One of the ironic things about becoming sick and living with a chronic illness is that you increasingly appreciate good health and feeling well. Although I have lived with rheumatoid arthritis since I was a small child, I still admire wellness in others.

For example, I have difficulty walking and yet enjoy watching others—how easy it looks in comparison to the gait I practice with great effort and thoughtful concentration. It amazes me just not only how people can walk without thinking about it, but that they can run. To me, running is akin to flying—an amazing feat.

Maybe my favorite healthy person to watch is a toddler. They have such beautifully healthy and flexible joints! I love how they can tumble and play—moving without an ounce of effort and filled with energy. Living with a joint disease has led me to appreciate bones that are not painful, that are flexible and healthy.

When I had my knee removed, all I wanted was a good, functioning knee. When I had my new knee replacement, I wanted strength and to be able to lift my leg on my own power. Gradually I got there, but it was keeping that goal of better health in my mind that helped me to achieve it. Sometimes seeing good health and knowing what it is to you can be an inspiration for a goal. Other times it is something you can appreciate and admire.

I know that I will not be cured of my rheumatoid arthritis and return to perfect health. I live with an ongoing condition that can also cause other issues. However, I appreciate the relative health I do have. No matter how bad we’re feeling, I think it’s possible to find a bright side—like a steady heartbeat, breath of fresh air, or the feeling of sun on our skin.

Appreciating good health, means being glad of it for others and counting our blessings even during an illness.

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

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Symphony of Lights, a 20-minute drive through of more than 70 larger-than-life holiday light displays, benefiting Howard County General Hospital, is now open nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. through Jan. 4, 2015 (closed for walk-through events on Tuesdays and Dec. 31). The display, presented by Macy’s, is in Columbia’s Symphony Woods. Admission is $20 per car or van up to eight. $5 off coupon. You can also participate in a Group Walk-Through. They’re perfect for scouts, school groups and more (Tuesdays through Dec. 30, pre-registration required, pets prohibited).

Monday, Dec. 1, 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, Dec. 1, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Monday, Dec. 8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Mondays. No registration required.

Monday, Dec. 8, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brain (Part 2) at Miller Branch. As this three-part series continues, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media. Registration Required.

 


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fotor_(48)Now that I am surrounded by folks with fall colds, and woke up this morning congested, it’s time to address a critical question. Is blowing my nose advisable or not? Will blowing my nose relieve the stuffy feeling? Will it shorten the length of my symptoms?

A 1999 study at the University of Virginia used four healthy human subjects to measure the pressures generated by nose blowing. Nose blowing generated over ten times as much intranasal pressure as coughing and sneezing did. CT scanning was then used to see if nose blowing, coughing or sneezing caused contrast medium to be pushed into the paranasal sinuses. Only nose blowing resulted in contrast movement. In two of the subjects, some contrast had moved into the maxillary and frontal sinuses after the subjects had blown their noses.

Does this mean that nose blowing increases the risk for a cold progressing to a sinus infection? Are the viruses or bacteria in the nose being propelled into the paranasal sinuses? Given the small scale of this research, there would need to be more studies to answer the question definitively. The preliminary conclusion that the pressure generated by nose blowing can increase the risk of furthering an infection makes logical sense, however.

Health care providers recommend that nose blowing only be done gently. If you feel your ears popping, you are definitely using too much force. Holding one nostril closed while blowing out the other nostril helps to control the pressure. Blowing through one nostril at a time also assists in assuring that both sides are somewhat cleared. Another good way to lower the pressure is to keep your mouth open while blowing your nose.

Wiping your nose or using saline nasal rinses may be less traumatic to your nasal passages than blowing your nose. These more gentle measures could possibly decrease the risk of pushing the infection into the sinuses. Inhaling steam or taking decongestant medication can help thin the secretions and ease the drainage of the congestion. Of note, much of the feeling of congestion is due to swollen membranes and dilated blood vessels rather than actual mucus. For this reason, blowing your nose may not even relieve the stuffy feeling.

Finally, if you’ve decided to blow your nose, wash your hands when you’re done. Try to avoid touching your face throughout the day. It is easy to spread the cold to others if you then touch something like a shared keyboard or door handle.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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animal madnessShe called him “beast.”

He was a noble Bernese Mountain Dog, and next to her new husband, the love of Laurel Braitman’s life.

But after only a few months, the big dog she named Oliver, began to exhibit a series of profound behaviors: snapping at invisible flies, licking his paws into sodden masses, and eventually jumping out a third-story window – his unknown demons chasing close behind.

Serious medication and intense intervention were stepped up, but in the end Oliver succumbed to both emotional and physical trauma. Braitman, unlike her husband, was inconsolable, and soon his curious lack of empathy signaled a tipping point in the marriage.

Alone, Braitman now sought serious closure and catharsis: What exactly did Oliver feel or perceive that impaired his ability to function normally? And why the heck was it so eerily close to what humans feel? Braitman, a doctor of medical history, began to buttonhole the experts – animal psychologists, ethologists — even an animal trainer or two. Do we share an underlying brain structure that not only “exists across animal species,” but can similarly malfunction when an emotional state is compromised? More importantly, can understanding animal behavior benefit our own – even if we don’t speak the same language? The answers, Braitman found, were in the nine phyla of the animal kingdom.

From the adrenaline-charged cervidae for example. When pursued by predators, deer experience a blood-pressure spike not dissimilar to the white-coat hypertension I know I feel in a doctor’s office.

To the laws of attraction: Who knew bees were as picky about the flowers they pollinate as humans browsing online dating profiles? And then there are the giggling rats, the embarrassed octopus, and the bullied bonobo with PTSD. What, you might ask, was 17th century philosopher, Rene Descartes thinking when he arrogantly pronounced all beasts as “nothing more than automatons”?

Generous and engaging, Animal Madness: How Anxious Dogs, Compulsive Parrots, and Elephants in Recovery Help Us Understand Ourselves will have readers looking in the mirror more than once.

Curious George would give this one two opposable thumbs up.

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.


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Symphony of Lights, a 20-minute drive through more than 70 larger-than-life holiday light displays, benefiting Howard County General Hospital, opens nightly from 6 to 10 p.m. Nov. 17 through Jan. 4, 2015 (closed on Tuesdays and Dec. 31). The display, presented by Macy’s, is in Columbia’s Symphony Woods. Admission is $20 per car or van up to eight.  $5 off couponDazzle Dash kicks off Symphony of Lights with a run/walk through the lights as well as activities, food, music, entertainment and giveaways this weekend: Nov. 15.

Monday, Nov. 17, 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.

Thursday, Nov. 20, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Great American Smokeout  in the Howard County General Hospital lobby: includes information and literature to help you stop smoking. Free event.

Monday, Dec. 1, 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, Dec. 1, 7:00 p.m. Calming Crafts at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950

Monday, Dec. 8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. 2nd Mondays. No registration required.

Monday, Dec. 8, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brain (Part 2) at Miller Branch. As this three-part series continues, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media. Registration Required.


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blueberry muffinsI love breakfast. Sundays are really the only morning my vegan husband and I can prepare and enjoy a long, lazy breakfast together. As the non-vegan, I have two strict rules of our vegan breakfast: it must be tasty, and it must not be recognizably vegan.

Most of the books I check out from the library are cookbooks. I like to flip through them and find recipes that we can both enjoy. Usually, I’ll need to convert baking recipes to a vegan format. Replace eggs with Ener-G. Substitute soy milk for regular milk. Create my own vegan buttermilk with soy milk and vinegar.

flour tooMy friend and colleague, Debbie, brought to my attention the cookbook Flour, Too by Joanne Chang. Ms. Chang is an accomplished pastry chef and owner of Flour Bakery in Boston, MA. She has quite of a number of recipes that are vegan, but not labeled as such. One recipe labeled as vegan, the Vegan Vanilla Mixed Berry Muffin comes with a short personalized story about how this muffin was created to serve her vegan customers- and that it has many fans who are not vegan. The beautiful photograph of the muffins in their tarnished silver muffin tin is gorgeous. Now, I love vanilla. (I even tried it plain once, straight out of the bottle, because I loved it so much. I never did that again.) I love blueberries. I love raspberries. Although my own garden grown blueberries and raspberries were exhausted (I wish I had found this book earlier in the summer when they were abundant), I knew this was one recipe that I had to share.

“Honey? Let’s go to the grocery store. I need to get some fresh blueberries and raspberries.”

Now, I did forget to add a few things to the recipe. I forgot to add salt, and I didn’t add the sprinkling of sugar on top of the muffin.

My hubby really liked the muffins. I added a few extra berri es to the batter because I love berries and because I thought the recipe could have used more berries. Next time, I think I’ll just plop extra berries on the top of the muffins. These muffins were not dense at all, but rather on the light side (probably because of the mixture of the vinegar and the baking soda).

The next time I’m in Boston, I’ll be heading to Joanne Chang’s Flour Bakery and possibly enroll in one of her baking classes.

Oh, I’m almost forgot! I had some leftover blueberries and raspberries (even after using more than called for in this recipe) and made myself a chocolate raspberry sandwich.
I still don’t know what I’m going to do with the leftover blueberries.

Anyhow, here’s how you can make your own chocolate raspberry sandwich snack:
Cut the raspberries in half so they’re flattened. Spread vegan bread with vegan chocolate spread. I used Dark Choco Dream spread because it’s vegan.
Place flattened raspberries on top of the chocolate spread and finish with another plain slice of vegan bread. Yum!

Mio Higashimoto is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She has a background in history and spends much of her spare time knitting, reading, hiking, and watching Star Trek reruns.

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Howard County Library System has so many good books on all kinds of subjects; I was sure that I would find lots of help researching how to eat for good health. Sure enough, the cookbook shelves are full of wonderful new books on how to cook healthful foods for all kinds of conditions.

