Day: September 2, 2020

From the Bay, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

The Seahorses of the Chesapeake

From the Bay By Kathy Reshetiloff/Bay Journal The Seahorses of the Chesapeake In the Lower Chesapeake Bay, a small horse moves through the underwater beds of eelgrass looking for food. No, it’s not a pony like the famous wild horses of Assateague Island National Seashore. It’s a lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus), the only species of seahorse found in the Chesapeake Bay. The lined seahorse inhabits a range from the northern point of Nova Scotia, Canada, to the southern area of Venezuela in South America. Locally, lined seahorses are usually found from the Lower to Mid Chesapeake, although in drier, saltier years they may move as far north as Maryland’s Bay Bridge. Seahorses are vertebrate fish belonging to the family Syngnathidae. Other family members include the sea dragon, ghost pipefish, sea moth and pipehorse. The lined seahorse is most closely related to the pipefish: Both share the characteristic elongated tubular jaw with a small toothless mouth at the end. A seahorse’s body is covered with a kind of bony armor of jointed rings. A dorsal fin, made up of 16–20 rays, beats so rapidly that it appears transparent. It also has an anal fin with three or four rays. The top of its head, the coronet, is almost as distinctive in each animal as a human thumbprint. Mature lined seahorses can reach a length of 6.7 inches. They range in color from pale yellow to black and are marked laterally with dusky spots and lines. The Chesapeake’s underwater grass meadows are the lined seahorse’s preferred habitat. It swims erect, pausing to curl its tail around strands of grass to stabilize its body, then stay very still. This skill, combined with the creature’s ability to quickly change its color, camouflaging its skin to match the surroundings, makes the seahorse an ambush predator. It…

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Caribbean Connection, From the Bay to the Blue Ridge

PROTEUS – Underwater Space Station Coming to the Caribbean

By CJ Staff PROTEUS – Underwater Space Station Coming to the Caribbean The “underwater version” of the International Space Station is coming to the Caribbean island of Curaçao. Renowned ocean explorer Fabien Cousteau has announced his plans for PROTEUS, a project that’s being billed as the “world’s most advanced scientific research station and habitat.” “As our life support system, the Ocean is indispensable to solving the planet’s biggest problems. Challenges created by climate change, rising sea levels, extreme storms and viruses represent a multi-trillion-dollar risk to the global economy,” Cousteau said. Surprisingly, despite the Ocean representing over 99% of our world’s living space, only 5% has been explored to date. PROTEUS, contemplated as the first in a network of underwater habitats, is essential to driving meaningful solutions that protect the future of our planet. The knowledge that will be uncovered underwater will forever change the way generations of humans live up above.” PROTEUS will be more than four times bigger than any previous underwater habitat; it will include everything from sleeping quarters to labs to a “moon pool.” Powered by hybrid energy sources including wind, solar and ocean thermal energy, PROTEUS will also have the world’s first-ever underwater greenhouse. The intent is to build an “effective, comfortable and attractive facility for researchers, and an exciting underwater structure that garners the same passion for ocean exploration as we have for space exploration,” said Yves Behar, the industrial designer who is conceiving the structure. It’s not the first underwater habitat project for Cousteau, who led a team of five “aquanauts” at a 400-square-foot station in the Florida Keys. The project continues a trend started by Fabien’s grandfather Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who built the first underwater research habitats in 1962. “We must dare to dream bigger and look to our ocean as part of…

