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My beautiful wife always has a few tough nights this time of year, and not just because of Monday night football. (“Joel, can you pick up some milk tomorrow?” “… Some? … OH, SHOOT!” “Joel!” “Honey, it’s third down!”).

It’s the time of year when all the little critters are moving about frantically, stuffing their little rodentine and/or lagomorphic faces with seeds and berries to prepare for the harsh winter ahead.

The trouble with their strategy is that the various birds of prey and assorted ground-bound predators also are trying to stuff their faces, but their chosen provender is the rodents and lagomorphs (and the odd marsupial), which is where Chez Davis comes in.

Every fall, a full moon coincides with some of the first cold weather, stirring the little rustling beasties to new heights of activity and spotlighting them in the bright moonlight to the delectation of local carnivores.

Fred, an extremely well-fed and self-satisfied orange cat, has somehow divined this and, in a minor miracle of domestic animal cognition, manages to remember it, or at least recognize it every year.

So for a couple of nights, sometimes more depending on the cloud cover, he is AWOL from the nightly treat distribution that my beautiful wife uses to bribe their furry little butts inside.

You see the problem for the loving pet owner. Fred is outside tracking down the neighborhood voles, mice and shrews (and, I hope, the occasional Purina-fed rat from under the chicken coop), while the neighborhood owls, foxes and coyotes are, potentially, tracking Fred. She really didn’t like it when that bear ambled through the region a while back.

And this Fred is no ordinary cat. No aloof affect and imperious manners for him. Fred is a cuddly cat who loves laps and long petting sessions and, above all, my beautiful wife.

As things break down in the pet world, each animal generally has a favorite human. For instance, the Worthless Dogs are mine, which is gratifying and aggravating in about equal measure. They clearly look up to me as a superior being, obeying me better than they obey the other primates and organizing their social structure around me when I’m there.

It’s nice for the ego, but the downside is they follow me around everywhere when I’m home, a shaggy, smelly, deeply stupid entourage, constantly in the way. If I pat one, I must pat them all. If one gets a treat, all must get a treat. To throw the ball for one is to throw the ball for them all.

This makes the farm chores interesting at times, as when I was fixing the lawn mower (broken timing belt, curse the stupid thing for wasting my $80 and half a day) and they would decide at random intervals that what I really needed was not smaller hands and better mechanical skills, but a cold, wet nose on the back of my neck.

They back off a little bit if operating power equipment is part of the plan but hover along a safe perimeter, ready at any moment to dash in and lick my face wildly should I need emergency affection.

Fred is my beautiful wife’s, occupying her lap whenever she is seated (she puts her foot down when we’re eating dinner) and settling down nightly for a long snuggle as close to her as he can get, pushing me away gently with extended claws if I get too close and purring loudly with a look on his face that would be intolerably smug if a human wore it.

So when he disappears for his moonlit autumnal hunting excursions, she worries, starts at any animal noise from outside and is generally nervous until he saunters in in the morning to spurn his bowl of byproducts and nurse his swollen belly on the couch until the moon rises again.

Sandy donations needed

A Waldorf mail carrier and her colleagues are collecting much-needed items for victims of Hurricane Sandy in New York and New Jersey.

Donations can be dropped off at the Waldorf Post Office on Paul Mellon Court. Items can be picked up from those who cannot drive to the office.

Among the items needed are diapers; baby formula; nonperishable food; school supplies; feminine hygiene products; nonperishable fruit juice; over-the-counter medication like Pepto-Bismol, Advil and Neosporin; new underwear for men, women and children; toiletries; towels; water; disposable charcoal grills and charcoal; pet supplies and food; first aid kits; battery-operated radios; flashlights and batteries; paper cups and napkins; plastic utensils, duct tape; matches; plastic Ziploc bags; personal care items, plastic tarps; portable generators; freshly laundered clothes (especially for babies and children); coats, sweaters; shoes; sleeping bags and blankets.

For more information, email ebriscoe@netbusiness.com.

Men’s ministry training scheduled

South Potomac Church will host a training opportunity for men’s ministry leaders titled “Reaching Every Man” from 9 a.m. to noon Nov. 17 at the church at 4915 Crain Highway in White Plains.

Cost is $29 or $25 each for a group of three or more.

Those interested in starting a men’s ministry at a church or who just want more tools to improve a ministry should plan to attend.

Call 970 988-0440 or 301 392-5730.

Online credit card payments available for library users

Public library users in Southern Maryland now have the ability to pay library bills online using a new service provided by the Southern Maryland Regional Library Association.

Library bills can be paid securely online using any major credit card through PayPal, a business that makes it easier to pay for things on the Internet.

Sharan Marshall, regional library director, said public libraries in Charles and St. Mary’s counties already are accepting credit card payments in their branches. “However,” she said in a news release, “This new service will simplify bill paying for many people in the community.”

To pay a library bill online, users go to the “Fines” tab under “My Account” through their library website. Fines must be paid in full no partial payments will be accepted. There is a $5 minimum payment.

Contact the Charles County Public Library at 301-934-9001 or ccplonline.org.