Diabetes is the elephant in the middle of the room as far as special diets are concerned. If you need to cook for a person with diabetes you will find many trustworthy sources. The Healthy Carb Diabetes Cookbook (2008) by chef Jennifer Bucko and nurse Lara Rondinelli, is published by the American Diabetes Association. It teaches what constitutes healthy complex carbohydrates and promises “favorite foods to fit your meal plan.”

Another helpful book is Diabetes Meal Planner (2010) from the American Diabetes Association’s “Month of Meals” series. The result is over 500 meals, over 600 recipes and snacks giving you unlimited menu combinations. There are 167 meal suggestions with accompanying recipes in each of the sections—breakfast, lunch, and dinner, followed by snack suggestions and recipes grouped by calorie count. Special meals follow, including picnics, holiday meals, and vegetarian meals. The nutrition information will be invaluable for diabetes patients, but it does make the pages look “busy” and rather daunting.

The Betty Crocker Diabetes Cookbook is a team effort with the International Diabetes Center. This 2012 revision is an update of the 2003 edition, with USDA’s MyPlate food symbol instead of the pyramid in the opening pages. There is much wise advice here, followed by eight chapters taking us from breakfast to desserts. The new edition includes 40 new recipes with all new photos.

Another choice, America’s Best Cookbook for Kids with Diabetes (2005) by Colleen Bartley, doesn’t carry the same institutional support as the previous titles, but each recipe has nutritional information and most are followed by a “Dietitian’s Message.” There are a few photos scattered rather randomly throughout the book. And to be frank, nothing about this book yells “kids will love these recipes!” However, it does offer well-thought-out nutrition for a child with diabetes.

Nutrition for a person undergoing cancer treatment is a daily struggle. The Essential Cancer Treatment Nutrition Guide and Cookbook (2012) by Jean LaMantia, RD with Dr. Neil Berinstein, MD, begins with over 100 pages on the ways cancer therapies can affect ones nutrition and how to manage side effects. The recipes are one-to-a-page and easy to follow, if not colorfully illustrated. Tips, survivor wisdom, and make-ahead advice are included where appropriate as well as notes on what symptoms each recipe is recommended to help.

The Cancer-Fighting Kitchen (2009) by Rebecca Katz, features “150 science-based, nutrient-rich recipes” that stimulate appetite and address treatment side effects. The nutrition information is there but unobtrusive and the photos alone will speed recovery!

And once treatment is done? Barbara Unell and Judith Fertig offer a beautiful book to celebrate recovery after treatment for breast cancer. In their 2012 Back in the Swing Cookbook 150 healthful recipes are interspersed with segments like “Who knew” (followed by a quick Q & A) and “Did you hear the news?” offering quick factoids, and “Professor Positive’s” affirmations. The book itself is just beautiful and uplifting and would make a wonderful gift for a friend in recovery.

Allergies are the biggest health challenge for many families. Try Cybele Pascal’s 2012 Allergy-free and Easy Cooking, “recipes for 75 everyday favorites…30-minute meals without gluten, wheat, dairy, eggs, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish, shellfish, and sesame.” Yes, you will have to be careful to purchase ingredients that don’t contain your specific allergen, and search for special ingredients, but the recipes look easy and appetizing. Nutrition information is not included.

For those who need to eat for a “healthy heart” (and who doesn’t?) there’s the American Medical Association Healthy Heart Cookbook. Complete nutrient analysis and fat count is included for each of the 60 well-photographed recipes.

The American Heart Association’s Diabetes & Heart Healthy Cookbook (2nd edition 2014) looks plain vanilla and no-nonsense, inside and out—even the beautiful heart-shaped white bowl on the cover—but
the recipes are planned to tackle diabetes, a major risk factor for heart disease and they don’t need embellishment.

The many books at Howard County Library System should keep you supplied with healthy ideas for whatever your cooking challenges, but do be sure to choose information that is backed by credible research.

  • 6 Cookbooks for Better Health from The Farmers' Market Chef
  • 6 Cookbooks for Better Health from The Farmers' Market Chef
  • 6 Cookbooks for Better Health from The Farmers' Market Chef
  • 6 Cookbooks for Better Health from The Farmers' Market Chef
  • 6 Cookbooks for Better Health from The Farmers' Market Chef
  • 6 Cookbooks for Better Health from The Farmers' Market Chef
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.

 


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calendar_2014smSaturday, November 8, 2:00 p.m. I’m Going to be a Big Brother or Sister. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class at the Central Branch for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding a baby. Resources for parents, too. Well & Wise event. Families; 30 – 45 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Saturday, November 8, 2:00-4:00 p.m. Time for a Spa-liday. Need to relax before the holidays? Paint your nails, learn relaxation techniques, listen to soothing music, and make spa treats such as coconut oil hand scrub, bath fizzies, and glycerin soap scrubbies at the Savage Branch. Recipes and ingredients provided. Ages 8-13. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760.

Monday, November 10, 10:00-12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring at the Savage Branch offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Monday, November 4, 10:15 & 11:15 a.m. Turkey Twist and Shout. Sing and shake your turkey tail to tasty tunes at the Elkridge Branch! Ages 2-5 with adult; 30 min. No registration required.

Thursday, November 13, 1:00 p.m. A World of Kindness. CCome to the East Columbia Branch and celebrate random acts of kindness. Share books, songs, and make a craft. Choose Civility event. Ages 3-5; 30 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 7 to 9 p.m. Happiest Baby on the Block in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Learn successful techniques that can quickly soothe your crying newborn and promote a more restful sleep for your infant. Parent kits are included in the $50 couple fee.

Thursday, Nov. 20, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Great American Smokeout in the Howard County General Hospital lobby: includes information and literature to help you stop smoking. Free event.


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overwhelmed work love and playMy son called me from college this past Sunday to ask me how he was going to find the time to take his bike to the shop to get fixed. He was already overwhelmed with classes, work, and applying to graduate school. How was he supposed to find the time to do everything that he needed to do? I did not have any easy answer for him, and I most certainly did not have an answer he wanted to hear at the time. About an hour later my son called again, and said he no longer needed to take the bike to the shop because while he was driving around campus, trying to find a free place to park, he drove into a parking garage with the bike on top of the car! He had forgotten that the broken bike, the same one we had talked about less than an hour ago, was still on top of the car! I think we can all relate to this story. I am sure most of us feel like there is never enough time to do everything we need to do. We try to do more than one thing at a time, and we wind up not doing anything well. Our to-do lists are never-ending. How can we live saner lives?

The first thing we all need to do is to take time for life. The world is not going to stop so we can finish our to-do lists. When my four children were younger my mantra was “we can only do our best and our best is not the same as someone else’s best, but as long as it is our best it is good enough.” Yes, sometimes my kids had to hand in papers printed in blue or even pink ink because our black ink cartridge had run out and all the stores were closed, but what was important was that the assignment was done and printed. We did our best with what we had at the time. At home and at work, we need to give ourselves permission not to have to do it all. We can start doing this by setting realistic expectations and be willing to realign those expectations, as needed.

It is not easy to find time in the day for ourselves. Advances in technology have made our lives easier, but those same advances have also made our lives more stressful. We are now “available” 24/7 to answer questions from work, school, family, and friends. Brigid Schulte in her book Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time says in chapter 7 there are three questions that drive much of the unending overwhelmedness: How much is enough? When is it good enough? How will I know? These questions are addressed in her book. “Great,” you are thinking, “but when am I going to have time to read a book?” Luckily for you Brigid Schulte will be at HCLS’s Miller Branch on Friday, November 7 at 7pm.

my age of anxietyScott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic, and author of 2014 New York Times bestseller My Age of Anxiety: Fear Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind will also be there. Together they will discuss their most recent works. You can register for Scott Stossel and Brigid Schulte in Conversation online at hclibrary.org, by phone at 410-313-1950, or in person at any branch. Their books are availablefor borrowing at the library. Books will also be available for purchase and signing at the event.

We all need to make time for ourselves and what is important to us, which is why I am going to put attending this event on the top of my to-do list. I made a choice to find the time to read Brigid’s book and now I am making the choice to find the time to read Scott’s book this week. It will take courage to make the tough choices needed so we can be healthier both physically and psychologically. I do not want to wait until it is too late to live a good life. Do you?

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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I want to be healthier, I want to make healthful choices, and, doggone it, I will eat nutritious foods! Okay, all Stuart Smalley affirmations aside (does anyone remember Stuart?), I do not always eat the best foods for me. I try to feed my family well, but when I’m on the go, like many people, I often go for the quick and easy. In fact, when my hubby travels for work, I’ll often make dinner for my kids and then eat something quick (often while standing over the sink like a stereotypical bachelor or college student) after the kids have gone to bed.

I know, I know, this is not good. My doctor has been brutally honest, “Eat better, exercise more, lose weight because now that you are {AGE MYSTERIOUSLY DELETED}, it’s only going to get harder to keep the pounds off.” Darn it, I hate her! (Okay, not really, but the truth is not a pretty one and it makes me cranky and want a candy bar.)

See what I’m up against? I am my own worst enemy and resort to comfort eating too often. So, maybe the first baby step I need to take is to change the foods I associate with comfort. I am trying to take a page from my dear and wonderful colleague who recently wrote about her coming around to Brussels sprouts. I do happen to like a lot of vegetables, but I’m not always as creative or varied.

