The Howard County Garden Club has 37 active members, including its president, Laura Warfield, who spent more than 30 years in health care before retiring and focusing on creating gardens. “Gardens help with healing...When I retired, I wanted to continue to provide service in health care, which is near and dear to my heart, only in a different capacity. We were honored to have the opportunity to redesign the entry gardens because the hospital is such an integral part of our community,” she said.

The Howard County Garden Club plants a garden in front of Howard County General Hospital. “Gardens help with healing…When I retired (from health care), I wanted to continue to provide service in health care, only in a different capacity,” said Garden Club President Laura Warfield.

Howard County Garden Club creates a “Circles of Healing Garden” as its gift to HCGH

Gardens are places of nourishment – for both the body and soul. We plant vegetable gardens for the joy and health benefits of growing our own food, and flower gardens for the aesthetic joy they bring to our lives.

But gardens can also have healing properties. Sitting quietly in or by a garden is a form of meditation. In fact, the March 1, 2014 issue of Scientific American noted that, “Studies show that just three to five minutes spent looking at a view dominated by trees, flowers or water can begin to reduce anger, anxiety and pain and to induce relaxation.”

With that in mind, in June, the Howard County Garden Club installed a beautiful new garden at the entrance of HCGH with the theme “Circles of Healing.” The garden includes an array of flowers that bloom throughout the year arranged in a circular design. There are 158 plants of 12 different species designed to provide color and interest throughout the seasons.

The Howard County Garden Club, originally established in 1932, today has 37 active members, including its president, Laura Warfield, who spent more than 30 years in the field of health care before retiring to focus more of her energy on creating gardens. “Gardens help with healing, and this garden will be welcoming to people as they arrive at the hospital at what could be a stressful time. When I retired, I wanted to continue to provide service in health care, which is near and dear to my heart, only in a different capacity. We were honored to have the opportunity to redesign the entry gardens because the hospital is such an integral part of our community,” said Warfield.
There are many kinds of gardens being included in health care settings today, including nursing homes, continuing care communities and hospice facilities. Therapeutic, meditation, restorative and other kinds of gardens have specific elements and definitions. The American Society of Landscape Architects said the following about gardens and their healing properties, “A healing garden is a somewhat vague term lacking precise design implications, but its purpose is to support generalized healing by helping patients become healthful, well and whole. A meditation garden is likely to encourage inwardly-focused attention for the purpose of deepening personal knowledge and attaining peace with oneself. A contemplation garden provides an ambience conducive to examining issues beyond and/or larger than oneself in a thoughtful, deliberate, perhaps religious or mystical way.”

Each year, the Howard County Garden Club raises funds to provide a garden to a local organization. This year, in addition to Howard County General Hospital, the club installed the Enchanted Garden at the Miller Branch of the Howard County Library in Ellicott City—a sustainable, community-based teaching garden with an emphasis on healthy eating. The Enchanted Garden was a natural fit for a partnership between the hospital and the library, and the Well & Wise blog project was created to promote healthy choices for residents of Howard County, with the Well & Wise blog as its first component.

The next time you visit HCGH, stop by our “Circles of Healing” garden at the main entrance and enjoy a few minutes of reflection on the healing gifts of nature.


read more

groundbreaking food gardensI hope you have gotten some great produce from your garden this summer. Our garden is beginning to wind down, as yours probably is unless you have made great plans for a fall garden. This is actually a good time to begin thinking about next year’s garden! Now, when your “failures” (no, scratch that) “disappointments” are decomposing in the compost heap, is a good time to record what you would do differently. Do you really want your bean plants that close together? Your carrots that far apart? And what a disappointment that new variety of tomato was! Now, the good variety—let’s save some seeds!

It apparently is a good time to introduce new books on vegetable gardening as well. Here are some shiny new additions to Howard County Library System‘s shelves.

timber guideTimber Press has published several guides to gardening with advice specific to the climates of various parts of the U.S.–the Pacific Northwest, the Mountain States, the Northeast, and, luckily for us, the Southeast. The Timber Press Guide to Vegetable Gardening in the Southeast (2013) is by Ira Wallace of Southern Exposure Seed Exchange. I was happy to see her association with a seed exchange group since the gardener at my house is looking for advice on saving seeds from the best of our tomatoes. I really like the organization of this book. After a brief introduction to our climate, we have Gardening 101, and a section on garden planning. Following these are chapters for each month, covering “To do this Month,” what to “Plan, Prepare, and Maintain,” what to “Sow and Plant,” and “Fresh Harvest.” Each month is closed with a “Skill Set” project like staking or drip irrigation or starting a compost heap. The final 50 pages are an alphabetical guide to “Edibles A to Z.” There are some gems of advice in here—I want it for my home bookshelf!

