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Stories of America

More than just a painter, Carol Dyer is a storyteller. The Maryland folk artist paints vivid stories of American life at the turn of the last century. Her new book, Album of American Traditions (Mystic Seaport, $50), available at Amazon.com, showcases 90 of her original folk-art paintings.

Divided into four parts, the book features an entire section on "Historic Annapolis: America's Sailing Capital," with colorful, detailed paintings of the Naval Academy, Main Street at Church Circle, Thomas Point, the Maryland State House and more. Other sections include "The Splendor of Washington, D.C.," "The Changing Seasons" and "Port Cities of America," which features a painting of "Old Baltimore Harbor, Maryland" (above), with the Camden Yards warehouse, Pride of Baltimore and Bromo Seltzer Tower.

For each painting, Dyer researched the locale's architectural details and modes of transportation, as well as the people, their dress, customs and daily activities, to depict accurately the stories of American life at the time. Brief descriptions and drawings from Dyer's sketchbook accompany each painting and offer insight into the artist's creative process.

To purchase limited-edition prints of Dyer's works, call 800-272-4498 or visit www.mysticseaport.org.

Building your own home theater

It's been a dream of yours to have your own home theater room. How you'd love to enjoy movies on your own big screen, with super surround sound. Or to have friends over for screening parties in your own private theater.

Well, stop dreaming, says the DIY Network. Tomorrow through Friday, at 7 p.m., the network airs the weeklong series Home Theater Workshop, which helps viewers create their ideal home theater system. Electronics guru Corey Greenberg, the host, leads a team of experts who explain the step-by-step planning and construction of a high-tech home theater. Viewers will learn about digital TV choices, where to place their big screen, speakers and seating for optimum effect, and even how to build walls, floors and ceilings for the best sound, and more.

Also, the Web site -- www. DIYnetwork.com -- will feature companion information, including instructions and photos from the show.

Safe chimney, happy house

The fire may be delightful, but remember that it can be dangerous. This winter, keep your fireplace and chimney properly maintained and cleaned to prevent hazards.

National home improvement expert Lou Manfredini offers these tips on keeping a safe fireplace:

Have your chimney and fireplace inspected and cleaned by a professional each year. Visit www.csia.org to find a certified chimney sweep.

Install a chimney cap to keep birds, other animals and debris from entering your chimney.

Before lighting a fire, be certain that the flue is open.

Repair or replace the flue if you feel cool air seeping in through the chimney.

Events

Learn about native plants at a meeting of the Maryland Native Plant Society, Greater Baltimore, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Irvine Nature Center, 8400 Greenspring Ave., Stevenson. Free. Call 410-366-9365 or visit www.mdflora.org.

See the exhibit Earth Fire and Water, a retrospective exhibit of works by Clare Romano, through Jan. 23 at the Washington Printmakers Gallery, 1732 Connecticut Ave. N.W., Washington. Pictured above is Romano's Grand Canyon, a 1975 collagraph. Call 202-332-7757.

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