Thursday, September 29, 2011

sick opera cat

~~ Ollie, #1 Opera Cat on this blog, has been to the vet a couple of times recently. Inflammatory Bowel Disease which he has probably had all his life is getting worse. On the first visit, he had stopped eating by the time I took him in. This last time, he was acting fine but there were trouble signs in the litter pans, so I took him back before things got worse. An anti-inflammatory steroid shot reverses the IBD symptoms sharply for a while at least. Pills of the same medicine given at home might be necessary later. You just grab his head from behind, hold his lower jaw down with a finger, drop the pill down the V-shaped groove at the back of his tongue, blow lightly down his nostrils (not kidding!) and release him. Just like the vet does with him in the clinic. Easy. The nostril-blowing maneuver apparently discourages him from ejecting the pill. For now, we are gradually switching his food from the sensitive stomach formula I've been buying off the shelf to a prescription food from the vet clinic. It's supposed to be a gradual switch, but he seems to be relishing the pellets of the new food before he eats his old stuff. Except for that spell of not eating, which was an extra worry during the recent hurricane, the little rascal and love bug has been carrying on with his usual playing and antics. You wouldn't think anything was wrong with him until you saw his pitiful efforts in the pans.

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Howard County Bird Club and Robinson Nature Center

The Bird Club has been holding its regular meetings and presentations open to the public at various locations in Howard County for many years. It's taking up residence at the county's new Robinson Nature Center and will have it's first public presentation in the evening on October 13 -- slides and a talk focusing on Cape May by a speaker and birdwatching friend who will be very interesting to hear. has the details about this and other ornithological events.

If you have not seen the Robinson Nature Center, please visit! This will be one of the county's gems in the years to come -- a wild beauty spot, and the building itself is a fine piece of architecture even with its low profile on the site. A forest canopy and understorey exhibit with a handicapped-friendly walk wrapping around it from top to bottom looks like a kids-of-all-ages pleaser. There is a small admission fee, or you can get an annual membership. I'll have to return for the trail down to the Middle Patuxent River when this rain lets up. (I made a gallant attempt but had to turn back.)

We're very, very fortunate that the founders and organizers created this facility and preserved the surrounding slice of wilderness.

Robinson Nature Center


Friday, September 16, 2011

200th Birthday of Oakland Manor Celebrated, Saturday, Sept. 17

Walking tour part of Historic Oakland’s 200th birthday celebration

Columbia Archives and Howard County Historical Society partner to lead tour Barbara Kellner, director of the Columbia Archives, and Lauren McCormack, executive director of the Howard County Historical Society, will lead a walking tour of Historic Oakland and its environs as part of the Town Center Celebration of Historic Oakland’s 200th Birthday on Saturday, September 17. The free event, which begins with the tour at 11 a.m. and continues to 3 p.m., will also include a concert by the U.S. Army Field Band; a talk about Oakland by Ken Short, architectural historian of Howard County; period dance demonstrations;  hands-on games and toys that harken back to the 19th century; and light refreshments.Historic Oakland was built in 1811 by Charles Sterrett Ridgely.  It was one of the most elegant homes in the area when it was built.  Today it is a unique and elegant building in the middle of Columbia that has a rich history that includes ownership by prominent Maryland families in the 19th and early 20th centuries, and an equally interesting history as a community resource since being purchased by The Rouse Company for the development of Columbia.Kellner and McCormack will share the stage to bring alive the pre-Columbian and Columbian history as they lead a walk from Historic Oakland on Vantage Point Road to the historic structures on Hyla Brook Road that were all once part of the Oakland estate.Tour reservations are encouraged but not necessary.  For more information about the celebration, please contact Pat Loeber of the Town Center Community Association at 410-730-4744.  For information about the tour, please contact Barbara Kellner at or 410-715-3103.

Historic Oakland 200th Birthday Celebration
Saturday, September 17, 2011

Schedule of Events

11:00–11:30 a.m.              Tree Planting                     Rear Lawn                  

11:00 a.m.–12:30 p.m.      Walking Tour of Estate      Front Steps

11:00 a.m.–1:00 p.m.        Indoor Games                   Sterrett Room

11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.        Historic Displays              Foyer

11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.        Time Capsule         Foyer                                      

11:00 a.m.–3:00 p.m.        Oakland History Video      Ridgely Room

12:00–2:00 p.m.                Light Refreshments          Verandah

1:00–1:30 p.m.                  U.S. Army Field Band        Ballroom

1:00–3:00 p.m.                  Outdoor Games                Front Lawn

1:30–2:00 p.m.                  Architectural Presentation   Library

2:00–2:30 p.m.                  Dances From the 1800’s     Ballroom

Historic Oakland Manor
5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, MD 21044

Patricia B. Laidig
Village Manager
5430 Vantage Point Road, Columbia, MD 21044

(Notice and graphics copied from Columbia Town Center e-mail.)


Saturday, September 10, 2011

New Nature Center; Gardening

Joe Pye weed and black-eyed Susan beds along Lake Kittamaqundi. Butterflies' delight! (Taken a few summers ago -- this area is currently closed to the public and butterflies during the dredging and infrastructure work.)

The Robinson Nature Center has its grand opening today. I'm adding it to my list of Garden Spots.

