Meet Easton’s Gluten Free Bakery Girl

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glutenfreebakerygirlTucked inside the very first stall of Easton Market Square on Washington Street you’ll find professional pastry chef, Tricia King. There, in a tidy little kitchen, she creates cookies, muffins, pies, cakes, specialty pastries and more, all with a special twist. They’re completely gluten-free.

“Gluten-free isn’t a fad, it is definitely here to stay” said King, owner of the business Gluten Free Bakery Girl. “My customers are people with celiac disease, but also people with gluten intolerance, or any type of inflammation – Rheumatoid Arthritis, Crohn’s disease, Lyme disease, or many other autoimmune disorders. Even parents of children with autism say that a gluten free diet without sugar or dairy makes a difference.”

What is gluten? It’s simply a protein found in wheat, rye and barley. People with celiac disease can’t digest it and become very ill, and people with gluten intolerance feel achy, tired and sore after eating it. King’s experience was that she’d feel lethargic for days after eating gluten. And in our industrial food system, gluten can be found in the most unlikely places – in sour cream and yogurt, for instance, black olives, and anything labeled “modified food starch.”

Confused? You’re not alone. But it’s becoming easier to access gluten-free products and more information is widely known about the disorders. Tricia King offers consulting services to people who have recently been identified as gluten intolerant. As a personal chef for over ten years, she has the skills and experience to help people modify their kitchens and diets to keep themselves well. She can help anyone pick safe foods, read food labels to identify hidden dangers, and feel good about a gluten-free lifestyle.

Soon her operation will be certified as gluten-free by the FDA – a lengthy process in which all of her handmade flour mixes will be laboratory tested to ensure that there are less than 20 parts per million of gluten. This certification will allow customers to be sure that every single item made in King’s kitchen is completely safe for gluten intolerant eaters.  King also makes paleo items, as well as sugar-free baked goods using coconut palm sugar.

With an expanding wholesale business, Gluten Free Bakery Girl products can now be found in Annapolis and beyond. Locally, you’ll find Tricia King at Easton Market Square from 10:00 am – 6:00 pm W-F, and 8:00 am – 4:00 pm on Saturday, her busiest day of the week. Call ahead 48 hours for special orders, from birthday cakes to breakfast pastries, cookie trays or specialties for holiday parties.

“If people have questions, they should come see me. I’m here for anybody with gluten intolerance” she said. For more information, call (801)792-3700, see her website here, or stop in and visit her at Easton Market Square at 137 N. Harrison St in Easton.

Spy Chat: Talbot’s School Superintendent Kelly Griffith Gets Down to Work


While the odds of being appointed a permanent superintendent of schools after serving in an interim position are relatively small ones statistically, Kelly Griffith is the kind of person that tends to break through those ceilings. As a self-confessed organizer of people and things, Mrs. Griffith is the first to admit that she loves being in a leadership role, and officially becoming head of Talbot’s public schools last May was a natural next step for her.

In her first interview with the Talbot Spy, Superintendent Kelly talks about some of the challenges that face her school district, including the introduction to “Common Core”, a rise of students that use English as a second language, and the ongoing limitations of budget resources for public schools. But she also talks about the role of innovation in education, and the extraordinary success stories of Talbot’s students and teachers as they creatively find new ways to thrive.

This video is approximately ten minutes in length

Cool Outdoor Stuff: Three or Four Cheers for Shoreline Fish


They might be small, but with extraordinary populations along the Chesapeake Shoreline, and with names like Atlantic Silversides, Mummichogs, Killifish, and Sheepshead minnow, these shoreline fish are one of the great wonders of the region. In the latest installment of Cool Outdoor Stuff, Andy McCown of Echo Hill Outdoor School, hits the edges of the Bay to tell the remarkable story of the shoreline fish world, but also highlights some good ecological news about the Bay and its estuaries.