Again, this is where working for the library comes in super-handy. (Have I mentioned recently how I have the best job?) I did have to leave my comfort zones of Fiction and Teen and venture upstairs to the Nonfiction books. There are a ton of books in the recipe section focused on healthful foods.

the sprouted kitchenThe one that happened to catch my eye this time was The Sprouted Kitchen by Sara Forte, in part because Hugh Forte (Sara’s husband and the book’s photographer) has captured how gorgeous his wife’s recipes turn out, a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. The other reason, I’m ashamed to say, is that any book that promises to be a “tastier take on whole foods” and has chapters entitled “Snacks to Share,” “The Happy Hour,”(!)and “Treats”(!!) can’t be all bad. And it certainly is not. The directions are simple to follow, there is a nice balance of recipes with easy-to-find ingredients and a few on the exotic side (although with the abundance of organic and fresh markets, exotic is not that hard to find these days), and the recipes seem to celebrate the taste of the whose-food ingredients (not try to hide healthful foods in “fun” recipes some like books. In short, this seems to be a “health cookbook” for people who actually like food.

At my home, we tried the mango guacamole with baked corn chips, and it was a huge hit. It felt like a much naughtier and more indulgent snack than it was. Next on our “to try list” are: heirloom tomato stacks with bocconcini and kale pesto, beer bean-and cotija-stuffed poblanos, polenta squares with raw corn and blueberry relish, two-bite grilled cheese (brilliant!), and cocoa hazelnut cupcakes. There is not a lot in this book I wouldn’t be willing to try, and I’m happy to report that Sara Forte has an award-winning blog, so I can keep trying her wholesome-yet-satisfying creations. The Sprouted Kitchen has really given me hope for adopting a completely new approach to comfort food. I may never be a health-food expert, but at least I can feel better about using the best ingredients to make slightly more healthful yet still delicious meals and snacks. (Take that, candy bar!)

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2014smMonday, November 3, 10:15 a.m. Just for Me. A class at the Savage Branch for children who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. Ages 3-5; 30 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Also offered at 2 p.m. at the Miller Branch and 11/5 at 10:15 & 11:15 a.m. at the Elkridge Branch.

Monday, November 3, 2:00-6:00 p.m. HiTech Symposium. Join us at the Savage Branch for a dynamic event for students, parents, and educators, featuring STEM industry leaders and showcasing classes and various projects built by HCLS’ HiTech students (including a hovercraft, catapult, weather balloon, and music in our new sound booth). Learn how middle and high school students can participate in this STEM education initiative that teaches cutting-edge science, technology, engineering, and math via project-based classes. HiTech is funded in part through a federal grant from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.Sponsors include Friends of Howard County Library, Frank and Yolanda Bruno, and M&T Bank. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760.

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

Tuesday, November 4, 7:00p.m. Shell Shock: A Study in Medical History from Florence Nightingale to World War I.
Philip Mackowiak, M.D., comes to the Central Branch to discuss the impact of war trauma on Florence Nightingale and the combatants in World War I as he explores shell shock and post-traumatic stress disorder. He is a professor of medicine and the Carolyn Frenkil and Selvin Passen History of Medicine Scholar-in-Residence at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Register online or by calling 410.313.7800.

Tuesday, November 4, 7:00p.m. Guided Meditation. Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection at the Miller Branch. Please bring a cushion or meditation pillow. Presented by Star Ferguson, M.Ac., L.Ac. Well & Wise event. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Friday, November 7, 7:00 p.m. Scott Stossel and Brigid Schulte in Conversation. Do you make notes in a book’s margins? Imagine having a conversation with the author about your thoughts. Scott Stossel and Brigid Schulte indulge in the opportunity to discuss their most recent works and ask the pressing questions they’ve penned in the margins of each other’s books. Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic, is the author of the 2014 New York Times bestseller, My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. An award-winning journalist for The Washington Post, Brigid Schulte wrote the New York Times bestselling Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 7 to 9 p.m. Happiest Baby on the Block. Learn successful techniques that can quickly soothe your crying newborn and promote a more restful sleep for your infant in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Parent kits are included in the $50 couple fee.


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5216891238_228367e57b_zI love Halloween! I love dressing up, handing out candy to neighborhood kids, and attending as many costume parties as I can. I’ve already worn three different costumes this year, and I still have one more chance to be something else this weekend! Most of all, I love Halloween because of the candy. It’s not just the candy, it’s the way we share and indulge in all that sugary goodness. I know it’s bad to eat 30 mini Twix bars or 25 bite sized Snickers bars in one sitting- I mean, it’s not like I downed a bag of sour gummy worms or maybe about 45 squares of Starburst fruit chews…

Well, I actually didn’t this year, I only ate an entire bag of mini Kit-Kats and a bag of mini Twix bars over a 5 day period sometime in September. I know, I got the bug early this time around, but I can’t say the same for years past. This year, my Halloween candy intake allowance is going to be small, maybe one or two chocolate treats versus an entire bag.

Too much candy is bad for you. There! I said it.

eat this not thatI spent the last two days reading every Eat This, Not That! book that Howard County Library System (HCLS) owns and I learned a few things:

(1) America is fatter than ever.

(2) Labels lie, but nutrition facts don’t.

(3) A couple Twix candy bars have the fat content equivalency of 12 strips of bacon. I’m surprisingly both intrigued and disgusted by that. Also, I feel like there’s probably a Pinterest pinned recipe or something on Reddit about bacon-wrapped-Twix hors d’oeuvres. (Update: I did find something “Twinkie” not “Twix” related and I think my arteries just clogged)

(4) Food products that use beloved characters, movies, etc. to market to children usually have terrible nutritional content.

(5) Eating healthy isn’t always cheaper, but it’s worth it.

(6) Just because something is “low-fat” or “low/zero-sugar” doesn’t mean you can eat more of it.

(7) Knowing is ⅓ the battle. Practicing good food swaps is ⅓. Exercising is (at least) the last ⅓.

(8) These books aren’t an excuse to eat whatever you want. These are practical guides to navigating your daily food choices in not-so-ideal situations. It’s imperative to read these titles cover-to-cover to benefit from the information therein.

(9) What constitutes as “food” these days is kinda scary.

(10) Candy is a terrific!

And when3000245257_9d3416db69_b I say “terrific” I mean massively intense, terror-inducing “terrific.” After reading through the statistics and comparative nutritional facts, I ran the gamut of emotions. I felt validated and then, duped. The pendulum swung from “I already knew that!” and “That’s so obvious!” to “How can we fix ourselves if we’re so deep in it?”

Candy cravings seem to intensify the moment you say you can’t have it or it’s just a “once in a while treat.” Also, candy is so cheap and accessible- and it makes us feel good. The pleasure centers in our brain get over-excited and the cravings for more “feel good” edibles takes over like an addict’s yearning for an abused substance. With just hours before welcoming kids onto my patio and giving them handfuls of sugar & fat laden bombs also known as Kit-Kat and Snickers bars the guilt settles in…

Has the annual Halloween candy haul turned into a slow, painful death-march of candy-drenched-diabesity? No. Truly, we are responsible for what we eat and put into our bodies. Having a few bite sized candy bars isn’t going to kill you, but if you can’t pass up the candy, or find yourself sneaking around for that taboo junk food- there’s a problem and it needs to be addressed. Recall our friend, Sugar Addict Anonymous.

All I want to impart with you is this: Halloween candy may be something you and your children struggle with over the next week or so. Be strong. Be prepared. Make good real food choices, and don’t be so hard on yourself if (when) you mess up.

Zinczenko’s books basically say three things:

(1) Be aware of and eat healthy foods when you’re truly hungry.
(2) Treat yourself once in a while, not once an hour, and not after every meal.
(3) Change is challenging and may feel time consuming, but it’s not impossible. Making one or a few healthier exchanges each day will help you trade up to that healthy, balanced diet you know you need.

Happy Halloween and good luck! I know I’ll need it!

JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.

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troubleAren’t necessarily about the undead, hip vampires, or psychotic galpals.

Sometimes what makes them scary is just that they’re too graphic – even for that precocious adolescent reader.

Parents who take the time to peruse what’s between some of those Skittle-colored book jackets may need to be a little more diligent about what’s out there in Young Adult land.

Take Non Pratt’s nonstarter, Trouble.

Sexually explicit; (with one scene reading like a ‘how to’ manual), Trouble explores the amoral rompings of Hannah; a British fifteen-year-old.

Without brains or a shred of virtue for that matter, Hannah has unprotected sex with so many lackluster guys, (including her stepbrother), that she isn’t sure who gets her pregnant.

Still she rallies on in her teeny skirt and badly applied eye makeup.

A dismal, and as I’ve said, scary read indeed.

Yet, according to a recent New York Times article, teen readers are hunting for titles like Trouble, Slammed, Easy, and Losing It because they all provide “significantly more sex . . .”

Scarier still is what author Abbi Glines believes such books deliver — like “good narrative . . . and emotional intensity . . .”

I say, “Hmmm…” to that.

Most parents (even if they’re not comfortable with it) understand that sexual content in literature is as old as time. Coming of age novels almost always promise that one’s sexuality – as a rite of passage – will be a big part of the fictional journey.

The criteria is that it mirrors real life and the myriad feelings that come with intimacy — like Rainbow Rowell’s haunting Eleanor and Park or Una LaMarche’s, sometimes sensual, Like No Other.

like no othereleanor and park

So, it might just be more worthwhile for older teens to stretch their legs and wander over to adult fiction. There they’ll discover what the cold, hard consequences are when clueless characters like Hannah grow up.

Jean has been working at Howard County Library System’s Central Branch for nearly nine years. She walks in the Benjamin Banneker Park whenever she gets a chance.


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Wong Mei Teng meiteng http://www.freeimages.com/profile/meitengIt’s baby season on Facebook these days. I love seeing my friends post their exciting news, especially knowing that I have my own special news that I am quietly enjoying right now.

I wonder about the friends that stay quiet. Those that I know love and want kids, but have not posted an announcement for themselves. I wonder if they are feeling that sting that comes with being happy for their friends, but wondering if it will ever be their turn, or knowing that they will never have that turn, or worse yet, knowing they had a turn and it was cut  short.

