Archives for July 2012

CBMM Hosts Musician & Photographer John Mock – August 8

Artist John Mock will perform original compositions on the guitar, concertina, and tin whistle – August 8 at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum.

On the evening of Wednesday, August 8, come to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s waterfront campus in St. Michaels, MD for a live “From the Shoreline” concert with musician and photographer, John Mock.

Beginning at 6pm at the museum’s Small Boat Shed, Mock will perform original compositions on the guitar, concertina, and tin whistle—all accompanied by a photographic presentation of the maritime vistas that inspire his music.

Seating and light refreshments will be provided, as all ages enjoy Mock’s ability to evoke the sea’s essence in his images and melodies.

The concert is $5 for museum members, or $10 for non-members, with children under six and active military admitted free. Advanced registration is needed by calling Debbie Collison at 410-745-4991.


Children to Learn About Birds at the Library

On Tuesday, August 7, at 2:00, in the Easton branch of the Talbot County Free Library, naturalists from the Pickering Creek Audubon Center will teach children aged 2 – 5 (accompanied by an adult) about the lives of the little feathered jewels that live in the trees all around us.

All library programs are free and open to the public, but patrons are asked to pre-register for this program. For more information, call the library at 410-822-1626, or visit

Date and Time of Event: August 7, 2:00 p.m.
Location: 100 West Dover Street, Easton
Contact: Rosmary Morris, telephone: 410-822-1626


Bay’s Health Depends on the Splendor of its Grasses

By Kathy Reshetiloff

In the shallows of the Chesapeake, bay grasses sway in the aquatic breeze of the tides and currents. Also known as submerged aquatic vegetation or SAV, bay grasses are an indicator of the health of the Chesapeake and its rivers.

Like all green plants, bay grasses produce oxygen, a precious and often decreasing commodity in the Chesapeake. These plants also absorb nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus. In the water, excess nutrients promote rapid growth of algae known as blooms. When these blooms die off and decompose, valuable oxygen is consumed. Algal blooms also reduce the amount of light reaching bay grasses, which need it to survive.

Just like shoreline vegetation, bay grasses trap excess sediment, which can cloud the water and bury bottom-dwelling animals. By reducing wave action, these grasses also help to protect the shoreline from erosion

In addition, the SAV provides food and habitat for invertebrates, fish and waterfowl. Microscopic zooplankton feed on decaying grasses and, in turn, become food for larger animals, such as fish and clams.

Barnacles and scallop larvae attach to the leaves and stems of eelgrass, a grass species found in saltier waters of the lower bay. Fish, like bluegill and largemouth bass, live in the freshwater grasses of the upper bay and rivers. Immature blue crabs, minnows and juvenile fish, like striped bass, hide from larger, hungrier mouths in the grass beds.

Bay grasses are a haven for vulnerable molting blue crabs, shielding them until their shells harden.

In the fall and winter, migrating waterfowl search the sediment for nutritious seeds, roots and tubers. Redhead grass and widgeon grass are favored foods of ducks of the same name, as well as many other waterfowl.

Bay grasses once formed immense underwater meadows, covering up to 200,000 acres in the Chesapeake Bay and its tributaries. With increasing development and nutrient pollution in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and Tropical Storm Agnes in 1972, the huge grass beds began to decline. Bay grasses continued to disappear, hitting a low of about 38,000 acres in 1984.

Factors that affect water clarity also affect the growth and survival of the bay’s grasses. Suspended sediment clouds the water, reducing the amount of sunlight reaching the plants. Often, sediment covers the plants completely.

Sources of sediment include runoff from farms; residential and commercial developments; and road construction. Shoreline erosion also adds sediment to the water.

Excess nutrients promote algae blooms that cloud the water, reducing sunlight, which the plants need to grow. Certain types of algae grow directly on the plants. Major sources of nutrients included sewage treatment plants, septic systems, and agricultural fields and fertilized lawns.

Although bay grasses have increased since the lows of the 1980s, efforts to improve water quality must continue. Preliminary results in the Virginia Institute of Marine Science’s “2011 Distribution of Submerged Aquatic Vegetation in the Chesapeake Bay and Tributaries and the Coastal Bays” show declines in all mapped areas. (Some portions of the Chesapeake Bay were not mapped because SAV signatures were masked by excess turbidity present months after the passage of Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee. All direct comparisons to previous years in this report are restricted to only those regions that were mapped in both years.)

In the Upper Bay, from the Susquehanna River to the Chester and Magothy rivers, bay grasses decreased from 21,353 acres in 2010 to 13,287 in 2011.

In the Middle Bay, extending south from the Bay Bridge to the Rappahannock River and Pocomoke Sound, bay grasses decreased from 30,053 acres in 2010 to 28,749 in 2011.