This video is approximately five minutes in length

Spy Chat: Talbot Multicultural Center’s Matthew Peters


Only a few weeks ago, there were quite a few dropped jaws at a recent forum on Eastern Shore immigration issues hosted by the Republican Council when the Superintendent of Talbot Public Schools Kelly Griffith noted that on the first day of school this year, thirty-eight unanticipated new children, of all ages, arrived on campus unable to speak one word of English.

It only takes one simple statistic like that to bring home the message that immigration, both legal and illegal, is a serious reality for Talbot County. In fact, the county’s immigrant community has grown over 200% in the ten years, with a current estimate that over 4,000 countywide in 2013.

One local organization not surprised by this growth has been the Chesapeake Multicultural Resource Center. A project of the Mid-Shore Community Foundation, the CMRC has played a critical leadership role in Talbot County responding to this dramatic shift in the area’s population.

The Spy caught up with CMRC’s Director Matthew Peters to talk about the organization’s efforts to address the needs of young people and their families eager to acclimate and strive in their new community.

This video is approximately eight minutes in length

Going Home by Howard Freedlander

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Ever thought about returning to your childhood home, knocking on the door and asking if you could come in for a taste of nostalgia?

A week ago, Sept. 9, 2014, Norman and Debbie Wilson stopped by my house in Easton, a bit sheepishly, to visit Norman’s home for his first 18 years of life. It was special for me, and I suspect the same was particularly true of Norman.

photo (2)In 38 years in Easton, I’ve come to realize that some homes have names based either on the original residents or those who lived there the longest. So, ever since Liz and I moved into our Brookletts Avenue home on Sept. 11, 2001 (that’s right; that was the date), we quickly learned we were living in the Wilson House.

I learned from Norman, who lives and practices law in Elkton, that his two sisters and brother were raised in our house. Their father, Harry, was register of wills and well known in Easton.

Norman left the house in 1960 to attend the University of Maryland in College Park and law school. The 72-year-old Norman, a tall, affable man, played lacrosse at the University of Maryland.

I also learned that Norman attended high school with Tom Hill and David Hill, both of whom are successful businessmen and civic leaders in Easton. When I saw and spoke with Tom the day after the Wilsons’ visit, he too appreciated the nostalgic look at history.

Absolutely pleased that Norman and Debbie (who was raised in Rising Sun) got out of their car to say hello, I happily showed them the house, changed a bit due to our renovation. I even took Norman and Debbie up to the second floor to enable Norman to find his old bedroom and share some memories.

I took a picture on my Iphone of the Wilsons sitting in the living room for Norman to email it to his siblings. They seemed only a little embarrassed at my hospitality. I finally met members of the Wilson family. I felt a warm link to the house that Liz and I gladly call home.

After the Wilsons had left to return to Elkton, I wondered if I would have the gumption to knock on the door of my childhood home in Baltimore and ask if I could look around. I would just like a peek into my personal history, to imagine my deceased parents as young, busy people and my brother and me growing up more than 55 years ago.

I guess you can go home and experience the emotional ties to another time in your life. You just have to muster your nerve—and then ring the doorbell. I’m thinking about it.

A Pear Tree and Pansies by Bobbie Brittingham


I know that you all have had this question asked before as I have and I have tried to think of a different answer to it but for some reason I always end up back at the same time in my childhood with the answer. What and when is your first memory of gardening?

I have lived in this area of the Eastern Shore almost my entire life. A few exceptions, going away to boarding school and college, and two years in Elizabeth City, North Carolina when I was first married. Then I returned back to the Shore after those two years. So I have seen many changes and have many memories of my life in the garden. And I do say life sincerely.

I was very fortunate to have had a mother who loved gardening and was a rabid propagator. She could start anything from seed, bulbs or by cuttings. Even collecting camellia seeds to cool in the refrigerator for a year or two and then germinating them, raising them with constant care until they were large enough to go into her shade garden that she had created out of an empty corn field. Now in someone else’s care, they are 20 to 30 feet, producing a spring display that could rival any North Carolina garden. Unfortunately, she is not here to see them.

photo (1)I was close to maybe seven or eight years old when I would go with her in the early spring to a couple of home-built cold frames under a huge twisted, eerie old pear tree. She would slide the heavy glass paneled tops over the back side of the frames to reveal hundreds of bright, cheerful, happy faced pansies.