This summer, my husband and I lost a baby. My midwife thought I was farther along than I did, but it didn’t matter. It still hurt. I shared the news gradually with a very small group of people, mostly because I didn’t know how to feel.

I felt bruised. I was sad. I wasn’t devastated, but I still hurt. I had no idea how I would answer the question, “How many kids do you have?” I wanted to say, “Three.” – but people wouldn’t understand. I would cry at the oddest times over the oddest things – things that I had no idea would be a trigger. My husband held me while I cried.

I was pretty numb. I actually stayed at work while it happened because the rest of the leadership team was out that day and I knew someone needed to be there. Only one person in the office knew. I plastered a smile on my face, hunched over my computer, prayed that the cramping would go away quickly, and took the next triage call.

When I lost the baby, my midwife told me that other women would hear about it and tell me their own stories. She told me her story, and it was comforting to know I wasn’t alone. But, I quickly found out that miscarriages are taboo topics. People, especially those who have never experienced a miscarriage, can be very uncomfortable talking about them. Most of us don’t even announce pregnancies until we are past that golden “13 week” mark. It’s almost as if losing a baby doesn’t count until then. Like if we lose the baby in the first trimester, we can deal with it better by ourselves because “it was early.” 

I beg to differ.

miscarriage bookWe need to break this code of silence about the loss of a baby. We need to support each other through good news and bad. We need to be sensitive about the questions we ask, but neither should we be silent. A hug goes a long way. Don’t be afraid of tears. They are healing.

Dads need support too. My husband acknowledged that he did not yet feel as attached as I did, but he still hurt. The baby was half him, after all. And he had to watch me go through the emotional roller-coaster afterwords. I don’t know how he did it.

I still think of the baby often. It’s not every day any more, but I will never forget. If anything, it has given me a greater appreciation for my son and daughter. I don’t take the uneventful pregnancies I had with them for granted any more. Every “normal” milestone I achieve in this pregnancy gives me a sense of gratefulness that I didn’t have before.

I know that my husband will be there for me no matter what, always willing to hold me and let me cry.

And every time I see a friend post that they are expecting, or that their baby has arrived, I am glad. I am grateful that they, and their baby, are healthy. I also say a little prayer for those experiencing the pain of a loss, because I’ve been there- and it’s hard to face someone else’s joy over something you want so much when you’ve had it and lost it.

This pregnancy, I did what I always do – shared the news with close friends and family as soon as we found out. However, this time I plan to announce our news to the world before the 13 week mark. Once we have that first ultrasound I will share our joy, but I will share it with a prayerful heart for those who are hurting because of a loss.

I want to start conversations. Let’s take the taboo out of talking about miscarriage.

Rachel is a wife, mom, and registered nurse. She enjoys photography, playing with her kids, and tearing her house apart and putting it back together.

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calendar_2014smSaturday, October 25, 10:00 a.m. SAT Prep. Take advantage of the SAT Math Prep course at the Savage Branch. It is designed to help students excel on the math portion of the test. Students will take an official practice exam to simulate the experience, learn test-taking strategies, and solve problems related to algebra, geometry, and probability. Grades 9-12 only. Graphing calculators are recommended. 3 Day class October 11, 18, and 25. When you register, you will automatically be registered for all 3 days. HiTech is funded in part by a National Leadership Grant for Libraries from IMLS. Visit hclibrary.org/hitech_events for more HiTech classes. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760.

 Monday, October 27, 10:15 a.m. Just for Me. A class at the Savage Branch for children who are ready for an independent class that includes creative expression, listening comprehension, and early reading skills. Ages 3-5; 30 min. Tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class. Also offered at 2 p.m. at the Miller Branch, 10/28 ay 11 a.m. and 1:30 p.m. at the East Columbia Branch, and 10/29 at 10:15 & 11:15 a.m. at the Elkridge Branch.

Monday, October 27 – Thursday,  October 30, 3:00 p.m. Homework Club. Join us after school at the East Columbia Branch for a snack while working on your homework in a relaxed setting. Ages 11-17. Mondays – Thursdays; 3 – 4 pm (school days only). No registration required.

Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014, 7 to 9 p.m. Free. Prenatal Class for Your Early Pregnancy is for parents-to-be and parents in the first trimester. Learn about the early stages of pregnancy including your body’s physical changes, your baby’s growth and easy ways to promote a healthier pregnancy in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.

Friday, November 7, 7:00 p.m. Scott Stossel and Brigid Schulte in Conversation. Do you make notes in a book’s margins? Imagine having a conversation with the author about your thoughts. Scott Stossel and Brigid Schulte indulge in the opportunity to discuss their most recent works and ask the pressing questions they’ve penned in the margins of each other’s books. Scott Stossel, editor of The Atlantic, is the author of the 2014 New York Times bestseller, My Age of Anxiety: Fear, Hope, Dread, and the Search for Peace of Mind. An award-winning journalist for The Washington Post, Brigid Schulte wrote the New York Times bestselling Overwhelmed: Work, Love, and Play When No One Has the Time. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Wednesday, Nov. 19, 7 to 9 p.m. Happiest Baby on the Block. Learn successful techniques that can quickly soothe your crying newborn and promote a more restful sleep for your infant in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Parent kits are included in the $50 couple fee.

 


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“Wherever I go – in stores, on the street, in restaurants, in people’s homes – I see repetitious scenes of whining, and tantrums, and – even more unsettling – an increased number of kids who look sullen, unrelated, and unhappy.” – Robert Shaw, M.D.

At a recent gala store opening the freebies were flowing — at least till mid-morning when one nine-year-old’s favorite treat ran out.
Several of us customers watched as the sales rep offered the young customer a substitute.
She took the rep to task — loudly.
“That’s not fair!” she stamped her foot. “Everyone else got the one I want! I deserve to get one too!”
The embarrassed parent intervened with an appeasement bordering on pleading: If the child would just be quiet, she’d take her somewhere else and buy her the unavailable item.
The late child psychiatrist, Robert Shaw, would have called this gift – this opportunity – “a teachable moment” – one in which an active parent might seize the day and demonstrate “an ethical response” to such unacceptable petulance.

But that didn’t happen.

the epidemicIn The Epidemic, Shaw dogmatically reasons why:
Today’s indulgent parents are either absurdly permissive or “checked-out” to their children’s emotional needs. They provide all the bells and whistles of excessive living, but scrimp on the moral input.
Case in point: today’s mutation of self-esteem. Where it was once a normal, healthy by-product of emotional development, according to Shaw, it isn’t any longer. Parents in large part, can thank themselves: “Lavishing excessive praise” on their kids, lobbying teachers “for sugar-coated assessments, even lowering expectations,” have all helped foster the current crop of little “self-worshippers.”

And who are the parents Shaw targets? Certainly not “The Have Nots.” “Primarily,” he stresses, “[it’s] a problem in middle- and upper-class families … comfortable families, where there’s plenty of money but simply not enough parental time…” Shaw also gets on that all-powerful electronic babysitter – television. American preschoolers (he says) spend up to fifty-four hours a week in front of one, absorbing TV’s endless communication of both the simplistic and insidious. Messages like “It’s okay to use weapons to deal with conflict. It’s okay to swear, bully, have sex, drink alcohol, and disrespect the adults in your life” have all contributed to the dearth of empathy and compassion in our children.

Indeed, he goes on: “Kids today demonstrate such a startling lack of character traits that many schools resort to a regularly scheduled moral curriculum.”
Disquieting when you think about the lifeline teachers already provide to both student and parent. Disquieting when you think about the “dissatisfaction of American teachers today. For the record, more than 200,000 will choose to leave their profession this year.1

The Epidemic is a stinging, grim, and discomfiting diatribe. Parents will resent and buck everything Shaw criticizes. But in the end, we all have to take it on the chin.

Every critical moment of your child’s life deserves you in it.

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.

1(Would Greater Independence for Teachers Result in Higher Student Performance? PBS Newshour, August 18, 2014)


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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.

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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).


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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.

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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.

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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.

 


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teach your children wellLast month, I discussed some vexing behavior exhibited by parents during children’s sporting events. Among my key points were my belief that competitive environments can be very good for children, that there are some people who need to learn to deal with disappointment and frustration in graceful ways, and, mainly, that some adults might need to consider teaching and modeling methods of civil communication/behavior to their children. I also looked at some causes for some parents’ own lack of self-control, namely “ego-involvement.”

I hit on a lot of what I wanted to in that post, but in light of Choose Civility Week, I felt like there might be even more to say on this topic (plus, some of what I discussed I felt bore repeating since soccer season is in full swing). Around the holidays last year, when I was battling (and blogging about) an attack of the “gimme’s” in my house, I mentioned the book Teach Your Children Well by Madeline Levine, Ph.D. I remembered liking the book very much, so I decided to revisit it to see what it said with regard to parents’ “exuberance” toward their kids’ activities.

Levine does not discuss athletics in her book so much, but she does address parents’ over-involvement in their children’s sports, as well as other activities, to illustrate some of her points:

“We must shift our focus from the excesses of hyperparenting, our preoccupation with a narrow and shortsighted vision of success that has debilitated many of our children, and an unhealthy reliance on them to provide status and meaning in our own lives, and return to the essentials of parenting in order for children to grow into their most healthy and genuine selves.”

Levine covers in greater depth the ways parents can model and teach a greater sense of fair play, civility, ethics, and even independence to their children (and avoid the pitfalls of their own ego-involvement). I can’t even begin to go into the detail that she does in her book, but she provides key steps and examples to help during different age ranges. For example, in the chapter focused on 5-11 year-olds, she covers friendship, learning, sense of self, empathy, and play. In the chapter on the middle school years, puberty and health, independence, and peer groups are discussed. And for high school ages, Levin focuses on adult thinking, sexuality, identity, and autonomy.

