Archives for March 2011

Chesapeake Home, Garden & Craft Expo Starts April 16

The 16th annual Chesapeake Home, Garden & Craft Expo, sponsored by The Star Democrat, will be held at the Talbot County Community Center on Saturday, April 16, and Sunday, April 17.

The expo showcases the newest ideas in home remodel, new construction, landscaping, pools and spas, according to a press release from event organizers. Representatives from home improvement and home-related industries will be on hand to meet with visitors.

This year, organizers are excited to expand the show to include a craft area and a wine tasting room with bottles available for sale.

“The variety of vendors and expertise available is why the expo continues to grow each year,” said Konrad La Prade, regional advertising director for Chesapeake Publishing. “There really is something for everyone in the family at the show, including activities for the children. That’s the great thing about the show.”

Some of this year’s booths include the latest in “green” energy and solutions, window treatments, decks, patios, interior design, heating and air conditioning, outdoor rooms and flooring and water systems.

In addition, Black & Decker will be returning for its popular small appliance and tool sale.

“We are excited to again have Black & Decker return as a major sponsor of the expo,” La Prade said. “In previous years, visitors have been amazed by the incredible deals on various Black & Decker products deals you can only find at an event like this one.”

The expo’s hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $5 per family or $3 per person.

For more information, call 410-770-4056 or visit

Shore Manufacturing & Business Council May 18 in Wye Mills

Registration is now open for the Upper Shore Manufacturing & Business Council’s (USMBC) annual conference, which will be held Wednesday, May 18, from 8 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. on the campus of Chesapeake College.

This year’s USMBC conference theme is “Investing in growth-oriented businesses for economic recovery and long-term success,” with topics selected to provide conference participants with information and resources they can use to build and grow their businesses, according to a press release from USMBC.

The conference will offer a choice of presentations and roundtable discussions divided into three “tracks” business development, human resources and education and featuring nationally known experts.

The keynote speaker for the conference is Dina Habib Powell, a managing partner and director of global corporate engagement at Goldman Sachs in New York City. Powell will speak on investing in entrepreneurs and growth-oriented businesses for economic recovery.

Powell is leading Goldman Sachs’ 10,000 Businesses initiative a partnership with community colleges to foster the growth of businesses through intensive training. Prior to joining Goldman Sachs, Powell served as assistant secretary of state for educational and cultural affairs and then deputy undersecretary of state for public diplomacy and public affairs in the administration of President George W. Bush.

Following Powell’s address, USMBC will host a panel of Upper Shore business leaders who have successfully positioned their companies for growth and competitiveness. The panel will be moderated by Bob Storey, president of Vapotherm Inc. in Stevensville. Invited panelists include Kim Scott, founder and CEO of The Great Gourmet in Federalsburg; Marilyn Blandford, president of Miltec UV in Stevensville; and Alan Stein, president of Tanglewood Conservatories in Denton.

The day-long conference will provide opportunities for attendees to participate in a mix of sessions. Attendees may attend session across all three learning tracks.

“We are thrilled to be offering a strong program,” said Phillip Nones, president of Mullin/Ashley Associates and current president of the USMBC’s board of directors. “Since our first one held in 2010, the USMBC annual conference has quickly become the premier business event for the Upper Shore area.”

Conference fees are $75 for USMBC member organizations or $100 for non-member organizations, which includes lunch, refreshments and a social hour at the end of the day, in addition to the presentations and roundtable discussions. Additional attendees from any organization may attend the conference for $50 each.

For more information on the conference or to register, contact Leanne Allen at 410-827-7744 or lallenches

In addition, a limited number of conference sponsorships and exhibitor opportunities are available. Sponsorships include company recognition at the conference and exhibit opportunities. For more details, contact Jackie Potter at 410-827-7744 or jpotterches

Established in 1990, USMBC is a regional organization supporting the growth and health of businesses located on Maryland’s Upper Eastern Shore.

The organization provides a forum for promoting manufacturing, technology and operational excellence involving a coalition of commercial firms, educational and governmental organizations in Caroline, Dorchester, Kent, Queen Anne’s and Talbot counties.

For more information on USMBC, visit www.usmbc. org or call 410-827-7744

In the Garden: Lasagna Gardening

A friend phoned the other day for advice on making a new garden in a sunny spot in her lawn. Knowing the labor involved in turning over a new garden, especially one planted into less-than-optimum soil, I suggested lasagna gardening. The term refers not to what will be growing there – although you can certainly plant the veggies and herbs you’d use to make lasagna – but to a method of prepping the space without ending up in traction.