Now these were the real pansies, each with a distinctive face and personality. Not like the meager, sullen ones on today’s market benches. We would situate ourselves so that I was to her left and she was in front of the frames. With her precious trowel worn down to a sharp blade, she would carefully dig each blooming pansy out cradled in a square block of dirt. Then she would hand it carefully to me to wrap in newspaper, in a special way so that the ends could be tucked into secure each plant. I would be so diligent and conscientious about my job. I wanted it to be exactly right because Mother would check them all over to be sure I did it right, and I had an arterial motive…..

In Easton many years ago, there was a small grocery store on Harrison Street across from the Tidewater Inn. It was Johnny’s Grocery Store. At least that is the name I recall. It was a real old fashion store that you left your list with clerk, and they would fill the order for pick up later. Well, Johnny would pay me 10 cents for every pansy plant I brought in.

Now I did not get rich with this project but since my mother had done all the work of preparing the cold frames, seeding the pansies, weeding, watering keeping them cozy and all I had to do was sit and wrap them in newspaper, I thought this was a fair price.

My piggy bank never really overflowed but I enjoyed that special one on one time that my mother as we sat under that old pear tree wrapping pansies and just talking about anything and everything a young mind might come up with. To this day every time I smell that delightfully fresh pansy perfume I remember the pear tree and my mother’s worn trowel handing me a precious pansy.

Profiles in Recovery: Dave Hill


It is hard to find someone in Talbot County that is more Easton that David Hill. The son of one of Easton’s multi-century families and beloved downtown pharmacy, a successful dentist, the founder of William Hill Manor, and now Chairman of Easton Bank, Dave Hill has always had a high profile in this neck of the woods. But recently, Dr. Hill has added another chapter to this list of town connections. He has become a public spokesperson for addiction recovery.

In fact, if there was an archetype for the new era of addiction recovery, Dave comes pretty close. Confident, self-aware, and very candid about his past relationship with cocaine, Dr. Hill has no hesitation at being identified with someone that had a serious addiction, but in doing so is breaking away from one of the recovery community’s oldest of traditions – anonymity.

In his interview with the Spy, Dave talks about his personal journey in recovery and also highlights how far our community has come to better understand this illness.

Five Spy Questions for Easton’s Y-Talks with Liza Ledford

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It was good news to hear that Easton’s YMCA this year that launching a lecture program. Y’s are famous for presenting speakers and interesting topics to communities, with perhaps famous being the legendary 92nd Street Y in New York City, now going on their 140th years.

We tracked down Liza Ledford, the event producer of Y-Talks, last week to answer a few questions the Spy had about the program and some background information

Talbot Spy (TS): First off, tell us a bit more about the Y Talks at the YMCA in Easton?

Liza Ledford (LL): The “Y Talks” speaker series was successfully produced in the Easton branch in the spring of 2014. The weekly series ran for three months and became a well branded program gaining momentum and audience attendance. The goal is to keep that momentum by adding a new speaker each month. Starting September 19th off every third Friday of the month at 7pm for 12 months at the Easton Family YMCA in the Thomas E. Hill Center for Youth Development, also known as the Teen Center.

TS: What was your inspiration for starting the program?

LL: The program was designed by Tom Hill and Shar McBee as a way to add community conversations to the new space at the Easton YMCA. There is a big fireplace that welcomes people to enjoy the warm environment together, while learning about amazing people we have in our community. It originally started when Tom and Shar were discussing the many residents of Talbot County that have very interesting stories and lead very interesting lives. Inviting them to come share their stories with our community brings us all closer and is very unique to our area. Talbot County also produces many events and sometimes we can capitalize on a visiting guest to share their stories with us.