She devotes the last two chapters of the book to “Teaching Our Kids to Find Solutions” and “Teaching Our kids to Take Action.” And, in the “Taking Action” chapter, one of the key components she discusses is self-control. Levine discusses how many children’s emotional difficulties may have at least some footing in problems with self-regulation. She asserts, “The importance of the internal ability to say no, to control impulsivity, to delay gratification cannot be overestimated as a protective factor in child and adolescent development.” But she also warns that parents can overreact to lack of self-control and “catastrophize the situation” to the point that teaching opportunities are missed.

Levine strongly suggests that some of the best ways to help a child develop better self-control include letting him/her experience and learn to manage moderate amounts of distress and challenges, positively acknowledging your child’s ability to “go against the crowd” and not succumb to peer pressure, and modeling good self-management strategies. Again, if you don’t want your kids to be bad sports, make sure that you are not exhibiting that behavior yourself.

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2014smSaturday, Oct. 4, 1:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Glenwood Branch. Learn how to start CPR right away and continue doing chest compressions until help arrives. Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of Hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Training in Hands-Only CPR gives you the ability to help save a life without using mouth-to-mouth ventilation or obtaining a certification card. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

Monday, Oct. 6, 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. 6, 3:30 p.m. Improving Your Mood Through Meditative Art at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us in the Enchanted Garden as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Elkridge Branch. Learn how to start CPR right away and continue doing chest compressions until help arrives. Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of Hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Training in Hands-Only CPR gives you the ability to help save a life without using mouth-to-mouth ventilation or obtaining a certification card. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410.313.5088.

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 7:00 p.m. Guided Meditation at Miller Branch.Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection. Please bring a cushion or meditation pillow. Presented by Star Ferguson, M.Ac., L.Ac.Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 7 to 9 p.m. Happiest Baby on the Block in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Learn successful techniques that can quickly soothe your crying newborn and promote a more restful sleep for your infant. Parent kits are included in the $50 couple fee.

Thursday, Oct. 9, 3 to 5 p.m. Depression Screening. In recognition of National Depression Screening Day, Howard County General Hospital offers a free, confidential screening for depression in the hospital’s Wellness Center. Includes lecture, video, self-assessment and individual evaluation.

Thursday, Oct. 9, 7 to 9 p.m. What is Pre-Diabetes? Has your doctor told you that you have pre-diabetes or risk factors for developing diabetes? Howard County General Hospital’s certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian will teach you how to make changes to prevent or delay an actual diabetes diagnosis. Held in the hospital’s Wellness Center. Cost is $15.

Saturday, Oct. 11, 2014, 9 to 11 a.m. Kids Self Defense for children ages 8 to 12. Learn basic principles of safety awareness and age appropriate techniques. Cost is $27. Held in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.

Tuesday, Oct. 14, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Oct. 14, 2:00 p.m. The Art of Aging: Three Secrets to Making Today the Best Day of Your Life at Miller Branch. L. Andrew Morgan, director of marketing at Vantage House, teaches a three-step process that directs older adults to reconnect, reenergize, and refocus on their priorities during post-retirement years. A Well & Wise event presented in partnership with Howard County Department of Citizen Services and Office on Aging. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.


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Are you guilty of skipping breakfast in the morning? Did you know there is science to support the belief that breakfast is the most important meal of the day? If you are like me, you answered “yes” to both those questions. Would you say “no” to getting more fiber, calcium, vitamins A and C, riboflavin, zinc, and iron? Would you say “no” to having lower blood cholesterol levels, better digestive health, and to helping your body regulate insulin levels? Of course not! Together we need to say “yes” to eating breakfast every day – and if you have kids, your kids will be more likely to eat breakfast if you do. If you need more compelling reasons to eat breakfast, read this.

Breakfast is one of the easiest meals to make healthy. The next time you are in the grocery store check out the cereal aisle. There are many healthy options. Look for a cereal with more than 5 grams of fiber and less than 5 grams of sugar. Grab a bowl, add some skim milk and fresh fruit, and take just a few minutes to start your day off right.

soup to nutsHoward County Library System has a great collection of cookbooks to help you plan your morning meal. The Mason Jar Soup to Nuts Cookbook by Lonnette Parks is a fun way to get started. In this book you will find recipes for pancakes, waffles, muffins, granola crunch and more. You can make the jar recipes for your family and then make some as gift jars for relatives and friends. The best part is that you can make them ahead of time. I hope this book will inspire you to make your own mason jar creations. You can create your own parfait by layering yogurt, fruit and oats or granola in a mason jar. You can choose any yogurt, but Greek yogurt usually has the most calcium and protein. Oats contain beta-glucan a type of fiber that has been shown to help lower cholesterol when eaten regularly. Add your favorite fresh or frozen fruit. Bananas have a healthy dose of potassium, an electrolyte that helps lower your blood pressure naturally, and bananas will help keep you feeling full longer. Strawberries and blueberries are rich in antioxidants and are lower in calories than many other fruits. You can make these colorful parfait jars in advance, so all you have to do in the morning is grab one and a spoon. If you take your jar to work you will have to beware of co-workers who follow you with spoons!

hungry girl 300If you would like something hot for breakfast instead, you can try some of the protein-packed, low-calorie hot breakfast egg mugs recipes in Hungry Girl 300 under 300: Breakfast, lunch & Dinner Dishes under 300 Calories by Lisa Lillien. Some of the recipes to try in this book include the Denver Omellette in a Mug, Eggs Bene-Chick Mug, or the All-American Egg Mug. Most can be ready to eat in ten minutes! These recipes use a liquid egg substitute. Eggs are a healthy source of protein and nutrients like Vitamin D. The American Heart Association (AHA) recommends that people with normal cholesterol, limit cholesterol intake to 300 milligrams per day. You can read more about the AHA dietary guidelines here.

smoothiesYou will also find a chapter (4) on “no-heat-required” morning meals. How about a Double-O- Strawberry Quickie Kiwi Smoothie? You can make this in five minutes with 1 cup frozen strawberries, 1 peeled kiwi, ½ cup fat-free strawberry yogurt, and 1 cup crushed ice. Smoothies are easy to make with little mess. They are great for breakfast on-the-go and are only limited by your imagination and what you have in your refrigerator. For more smoothie ideas try Superfood Smoothies: 100 Delicious, Energizing & Nutrient-Dense Recipes by Julie Morris. Finally, you might want to check out Whole-Grain Mornings: New Breakfast Recipes to Span the Seasons by Megan Gordon for some delicious seasonal recipes.

Are you hungry now? Are you already thinking about what you can have for breakfast tomorrow? If you are like me, you answered “yes” to both of those questions. Breakfast will give us the energy and fuel we need to get through the day. We are ready to make the commitment to break for breakfast!

Nancy Targett is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch. She lives in Columbia and is the proud mom of three boys and a girl and a Siamese cat.

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forget me notI love picture books. I love to read them, share them with children, talk about them, and get lost in wonder at the ability of authors and illustrators to perfectly meld text and illustration. I especially treasure when I find books that capture the emotional truth of difficult subjects.

Forget Me Not by Nancy Van Laan is an Alzheimer’s story. Julia loves her grandmother and is afraid and worried when grandmother becomes forgetful, starts wandering, and finally becomes unable to care for herself. Van Laan deftly guides the reader through the stages of Alzheimers, always through the child’s perspective. When it becomes clear to Julia and her family that grandmother can no longer safely live alone they make together the decision to move her from her home to “a place that will give her the special care she needs.” Muted color washes of blue, green, and yellow contribute to the gentle, delicately perceptive tone of this book.

I lost my mother to dementia a year ago, I wish this book had been around then.

the very tiny babyThe Very Tiny Baby by Sylvie Kantorovitz is a rock star at addressing the serious issues surrounding a premature baby from a sibling’s point of view. Luckily, Jacob has his teddy bear to pour out all of his mixed-up feelings. Sibling rivalry, fear for his mommy, and resentment at the lack of attention are all poured into the understanding ears of Bear. The hand-lettered text and scrapbook style drawings engage the young reader and provide a safe outlet for children in Jacob’s situation.

A keen sense of a child’s perspective makes this a useful book to have in your Tender Topics arsenal.

my fathers arms are a boatMy Father’s Arms Are a Boat by Erik Lunde. This beautiful, quiet, sad book is respectful of the grief of both father and son. Unable to sleep, the boy seeks comfort in his father’s arms. Bundled up, the boy and his father go out into the cold, starry Norwegian night. The boy asks his father “Is Mommy asleep?… She’ll never wake up again?” The father’s soft refrain to his son, “Everything will be alright” as he calms his fears and answers his questions, resonates the truth of the present sadness and the hope for the future. The paper collage and ink illustrations monochromatic tones convey the sorrow, while the flashes of red (like the warmth of the fire) allow the reader, like the young boy, to find comfort in the love of those still with us. The final spread of this Norwegian import is lovely and life affirming.

Shirley ONeill works for Howard County Library System as the Children’s and Teen Materials Specialist. She cannot believe she actually gets paid to do this job.

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calendar_2014smTuesday, Sept. 30, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brai at Miller Branch. In this three-part series, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media.

Sept. 30 Part 1: Diet and Your Brain Learn which foods can make your memory sharper and stronger.

Dec. 8 Part 2: Stress and Your Brain Discover how stress can shrink your brain and what you can do within three months to reverse its effects.

Jan. 8 Part 3: Sleep and Your Brain Explore how to harness the power of sleep to expand your brain capacity.

