Friday, October 28, 2011

Update on Ollie

The vet found a "mass" in the side of Ollie's colon while treating him today. They couldn't determine the extent of it nor whether it was just an irritated spot or something more sinister. He goes back on Monday for tests and a sample for biopsy. Right now, he's back at home behaving normally and enjoying what will be a diet of only the canned version of the new prescription food. (Yes, he will love that.) The problem manifests itself more when he's in the litter pan, and we'll wait and see how that goes.

Apologies to friends who are seeing double notices about Ollie, if they read here and on Facebook, where I have also posted. As things progress with Ollie, I might not share everything, but it is a situation in which we hope for the best and still must be ready for the worst. If I slow down or stop posting for a while, I'm taking care of my #1 Opera Cat.

The blog will stay in place for its collection of links to other blogs, music and art.

Saturday, October 15, 2011

a special new cat bed

He's over the pancreatitis and back to complaining about emptybowlitis. Thanks to the great people at Columbia Animal Hospital! He has really taken to an extra bed which I fashioned from an old quilt and towel when he was really sick, so we'll keep it in operation in a favorite spot overlooking the back garden.

And why not let him have that Ralph Lauren designer towel you weren't using any more? It looks much better on him!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

In Columbia: Bird Club Event and a New Garden

(and some Howard County history)

Two events in Columbia coming up, both free:

The Howard County Bird Club will have its first meeting and presentation at its new meeting place in the Robinson Nature Center this Thursday evening, October 13. The presentation will focus on Cape May, New Jersey. (Bird club members have sighted and photographed the Cape May warbler in Howard County -- see the site's photo gallery.) Social time begins at 7:30pm with meeting and presentation following at 8pm. I'm told that the Nature Center will lock its doors at 8:15pm, so late comers will miss the presentation. See the events page on the site for details.

Over the summer, a new garden has been developing at Kittamaqundi Community Church on Vantage Point Road. New plantings are getting established, but the Sacred Garden already looks quite picturesque nestled against a knoll in the field beside the church. I've been including it in my strolls around the neighborhood -- another nearby garden spot in addition to the grounds of Oakland Manor across the road. The Church is eager to share the garden with the community and will hold an open garden afternoon with refreshments and music on Sunday, October 16, 12 noon to 2pm.

We're surrounded by artifacts of history in our suburban community of condominiums and townhouses! Many neighbors are aware that Kittamaqundi Church occupies what was the carriage house or stable for Oakland. At the manor's recent 200th birthday celebration, more "secrets" of the manor were revealed in presentations and tours. Among them, I learned that the strip of asphalt running up the slope between the Church's new garden and one side of Waterbury Condominium, stopping just short of the sidewalk on Vantage Point Road, is the remnant of a path which connected what is now Route 29 to the estate house. Today, walkers make use of this remnant as a shortcut between sections of the neighborhood.


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Orchids at the Arboretum ~ Bonsai ~ Maple Walnut Cake

An unplanned trip to the National Arboretum yesterday led me to the National Capital Orchid Society's annual show happening this weekend in the Arboretum's Bonsai and Penjing Museum. Multiple gorgeous specimens in artful settings fill the museum's International Pavilion, which luckily is well-designed to allow visitors to walk along and view exhibits like this one. Some visitors were training serious photographic equipment on the flowers, but will their photographs capture the singular odor of orchids that filled the pavilion's air? Not a connoisseur myself, I was stunned nevertheless by the many varieties and noticed Cattleyas in colors I haven't seen before. (In art galleries and books, you might come across Hudson School painter Martin Johnson Heade's series of wild Cattleyas with humingbirds in South America.) A favorite of mine in the present exhibit is a "Coos Bay" variety of a Brassia species: I couldn't help thinking that this flower, so gorgeous and bizarre at the same time, might have been the inspiration for the aliens in Roland Emmerich's movie, "Independence Day".


Yesterday was one of those "make lemonade when life gives you lemons" kind of days for me. When I set out from home, I was headed for the National Mall in DC. No particular exhibit in the art galleries was in mind -- just a general exploration of a favorite place I have not seen for a while. Well, I was stymied again by Metro's progress. I'd checked the DC Metro site before leaving home, but the full significance of delays and detours on my intended route didn't sink in until I saw the signs posted on fare card machines at the Greenbelt station. (We understand that the track work is necessary after some serious problems in recent years.) Not in the mood for a longer trip and potential hassles, I decided to head for the National Arboretum, which was also due for a visit from me. The weather is so nice this weekend, after our long spell of rain and overcast skies, that whether I was wandering around the Mall or the Arboretum didn't really matter. It turned out that the Arboretum's roads near the main center are undergoing some progress, too, but signs and friendly guides on the optional roads made for easy navigation.