Lasagna gardening, aka sheet gardening, simply means that instead of going down into the soil with a fork or spade or rototiller, the gardener layers compostable materials on top of the spot that is to become the garden. No tilling, no weeding, no digging up sod.

The layers will cook down over time to smother the weeds and turf. While the layering is best started in fall so the mix has time to meld together rather like the casserole for which it’s named, you can start any time of year.   Lasagna gardening is an easy way to simultaneously create a garden bed and amend its soil since the layers of organic material you’re putting down add tilth and nutrients.

The principle in lasagna gardening is sister to a constructed compost pile. Yet unlike a compost pile, you don’t turn it. You let it just lie there and do its thing, becoming a rich planting medium. As with a true compost pile (as opposed to a midden, which just gets stuff flung onto it), it works best if you layer according to the best composting principles.

To create a lasagna garden, start by marking off the space. Then lay down a layer of corrugated cardboard or several layers of newspaper (soy inks only, no glossy pages) right on top of the turf. Worms love this stuff and tend to congregate beneath it, a terrific addition to the whole enterprise. Water down the first layer, in part so it will stay in place, in part so it will start to decompose right away. Follow this with a brown layer (straw, leaves, sawdust, cornhusks, dry brown weeds, etc.) then a green layer (fresh grass clippings, manure, kelp, coffee grounds, human hair, blood meal, crushed eggshells and more) with moisture added as necessary.  (Rather like cooking.). Brown layers should be approximately twice as thick as green layers since they are generally lighter and enable air to get in, a necessary element. Continue lasagna-fashion until you have a bed about two feet tall. It will rot down and sink in a good deal over time. Once it’s fairly well composted, you can stick a fork or spade in and plant.

As with a compost pile, don’t add diseased plants, weeds with seeds, any fresh sewage, kitty litter or pet feces, meat scraps, bones, or cheese or grease or fats, which keep the things they coat from breaking down and attract animals. There is a list of the things that comprise ‘brown’ and ‘green’ elements in a couple of the links below and also in Patricia Lanza’s book, Lasagna Gardening (Rodale), which you can order through Compleat Bookseller.



Growing Chesapeake Wine Country

Have you been hearing the grapevine news?  The rural landscape is now graced with rows of splendid grapevines.

Funding from both State and local jurisdictions has been supporting grape growing for wines as a major priority since 2008, and the fruits of this forward-looking financing are growing up and down our shore. There are currently 10 Eastern Shore vineyards with wineries, 5 of which are on the Upper Shore.

Even more exciting…the vineyard and winery movement is nearly at Chestertownís doorstep. Today there are four vineyards in Kent County, two of which are poised to open wineries very soon. Perched along a beautiful arc in the Chester River with a magnificent view of Chestertown is Piney Grove, which boasts a history of growing fruit since the 1800ís. Harvesting wine grapes since 2008, the Lieber family is now planning a winery. Imagine sipping delicious, locally produced wine just as the schooner Sultana glides by the vineyards of this historic property! The second winery slated to open in the relatively near future is at Crow Farm at the northern end of Kent County in Kennedyville.  Roy and Judy Crow have already opened their doors as a charming farmstay B&B and feature chef-created local food dinners and wine-tasting events. But the farm’s rich agricultural soils hold promise for distinctive wines, too. Judy Crow’s son, Brandon Hoy, will start making wine in the milk house this fall with a wine-making/tasting facility soon to follow. The opening of wineries for these two vineyards will likely spur the Crew Family, third-year growers of Plain Dealings Vineyard to take the steps to realize their own wine-making vision. Plain Dealings Vineyard lies along Morgnec Road where the land begins its slope down to the Chester River and offers well-drained soils for grape growing. And White House Farm on Route 213 just north of Chestertown boasts a small organic vineyard. Owner, Dolly Baker plans to offer U-Pick wine grapes sometime in August this year. 

Why grapevines? For one thing, the flowing rows of grapevines are certainly a beautiful sight, while wineries offer a compelling reason beyond the rural beauty of our region for tourists to visit — and spend. Additionally, grape growing is a viable economic niche for Upper Eastern Shore farms. The Maryland Grape Growers Association tracks grape growing/sales in the state and reports that the state continues to exist in a grape-deficit; for every one ton of Maryland-grown grapes used by Maryland wineries, another one and one-third tons must be imported from other states. So there is a demand for Maryland grapes and the opportunity for a grower to become and remain profitable after the initial investment.  With this in mind, three years ago the Upper Shore Regional Council, charged with supporting the economic vitality of Cecil, Kent and Queen Anneís counties, took up the cause. Armed with grant funds, the council started investigating ways to bring more acres into grape growing production. Financial planning tools were produced, and support for vineyard management businesses was enacted along with a series of educational seminars that provide on-going advice from experts in the field.