A Well & Wise and Meet the Author event. Presented in partnership with Howard County Department of Citizen Services and Office on Aging. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Thursday, Oct. 2, 7 to 8:30 p.m. The ABCs of Getting More ZZZZZZZZs in the hospital’s Wellness Center. You’re not alone if you have trouble getting a good night’s sleep — insomnia is the most common sleep disorder. Learn strategies for beating insomnia from Luis Buenaver, M.D., Johns Hopkins behavioral sleep specialist practicing at the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at HCGH. Free.

Saturday, Oct. 4, 1:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Glenwood Branch. Learn how to start CPR right away and continue doing chest compressions until help arrives. Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of Hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Training in Hands-Only CPR gives you the ability to help save a life without using mouth-to-mouth ventilation or obtaining a certification card. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

Monday, Oct. 6, 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. 6, 3:30 p.m. Improving Your Mood Through Meditative Art at Miller Branch. Research shows that creative activities can boost serotonin levels. Join us in the Enchanted Garden as we use artistic expression to improve our moods. All levels of artistic ability welcome. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Tuesday, Oct. 7, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Elkridge Branch. Learn how to start CPR right away and continue doing chest compressions until help arrives. Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of Hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Training in Hands-Only CPR gives you the ability to help save a life without using mouth-to-mouth ventilation or obtaining a certification card. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410.313.5088.

Thursday, Oct. 9, 3 to 5 p.m. Depression Screening in the hospital Wellness Center. Includes lecture, video, self-assessment and an individual, confidential evaluation with a mental health practitioner. Free.

Thursday, Oct. 9, 7 to 9 p.m. Have Pre-Diabetes? Our certified diabetes educator and registered dietitian will teach you how to make changes to prevent/delay actual diabetes in the hospital Wellness Center. $15.


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jess bookEver since I started using Pinterest regularly, Facebook has kind of lost its shine for me. There are so many neat things about the former that the latter just cannot offer. Though over ten million people use Pinterest these days, there’s always still a chance you may be new to it.

Pinterest is a pinboard-style photo-sharing website that lets users to create and keep track of theme-based image collections such as events, interests, and hobbies. Obviously, Pinterest isn’t going to dramatically change your life. What it can do, though, is help it inspire it, whether it’s with your diet, the make-up you want to use, or ways to keep your mood going strong and stress-free.

It’s easy to sign up for a Pinterest account, but if you don’t want to or simply feel you can’t be bothered with an account, you can use the search box on Pinterest to find what you want. Bypassing account login (which normally is how you first are able to use the “search” box) you can use Pinterest by doing a Pinterest search through Google. Once you’re in that way, you can search Pinterest as long as your heart desires.

“[Pinterest] is fascinating,” said Brendan Gallagher of Digitas Health. “It’s social commerce cleverly disguised as an aspirational visual scrapbook.” Aspirational sounds about right. There are so many great things to be discovered on this often surprisingly productive social networking site.

jess pcLet’s say you’re interested in dental health and want to motivate yourself or your family to get better at brushing. You can go here: Good Food Vs. Bad Food (for your teeth) | How to Improve Dental Health | Dental Health Info Graphics

If you’re determined to eat better than you do, check out great superfoods ideas and other healthy lifestyle tips here: Better Health Info Graphics | Antioxidants

If you love coffee, but wonder whether it’s doing you more harm than good, Pinterest has something for that, too: Medical Benefits of Being Addicted to Coffee

Are you a woman worried about heart disease? Are you a man who’s fallen behind on pertinent health news? What’s up with migraines? By the way, when was your last physical exam?

Okay. I got excited there! I think it’s clear that you can search for healthy inspiration or explore your other curiosities, like proper dining etiquette, job interviewing skills, removing permanent marker stains from anything, or creating easy outfit access in the morning (especially if you have children who always seem to be rushing around right before the school bus arrives). However, a note of caution: while Pinterest is for everyone, what’s pinned isn’t always trustworthy intel. Just like anything else you might find online, be sure to consult medical professionals before trying any kind of diet or exercise plan.

So, if you want to become a Pinterest person, here are some good rules to follow to make it more worthwhile. Happy (and healthy) pinning!

Angie Engles has been with the Howard County Library System for 17 years, 14 of which were at the Savage Branch. She currently works at the Central Branch primarily in the Fiction and Audio-visual departments. Her interests include music, books, and old movies.


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How strong is the biological element in gender? Is it psychologically possible, in infancy, to engineer one’s sexuality? At what point in utero are we wired to be male or female?

In 1966 rural Winnipeg, none of these facts mattered to a teenaged couple whose baby boy had recently suffered a botched circumcision and now faced a life they could not imagine. They would journey all the way to Baltimore to the Johns Hopkins Psychohormonal Research Unit under the auspices of psychologist, John Money. Their son, they were promised, would be successfully reassigned as a girl. What Janet and Ron Reimer may not have been told was that “sexual reassignment had never been done on a normal child with normal genitals and nervous system.”

Journalist John Colapinto delivers a precise and compelling examination of a world-famous case that proved “pre-birth factors set limits on how far culture, learning, and environment can direct gender identity in humans” in As Nature Made Him: The Boy Who Was Raised as a Girl.

Only more compelling is getting to know David Reimer himself. A girl from the age of two until eighteen, his battle with depression and self-loathing is heartbreaking—shocking at times—but you will come away believing he is one of the bravest people you have ever met.

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.

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Tuesday, Sept. 23, 10:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Dietary Counseling in the HCGH Wellness Center. This individualized nutrition program is for children and adults. Meet with a registered dietitian one-on-one to discuss your dietary concerns and goals. The counseling is also appropriate for those who want to gain weight, maintain a vegetarian diet and more. Cost is $35.

Saturday, Sept. 23, 7:00 p.m. Meet the Author, HCLS Signature Event: Dr. Neal Barnard Presents Healthy Approaches to Weight Control, Reversing Diabetes, and the Best of Health at Miller Branch. Neal Barnard, M.D., renowned nutrition researcher and New York Times bestselling author, discusses the connection between nutrition and health. Dr. Barnard’’s clinical research revolutionized the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Learn how to control and even reverse this condition. Discover how the same simple diet changes that benefit diabetes patients also bring a wide range of health benefits, including weight control, lower cholesterol levels, protection from memory loss, and greater vitality. Dr. Barnard reveals a proven method of weight control that relies on food choices rather than starvation diets or gimmicks. A Well & Wise event. Presented in partnership with Howard County Department of Citizen Services and Office on Aging. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950. (Meet the Author, HCLS Signature Event.)

Friday, Sept. 26, 6 to 7 p.m. Advance Directives free workshop in the HCGH Wellness Center. Understand why you should have these documents, how to get them and complete them/leave with the documents.

Friday, Sept. 26, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. AARP Driver Safety for Older Drivers is a refresher for drivers 50 and older. Cost is $15 for AARP members, $20 for others. Held in the HCGH Wellness Center.

Saturday, Sept. 27, 9 a.m. to Noon. Women’s Self Defense for  ages 16 and up. Cost is $50. Learn and practice effective, easy-to-learn techniques. Held in the HCGH Wellness Center.

Tuesday, Sept. 30, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brai at Miller Branch. In this three-part series, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program. Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media.

Sept. 30 Part 1: Diet and Your Brain-Learn which foods can make your memory sharper and stronger.
Dec. 8 Part 2: Stress and Your Brain-Discover how stress can shrink your brain and what you can do within three months to reverse its effects.
Jan. 8 Part 3: Sleep and Your Brain-Explore how to harness the power of sleep to expand your brain capacity.

A Well & Wise and Meet the Author event. Presented in partnership with Howard County Department of Citizen Services and Office on Aging. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

 


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driveChoosing to embark on a journey of self-improvement is the best gift you can give yourself. One of the many ways you can do this is by starting a new hobby or craft. Depending on who you are, you might want to create something or maybe you want to learn a new skill. Regardless, you will experience quite the array of emotions throughout the process… but that’s half the fun; isn’t it?

As the leaves change and the air becomes crisp, I tend to get inspired. I find myself looking at the fall foliage and wanting to create something. I’ll breathe in the chilly air and suddenly need to sit down and pick up my out-of-tune guitar. However, staying motivated can be tough in between life chores and scheduled meals. I feel that the excuse, “I’m too busy” is used quite a bit in our hectic world. I know that I am definitely guilty of this.

When making a change in your life, you have to be mentally prepared. When it comes to adding in a new hobby, learning to manage your time and set realistic goals become vital pieces of the motivation puzzle. Letting something you love be the first thing dropped when time is an issue, will only hurt you in the long run. It is important to do things that bring you happiness and joy. Developing time-management skills is one of the best things you can do for yourself. I experienced a crash course on the topic while taking a particular college class. My professor gave us enough work for a lifetime and expected nothing but the best. I was forced to figure out how to complete all of his work to the best of my ability while still passing my other classes. The skills I gained (though at an accelerated speed) have stuck with me and are put into action on a regular basis. Making a desired skill or hobby a part of your schedule is very fulfilling.

beadsSetting realistic goals will save you from a lot of stress. If you want to learn how to make jewelry, don’t try to make an entire set in one week. Instead, try to learn a certain technique and keep building on that foundation in the following weeks. If you want to write a book, don’t try to write a chapter a day, just be sure to write something (one sentence counts). The last thing you want is for your new found interest to become a chore or stressful task. You will feel a great sense of joy upon meeting these goals instead of being disappointed that you won’t have enough pieces for the jewelry show next weekend.

Everyone deserves a fun and rewarding way to relax. Start baking, go buy a saxophone, or take up glass-blowing. Whatever your “I’d love to know how to…” or “I wish I could make…” dream is, turn it into reality. Learn how to best manage your time and set goals that are realistic and achievable. The combination of the two will help you to stay motivated as you witness your progress and gained knowledge over time. Change color with the leaves and add a new dimension to your life.

