Archive for March, 2010

Show Biz: Fiddler, Weird Al Yankovic and Opera

March 22, 2010

The crowd begins filling the auditorium at Cape Henlopen High School for Sunday afternoon's production of Fiddler on the Roof.

March 22, 2010

Clear Space Productions finished their local run of Fiddler on the Roof in the auditorium of Cape Henlopen High School Sunday afternoon. Business Manager Jennifer Hayward said the production drew an audience totaling somewhere between 1,500 and 1,800 over its two-weekend run.  The show included 30 Cape Henlopen High School students who are taking part in the re-vitalized theatre arts program involving a partnership between the school district and Clear Space.  Students served  as actors and actresses, worked with set production and coordination and did a variety of other theatre-related tasks that are giving them real world professional theatre experience.

The production did an excellent job with the classic Fiddler musical.  Costumes, singing and dancing were top notch and the audience showed enthusiastic appreciation throughout and after the completion of the show.  Clear Space is taking the production next to the Schwartz Theatre in Dover.

Weird Al  Yankovic coming to town

Two other hot items of show business news: The Jefferson School will continue its annual comedy show fundraisers this year bringing musical satirist Weird Al Yankovic to the stage on Wednesday, June 16 in the Rehoboth Beach Convention Center. Weird Al comes on the heels of Joan Rivers who drew a packed house last summer and disappointed no one except the faint of heart and soul.  That show raised $43,000 for Jefferson and co-sponsor Camp Rehoboth.  Tickets for Weird Al will go on sale in mid-April for $45, $60 and $100. Co-recipients for this year’s proceeds will be WBOC television’s Bless Our Children School Supply Drive. For further information take a look at comedyatthebeach.org.

Opera star coming to Cape

The final touch of local show business is the planned concert by internationally acclaimed soprano Aprile Millo.  Millo is scheduled to take the stage at Cape Henlopen High School at 8 p.m. Friday, May 28 on Memorial Day weekend following a buffet dinner that starts at 6:30 p.m.  The concert is being sponsored by A Touch of Italy and Prudential Gallo Realtors.  Keep an eye on the Cape Gazette for further information about all of these organizations and events.

Kim King, Kim's daughter, Eddie Shockley and Tricia Ratner are coordinating plans for the Weird Al Yankovic show.

Watch out for hazards along the trail

March 22, 2010

Stumps along the Junction-Breakwater Trail between The Glade Road and West Rehoboth. Don't lose your balance in this area.

22 March 2010

Hiking and biking weather is back with us, hallelujah! Many people have been hitting the Junction and Breakwater Trail between Lewes and Rehoboth.  There were some seriously wet areas – big surprise – just east of the Wolfe Neck Road crossing.  Becky and I rode the trail Sunday and much of the water had drained and dried.  It looks like good work by parks employees opened drainage ditches alongside the trail which helped immensely.

One thing riders should be aware of and be careful about.  In the wooded section of the trail between The Glade Road and West Rehoboth, a number of small trees have been cut down, presumably to clear them away from the trail.  The problem is that the stumps of the trees have been left at a height of about a foot and when cut, the angle of the cut left a point on the stumps that no one would want to fall on. I know money’s tight and state employees are stretched thin, doing a lot with a little, but those stumps ought to be either removed or cut flush to the ground.  As it is, they’re a dangerous hazard.

On our ride to Rehoboth we passed a farmer disking his field.  The piece of ground is obviously well-drained and the soil looked good for another year of corn or beans.  I would guess the farmer will go with corn since there or so many deer in the area they could really do a number on soy beans.  On the way back from Rehoboth, just at dusk, we passed 13 deer in twos and threes and one herd of seven.  We also passed eight or ten houses under construction in the Hawks Eye and Breakwater developments along Gills Neck Road.

Foggy spring days a coastal specialty

March 17, 2010

Wind- and wave-carved tidal pools near the south end of the Boardwalk in Rehoboth Beach.

Wednesday, March17

It’s a sunny St. Patrick’s Day here along the coast and we are very lucky to be living here.  Coastal springs here in the Mid-Atlantic region tend to be cooler because of that great heat and cold sink lying beside us known as the Atlantic Ocean.  Of course it also gives us longer and warmer autumns.