This new economic initiative is distilled for both interested landowners and the community at large in Commissioned by the Upper Shore Regional Council and developed by Loblolly Multi-Media Productions in Still Pond, is the visually-rich website that provides information and guidance for the farmer, landowner, or viticulturist, who is both interested in preserving the rural agricultural heritage of our beautiful Upper Eastern Shore and intrigued by the idea of establishing a vineyard. The shoreVines campaign also includes a series of 4 short 60 sec. broadcast video ads that have appeared on cable TV. Lush with Eastern Shore landscapes, each video is backed by the memorable, continuous drive of Chester River Run-off music. All end with this call to action: “grow grapes a vital option for the upper shore,” and prompt viewers to visit the website for more information.

Through shoreVines, Loblolly Productions will help increase awareness of the economic tools available to potential grape growers and create awareness among landowners of the benefits of growing grapes in our region. Over the next months The Spy and the site will showcase the ‘shoreVines pioneers’ and their individual reasons for starting their grape growing ventures: preserving an historic property, environmental sustainability, small parcel land use, keeping the next generation on the farm.

by Lotte Bowie


and watch for the shoreVines spots on QACTV ch 7 starting 3/28/11.

Lotte Bowie for shoreVines

Upper Shore Regional Council

Loblolly Productions

Photos:”Early summer vines at Crow Farm” photo: Rob Crow

“Fall 2010 harvest at Piney Grove” photo:


Texas’ Kinky Friedman May 10

There is no question when you come to a Kinky Friedman show you are going to hear about the state of our union. Heck, he ran for governor of Texas 2 years ago and got 13 percent in a 6 man race. But Kinky Friedman is just what the doctor ordered these days with all the gripin’ and fightin’ repubs and dems do these days. Kinky’s views are two-sided. He knows exactly what to say to make both sides happy and ticked. Heck his website touts he is good friend with both Bill Clinton and George W Bush. Richard S. “Kinky” Friedman is an American singer, songwriter, novelist, humorist, politician and former columnist for Texas Monthly who styles himself in the mold of popular American satirists Will Rogers and Mark Twain. Arriving on the wave of country rock following on from Gram Parsons, The Band, and the Eagles, his break came in 1973 thanks to Commander Cody, who contacted Vanguard Music on his behalf. Friedman rose to stardom in the ’70s, with the Texas Jewboys as his sick and twisted sidekicks. An equal opportunity offender, Kinky, with his outrageous lyrics and crazed stage persona, may have offended some, but drew people like Don Imus, Robin Williams, Bob Dylan and John Belushi into his spiritual fan club. He toured with Dylan’s Rolling Thunder Revue and appeared on the inaugural season of Saturday Night Live. His repertoire mixed social commentary (“We Reserve the Right to Refuse Service to You”) and maudlin ballads (“Western Union Wire”) with raucous humor (such as “Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in Bed”).

Some Thoughts on Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass will have his statue dedicated on the Easton Courthouse lawn on June 18, 2011. His was quite a life’s journey. A few years after his birth in 1817 near Easton, he was moved (actually, he walked) to the Wye Plantation, where the white man probably his father, Aaron Anthony, worked as an overseer. His mother, Harriett Bailey, died when he was about seven, and Douglass lived with his maternal grandmother until he went to Wye House.

Wye House

Wye House still exists, and it was and is the sort of plantation that you picture when you hear “Tara’s Theme” from Gone With The Wind. Started in the mid-seventeenth century by the Lloyds, a Welsh family which still owns it in the eleventh generation, the plantation with numerous outbuildings at its peak counted 42,000 acres, tended by 1,000 slaves. The house is some seven miles from Easton, Maryland, down Route 33 towards St. Michaels. Turn right onto Route 370 (Unionville Road) over the Miles River, then pass both Miles River Road and Tunis Mills Road, and you will come to Bruffs Island Road, Copperville, where the Wye House and what remains of the Wye Plantation is located. A reenactment of Douglass’s 1881 visit there took place in October, 2009. The Douglass re-enactor said it was the first time that Douglass had been allowed into the main house!