Laci Radford is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch (while her home branch, in Savage, is being renovated). She is a music lover, writer, and an avid reader. She enjoys attending concerts, plays, and other forms of live entertainment. Her favorite activities include scoping out unique items at thrift stores, bonfires with friends, and having tie-dye parties. She is studying Psychology and plans to become a music and art therapist sooner rather than later.

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Picture by Nils Thingvall (Turbidity) www.turbidwater.comThe Farmers’ Market Chef wants to be “well” and “wise” at the Farmers’ Market—and after I bring my fresh produce home! Luckily, the Glenwood Branch just had a visit from Karen Basinger, an educator with University of Maryland Extension. She taught a class on home food preservation to a group of about 14.

This is a great time of year to buy and enjoy fresh local vegetables and fruits. With good, safe food preservation practices it is possible to enjoy your produce long into the winter months. Karen was here to teach us the why and the how of canning, freezing, and drying. She explained how microorganisms that cause illness—like listeriosis and botulism—can grow if food is stored improperly. And the quality of your food will be compromised if you don’t destroy the enzymes that cause spoilage.

It’s important to use the appropriate preserving method. Low acid foods like green beans and corn require the high temperatures of a pressure canner while high acid foods like pickles can be processed in a boiling water bath. It is important to have the right equipment and to be sure it is in good working condition. At Karen’s office in Ellicott City she can test your pressure canner to assure you it is safe to use.

Maybe you don’t want to heat up your kitchen with the canning process. Freezing veggies and fruits usually requires only a quick dip in boiling water to destroy enzymes and the food is ready to chill and freeze. Be sure to use bags, boxes or wrap that is designed to keep the air out of your frozen food. You don’t want to be disappointed in January!

Drying may be the oldest method of food preservation. With a dehydrator (or your oven if you don’t mind wasting a lot of heat) you can make bright colored, chewy fruit leathers, meat jerky, dried tomatoes, and many other space-saving treats.

This is only an overview—a teaser to make you curious. To learn more, attend some of the University of Maryland Extension “Grow It, Eat It, Preserve It” workshops. The food preservation workshops are offered through the summer—if you miss this year’s watch for announcements about next year’s workshops. You can contact Karen Basinger at kbasinge@umd.edu or call 410-313-1908.

Karen also had a list of “Farmers’ Market Dos and Don’ts” – some of my favorites are:

  • Do bring a cooler with ice to help keep your produce fresh while you run your other errands

  • Do keep control of your kids and pets

  • Do go early in the day

  • Do get to know your vendors

  • Don’t sample anything that isn’t labeled as a sample

  • Don’t pinch, squeeze, drop, or peel anything you aren’t going to buy

  • Don’t buy more than you can use, and

  • Don’t forget you can always come back next week!

See you at the Farmers’ Markets!

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.


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calendar_2014smMonday, Sept. 15, 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.

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Elkridge Branch. Learn how to start CPR right away and continue doing chest compressions until help arrives. Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of Hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Training in Hands-Only CPR gives you the ability to help save a life without using mouth-to-mouth ventilation or obtaining a certification card. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410.313.5088.

Saturday, Sept. 23, 7:00 p.m. Meet the Author, HCLS Signature Event: Dr. Neal Barnard Presents Healthy Approaches to Weight Control, Reversing Diabetes, and the Best of Health at Miller Branch. Neal Barnard, M.D., renowned nutrition researcher and New York Times bestselling author, discusses the connection between nutrition and health. Dr. Barnard’’s clinical research revolutionized the treatment of type 2 diabetes. Learn how to control and even reverse this condition. Discover how the same simple diet changes that benefit diabetes patients also bring a wide range of health benefits, including weight control, lower cholesterol levels, protection from memory loss, and greater vitality. Dr. Barnard reveals a proven method of weight control that relies on food choices rather than starvation diets or gimmicks. A Well & Wise event. Presented in partnership with Howard County Department of Citizen Services and Office on Aging. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950. (Meet the Author, HCLS Signature Event.)

Tuesday, Sept. 30, 7:00 p.m. Cutting Edge Discoveries in Neuroscience to Boost Your Brai at Miller Branch. In this three-part series, Majid Fotuhi, M.D., Ph.D., teaches how to boost brain capacity at any age. The founder and chief medical officer of NeurExpand, Fotuhi has written three books about brain health: Boost Your Brain: The New Art and Science Behind Enhanced Brain Performance; The Memory Cure; and The New York Times Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young: The 6-Step Age-Defying Program.

Fotuhi received his M.D. from Harvard Medical School and his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. His research findings have been published in The Journal of Neuroscience, The Lancet, Nature, Neurology, Neuron, and The Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Fotuhi has been featured on PBS, The Dr. Oz Show, CNN, Discovery Channel, NBC’s TODAY show, and numerous other national media.

Sept. 30 Part 1: Diet and Your Brain: Learn which foods can make your memory sharper and stronger.
Dec. 8 Part 2: Stress and Your Brain: Discover how stress can shrink your brain and what you can do within three months to reverse its effects.
Jan. 8 Part 3: Sleep and Your Brain: Explore how to harness the power of sleep to expand your brain capacity.

A Well & Wise and Meet the Author event. Presented in partnership with Howard County Department of Citizen Services and Office on Aging. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.


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appsIncreasingly technology can be used for supporting health, even at the personal health management level. I’m not a technology early adapter, but even I am using it to help track and manage aspects of my health.

Here’s a simple example. When I came home from knee replacement surgery and orthopedic rehab last year I had a complex regimen of medications, physical therapy, and other appointments. To keep it all straight, I drafted a daily schedule using a spreadsheet to track my medications and appointments. I’d update it every week as my schedule shifted and I was taken off medications during my recovery.

Sounds kind of basic—but this tool was so helpful for making sure I kept up with my therapy and didn’t miss any of my medications. After I returned back to work and ‘normal’ life, I didn’t need such a detailed tool anymore, but I did install some reminders in my calendar for certain health tasks (like taking weekly or month medications) so that I’d have a backup system in place.

I’ve barely delved into the tech world for health management and already I’m impressed by the usefulness of the tools. For a number of months I’ve been tracking my nutrition and exercise with “My Fitness Pal,” an app on my phone (or accessible through the web). This has helped me to look at another aspect of my health and reach some goals.

There are apps for monitoring health conditions, checking symptoms, and more. The only downside of having so many options is that we need to choose carefully what tools we can trust and use beneficially. My decisions have been influenced by word of mouth and researching reviews about apps. It’s also a good idea to consider with whom you want to share your personal information.

Another handy trend is the increasing frequency of health providers creating online portals for patient access to records, messaging with doctors, and other health tools. This can make it easier for sending a question or note to your doctor on a non-urgent matter. I like being able to see my test results and looking at them over time for any changes.

Patients can use technology to track and manage health conditions, interact with providers, and even basic research for background on questions or concerns. Now is a time ripe with opportunities to harness technology for the benefit of health.

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


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Please tell me you’ve seen the videos of people dumping buckets of ice water on themselves (or others) on TV or all over social media. If you haven’t, I’m talking about the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. These viral videos saturated the web and local and national television for most of August 2014. The videos encouraged participants to dump buckets of ice water on themselves and challenge others do to the same in an effort to raise awareness and funds for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS).

In fact, Well & Wise participated too!
Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine challenged Howard County Library System just this week! Here’s the proof!

So, what is ALS again? Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), more commonly called “Lou Gehrig’s Disease,” “is a terminal neurological disorder characterized by progressive degeneration of nerve cells in the spinal cord and brain…it is one of the most devastating of the disorders that affects the function of nerves and muscles. ALS does not affect mental functioning or the senses (such as seeing or hearing), and it is not contagious. Currently, there is no cure for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. There are three variations of ALS: sporadic, familial, and Guamanian.” (hopkinsmedicine.org)

While the excitement over the challenge may have waned as the campaign ended and the ALS Association’s (ALSA) bid to trademark the challenge (recently rescinded), the videos are still coming in from around the world. People are still taking and making challenges today.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge was an ingenious idea that came out at just the right time and with the right approach. Fun, accessible, and packed with great storytelling. A personal story and a direct call to action makes all the difference when it comes to bringing about change. I’m sure other organizations and causes will be hoping for some of that ice bucket luck as they craft their newest fundraising campaigns. ALSA’s brilliant August campaign raised over $111,000,000.

But where is all this change (money) going? Well, toward the ALSA mission. Research, trials, operating budgets, outreach, and patient navigation are important aspects of their mission that require funding. According to their site, ALSA is the only national non-profit fighting ASL on every front. That’s a pretty big claim and I’m certain $111 million can do a lot of good.

If you’re curious about ALS research and the importance of collaboration check out what the CDC has compiled concerning the National ALS Registry. And if you’d like to get involved with ALSA (ice bucket or not) visit ALSA.org.

Also, if you are so inclined, you can see my personal #ALSIceBucketChallenge video here (taken on Aug. 21, 2014). Remember, if you participate use #ALSIceBucketChallenge!

JP is the HCLS Editor & Blog Coordinator for Well & Wise. She is also a Children’s Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch. She is a storyteller, wannabe triathlete, KPOP-addict, baker of cupcakes, cancer survivor, and liver transplant recipient.

 


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You know how hamsters spend countless hours on that little wheel in their cage? Ever feel like this on the treadmill or elliptical, getting nowhere, minute after boring minute?  If you find yourself stuck focusing on training in that “fat burn” zone, seeing very little progress, welcome to the club. To top it off, you spend all this time and see little progress.

Let’s examine the animal kingdom for a minute or so. Think about the body of an elephant vs. the body of a cheetah. Pretty sure the body fat of an elephant far outweighs the body fat of a cheetah. Why and how do these two animals move differently? Well, elephants walk and wander, cheetah’s sprint and pant. That walk and wander resembles those hours on the cardio machine while the sprint and pant resembles interval training at its best.