In the Lower Bay, south from the Rappahannock River and Pocomoke Sound to the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay, grasses decreased from 22,865 acres in 2010 to 15,645 in 2011.

And, in the Delmarva Peninsula and Coastal Bays, including Assawoman, Isle of Wight, Sinepuxent, Chincoteague, and southern Virginia coastal bays, grasses decreased from 18,095 acres in 2010 to 13,449 in 2011.

Here are actions that people can take to help underwater grasses:

• Reduce the amount of fertilizers applied to lawns.
• Replace some lawn grass with native vegetation.
• Those who own a septic system should make sure it is properly maintained
• Plant native vegetation along shorelines or streams to reduce erosion.
• Divert runoff from paved surfaces to vegetated areas.
• Avoid boating in shallow areas and bay grass beds.
• Pump boat waste to an onshore facility.

For details about ongoing and past years’ bay grass surveys, go to

Kathryn Reshetiloff is with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Chesapeake Bay Field Office in Annapolis. Distributed by Bay Journal News Service.


Academy Art Museum Gallery Walk Offers Glimpse into Classes

Diane DuBois Mullaly, Pear Blossoms, oil. Mullaly will teach a class “Experiment En Plein Air” on Saturday, September 29 and Sunday, September 30, 2012 at the Academy Art Museum. Mullaly will demonstrate at the Museum’s upcoming Open House on August 3 from 5 to 7 p.m.

An open house on Friday, August 3, 2012 from 5 to 7 p.m. at the Academy Art Museum will feature demonstrations by the Museum’s fine art instructors of adult classes. Among those instructors who will demonstrating are Diane DuBois Mullaly, oil painting; Matthew Hillier, oil painting; Margery Caggiano, oil and acrylic painting; Katie Cassidy, pastel; Alice Marie Gravely, print making, Pamela Hagerhorst, clay, Raphael Sassi, drawing, and Paul Aspell, clay. Matthew Hillier will also be available to answer questions about his exhibition, “An Englishman Abroad: Oil Paintings by Matthew Hillier,” in the Selections Gallery.

The Open House will include live music and refreshments. A student show exhibiting work from the adult art, clay and photography classes will be on display on the Museum’s outdoor fences, weather permitting. The event is free and open to the public.

Academy Art Museum
106 South Street
Easton MD, 21601



Drummer’s Holds Ribbon Cutting Ceremony

Drummer’s Gravesite Care LLC held a ribbon cutting ceremony Thursday, July 19, at the Talbot County Chamber of Commerce in Easton. From left, Easton Mayor Bob Willey; Chamber Ambassador Pam Sard, of Zyrra Custom Fit Bras; Kristen Alvis; Chamber President Alan Silverstein; owner Ruth Drummer and her granddaughter London Wood, 7; owner Eric Drummer; Chamber Ambassador Sabine Simonson, of the Talbot County Free Library; Kay Wendowski and Easton Town Councilman Len Wendowski.

Drummer’s offers professional gravesite maintenance services, such as monument cleaning, restoration, decoration services and personal plot care, to areas of Delaware, Maryland and Virginia. For more information, call 410-310-3235 or visit


CBMM Folk Fest

The Folk Fest at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum on Saturday was a well-attended and fun filled family event, with music all day long, hand crafted art objects, opportunities to try a hand at old Bay traditions, films, group discussions, games and food demonstrations. 

Titled “Treasures of the Bay…Hidden in Plain Sight”, the festival focused on highlighting Chesapeake traditions from off the beaten path. As usual, the Maritime Museum showed its depth by including Bay traditions from all sectors – with a look at women’s roles and the shared skill set of sewing, quilting and net-making, to African American and Latin American traditions. Featuring tugboats as well as native tribes of Delmarva, the event  held something for everyone, even locals, to learn about Bay traditions.

A highlight was a spirited conversation by the friends and family of Captain Denny Berg,  father of the tugboat industry on the Bay. Former crew members and other fishermen shared harrowing stories and tales of days gone by on Berg’s tugboats.

A public art piece was created by paper maiche folk artist “Mama Girl” (Mary Onley) , wood carver Eric Applegarth, mosaic artists  Sue Stockman and Bobby Malzone, along with members of the public who contributed to the piece by hand painting  paper maiche figures. The piece will be installed in the entry building of the Maritime Museum.

The Northern Neck Chantey Singers wowed the crowd with their deep, a cappella harmonies; used for generations to help regulate the pulling-in of fish nets. The Zen Monkeys, Karen Somerville and Daryl Davis, and the Royal Oak Musicians kept music alive on the museum campus all day long.

Let’s Be Shore
, the public engagement project of the Maryland Humanities Council held a public forum during the festival, drawing visitors and Shore stakeholders into conversations about water quality.