TS: What kind of guests can people expect to see at a “Y-Talk”

Natasha Kermani

Natasha Kermani

LL: The guests will vary in type, but will all share the quality of being successful in their field. We have artists, politicians, writers, journalists, land developers, health industry leaders etc… The first one in the new “Y-Talks” on Friday, Sept. 19th features a young Iranian filmmaker, Natasha Kermani who is in town for the Chesapeake Film Festival.

She will share what her journey has been like moving up in the film and TV industry, being a woman in the industry and how it is now living in Brooklyn NY. Also, her insights on why she feels coming to a film festival in Talbot County is valuable to her career and why doing local talks adds to her story.

TS: What’s next for Y Talks?

Nick Panuzio

Nick Panuzio

Well, in October, we hear from Nick Panuzi who now lives in St. Michaels, but was a close advisor to President Gerald Ford. He tells of being in the administration that brought our men home from Vietnam. He also was charged with many construction and land development initiatives and his story is profound with insights on how he was concerned with the public’s welfare from a Federal government position. For November we are looking to secure a Chef and for the December topic, looking at Holiday Decorating experts.

TS: Finally, how do you select the topics and can people find out about them?

It is interesting, but sometimes we are referred to someone that has an amazing story and that dictates the topic, or the month is already topic driven like the Holidays. It is hard to limit them to twelve “Y-Talks” for the year because we have a wealth of amazing speakers that offer such intimate conversations. My hope is to add additional talks if many people attend and the series gains a loyal audience. There are just so many good stories to share.

The list of speakers will be at the Easton Family YMCA front desk, as well as the website. We certainly send press releases and list them in area community calendars, and of course the Talbot Spy. At each “Y Talk” we will announce the next one as well. And please know these were designed to bring the community together and we welcome any topic or guest suggestions. For more information or to sign up for Y Talks, please contact the Easton Family YMCA at 410-822-0566 or stop by the Welcome Center–cost is $12 per person per session.

Spy Chat with Health Integrity President Sandy Love on Their New Home

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While there might be mild disappointment that the shiny new addition to Marlboro Avenue behind Target in Easton is not the much anticipated Harris Teeter food store, there remains good reason to celebrate. The County’s fourth largest business, Health Integrity, and its philanthropic wing, the Delmarva Foundation, will be moving many of their 230 employees into their digs next Monday.

Rather than relocate off the Eastern Shore, Health Integrity decided to stay put, which means good things to Talbot County’s economy. With most of their employees having advanced degrees, as well as experience as nurses, computer analysts, and law enforcement, those high paying jobs add considerably to the local economy.

But what exactly does Health Integrity do? That’s the question the Spy posed to their president Sandy Love earlier this week.

This video is approximately five minutes long

Suicide on the Shore: The Dark Side of the Moon


suicide-best300Some years ago my friend Sarah and I went on a leisurely canoe trip along the shores of the Wye River. The locusts buzzed in the fields and the July air was dense as wet gauze. We would stop paddling and drift. At one point she turned around, sat, and wanted to talk. She talked music most of the time. She was 34, a gifted solo musician and had made half a million dollars from her very first recorded song.

I knew her enough to know that she never used drugs. And, as for alcohol, she was one of those people who’d rather sip and stare at a glass of wine rather than drink it. At worst —or so I thought at the time—she wrestled with the kind of mild doubt and insecurity that in a healthy context of self-observation can fuel artists as “arguments with God.”

As we dragged our hands in the tepid river, Sarah asked, “so what do you think about suicide?” I shook my head. We’d had intense conversations before about the cardinal events that take place in human life, so we launched into it full bore.

Is suicide selfish? Can it be a fully informed, rational decision or is it always the result of mental illness?

I think we got as far as considering suicide an “illness that complicates thinking and feeling even though it sometimes appeared to be a rational decision.” Our default position was that suicide was a permanent solution to a temporary problem even if we didn’t know the problem.

We were fishing in the dark, of course, but artists fish in the dark for subjects to unveil. Besides, it was just a philosophical discussion on a hot afternoon and it was clear that we wouldn’t be challenging Albert Camus anytime soon.

