purpose is to show the real face of war and the aftermath of war with artwork that portrays the realities and human consequences of combat. The project distances itself from politics, preferring instead to be seen as apolitical “witness art.”

There will be three special events during the run of the show. All are free and everyone is welcome.
1) Grand Opening – First Friday, November 3rd, 5:00 to 7:30 p.m.
2) Poetry Reading – Medic Against Bomb: A Doctor’s Poetry of War, Frederick Foote, M.D. (CAPT, MC, USN, ret.) – Sunday, November 12, 2:00 p.m.
3) Illustrated Lecture – Beyond Stereotypes: War, Warriors, and the Creative Arts, by Tara Tappert, Founder and Principal, The Arts & The Military; and, Michael D. Fay, (CW02, USMC, ret.) Retired Combat Artist, and Founder, The Joe Bonham Project, Sunday, November 19, 2:00 p.m.

Military Working Dog (for Dave Nevis)
by Patrick Sargent (United States Air Force), silkscreen on paper made from pulped military uniforms, 2015

Wed – Fri: Noon – 6 p.m.
Saturday: 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Sunday: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Kent County Arts Council, 101 Spring Avenue / PO Box 330 Chestertown, MD 21620