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Let's Eat, Wining & Dining

Pasta- Sicilian Style

Let’s Eat By Charles Oppman Pasta – Sicilian Style Sicily, like many other cities and areas of Italy is a wondrous place.  It is geographically in the Mediterranean Sea – part of Europe and Africa, but arguably belonging to neither.  There is much evidence of rich cultures left behind by a plethora of conquerors.  As a result, Sicily has evidence of varied customs, languages, cooking, architecture, art, etc. The Romans ruled Sicily in the 3rd century BC.  They were followed by the Vandals, Ostrogoths, Byzantines, Normans, Spanish, Phoenicians, Greeks, Arabs and French…not necessarily in that order.  There is evidence of many other conquerors from many other countries, but it would take pages to fully explore the impact they all had on Sicily.  In researching this article, I found the World Book and Encyclopedia Britannica reliable sources of information.   In addition to its unique history, the food of Sicily is exquisite.  Some Sicilians still eat the same food, and prepare it exactly as their ancestors did centuries ago.  That cuisine consists mainly of fish from the sea and home grown vegetables. I had a wonderful dish from Palermo that was made by a native Sicilian, now married to an Italo-American and living right here in Northern Virginia.  The recipe is a little unique because the only ingredient cooked is the pasta!  If you try it, I think you, too, will find that it is worth the time it takes to prepare this fresh food the Sicilian way. Sicilian Pasta 6 medium to large cloves of garlic, minced finely 1/3 cup of extra virgin olive oil ¼ cup of extra virgin olive oil for the sauce 6 medium very, very ripe tomatoes, peeled, seeded and cut into ½ inch chunks. Do not use canned tomatoes as it changes the taste and…

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Urban Garden

Fall Garden Tasks to Protect Your Landscape from Winter Wildlife Damage

by Melinda Myers As the seasons change, we adjust our gardening tasks and plantings to match. Animals also make changes this time of year, often changing their eating habits and dining locations. These adjustments can impact your gardens. Reduce the risk of damage by starting in fall to protect your landscape from hungry animals this winter. Take a walk around your landscape to evaluate plants and plantings for their susceptibility to animal damage. Look for pathways that animals use to access your landscape and areas of potential damage. Note new plantings, animal favorites and those special plantings you would hate to lose. Make sure these are protected. Check mulch around trees and shrubs. Deep layers of mulch and mulch piled around the trunk of trees and the base of shrubs provides shelter for mice and voles. These rodents like to gnaw on the bark of trees and shrubs in winter. Pull mulch off tree trunks and stems and spread out deep mulch so it is only two to four inches deep. Protect young trees and shrubs with a four-feet-tall fence of hardware cloth sunk several inches into the ground to prevent vole damage at ground level and most rabbit damage. Mature trees are usually only bothered during years where the vole and rabbit populations are high and food is scarce. Fencing around garden beds filled with animal favorites is another option. Make sure your fence is high enough, tight to the ground and gates are secure. You will need a four-feet-high fence for rabbits and at least five- to six-feet-high fence to keep deer out of small gardens. A fence of several strands of fishing line has proven to be successful for some gardeners. Repellents are another less obtrusive option. These use smell or taste to discourage animals from dining…

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Social Media Message

When Live Concerts go Silent

Social Media Message When Live Concerts go Silent By Ashley Rosson As I was driving home the other day listening to my Spotify news stream, the topic of live concerts and the pandemic came up in discussion. With most concerts cancelled until further notice, musicians are having to get creative, by streaming performances to stay connected with fans, and in some cases, bring in a little extra cash. Back in the day, I am saying 70’s, 80’s, and 90’s, concerts were mainly to promote an artist’s new album. Most artist’s made most of their money by selling said albums, but then in the late 90’s and early 2000’s we had programs such a Napster and Torrent, that allowed illegal downloads of albums. This eventually led to artists having to tour more and make the concerts their main sources of income. So now that this form of profit is no longer viable while the pandemic rages on, what is an artist to do? Live stream from their homes, either for free and sell merchandise, or charge for the viewing. However, a number of industry veterans say that this isn’t a viable long term replacement for in-person performances. Streaming would not be anywhere near as lucrative for big name performers such as Elton John, Garth Brooks, or the Jonas Brothers, who sell out venues with thousands of seats where tickets can average a couple hundred dollars apiece. Dave Brooks, Billboard’s senior director of touring and live, says, “I don’t think streaming will replace concerts, I think streaming performances will become a category of what artists offer their fans.” That can mean bigger name performers could charge, in addition to their live concert, for exclusive online access instead of VIP encounters. Brooks also believes that only a select few performers, mainly small indie…

