Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Deck the Monument

Baltimore's Washington Monument in holiday finery. I strolled by the Monument on Sunday night on the way back to my car, after an afternoon of brunch at City Cafe, wandering around the Walters Art Museum and attending OperaBelle's wonderful recital at An die Musik.

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Cha Ya Cafe Expanding; Royal Taj

Cha Ya Cafe in the restaurant park on McGaw Road in Columbia is expanding into the space of the former Orinoco Coffee next door. I had dinner there last night, and the dividing wall is gone already as remodeling work progresses.

Also notice the pair of Siamese fighting fish bowls on the sushi counter. Fortunately, the bowls are on different levels so that the fierce little fish don't see each other all the time and can take a break from sparring.

Cha Ya is Japanese and Thai cuisine. On the other side of them is Royal Taj, Indian cuisine. Both restaurants have been great dining destinations, and I find myself heading to McGaw Road and parking while still trying to decide which one to visit.


Ollie is quite well...

I know that Ollie, my cat, has cancer, but he doesn't know that he has cancer. It's hard to believe that about a month ago it looked like he would be gone very soon and that right now daily doses of steroid and laxative are keeping him going. Lots of love and extra spoiling also help. Oh, and if we could have some sunny days now and then -- lounging in sunlight seems to have a therapeutic effect, but I should add that this cat likes watching snow, too.

He sleeps or snoozes more than he used to. On the other hand, he'll surprise me by suddenly clambering around atop the fridge and kitchen cabinets. Yesterday afternoon, I caught him tossing and bopping one of his toy mice around in a way I had not seen for a very long time, even long before the recent diagnosis.

I have let several musical events slip by while dealing with my own anxiety over leaving Ollie alone too much. This afternoon, I'm going to try a foray into Baltimore, brunch at City Cafe and a vocal recital at An die Musik. Or I might just stay home with him. I've learned that it's just as important to spend time with him on his good days as well as his bad days.

Monday, December 5, 2011

Welcome, Books-A-Million at Columbia Crossing!

Missing a late evening place to browse and buy, I've been checking out the Books-A-Million store that occupied the former Borders location in the Columbia Crossing shopping center. They're still getting established but they have been serving customers for quite a few weeks now. (Will there be a classical section in the CD department?) I've spotted a few former Borders employees, too. Customer traffic isn't very high so far, and I was amazed at how few there were last Saturday night.

I will resist buying a membership account for further discount on purchases. I don't want to put up with the extra e-mail from yet another store, and I've been getting mysterious e-mail from Barnes & Noble since Borders closed. (Stores: Just keep your prices down for everybody, and we'll come back!) BAM's prices seem to be a little lower than Borders' any way, though not as low as Daedalus.

I picked up "Aliens" in the DVD section for about $12. So far, the DVD department seems smaller than Borders', but I'm still very impressed by the selection of Criterion Collection titles. (Did they acquire a lot of Borders' stock?) BAM's Criterion prices are a little bit below Borders', not quite as low as what you can get on Amazon. Still, they have the recent release of "Island of Lost Souls", a promising sign for future browsing.

///What is going on with the parking lot lights in the section adjacent to BAM? They're all out, and they were like that when Borders was still there. There is some ambient light coming from other sections of the lot.///


Sunday, December 4, 2011

On the Lake: Drainage Ditch Turned Garden Spot

Over the past few weeks, a landscaping crew has been turning this formerly brush-choked drainage ditch into a new garden spot on the path around Lake Kittamaqundi. This is the ditch that runs from the side of the Columbia Sheraton into the Lake. (All of the slabs of rock along the sides and top of the ditch are new.) Work is still in progress, and more small trees are being planted nearby, but this project certainly adds to Columbia's garden city look.


Update on Ollie, #1 Opera Cat

I make these posts about Ollie, because they help me and they might help someone else whose beloved pet has cancer. I'm not saying that what we're doing for Ollie will work for every cat -- you must consult with your vet -- but I'm saying it's possible to keep your companion quite comfortable and happy for a while if you try things suggested by your vet.

About a month ago, after he had been displaying horrible symptoms, the vets found a lymphoma tumor in Ollie's colon. Prognosis was awful. It seemed that he would be gone very soon. After agonizing over potential chemotherapy in Annapolis, I took a less stressful, simpler route with heavy consultations with Ollie's regular vet. Prednisalone (a steroid sometimes called poor man's chemo by the vets), laxative (Miralax from a regular drug store in this case) and prescription i/d canned food have kept the disease under control for the time being after a couple of mishaps and one emergency vet visit. Hypoallergenic pill pockets and safe treats (pellets of the dry version of the i/d, though Ollie needs mostly the canned food to help his bowels) also help, and lots of love and spoiling. Lots of lap time.

Vets are reluctant to update his vaccines, because the cancer and/or current medicine compromises his immune system. Although his new boarding place can handle medical problems, I decided not to board him at the busy holiday time of year and canceled a trip to see family. We might try later, if his present state of wellness continues.

Ollie always had inflammatory bowel disease, IBD, which predisposed him to some kind of gastrointestinal cancer. I had hoped that the Science Diet Sensitive Stomach bought off the shelf at the pet store would protect him. It certainly was better than regular cat food, but we still had to switch to prescription food bought at the vet this fall. Fortunately, he loves the new canned food, something he could not have before. Lately I find that an empty pill pocket or a few pellets of the dry food pushed into the top of the wet food mound might be needed to encourage him to eat it. That was a remedy when his appetite was down a week or two ago, but now I think he expects the tasty garnish on top.

A month later, Ollie seems to be more like a happy old cat with an inconvenient disease. In some ways, he's even healthier than he was before the cancer was found. I don't know if this will go on for just a few weeks or months or if I can hope that he will live longer. We're just having one big party while he feels well and watching for signs of trouble.

(The "Ollie is your host" label will take you to photos recent and older.)