From homemade tortillas and posole to eel-pot making, story telling, river cruises, and big, fat crabcake sandwiches, the Folk Fest was great fun for everyone.




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Cult Rocker/Singer-Songwriter Freedy Johnson @ NightCat Wednesday – August 1

Cult rocker Freedy Johnson appears Wednesday, August 1 at the NightCat in Easton.

Perhaps best known for his 1994 hit song, “Bad Reputation,” singer-songwriter Freedy Johnson comes to the NightCat this Wednesday, August 1 at 8pm.

Johnson, who splits his time between Madison, Wisconsin and New York City, is currently writing and recording songs for his next album, tentatively titled Neon Repairman. His most recent effort, Rain On The City, released in 2009, was praised by Pitchfork, the Los Angeles Times and others as one of the most assured efforts of Johnson’s career.

Highly recommended, especially if you like Marshall Crenshaw, Matthew Sweet, Josh Rouse.

Freedy Johnson

Wednesday, Aug. 1st, 2012
8 P.M.
Tickets $15

5 Goldsborough St
Easton, MD 21601


Visual Arts Center Exhibit: “Bernini, West Coast & Redemption” Opens August 3


Rob Brownlee-Tomasso painting:
Siuslaw River (from West Coast series) Acrylic and earth on canvas, textured with soil from the banks of the Siuslaw River in Oregon.

There will be an exciting new show at the Talbot County Visual Arts Center opening the 3rd of August entitled “Bernini, West Coast, & Redemption,” featuring artist Rob Brownlee-Tomasso. This solo show will feature recent works from three different series of Rob’s mixed media paintings on canvas. The opening reception will on Friday, August 3rd, from 5 – 7pm. This display will hang at the Visual Arts Center Gallery in Talbot Town Shopping Center through the 31st of August.

The Redemption series depicts the steps along the personal path to redemption, and are textured with earth from different places in America. The pieces from the West Coast series are paintings of places in California and Oregon, and are textured with soil taken from the sites that they depict. The Bernini series was inspired by the artist’s visit to the Borghese Gallery in Rome, depicting Gian Lorenzo Bernini’s sculptures and textured with Italian soil.

Rob Brownlee-Tomasso takes his inspiration from architecture, history and nature, as well as depicting highly conceptual characters. He creates texture studies in mixed media, and often they are on irregularly shaped canvases, and sometimes as multiple canvas installations. The acrylic medium, or gesso, is applied with a mixture of sand, earth and/or other materials to achieve a coarse surface. The main goals of his artistic expression are to find creative and dramatic subject matter that can work in conjunction with these richly textured surfaces; and to complete simple compositions that are contrasted with these complex textures. The subject matter is generally a loose interpretation of a specific concept, using simple palettes, which are often earth tones.

Ignorance (from Redemption series) Acrylic and earth on canvas. by Rob Brownlee-Tomasso

Rob Brownlee-Tomasso has been an artist all of his life, earning a degree in advertising design and building parallel careers in fine art and graphic design. “This allows for the creation of fine art with no compromise, in pursuit of art that is pure.” Rob has participated in group and solo exhibitions in Maryland and Virginia; and his work resides in several private collections. Rob’s paintings can be viewed online at

For more information or questions regarding this workshop please call the Talbot County Visual Arts Center 410-822-0966 or visit our website You may also call Jacqueline Pfaff Pratt, 443-385-0411. Programs and shows are sponsored or funded in part by the Talbot County Arts Council and the Maryland State Arts Council.


August Skywatch: Planets, Metors; and Two Full Moons!

Perseids meteor shower map

August begins with three bright first-magnitude objects, two of them planets, clustered near to each other in the southwestern evening sky for several hours after sunset. The planets are Saturn at magnitude +0.8 and Mars at magnitude +1.1. On August 1st they will be seen within 10 degrees of each other (Saturn above), and through the month they will appear to draw closer together. Between August 7th and 20th they will be within a 5 degree circle which will also include 1st magnitude (+1.0) Spica, the brightest star in the zodiac constellation Virgo. In fact on the night of the 7th, the three will actually appear to form a neat triangle!

Spica is a blue giant star some 4 times hotter than our Sun and while it does not appear to move out of its constellation from year to year because of its great distance from us, the planet’s do make noticeable changes against the background stars in their orbits around the Sun. Saturn is far enough away so that its changes against the stars are much less than Mars which, moves a lot faster. So Mars will appear to pass between Spica and Saturn so that on the nights of August 13 and 14, the three will look like they are in a nearly straight line. A week later on the 21st, the three will form another triangle shape, with a lovely crescent Moon joining them, just a few degrees below the line.

We can distinguish the three objects from each other by color. Mars is reddish-orange, while Saturn is a more golden-yellow, and Spica looks bluish-white. It will be fun watching during the month as the 3 appear to move around each other in the southwest sky (roughly 9 to 11 pm).