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Pets, Places, & Things, Points on Pets

The Bird is the Word

The Bird is the Word The perennial question – whether dogs or cats are the more popular pet – continues.  In these times, however, more people are looking at other options including fish, smaller animals such as gerbils, guinea pigs and hamsters, and birds.  A 2017-2018 survey showed that out of a total of 393.3 million households, fish were the most popular pet (139.3 million), followed by cats (94.2 million), dogs (89.7 million), and birds (20.3 million). With school age children (and many adults!) now spending more and more time at home, and with boredom setting in quickly, smaller pets, usually requiring less maintenance, can help keep them occupied and teach them about science and nature, kindness, love, and compassion. Things to Consider Owning birds can be somewhat high maintenance and thus is not for everyone.  Before considering adding a bird to your household, one of the most important things to know is that they can be noisy.  What some see as musical and mellifluous, others may find annoying to say the least. If you are a neat-nik and overly concerned with tidiness, know that birds can be messy.  They waste a significant amount of their food and also enjoy throwing it out of their cage.  This is not from a desire to be obstreperous but rather due to an innate genetic trait; in the wild, these traits provide food for creatures on the ground below.  Fortunately, this type of mess is fairly easy to clean up and a cage skirt, which wraps around the cage and serves as a trap, can help. Birds are essentially wild, unlike most dogs and cats, and require handling and socialization each day in order to stay tame.  They do best with a reliable and structured routine, and some require hours of attention daily….

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Pets of the Month, Pets, Places, & Things

Pets of the Month- September 2020

Adopt by appointment at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria! Virtual and in-shelter appointments are available at Shnookums, Senior, Female, Red-Eared Slider Turtle Shnookums recently celebrated her 100th day at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, so our summer campers threw her a physically-distanced party to help her mark the occasion. They helped decorate, presented certificates and a specially commissioned portrait and brought treats of course! Shnookums can’t wait to celebrate with a family to call her own soon. Could it be you? Set up an adoption appointment and learn more about Shnookums at Lucy, Adult, Spayed Female, Brown Tabby Domestic Short Hair Lucy is as sweet and affectionate as her beautiful eyes are green. A little shy on first acquaintance, Lucy quickly turns into an outgoing love-bug who demands love and affection from all of her friends. She gets so excited at the thought of cuddle time that she begins kneading biscuits with not two but all four paws in her signature Lucy “happy dance”. Yes, it is as adorable to watch as it sounds. If you would like to see how excited Lucy is to meet you, set up an adoption appointment and view Lucy’s adoption profile at Bowser, Adult, Neutered Male, Brown and White Terrier Bowser’s big smile is infectious. You can’t look at his happy face and adorable, wagging tail without grinning yourself! Behind Bowser’s handsome smile is one smart brain, and he loves working on clicker training with his volunteer friends at the Animal Welfare League. Bowser has perfected his “sit” and can’t wait to learn more. When Bowser isn’t showing off his smarts, he loves cuddling with his friends. While you pet him under the chin, he even puts his paw on your arm. Belly rubs are also a particular favorite of this big ol’ love-bug. If you’re interested in meeting Bowser in-person or virtually, set up an…

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Grapevine & Vintner Profile, Wining & Dining