We’d heard about the terminally ill taking their lives and decided that we could not judge. We’d heard about teenagers taking their lives, but surmised that they were ill equipped to deal with sudden emotional trauma.

We agreed that while some people appeared to have planned their deaths, there seemed to be much impulsivity in many acts of suicide— but wasn’t some type of mental illness still operating in the background? One just doesn’t jump off a cliff without a cauldron of depression, addiction or some other mental affliction bubbling in the background, do they?

Neither of us had known anyone personally who had committed suicide. Our guesswork ended at a locked door, with no key. Strangely, we thought, we could identify suicide only by the trauma it left behind — that terrifying jolt like lightning too close, and the widening sphere of shock and grief of those affected.

We drifted a while and paddled back to the dock. A recording company had contracted Sarah and their rep was waiting for her to deliver the goods. She was amped on promise and exhilaration as she stood on a precipice of creative possibilities and wondered if she had the wings for this next challenge.

Four months later, Sarah committed suicide.

First there was the gut-wrenching shock and the primal despair that shreds language down to a few syllables of anger, guilt and bewilderment. All of her friends searched through emails, recalled conversations, theorized and tried to solve the puzzle of our grief.

None of us found satisfactory answers. We knew she’d been somewhat despondent over a relationship issue, and that big decisions like house purchases didn’t come easy, but who among us had never felt the undertow of depression?

We were looking for a shred of light on the dark side of the moon.

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. According to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) one million people attempt it each year and 40,000 people complete the act. That would be the entire population of Talbot County. Each year. According to the World Health Organization, 800,000 people worldwide end their lives annually.

Just days ago, WHO’s Director Margaret Chan was quoted in a Reuters article for, as saying that the WHO’s report—prepared for world suicide prevention day on September 10—is “a call for action to address a large public health problem which has been a taboo for far too long.”

Globally, and in the US, the demographic most vulnerable for suicide is the 70+ age group, but for the 15-29-year bracket, suicide is the second leading cause of death.

According to the report, men die by suicide more than women and that in more affluent countries three times as many men kill themselves as women.

Can effective prevention measures take place? The answer is yes.

Like addiction and mental illness, the taboo of discussing suicide are still powerful roadblocks, but talk and listen we must, especially to those we feel might be vulnerable.

Suicide is complex. One anecdote and one article can hardly knock on the door of the subject. We jump to conclusions—”he (or she) just lost her job,” etc.—and overly simplify. Studies indicate that psychiatric illnesses and/or substance abuse are powerful influences in 90% of suicides.

Gerald Beemer, licensed clinical professional counselor at UM Shore Regional Health, believes that in addition to the complexity of someone’s state of mental health, therapists can overlook a key element in identifying a person’s vulnerability to suicide.

“I think it’s important to find out if, during their developmental years, there has been a family suicide. This can turn out to be a joker in the emotional deck of cards and they might not even know it’s there until triggered,” Beemer says.

Beemer explains that part of what we learn during our adolescent years is the interpretation of other people’s responses to life events. We learn from how they react. If a family member commits suicide, the experience can be filed away without context or understanding.

“It’s how they deal with the joker later in life that becomes critical. If at some point a person experiences a crisis—a breakup, the loss of a child, the loss of a home with all their possessions—causing a depression, and the joker pops up as a solution to their pain, then we have a very dangerous situation,” he notes.

Psychiatric geneticists are looking at suicidal behavior as patterns running in families; major suicide studies also point to childhood abuse as a key risk factor. Like a soldier’s Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), childhood abuse can cause changes in brain chemistry that regulate stress and leave the brain in a heightened stress-sensitive state.

Abusing alcohol and/or drugs also play a dangerous part in increasing the risk of suicide. About the younger side of the 15-29 year old age group, Beemer pulls no punches. “Young people’s brains are not ready for alcohol and it makes suicide easier by lowering inhibitions and allowing riskier behavior. That and the easy access to weapons can make for a deadly combination.”