This afternoon, I'll be at the previously mentioned Bay-Wise garden tour in Ellicott City organized by the Howard County Master Gardeners. (Reservations by e-mail were required.)

Another huge concert at the Post Pavilion takes place today. Town Center advisory warned us about the event traffic / traffic event. I've mapped my way out of Town Center to get to the Ellicott City area for the garden event.


Friday, September 9, 2011

A White Wine Perfect for Opera Cats

An Australian friend many years ago introduced me to sauvignon blancs from New Zealand's Marlborough wine region, and I've been a fan ever since. I like the crisp, slightly grassy flavor and pale greenish hue, though some descriptions mention fruit flavors. One I had at Clyde's here in Columbia a few weeks ago was as peachy as the menu description said and perhaps too peachy for me. (If it had been sold as something other than a sauvignon blanc, I might have liked it more!)

At the time in Australia, the one we were trying was Cloudy Bay's "sauv blanc". This would have been in 1987 or '88. My friend quoted an Aussie wine reviewer whose assessment (and she was admiring the wine) went something like this: "The bouquet reminds me of the gooseberry bush in the garden on a cold, frosty morning right after the cat has pissed on it."

Well, if that doesn't entice you, I don't know what will. Fortunately, Cloudy Bay is going strong still, and I just opened a chilled bottle of their 2009 sauv blanc found at the Perfect Pour in Howard County. (It has a screw top instead of a cork! Some good wines come with screw tops now.)

link to Cloudy Bay's site (There is a quick age check gateway where you enter birth date and country of residence before you get into the site.)

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Storm Stories

My little storm cloud is really a ray of sunshine.

~~ I heard William Byrd's Fitzwilliam Suite for brass on WBJC on the way home in today's rainy weather. I think they've played that one before. There's a slow, stately movement that really affects me, and I must get the recording.

~~ The whole beach cottage is gone. I spent a magical summer afternoon there a couple of years ago relaxing and watching dolphins out in the water. Irene's storm surge up the estuary on North Carolina's coast obliterated the cottage along with other houses on the shore. My folks arrived from town nearby after the storm expecting to find the pier gone, and the whole house had disappeared. Pieces are strewn around the woods behind the lot, but they don't want to investigate further until "snake season" is over. The loss seems more than severe property damage...Houses on stilts were not immune to the hurricane either. A neighbor in one such house found himself swimming for his life when the surge came up through the floor. He returned to rescue his dog and spent the next twelve hours in a small boat before the waters receded...Peacocks belonging to one of the residents some how knew to go to high ground before it was too late and were alive and well after Irene passed...Voices sometimes sounded fatigued and near to cracking when I talked to family over the phone last week. I'm heading down to see them soon.

~~ "Der Sturm" by Frank Martin is on its way to me in the mail.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Falling Trees Still a Hazard after Last Week's Storm?

I sent e-mail to Town Center, so they're aware of it. I heard the large tree fall and saw its top going down before I knew what was happening. This was while I was walking down Vantage Point Road in Columbia Town Center just before 4pm. It's in the strip of woods between the park on Vantage Point and Oakland Manor and the African American Museum. The tree is leaning against some smaller trees and still settling.

I'm guessing that the tree cracked near its base during the storm but didn't fall right away. This is a nice little safety hazard and further tree loss to worry about a week after Irene has passed by.


Howard County Scenery: Go West!


After celebrating upstate New York's scenery during my recent vacation, I was reminded that we have our own version of rural vistas with real rolling countryside here in Howard County. They're to be found mainly in the western part of the county -- so far, I've enjoyed them on drives down 144 west from 32, on my way to Sun Nurseries. I headed out that way twice this weekend while making a gardening decision, and I didn't mind having to do the second drive at all. (On the first drive, I also went as far as Lisbon before stopping at Sun Nurseries.) Many Hocoblog readers might already know this area, if they've been going to the Howard County Fairgrounds, the Howard County Conservancy or Sun Nurseries.

On my latest drives, I couldn't see much, if any, damage from last weekend's hurricane from the road, but there must have been some effect: Temporary signs along 144 advise local residents about place and time for picking up emergency water supplies.

Even closer to Columbia, not to be overlooked is some scenery along 108 between River Hill Garden Center in Clarksville and Lake Centennial. The Garden Center's parking lot enjoys a view of farm and woodland sloping away on the other side of the road. Further down 108, there's a patch that almost looks like an English country lane with large old trees separating the road from a sheep pasture. [Well, that stretch of 108 isn't quite as charming as I recall it, and the sheep pasture might have been switched to other purposes. It's a nice drive on the weekend, but the English country lane feeling is gone.]

Wildflower note for late July/early August: Stately stands of Joe Pye weed at peak bloom can be seen in a couple of places where 144 dips into dales where there are small streams or marshy areas. When you reach Sun Nurseries on Bushy Park Road off 144, you can buy your own Joe Pye weed!

My Joe Pye purchase will have to wait as I continue to develop the garden area where I might plant it. This weekend's garden project involved making sure that a problem area on my front patio would support a Hydrangea bush. After checking out the soil, I made the second trip to Sun to buy "Lady in Red", a Hydrangea macrophylla cultivar that will provide much foliage interest even when the plant is not in summer bloom.