New library schedules writers’ workshop

The newly opened Waldorf West library will host a free creative writers workshop with Yvonne Medley from 3 to 5 p.m. Nov. 17 at the library at 10405 O’Donnell Place in Waldorf.

The drop-in session for teens and adults will teach attendees how to develop a story, put flesh on characters and add real life to a plot.

Bring at least two pages of a current project, or a synopsis or query letter.

A capella group to sing carols

Patuxent Voices, Southern Maryland’s premiere women’s a cappella group, will perform Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols followed by a selection of holiday favorites at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 14 at All Saints Episcopal Church in Sunderland; 7:30 p.m. Dec. 15 at Middleham St. Peter’s Parish Hall in Lusby; and 3 p.m. Dec. 16, at Trinity Church, St. Mary’s College of Maryland in St. Mary’s City.

There is no admission charge, but donations are welcome.

A Ceremony of Carols is a choral piece for treble voices and harp written in 1942. The piece consists of 11 songs or movements that tell the Christmas story.

The second half of the performance blends beloved carols with sentimental favorites like “I’ll Be Home for Christmas.”

Patuxent Voices has been singing since 2004, started by friends who love to sing unaccompanied.

Go to www.patuxentvoices.org.

Classical concert planned

The music department of St. Mary’s College of Maryland will host an afternoon of classical performances at 4 p.m. Nov. 17 at Great Mills High School at 21130 Great Mills Road.

The concert will start at 4 p.m. and is free and open to the public.

Directed by St. Mary’s College music faculty Larry Vote and Jeffrey Silberschlag, guests will hear performances of Tchaikovsky’s “Overture Fantasy to Romeo and Juliet,” Franz Schubert’s “Magnificat,” Johannes Brahms’ “Shicksaslied,” and Beethoven’s “Symphony No. 7.”

MSP planning another safety seat check

Maryland State Police will sponsor a free child safety seat check from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dec. 1 in the parking lot of the Walmart on Drury Drive in La Plata.

According to Sgt. Melanie Harvey of the MSP La Plata barrack, a similar event Oct. 27 was a success, so another seat check is being held.

A certified technician will be on hand to make sure seats are properly installed and that parents are using an appropriate seat. Harvey suggests that, if possible, participants bring the child seat manual and vehicle’s owner’s manual.

She can be reached at 301-392-1241 or Melanie.harvey@maryland.gov.

LifeStyles plans tribute to Harty

Dana J. Harty, program director for the La Plata nonprofit LifeStyles of Maryland, died unexpectedly April 4.

In honor of his upcoming 50th birthday, which would have been Nov. 26, the Harty family and LifeStyles will host a clothing giveaway and reception from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Nov. 24 at LifeStyles’ offices at 612 E. Charles St. in La Plata. The event will remember Harty and the work he contributed to the community, according to a LifeStyles news release. Call Corae Young: 301-609-9900.

‘Gloria,’ sing-along ‘Messiah’ at college

COSMIC Symphony and the Chesapeake Choral Arts Society are collaborating to perform Poulenc’s “Gloria” and a sing-along of Handel’s “Messiah” at 3:30 p.m. Dec. 9 in the fine arts building at the La Plata campus of the College of Southern Maryland at 8730 Mitchell Road.

Buy tickets online at www.chesapeakechoral.com or call 301-642-0594. Cash or check only at the door. Tickets are adults, $15; seniors, military, youth in high school and younger, $12.

Contact bxoffc@csmd.edu or 301-934-7828.

College offers discounts on fall performances

Catch all five College of Southern Maryland fall student ensemble fall performances for $15 for all ages. All performances are at 8 p.m. in the fine arts building theater on the La Plata campus at 8730 Mitchell Road.

On Nov. 30, CSM’s barbershop chorus Southern Mix, under the new directorship of Paul Douglass, presents “Winter in Barbershop Harmony,” an evening of traditional and winter barbershop favorites featuring members of local public school a cappella ensembles.

On Dec. 3, CSM’s Dance Ensemble presents “Memories of the Seasons” as members dance a medley of contemporary and classical dances with music spanning the fall and winter seasons and the holidays contained within. The choreography will focus on gifts, dolls and other toys. Audience members are encouraged to bring a toy donation for the Children’s Aid Society.

On Dec. 6, CSM’s Chorale, under the new directorship of Krystal McCoy, presents “Music of the Season” featuring lush arrangements of famous lullabies, jazzy arrangements of seasonal favorites and excerpts from “A Charlie Brown Christmas.”.

On Dec. 7, CSM’s jazz ensemble Solid Brass, presents “A Cool Christmas Concert: A Big Band Holiday Celebration” featuring performances of holiday jazz and classic big band numbers.

And on Dec. 8, CSM’s Latin Ensemble, Ritmo Caché, presents “Musica Caliente! An Evening of Latin Pop” featuring music by Selena, Eddie Palmieri, Rubén Blades and other Latin pop stars, and a new song by Southern Maryland composer Brian Scott. The concert will also feature the debut performances of the Ritmo Caché Combo and Conjunto.

Contact bxoffc@csmd.edu or 301-934-7828.