Among the elderly, studies have discovered a unique constellation of “reasons” suicide is contemplated. The American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry finds that older Americans blame health issues, disability, anguish over a lost loved one and financial difficulties as causing their depression. One New York study suggested that treating depression alone might not be enough without understanding the unique problems facing older adults.


There are warning signs of suicide. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline publishes this list:

• Talking about wanting to die
• Looking for a way to kill oneself
• Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
• Talking about being a burden on others
• Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
• Acting anxious, agitated or recklessly
• Sleeping too little or too much
• Withdrawing or feeling isolated
• Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
• Displaying extreme mood swings

(Note: The more these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not be what causes a suicide.)

What you should do:

• Do not leave the person alone
• Remove any firearms, alcohol, drugs or other sharp objects that could be used.
• Call the US National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-TALK (8255)
• Take the person to the ER or seek help from a medical or mental health professional

Think of it. We live in a world of advanced science and medicine, breakthroughs and advancements in mental health applications and yet, since the early 1940s the US suicide rate has done nothing but rise across the demographic spectrum, especially among active duty soldiers and the middle-aged (30 percent!). Despite what we know about warning signs, we usually have no clue when someone else has decided there is no other way out of his or her anguish.

“Sometimes it’s a matter of six seconds only when that impulse hits,” Beemer says.

Getting to the vulnerable before that impulse is acted upon and safeguarding them with correct diagnosis and mental health or addiction support is the key.

And there is a growing movement dedicated to getting the word out nationally.

On Saturday, September 6, The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, in partnership with Mid-Shore Mental Health System’s Defeating Stigma Coalition and Queen Anne’s County Partnership for Suicide Prevention hosted an “Out of the Darkness” fundraising community walk on Kent Island’s Cross Island Trail. More than 500 people made the 3.5-mile walk to honor the lives of family members and friends who had committed suicide, along with mental health professionals and individuals who felt the need to help make a difference.

“I just heard about it today and wanted to support the effort to talk openly about suicide and erase the stigma surrounding it. I lost my beloved uncle and I’m tired of his death being a shameful family secret when we could further our understanding of mental health issues by discussing it,” said Annapolis resident Carol Brinner.

There are many local resources. One of the most immediate is Eastern Shore Mobile Crisis Team, a service of the affiliated Santé Group.

As mental health first responders, the team provides emergency psychological assessment, immediate intervention for individuals and family.

“We have a clinician available 24/7 to talk to people in crisis. They can be people with suicidal thoughts, substance abuse or mental health issues. Our Mobile Crisis team can go on site to help individuals in crisis and we can do that between 9 a.m. and midnight, seven days a week,” says Director Carol Masden.

Eastern Shore Mobile Crisis provides service for all nine counties on the Shore. Madsen says that Kent County’s loss of Upper shore Mental Health spurred a strong community advocacy for services and the state responded with funding for the crisis service. ESMC’s Hotline is 1-888-407-8018. The Spy will be interviewing Carol at a later date.

Mid-Shore mental Health Systems, Inc. also provide a 24/7 Crisis Hotline at 1-888-407-8018

Eastern Shore Operations Center (ESOC) Serves as the behavioral health emergent, urgent and information and referral call center for all nine counties of the Eastern Shore:  Caroline, Cecil, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s, Somerset, Talbot, Wicomico and Worcester Counties.  The ESOC is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to assess and respond to calls from consumers, family members, community members, businesses and human services agencies.  ESOC staff provides linkage to community resources through referral to all appropriate and existing behavioral health and human services.

Life Crisis Center Hotline Provides counseling for victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, suicide prevention, support groups, emergency shelter, shelter referral, medical care, and assistance with the process of prosecution. 1-800-422-0009 or 410-749-HELP

Suicide Hotline Provides counseling for suicide prevention 1-800-SUICIDE or 410-742-9424
Youth Hotline Crisis intervention, support and referrals 1-800-422-0009

For more about the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, go here.

Here are a few minutes from the “Out of the Darkness” community walk on Kent Island, September 6, 2014.