A great thing about the springs here though is the fog that add another dimension to our weather. Cool moist fogs, especially enchanting at night when they add a ghostly feeling to our streets and countrysides, serve to keep buds and blossoms of spring fresh for a longer period of time.  They also make for atmospheric photographs.  Here are a few I made last week when we had a spell of foggy days and nights.

Rehoboth Beach Elementary School - on one of the prettiest spots in the resort.

The Buttery Restaurant in downtown Lewes - its decorative lights blazing in the March fog.

Low tech, boats and high interaction

March 10, 2010

Bob Kotowski, left, Bob Hyberg, center, Steve Rogers, on stool, and Jim Gent prepare to attach a keel skeg to the bottom of the Bevin's Skiff.

One of the pervasive complaints of the day is that all the technology, computers, smart phones, emails etc. are more and more isolating human beings and taking them out of social settings.  How about some situational awareness – getting to know the beautiful world in which we live?

Those who live along the coast often get to know the world better and interact with it by getting some kind of a boat, whether for fishing, canoeing, birdwatching , hunting, sailing, exploring or simply making their way between our coastal towns in a more relaxed and beautiful manner.  Lewes Historical Society is undertaking a great project that will allow people to get into some serious social interaction, get away from high technology and have a boat for exploring the local rivers, marshes, bays and – for the most adventurous – the biggest and baddest of them all – the mighty Atlantic.  Under the direction of people like Alex Sydnor – Beebe Medical Foundation director – and Rick Hoenen – carpenter, contractor and prolific boat builder – the society is growing a wooden boat program.  On Father’s Day weekend this year, June 18-20, people are invited to gather at the Canalfront Park in Lewes where they can join with several others in building their own boat.

Rick Hoenen, left, and Steve Rogers - ship model builder, artist and now, boat builder - discuss plans for the Bevin's Skiff.

The Bevin’s Skiff is a tough little rowboat vessel, twelve feet long, with an optional sail kit, that has been made available as a kit through the Alexandria Seaport Foundation. Last Sunday, a group of men worked in the Freddy Hudson building at the historical society complex.  They had the hull of their prototype vessel complete and were readying the keel skeg for attachment.

Sydnor said the goal of the project is to get a lot of people together to work on their own vessels, starting on Friday afternoon, and then completing work by Sunday and having a communal launching in the canal. Hoenen, looking over the plans, eyeballed modifications he thought would make the vessel better. Jim Gent, whose family I knew from my growing up days in Chestertown, showed me a ring nail that is used to fasten pieces of the vessel together.  The brassy-looking nail gets its name from the sharp rings around its shaft that give it better gripping power.  “They’re almost impossible to pull out,” Gent told me.

The men had an already-built skiff outside in the weekend sun for reference. It showed the substantial transom – a good two inches thick – that would easily handle a small outboard.  The vessel would be good for use in the canal and rivers and for fishing in  Roosevelt Inlet and the local bays on calm days. Replace a board now and then and keep the hardware in good shape and a wooden boat will last forever.

Things do come full-circle.  The Canalfront Park in Lewes is the site of one of earliest shipbuilding operations in the U.S. – predating the Revolutionary War, and also the site of one of the first African-American shipbuilding operations in the new world. For information about the Bevin’s Skiff build-in, contact the historical society at 645-7670.

Public art, litter and the Nassau bridge

March 4, 2010

Graffiti under the Nassau overpass

I enjoy public art and even graffiti when it doesn’t deface private property. Art therapists and social scientists would probably be able to tell me a lot about the artists who have been at work under the railroad overpass at Nassau.  I discovered their work while walking Thursday afternoon.  Obviously there have been some very busy artists.  Their work is colorful, bold and graphic in the usual graffiti style and I give the artists credit for choosing canvases primarily out of public view to practice their work.  What I do object to is the endless amount of trash and litter left beneath the overpass and all around the railroad tracks. Art is marked by beauty.  Trash is nasty. Soda bottles, beer bottles, plastic cigar tubes, spent cans of spray paint, candy wrappers.  It’s a mess.  It wouldn’t take much for a group of artists to take a break from their art and clean up the mess that continues to accumulate under the bridge.  Some day the tracks passing beneath Route 1 will be part of a rail trail leading from Lewes to Georgetown and bicyclists and walkers will help patrol for trash.  In the mean time the artists should do something else to make the world a more beautiful place by cleaning up the mess around their gallery.