That main house is a seven-part late-18th and early 19th century Georgian and Federal style building with Doric columns, gables and pavilions. The plantation had an Orangery, with imaginative eighteenth century heating ducts that still survive and work. Recently, African religious artifacts have been discovered in the framework, a reminder of those who built it. The Orangery is said to be the only surviving eighteenth century Orangery in North America. It was and is an outpost of civilized culture and genteel living – unless, of course, you happened to be a slave.

When Douglass was about twelve, he was sent to Baltimore to work for Hugh Auld, whose wife Sophia then started teaching young Frederick the alphabet. She was, of course, breaking the law. Douglass learned to read newspapers, political tracts, and books. When Douglass was hired out to another master, he organized a classroom for the slaves and taught themthe New Testament at a weekly Sabbath School. This was eventually discovered, and the meeting dispersed by plantation owners armed with clubs and stones.

Thomas Auld took Douglass back to Wye House Plantation, where he proved rebellious. He was sent to work for Edward Covey, a brutal slave breaker, who whipped the sixteen year old boy repeatedly. Douglass wrote that he was indeed very nearly broken, both psychologically and physically, but he finally rebelled against the beatings and fought back. This seemed to end the beatings. The Covey property, Mount Misery, by the way, which is located not far from St. Michaels, was in the news again in 2003 when it was purchased as a residence by former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld.

On September 3, 1838, Douglass successfully escaped by a ruse that he finally revealed in the last edition of his memoirs, having refused to do so while slavery still legally existed. He boarded a train at Havre de Grace, Maryland, dressed in a sailor’s uniform, carrying identification papers loaned to him by a free black sailor. He crossed the Susquehanna River by ferry there and continued by train to Wilmington, Delaware, and then on to Philadelphia and New York. The entire escape took him less than 24 hours.

In Massachusetts he joined various abolitionist societies, and read William Lloyd Garrison’s weekly journal The Liberator. As an escaped slave himself, and persuasive, he became something of a celebrity, and was once asked without warning to speak at a meeting attended by prominent abolitionists. He spoke so eloquently that he became nationally known. His autobiography was first published in 1845. It was reprinted nine times and sold many thousands of copies. I recommend the final edition, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, revised by the author in 1892, noted in the Bibliography that concludes this e-book.

Douglass went to Great Britain where he gave many lectures. At this time he became officially a free man, for his freedom was purchased from the Lloyd family by British supporters. It cost them $711.66. Upon his return to the United States, Douglass (he took that name from Scott’s hero in The Lady of the Lake) established the North Star journal. The name refers to the guiding star in the Big Dipper that points north, which as previously noted was used by escaping slaves as their directional signal. Douglass believed that education of black persons was crucial, and was an early advocate for the desegregation of schools.

When the Civil War began, Douglass was one of the most famous black men in the nation. He became a recruiter for the 54th Massachusetts Regiment in which his son Lewis fought at the Battle of Fort Wagner, South Carolina. After the Civil War he was appointed to several important political positions, such as President of the Freedman’s Savings Bank, Marshal of the District of Columbia, and Minister (Ambassador) to the Republic of Haiti. His distinguished legacy lives on today, for all Americans.

Easton resident William S. Shepard has long been interested in the Civil War, and the battlefield sites of that conflict. As we now observe the 150th anniversary of the outbreak of Civil War hostilities, this is a good time to refresh our knowledge of our past. Frederick Douglass, his first subject for the Chestertown Spy, will be honored with a statue on the Easton Courthouse lawn on June 18, 2011.

Shepard’s book, ‘Maryland In The Civil War,’ is available at , and if a reader lacks Kindle, the software may be downloaded free to your computer.”


Slow Medicine: One Fine Day in the City

I was walking cheerfully down the city street on a beautiful, unusually warm day after along cold spell, when the raucous blaring of air horns chased after me and pulled to astop, riding their fire truck, followed shortly by an ambulance, right by my position on thesidewalk. Several firemen (also known as emergency medical technicians) jumped outand headed for an open garage door on the other side of me. Looking in, I saw themquickly surround an old lady sitting slumped in a chair, others of them talking to aneighbor inside, as they roused the sweet-looking elderly dame and tried to ask her questions.

She couldnʼt give the answers yet. She was slow in her advancing years anyway, andjust coming to. A neighbor lady said someone had been calling this eighty-year-oldwomanʼs daughter, in another city somewhere, without being able to reach her. Severalother neighbors were milling about, and I struck up a conversation with a middle-agedwoman looking intently at the goings-on. It turned out she had the key to this nice oldladyʼs apartment, and considered her a friend who she checked on from time to time.