Jean-Martin Fortier, in his The Market Gardener: a Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming (2014), demonstrates how a “micro-farm” of only one and a half acres can produce enough to feed 200 families in their CSA (Community Supported Agriculture), in Canada, no less! In their 10 years at the business Fortier and his wife have developed some clever techniques and devised special equipment, shared here in clear line drawings. His chapters on pests, starting seeds, fertilizing, and more are enhanced with sidebars giving tips and advice. In spite of the author’s Canadian home-base—cooler by far than our climate—very little of his advice would not be useful in Maryland!

Do you like to browse through magazines to see how other peoples houses look inside? Do you like to see how beautiful their gardens look and long to replicate their successes? Take a look at Niki Jabbour’s Groundbreaking Food Gardens: 73 Plans That Will Change the Way You Grow Your Garden (2014). The gardens vary from “Wildlife Friendly” to “Critter Control,” from “Eggs and Everything,” built around a chicken coop, to the “Edible Campus” planted between buildings at McGill University. You won’t find gorgeous photos here, but colored sketches that I find more instructive. There is truly something for every gardener in these 250 pages.

year-round vegetable gardnerNiki Jabbour’s previous book, The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener (2011), is a similarly useful guide, especially for the gardener who does not want a break from planting and harvesting. She promises to show “how to grow your own food 365 days a year no matter where you live.”

Josie Jeffery’s new book, The Mix & Match Guide to Companion Planting, promised great things— “an easy organic way to deter pests, prevent disease, improve flavor, and increase yields in your vegetable garden,” but was a mild disappointment to me. I really liked the short introductory chapters, but got lost trying to use the colored dots to mix and match the strips (three to a page) that represent the central crops, aboveground companions, and belowground companions. Maybe with a little more study I could appreciate it more, but it seemed like too much work. Still it’s a useful directory of plants—and pretty to look at!

Maybe these garden planning books will help you decide to become a year-round gardener—or just a better summer gardener! Good luck!

Barbara Cornell joined the Howard County Library System in 1993 as Assistant Branch Manager at the new Elkridge Branch. Since 2000 she has enjoyed a shorter commute to the Glenwood Branch.

read more

calendar_2014smMonday, Oct. 20, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Monday, Oct. 20, 3:30 p.m. Superfoods at Miller. Some foods promote health and longevity better than others. Licensed nutritionist Karen Basinger names these powerhouses and how to best use them. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 9 to 11:30 a.m. Diabetes Screening & BMI. Free. Held in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Meet with an RN for a glucose blood test, BMI measurement and weight management information. Immediate resu­lts. Fasting eight hours prior recommended.

Tuesday, Oct. 21, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Choose Your Pediatrician and Promote Your Newborn’s Health. Free. Held in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Learn factors to consider and questions to ask when choosing your pediatrician and ways you can promote your newborn’s health. Presented by Dana Wollney, M.D.

Thursday, Oct. 23, 7 to 9 p.m. Get Moving Again: Total Joint Replacement. Held in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Free. Learn about total hip and knee surgery from health care professionals, past patients of our Joint Academy and Richard Kinnard, M.D.

Monday, Oct. 27, 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Adult, Child and Infant CPR/AED in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Cost is $55. This course will teach the skills needed to clear an airway obstruction, perform cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR), and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED).


read more

pumpkinThe crisp cool temperatures, the gradual appearance of colored hues in the vegetation, and the leaves falling one by one in their choreographed descent, are all signs that autumn is officially upon us.  In addition, there are your traditional celebratory markers of the season’s arrival, such as hayrides, Halloween stuff everywhere, and (of course) pumpkins galore! There are plenty pumpkin patches ready to be explored, pumpkins being sold for carving and decorating, pumpkin drinks, pumpkin deserts, and pumpkin dishes.  Coincidentally, pumpkins begin to ripen in September, which makes them readily available through fall and winter.  And though, we primarily associate pumpkins with Fall and Halloween, we should also begin associating them with healthy eating (if we don’t already).

nutritional healingPumpkins aren’t simply great as porch decorations, or for adding seasonal flavor to your beverage of choice.  Pumpkins are vegetables rich in antioxidants and vitamins (particularly vitamin A), and low in calories.  On October 5, 2014, the Huffington Post published an article titled 8 Impressive Health Benefits of Pumpkin, which notably mentioned some of the many healthy reasons we should all be incorporating more pumpkin into our diet.  The health benefits listed in the article include keeping eyesight sharp, aiding in weight lost, promoting heart health with pumpkin seeds, reducing cancer risk, protecting the skin, boosting one’s mood, post-workout recovery, and boosting the immune system.  Each of these benefits may come as no surprise due to the high level of antioxidants, vitamin A, vitamin C, and vitamin E found in pumpkins.