Trash litters the hardscape beneath the Nassau overpass.

Delaware partisanship growing

Press releases that come into the Cape Gazette office often give clues to the political landscape. Usually when releases come in related to federal projects in Delaware, the entire federal delegation is usually included – our two U.S. senators and one U.S. Congressman.  Below is an exception that we’re liable to see more of.  It includes reference to our two senators but no reference to Congressman Mike Castle.  Castle has taken some heat lately for taking credit for stimulus-funded projects in Delaware eventhough he voted against the stimulus package when it was acted on in Washington. This time he was left out altogether.  Here’s the release, sent out from Sen. Ted Kaufman’s office:

WILMINGTON, Del. – Delaware officials commended the Department of Transportation (DelDOT) today for putting nearly $122 million in Recovery Act funds to work. DelDOT met the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act (ARRA) obligation deadline of March 2 and has funded 32 projects – 27 of which are currently underway.

“This is exactly what the Recovery Act was intended to do: fund vital projects and put people back to work,” said U.S. Senators Tom Carper and Ted Kaufman (D-Del.). “From paving roads to installing sidewalks to mitigating congestion on I-95, the Recovery Act has created jobs in Delaware. DelDOT has picked a great range and variety of projects that will enhance our infrastructure and maintain motorist and pedestrian safety.”

“The road to economic recovery includes getting people to work improving our roads,” said Governor Jack Markell. “We have been diligent but thoughtful about using the assistance offered by the federal government. We are investing in getting people to work now on infrastructure improvements whose benefits we will see for years.”

DelDOT has completed 12 projects and seven are expected to start in the next four to eight weeks. As of today, 97 percent of the projects that have been bid were below the engineer’s estimate – meaning that Delaware’s projects’ value outweighs the actual costs. DelDOT projects have created and-or retained more than 400 jobs as of Dec. 31, 2009.

“The American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding has helped spur investment in projects which would have taken much longer to fund, if at all, under the current economic conditions,” said DelDOT Secretary Carolann Wicks. “DelDOT’s intention was to be thoughtful about where the investments should be made and provide long-term impacts to transportation projects and economic development.”

Church goes on despite the blizzard

March 3, 2010

Here is the total congregation that turned out for the Sunday morning, Feb. 6 service at St. Peter's in Lewes following the Feb. 5 blizzard. They are (l-r) Libby Owen, Tracy Mulveney, Judy Egar, Laurel Fountain and her son, Flynn. Father Geoff fed his flock.

On Sunday, Feb. 6, the day after the first of the two early February blizzards choked Lewes and the rest of Sussex County, a handful of intrepid worshipers showed up nonetheless for the morning service at St. Peters in Lewes.  There were five in all and Father Geoff didn’t let them down.  I encountered them outside the church after the service and took the photograph shown above.  I didn’t get details on the service or the sermon but was nonetheless impressed by the faithful.

The scene reminded me of a story I heard many years ago about a cowboy who showed up at a mountainside church somewhere west of Denver following a similar storm.  The preacher and the cowboy were the only two standing outside the sanctuary when the appointed hour arrived for the service.  “Well, my friend,” said the preacher.  “It’s just you and me.  Do you think we should go ahead with the service?

The cowboy tipped his hat back on his head, scratched his grizzled beard and scuffed one of his boots while he considered the situation.  “I tell you what.  I guess if I went out into the pasture with a load of feed and only one cow showed up I’d still feed him.”  The preacher could hardly argue with that logic.  He ushered the cowboy into the church and sat him down in the front row where he could look out at the snow-capped peaks through the large window behind the pulpit.  The preacher then proceeded to open the service, read passages from the Bible, had the cowboy stand up and sit down a few times, and kneel a couple of times too.  They sang a couple of hymns together and then the preacher delivered the sermon he prepared.

After the benediction, the preacher and the cowboy walked out of the church.  “So,” asked the preacher, “what did you think of the service?” This time the cowboy didn’t have to consider much before answering.  “No offense Father, but if I went out to the pasture to feed the cows and only one showed up I would feed him, but I’m not so sure I’d give him the full load!”