Wineries That Will Survive The Zombie Apocalypse

By Matthew Fitzsimmons Wineries That Will Survive The Zombie Apocalypse Planning for the Zombie Apocalypse has never been timelier. Not long ago, the idea that a mysterious contagion could sweep the United States and cause mass chaos seemed confined to works of fiction. But now…planning “What If” scenarios like “Where should I go when the zombie hordes are approaching” doesn’t seem so far-fetched. Many ideas on where to ride out the coming storm come to mind…most of them rather obvious. Should you shelter at a Walmart? No way – everyone else will be thinking the same thing. How about the local mall? Saw the movie – didn’t work out so well. Maybe a cabin in the middle of nowhere? Not a bad choice…but will your stockpile last? If you think carefully, there ARE other places fitting all the necessary survival criteria. Locations far enough from population centers but close enough for survivors to reach. Places surrounded by farms invaluable in a post-industrial world. Land located on hilltops that are naturally defensible. And most importantly – hideouts with cellars absolutely STOCKED with wine. In the Zombie Apocalypse, wine is a triple value-added proposition – safe to drink when water treatment plants fail, essential for team building, and easy to barter for other essentials. So naturally, the perfect place to survive is at a winery. To those familiar with the Virginia wine industry, this is hardly a surprise. As Scott Spelbring of Bluemont Vineyards explains, “The best vineyards have very specific criteria. You want a location with at least a 900-foot elevation to ensure your vines are above the frost line, rocky soil for good drainage, and a moderate slope that not only forces cold air to drop, makes it difficult for zombies to climb your hilltop bastion.” Doug Fabbioli of Fabbioli…

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On the Road, Pets, Places, & Things

On The Road-September 2020

The “Usual Suspects” were at it again just before the Corona virus hullabaloo came into place. Long time Old Town Crier readers and Alexandria residents, Marty Yeager, Michele Cumberland, Cathy & “Brad” Bradford and Lynne and Jack Rhoades were able to spend a week in Playa del Carmen in Old Mexico before the travel ban was put into place.  They tell us that they enjoyed a variety of delicious foods and beautiful beaches on top of having some great weather – all of which made for a very relaxing pre-Covid adventure. We love that they always take along the OTC on their treks. Photo caption: From left to right, Jack and Lynne Rhoades, Brad and Cathy Bradford, Michele Cumberland and Marty Yeager.

Pets, Places, & Things, Single Space

The Long and Winding Road to September

By Lori Welch Brown The Long and Winding Road to September I can’t wait for 2020 to be in our rearview mirrors, but I’m almost afraid of what lurks behind Door #2021.  This year has been a wild and crazy ride to our own backyards, testing facilities, Zoom meetings, etc.  Personally, it seems like the summer that wasn’t. Definitely not like the summers of our past. Road trips.  Farmer’s markets.  Parades.  Ice cream.  Hurry up—the fireworks are starting!  Fireflies.  Boating on the Chesapeake.  Summer concerts.  Sand castles.  Festivals.  Screen on the Green.  Blankets on the lawn.  Roller coasters.  Packed coolers.  Margaritas.  Jimmy Buffet.  Oysters.  Did anyone bring the OFF?  Lawn mowers, the smell of cut grass and mulch.  Blue crabs drenched in Old Bay.  We need more ice! Toes in the sand.  Summer camp.  Snow cones.  Tomato sandwiches. “When do the kids come home? I thought it was two weeks!” Waves.  Salt water.  Strawberries. Salt water taffy.  Burgers on the grill.  “I said rare!” Watermelon.  Corn on the cob.  Don’t forget the SPF 50!  Tropical drinks.  Sunsets.  Where’s the fly swatter? Definitely not the summer we imagined. Pandemic.  Quarantine.  Isolate. Better get to Costco!  Amazon, Amazon and more Amazon.  We need bleach! Cook, cook, cook.  Clean, clean, clean. I found TP—it’s coming from Australia!  Gloves. Rain. Social distancing.  Gloves are bad!  Empty the dishwasher.  We’re out of hand sanitizer. Political stupidity.  Where’s your mask? Uber eats.  George Floyd. You’re too close! It’s sooo hot!  Black Lives Matter.  More heat.  More humidity. There are no tests! More political stupidity.  Do the dishes!  The A/C isn’t working! Peaceful protests. His mask isn’t even covering his nose!  Why bother? Buy more TP.  A/C replaced. “What about the poor doctors and nurses?” More frickin’ rain. It’s still hot in here! Call the A/C guy! …

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