I asked her, while not divulging that I was a doctor, whether she knew anything aboutwhat the soon-to-be-patient might have wanted if she were found on a hot day after afainting spell. Would she want to be rushed into the hospital? Did she have any seriousillnesses, and did she have any special wishes, like a “do not resuscitate” request? She didnʼt know.

The old woman still couldnʼt quite process the questions either. She was tired afterfainting by her home and being seen by another neighbor, who had called 911. Shewas coming to, but was not very clear-headed. Still no one could raise her daughter,who might know. Nobody knew even whether the daughter would know — just that therewas one — even the neighbor friend with the key.

I spoke with a couple of the fire people, this time letting them know my secret identity,sharing their obvious awareness that here they were on a hot day handling a sweetelderly woman — who very likely would respond quickly with something for herdehydration — with a team of themselves, a loud fire truck, an ambulance, and astretcher to take her, scared and strapped down, to the hospital. They knew that takingtime for a trial of a little water, or tea and cookies, might have prevented an enormoususe of resources, but there was no way they could make that call. The assumption hadto be the worst: that she was having a stroke.

In these circumstances, what they were doing was perfectly appropriate. She might behaving a stroke, or a heart attack, or any number of other things. But if the neighborhad known this womanʼs wishes, she might have known that she had specifically requested that she not go into the hospital if she were ever found that way, because shehad experienced several awful and unnecessary hospitalizations, one of which hadgiven her a bad blood infection that took weeks to get over, and that it was in writing,cosigned by witnesses and her doctor, in her upstairs desk drawer, and besides, shehad a copy herself with that doctorʼs number if anyone wanted to call….

That nobody on the scene, including the neighbor with the ladyʼs key, knew what shewanted, the default action had to be all-out. Maybe it was for the best. Maybe it turnedout badly, and the poor woman was shipped to a nursing home on medications to“control her confusion in the hospital” that kept her seemingly demented. This kind ofscenario happens all the time. As the weather warms, maybe itʼs time to get out andtalk to the people you know.

Trappe Election Candidates

The following individuals have filed as candidates: Daniel Adams, Patricia Anne BridgesWalter E. Chase, Sr.JoAnn GayEdgar N. HarrisonCheryl LewisShawn Moore, and Albert Kirby Sabin. There will be a primary election on April 12, 2011.

St. Michael’s Grandma off to Africa to Volunteer May 19

Friends of the Talbot County Free Library presents a Bag Lecture Series: “Grandma Goes to Africa – As a Volunteer” on May 19th from noon to 1:00 p.m. at Talbot Hospice House 586 Cynwood Drive off of Idlewild Avenue in Easton.

Ann Hymes will be the speaker.

Guests are invited to bring their lunch and enjoy coffee and sweets provided by the Friends. Pre-registration is not required for this free program.

For more information, call the library at 410-822-1626, or visit:

Ann is a full-time resident of St. Michaels but spends her Februarys in Africa as a volunteer English teacher. She recently did the Cycle Across Maryland with one of her two grown daughters.

Ann is a published author, avid gardener, and member of the St. Michaels Art League as an oil painter.


Maritime Model Guild Expo on May 21, 22

The Model Guild of the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, the North American Steamboat Modeler’s Association (NASMA) and the Washington Ship Model Society are sponsoring the 7 Maritime Model Expo on Saturday, May 21 and Sunday, May 22 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum (CBMM) in St. Michaels, MD.

Maritime Model Expo

The event presents an opportunity for radio-controlled (R-C) steamboat modelers to sail in a fresh water pond, and for R-C model sailors to race or sail their craft in Fogg’s Cove along the Miles River. CBMM’s Model Sailing Club will race five-foot skipjack R-C models while other R-C sailing model clubs sail in Fogg’s Cove. Scheduled are steam-powered models for Saturday and sailing models for Sunday, although both may sail either day.

A large, temporary pond will be used for model steamboats and other R-C models, including submarines and electrically driven models with modest motors. R-C and self-steered pond sailing models will also sail on the pond.

The Washington Ship Model Society will exhibit a collection of static models from its members and other highly acclaimed modelers as well.

The two-day event is open to the public and free for Museum members or with admission. In addition to radio-controlled operating models and static model displays, the event offers children the opportunity to select, build and sail a simple model they can keep.

For more information about exhibiting or attending the May 21-22 Maritime Model Expo, contact Model Guild Director Bob Mason at 410-745-3266 or, or NASMA President Tom Ray at 443-786-1239 or For more information about the Museum, visit or call 410-745-2916.