In the morning sky look East for Jupiter, rising about 2 am and then visible until sunrise and bright (-2.2 magnitude), and sitting some 5 degrees above Aldebaran, the brightest star in Taurus. On the morning of the 11th, the waning crescent Moon will be near Jupiter.

Even brighter Venus at –4.6 magnitude rises about 3 hours before the Sun and the crescent Moon will be seen near it on the morning of August 13th.

August always brings the best meteor shower of the year into view —– the Perseids —- so named because the meteors appear to come from the sky which is occupied by the constellation Perseus. Some years we have to compete with a bright Moon blocking our view of some of the meteors, but this year a waning crescent Moon will offer little competition, and the peak night is on a weekend. The best night is August 11/12 —- Saturday night into Sunday morning. Best views which may be up to 60 to 80 meteors per hour occur from midnight to dawn looking in the northeast sky halfway up from the horizon. Perseid meteors are hunks of rock and dust debris from Comet 109P Swift-Tuttle. Each August Earth plows through its debris field and the particles incinerate in our atmosphere by friction.

One other item of note this month is that August this year has two Full Moons —- August 1st and August 31st. Though two Full Moons in a single month happen about once every three and a half years, it is infrequent enough to be one reason for the expression “once in a blue Moon.” No, the Moon does not really turn blue when it is full twice in a month, but Earth atmospheric conditions do make the Moon look blue sometimes; and that is even rarer.


One Knee and Thirty-Two Baby Chicks

The caller I.D. read “U.S. government” which would bring out a cold sweat on most citizens. It was our local post office. He said “We’ve got a package here for you, take a listen.” Hundreds of tiny little peeps came over the phone. My day-old chicks had arrived from a hatchery in Ohio. The hatchery was supposed to have alerted me as to when they were going to be shipped. I suppose they didn’t remember. Unfortunately, I had just had knee surgery 3 days earlier and was barely ambulatory (not to mention that I was concerned that maybe I was bleeding to death…but that’s another story). Anyhow. All the equipment I needed was here at the house and my son set it up on the back porch: a 200 gallon stock water tub, heat lamp, electrolytes for their water to strengthen their little immune systems, and chick starter feed.

Said son wasn’t available to chauffeur me to pick them up. So, bloody knee and all I drove to fetch them home to their new habitat. It is extremely important that the chicks be freed from the box as soon as possible. They are so fragile and need food and, most especially, water immediately. At the Post Office the box was sitting on the counter peeping like crazy. I felt like a new mother; slightly teary. All the way home I talked soothingly to the box and the peeping got softer.

Once back home on the porch I opened the box. There were 32 mini-chicks. They are so small and vulnerable. One chick was dead and that’s not unusual. It happens but still it is sad. We had to dip their tiny beaks into the water to accustom them to drinking. Try that with a one- ounce speedy little fluff ball. That’s exercise! I turned on the heat lamp and covered the tank with two window screens weighted down with bricks – ( I have two curious cats), had a glass or two of wine and went to bed. Next morning one more chick had died, but I had not bled to death. Sometimes when chicks huddle for the night a weaker one can be suffocated. They were warm enough (92 degrees) so it wasn’t the cold that caused them to pack together. Their little chicken brains were probably telling them that there is safety in numbers. Again, a death can occur when they’re so young and delicate.

I chose four different breeds: 6 blue Splash Marans, 9 Barred Rocks, 10 Amerucanas, 1 Delaware White and 6 Pearl keets (that’s what you call baby guineas) who will grow up to be black and white, speckled guinea hens. In this case “pearl” does not mean white. The hens were chosen for being sturdy, brown egg layers and the Amerucanas for laying blue, green and dusty pink eggs. The keets will lay brown eggs with extremely hard shells when they mature, but their eggs taste the same as the hens’. They’ll begin to lay in about 6 months.

Now they are 5 weeks old and living in a large bunny hutch on my friend’s farm in the hens’ enclosure. My son is building a “chicken tractor” for the young ladies to live in. Next week will be move-in day and I’m really excited to see how they adapt to the real world of bugs and grass, sunshine and rain.

Later that month: The “chicken tractor” is finished. Imagine a Quonset hut the size of a VW Beetle with plastic pipe ribs and covered with chicken wire. There is a door at one end. The bottom is also covered with chicken wire so predators can’t dig under and up. There are also wheels so that it can be easily moved; either with a real tractor or 2 strong humans. The idea is to move it around the property daily. The chicks devour everything under the bottom wire, clean out weeds and crab grass and then move on to “greener pastures.” It’s a wonderful invention and makes a lawnmower obsolete.

I have wondered how mothers with 20 children remember all their names and if they love all of them equally. With my chicks I know the answer is “Yes”!