Once I park near the main center -- that is, the area of the Visitor's Center, the bonsai complex and the Capital Columns overlooking the huge central meadow -- I can cover a lot of Arboretum territory on foot before having to return to the car to tour other garden areas. I took in the orchid exhibit described above, as well as the permanent bonsai and penjing exhibit, and noticed developments around the Columns and nearby Fern Valley. We have a huge bonsai and penjing collection here, and it rewards repeated visits. Besides the Japanese and Chinese sections, there is a North American section and a greenhouse with tropical specimens. (Oh, my! There's a large white pine bonsai donated by the Japanese Imperial Family that was begun in the late 18th century.)


Continuing with the lemons-to-lemonade theme: My aborted Mall visit necessitated finding something to eat before I proceeded to the Arboretum. That led to fast food on US 1 in Beltsville, but while there I spotted Raulin's Bakery in a plaza just north of the Beltway. F. puskini appreciates the art of baking as much as any other art. Here in Howard County, for example, we have Touche Touchet in Columbia and Bonaparte at Savage Mill. I remembered buying from Raulin's some years ago and decided to visit while in the neighborhood. Among other items, I came away with a lovely maple walnut cake, Bundt-type. I'd had this item before and was happy to see it still available. There's still plenty of it today. Come on over, or I'll have to take it to the office!


Another reality of touring our nation's capital: I missed it, fortunately, but there was an incident at the Air and Space Museum yesterday afternoon.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Colored Pencil Exhibit in Rockville

The Colored Pencil Society of America has an exhibit at the Glenview Mansion's art gallery in Rockville this month.* Deborah Maklowski of Columbia's Artists' Gallery has a few of her own works in the exhibit. Fascinated by the detail and intricacy possible in this medium, I had to buy a small sample by Maklowski last year.

Maklowski's page at the Artists' Gallery

(Maklowski works in other mediums, too, and her plein air pastel blog is in my blog roll. Her blog has also been a good source for tips on places to visit in the area.)

*Note the Glenview gallery's hours in the link. No weekend hours?

Thursday, October 6, 2011

At Columbia Artists' Gallery: Horses, Horses, Horses, and a Few Sunflowers

One of Rana Geralis' paintings of equine subjects hangs in my home now. I was pleasantly surprised at the range of styles in which she paints mostly horses and ponies when I visited the Artists' Gallery near the Lakefront in Columbia Town Center today. Geralis is the featured artist this month, and the monthly reception is tomorrow evening (Friday, October 7). There are some stunning works of all kinds of horses and some sunflower subjects. Look for "The Hunters"! Even if you don't care for the sport, its surreal, almost abstract look with the red highlights of the riders' jackets has been getting some attention in the gallery.

Pictured here is "The Horse Race", part of this month's exhibit. My purchase, made two or three years ago, is a row of ponies done in the style of George Stubbs' thoroughbreds -- frieze-like against a solid buff background.

Artists' Gallery .... Rana Geralis' page

a note for Ollie's fans

I think Ollie, my cat and #1 Opera Cat, has some fans here, so I'd like to pass on that he seems to be getting better very quickly. I've come home from work before to find that he has had a bad day, but Monday was the scariest. (The rugs had a bad day, too. I threw away two small woven grass rugs. Nylon floor coverings fared much better.) We're not through this yet, and more tests and scans will be done at the vet next week, but he's eating again without getting sick and meeting me at the door when I come home, so things are looking brighter. I've even opted to stop giving him the painkiller to avoid certain side effects.

Cat lovers will understand the fuss I make here. This little guy follows me around the house when I'm home, and he is a constant companion and playful stalker. On the practical side, he has proven that he keeps the rodents at bay, if you must have the practical side. He's also great at parties! He turns 11 at the end of this month, and I've had him for 9 of his 11 years.

(Briefly, from previous post: Bowel disease and sensitivity to regular cat food has always been a problem. It's been worse lately, but we have him on even more special food now. This week, pancreatitis threw a wrench into the works.)

Monday, October 3, 2011

Looking after Ollie

He has had a reversal in his illness, and I'm taking him to the vet in the morning. Things were really looking better since the vet treated him last week, so I hope this is just a temporary setback.

///Update, afternoon of October 4: The treatments for Ollie's chronic bowel problem are doing their job. Meanwhile, today's vet visit indicates that he has developed pancreatitis. He's on some powerful painkiller until the ailment passes. He has had a little bit of food today without getting sick, and he's mainly resting but has moved around and talked to me a little.///