According to the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute website, antioxidants are “chemicals that block the activity of other chemicals known as free radicals.  Free radicals are highly reactive and have the potential to cause damage to cells, including damage that may lead to cancer.”  While the body does naturally produce internal antioxidants known as endogenous antioxidants, it also relies on external antioxidants known as dietary antioxidants found in the foods we eat.

functional foodieBalch’s Prescription for Nutritional Healing touts the importance of vitamin A; as one of the types of dietary antioxidants, which promotes eye health, enhances immunity, maintains and repairs epithelial tissue, and protects against colds and infections, guards against heart disease and stroke, and lowers cholesterol levels.  And in Nix’s The Functional Foodie we learn that some of the many antioxidant carotenoids found in pumpkins include beta-carotene (a precursor of vitamin A), beta-cryptoxanthin, lutein, and zeaxanthin.  Balch further explains that carotenoids, a class of phytochemicals, are fat-soluble pigments found in yellow, red, green, and orange vegetable and fruits; they have the ability to act as anticancer agents, decrease the risk of cataracts and age-related macular degeneration, and inhibit heart disease.  One of the most commonly known carotenoids, beta-carotene, can be converted into vitamin A, and is therefore one of the main sources of dietary vitamin A.

Pumpkins are being sold in many places this time of year, and are plentiful in locally grown pumpkin patches right here in Howard County, such as Clark’s Elioak Farm in Ellicott City, and Gorman Farm.  So whether you make it to a patch or your grocery store, get yourself a pumpkin and start reaping the health benefits that pumpkins have in store.

When Jinelee De Souza isn’t channeling her inner super-heroine at Howard County Library System as an Instructor & Research Specialist, she’s doing so at the gym, during impromptu photoshoots with her bff, and everywhere in between.

read more
Even though all women are at risk for gynecologic cancers, the risk can be lowered, and treatments work best when these cancers are found early.
Margot Watson, M.D.

Margot Watson, M.D., chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at HCGH.

Uterine Cancer
Uterine cancer is the most common cancer of the female genital tract, and 2.6 percent of U.S. women will develop uterine cancer in their lifetime. “It often is caught early and usually has a high cure rate because most women have an early warning sign of abnormal bleeding or bleeding after menopause,” says Margot Watson, M.D., chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at HCGH. “Women are encouraged to see their gynecologist promptly if they experience heavy or irregular bleeding or, most especially, any bleeding – even spotting – after one year of not having periods.” Long-term use of birth control pills and the levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (IUD) can greatly lessen the risk of uterine cancer.

The strongest risk factors for uterine cancer include being over 50, obesity, never having had children, previous use of Tamoxifen or a long history of irregular menstrual cycles.

Cervical Cancer
Cervical cancer is the only gynecologic cancer for which there is an effective screening test: the Pap smear. It also is highly curable when found and treated early. The human papillomavirus (HPV), which is a sexually transmitted infection, causes cervical cancer. Eighty percent of sexually active adults will acquire HPV by age 50. HPV also causes cancer of the anus, vagina, vulva, penis and many oral cancers; however, there are two vaccines available (Gardasil and Cervarix) which lessen the risk of developing cervical cancer.

“All young people, both boys and girls, should be vaccinated against HPV at age 11 or 12, the ages at which they get the best immune response,” says Dr. Watson. “It is a great advance in medicine that we have a vaccine that lessens the risk of several types of cancer.”

Regardless of sexual activity, women should have their first gynecologist visit at age 15, and Pap smears should begin at age 21. From ages 21-30, women should have yearly gynecological exams and Pap smears every three years if normal. From ages 30-65, women should have yearly exams and Pap smears with HPV testing every five years if their Pap smears are normal.

Ovarian Cancer
About 90 percent of women who get ovarian cancer are older than 40, and the greatest incidence occurs in women over 60. Risk factors are obesity, never having had children and a strong family history of breast or ovarian cancer.

Unfortunately, there is no effective screening test for ovarian cancer, and it is difficult to detect in the early stages. Some women do present with symptoms such as abdominal swelling or bloating (due to a mass or a buildup of fluid), pelvic pressure or abdominal pain, difficulty eating or feeling full quickly and/or urinary symptoms (having to go urgently or often). Birth control pills and tubal ligation greatly lessen the risk of ovarian cancer.


read more

Published by First Second in 2013, Lucy Knisley’s graphic novel Relish is full of tips, tricks, and little tidbits about food, while still managing to tell an interesting and relatable story about her life.relish

In this memoir of her life growing up surrounded by and enjoying food, Knisley describes seminal memories she attaches to different cuisine. Many of her stories are funny, some are poignant, and some are a little sad – but all of them involve eating, selling, and living alongside food and cooking. Each chapter is followed by a recipe – all of which sound delicious and are broken down enough that even I could cook them. There’s a lot of variety in the included recipes, extending from huevos rancheros to sushi to the best chocolate chip cookies. I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention Knisley’s bright, colorful, and clear style that’s simply entertaining to look at and read through. It’s fully colored, very bright, and eye catching. The cartoony figures fit in perfectly and the food is only a little simplified and very easy to understand. I wouldn’t expect drawings of food to be as enticing as photos in a fancy cookbook, but Knisley does an excellent job taking advantage of the medium.

In chapter 8, “The apple doesn’t fall far from the cheese”, Knisley explains how her mother worked at the cheese counter of a gourmet food shop in New York City. Knisley eventually followed in her mother’s footsteps, working at the cheese counter of a gourmet store in Chicago after graduating from art school. The chapter closes with “A second-generation cheerful cheesemonger’s Cheese Cheat Sheet”, which veritably explodes with as many cheese facts as can be fit into a two page spread. This page also contains my favorite fact from this book – one that made my lactose intolerant husband very happy – “Aging cheeses breaks down lactose, so most aged cheeses can be eaten by lactose intolerants!” I think he now thanks Lucy Knisley quietly every time he enjoys a delicious slice of extra sharp cheddar.

Relish is all at once a memoir, a graphic novel, and a cookbook, and it does a nice job at all three. Knisley has a very pleasing style of both writing and drawing, making her work very accessible and enjoyable. Plus, her stories are just fun to read and her experiences and feelings are very relatable, even if you didn’t grow up surrounded by gourmet food.

Jessica Seipel is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She has worked for the Howard County Library System, in various positions, for a decade.

hocoblogs@@@


read more

2496308570_c4245a2d4b_zI recently had an experience that tested the popular British mantra: “Keep calm and carry on.” What happened? I was trapped in an elevator.

It’s not the first time, I’m afraid. I have a history with elevators. But it has been several years since I was last involuntarily trapped in an elevator.

Ironically, I was returning home from a relaxing massage appointment when the elevator broke down with me inside. Luckily, the emergency call button worked and help was called right away.

The hardest part was waiting in the capsule, feeling the heat and anxiety build. I’m not usually a claustrophobic person. Quiet doesn’t bother me, nor does solitude. But the fact of being in a space I cannot leave started to make me sweat and itch.

I felt the urge to scream. But no, that wouldn’t help and it wouldn’t make me feel better—just more upset about a situation I couldn’t change.

Breathing helped—not too big or quickly. Slow, regular breaths. Take it easy. Be steady.

I called my husband to let him know what happened. (Thank goodness for cell phones!) It made me feel better that he knew I was safe, just waiting for help.
Then, the emergency responder called back and asked me for my information while we waited. Hearing her voice was soothing—the world was still out there and I would soon return. She saw the fire department responders coming and let me know of their arrival.

They called through the door to ask if I was OK. I could see them and was relieved. The outer door was open in moments, but they struggled with the inner door. Finally it popped open like it was meant, and I could roll out in my wheelchair.

It was good to see the faces of strangers. Funny that it had only been about a half hour, but it felt like longer. They asked if I wanted to see the paramedic, if I was OK. I shook my head—I was fine, just wanted to get back home.

“I’m sprung,” I joked with my husband as I headed home. I felt liberated and that I’d won a small battle by keeping the fear demons at bay.
Sometimes we are challenged unexpectedly and have to summon calm and strength in strange places. I was reminded of the power of staying cool in (literally) a tight spot. This is a lesson I hope not to forget and can be applied more widely in daily life.

From stressful work situations to the annoyances of daily commuting, a little calm and breathing can go a long way to finding a way through the moment.

Kelly Mack lives in Washington, DC, and works for a marketing communications firm.

 


read more