For years, we conditioned women to believe doing cardio for endless minutes in that enjoyable fat burn heart rate zone resulted in success. Instilling the fear of “getting big and bulky like a man” if we lifted weights. How about a show of hands on who enjoys those countless, boring minutes? Well, consider this your permission to get off the treadmill for hours on end and shorten your workouts with interval training. Keep in mind, this does not mean using the “fat burn” or “cardio” workout options on that same treadmill or elliptical. This may require a little pushing of buttons and paying attention on your part! It’s okay, keep reading, I provided you with some guidelines.

First, let’s define interval training a little better. Interval training uses specific periods of higher intensity exercise mixed with lower intensity recovery time. You can use the very same machines or you can take it outside. Start with a defined time for each interval, even though it may feel easy in the beginning. Set your higher intensity interval at a level you can only maintain for a short period of time (to be defined later!). Your lower intensity allows you to recover your breathing and heart rate. You may need to play around with the exact level to find your right intensity. On a scale of 1 – 10, you want to feel like your intensity falls around 7-8 on the higher intervals and a 4 – 5 on the recovery.

Now, on to the nitty-gritty details. An interval workout last about 30 – 40 minutes… Yes, that’s all you need on the interval training days! Use your first 5 minutes to warm up at a level around 2 – 3 on the 1 – 10 scale. For the next 20 – 25 minutes, start with a 1 minute work and 90 second recovery. Maintain this for the entire 20 – 25 minute workout. Your increased intensity could be faster speed or higher incline/level depending on the type of exercise.

Editor’s Note: This post is for informational purposes only.  Please consult your primary care physician before undertaking any exercise regime or diet program.

Lisa Martin founded the Girls on the Run program in Howard County in 2009. Lisa is AFAA & NSCA certified, has more than 15 years of personal training experience, and practices a multidimensional wellness approach at her studio, Salvere Health & Fitness. Lisa says that one of the best things about being in the health and fitness industry is watching people accomplish things they never thought possible.

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calendar_2014smMonday, Sept. 8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage 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, Sept. 8, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Mommy & Me at Miller Branch. Mommy and child participate in a fun-filled activity, led by instructors from Sykesville Tae Kwon Do, while developing movement awareness, motor skills, balance, coordination, flexibility, and agility. Wear athletic shoes, and loose fitting pants or shorts. Ages 2-3 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form is required.

Sept. 8 10:30 a.m. Registration|Release  Sept. 8 11:15 a.m. Registration|Release

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Miller Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding a baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Well & Wise event – In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.*Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Saturday, Sept. 13, 2:00 p.m. Declutter Your Life at Glenwood Branch. Ellen Newman, owner of ClutterRx, shows how to make your life easier by clearing the clutter. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

Monday, Sept. 15, 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.

Tuesday, Sept. 16, 7:00 p.m. Hands Only CPR & AED at Elkridge Branch. Learn how to start CPR right away and continue doing chest compressions until help arrives. Learn about cardiac arrest, how to recognize it’s happening, and the three simple steps of Hands-only CPR for victims over 8 years old. Receive a basic overview of an automated external defibrillator (AED). Training in Hands-Only CPR gives you the ability to help save a life without using mouth-to-mouth ventilation or obtaining a certification card. Ages 11-17. Register online or by calling 410.313.5088.

Starts Tuesday, Sept. 16, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Healthy Weight Connection. Kick-start lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, to help you reach a healthier weight. Receive personalized guidance from a certified dietitian. Classes run in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center. Tuesday/Thursday through Nov. 6. Cost is $195.


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“Cancer treatment” is to “team” as “cancer recovery” is to “village” – an unexpected, but true analogy. With fall arrive new sports seasons, carpools for school athletics practices, and evenings and weekends of cheering at games. We make commitments to those who need us, and if a friend, family member, neighbor or coworker is sick, it might be time to join that person’s care team. A cancer support team also carpools, cheers, and rises to the challenges of each stage, each season, of the disease. Cancer patients often find themselves being cared for by a team. Various healthcare professionals join forces to provide chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, nutrition, physical rehabilitation, and pharmacotherapy. The medical team is only a part of patient care, however. Many people outside the healthcare staff must join together as the village supporting the patient toward wellness. Just like a team requires many players in different positions playing their best to win the game, so too the patient needs all team members in place – physicians, nurses, pharmacists, dieticians, physical therapists, spiritual advisors, family, and friends. Even coworkers, bosses, and neighbors are needed to bridge the gaps in daily routines disrupted by time consuming, exhausting, and costly therapies.

Who can argue with the assertion that every patient needs an advocate? One of the most valued members of the village is that person sitting at the hospital bedside who can step in when the nurse is helping another patient, the IV pump is beeping or an extra blanket is needed. While hospitalized, a sedated or uncomfortable inpatient may not be able to ask for help. An advocate at the bedside can assure that questions are answered, needs are met, and treatments are administered properly. A bedside advocate can observe more details of the patient’s condition over time and give essential feedback to the healthcare team. Vital signs and lab work tell only part of a patient’s story and an advocate can assure that each team member knows the problems that need to be addressed. Once s/he is out of the hospital, a fatigued or anxious outpatient might forget a medication dose or miss an appointment. A team member helps keep everything on track.

jp care teamRecovery from a complicated disease such as cancer is a challenge from every perspective – scientific, medical, social, psychological, sexual, personal. Each member of the village brings his or her own special skills and gifts to this process. Compassion, empathy, physical strength, motivation, cooking, cleaning, and monitoring of dosages, symptoms, lab results and x-rays will all be required. Recognizing depression, withdrawal and repressed rage falls to the team members who see the patient every day. The medical professionals see the patient only intermittently and can miss important milestones in the patient’s progress during and after treatment.

Each person’s needs during an illness are different. One person might greatly appreciate if you bring over meals, while another might want you to bring your pug to visit. A coworker might appreciate if you bring by some magazines or movies. A neighbor might be grateful if you help vacuum or mow the lawn. The message is the same – battling cancer requires a team and recovery takes a village.

The American Cancer Society’s Cancer Caregiving A to Z: An At-Home Guide for Patients and Families helpfully guides the cancer patient’s support team through the many challenges of life during cancer treatment. The writing is clear and straightforward with advice on topics ranging from anxiety to fever to weight changes. Breakthroughs in medical research have resulted in more aggressive, sophisticated and successful oncology therapeutics. The winning playbook for cancer treatment is longer and more complicated, but with the right team in place, victory is achievable.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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sports psychologyBoth my kids played indoor soccer this past year, and what an eye-opener it was for me. Now, in the spirit of full disclosure, let me start by saying that I have one kid who will quite visibly cringe when the ball approaches and another who will very enthusiastically run up and kick the ball in absolutely the wrong direction. Needless to say, they get their great athleticism from me. But I do want them to be active and have the opportunity to learn about team work and good sportsmanship. And these were not teams or leagues being scouted by major-league recruiters or anything. So imagine my surprise when I encountered what I thought was only a thing of the past (and/or bad movie stereotypes)…poor-sport parents.

Let me clarify, no one was booing or name calling (mostly) or throwing things at the opposing team; it would seem that most sports associations have nipped that behavior in the bud, thank goodness. And my kids’ coaches were fair, encouraging, and focused on learning and fun. But parents who were attempting to “enhearten” members of their child’s team, or even their own child, were sometimes a bit aggressive in their “cheering.” There was a lot of “coaching” from the sidelines, a lot of outwardly expressed “frustration” when the “fan’s” team did not do as hoped, and even some not so subtle “rejoicing” when the other team missed. (That may be the greatest number sarcastic quotation marks I’ve ever used in a single sentence.)

Also, to clarify, I am very much opposed to giving out trophies for just showing up. I think competitive environments can be very good for children. All people need to learn to deal with disappointment and frustration in graceful ways (just as they should learn to deal with advantage and success in gracious ways). I am not at all questioning the kids, the parents, or the coaches in their competitive feelings, which I think are quite natural and can even be healthy. What I am questioning is the way that some people (adults in particular) express those feelings. Are we teaching our kids civil ways to communicate and providing the best examples of self control? And what is behind some parents’ lack of control?

stressed parents kidsIn the book Pressure Parents, Stressed-Out Kids, Wendy S. Grolnick, Ph.D. and Kathy Seal discuss the psychological phenomenon known as “ego-involvement.” “Ego-involvement is a tendency to wrap our self esteem or ‘ego’ around successes or failures… [and] we occasionally wrap our egos around our children’s achievements.” This sometimes occurs “when our protective and loving hard-wiring collides with the competition in our children’s lives, prompting us to wrap our own self-esteem around our children’s performance…[giving] us our own stake in how well our child performs.” Gronlick and Seal go on to explain how this ego-involvement adds another layer of pressure on parents, making them subject to more ups and downs in their own self-esteem and weakening parenting skills because the parents are too distracted from their child’s needs.

The idea of ego-involvement is reinforced in Sport Psychology for Youth Coaches by Ronald E. Smith and Frank L. Smoll. The authors talk about the positive or “Mastery” approach to coaching that encourages athletes to continue desirable behaviors by reinforcing or rewarding them. But Smith and Smoll eschew the negative approach that attempts to eliminate mistakes through punishment and criticism. They state that the negative approach is “often present in an ego-based climate.” They also acknowledge that it is not just coaches who can create ego-based environments. Smith and Smoll suggest ways for coaches help curb parents’ ego-involvement and best deliver the message to parents who pressure their child too much that this can “decrease the potential that sports can have for enjoyment and personal growth.” They even quote Wayne “The Great One” Gretzky who said, “Parents should be observers and supporters of their athletically inclined children, never pushers.”

So, I don’t have any great solutions to poor-sport parents. Many sports organizations have come a long way at informing parents what is acceptable and unacceptable behavior. Sadly, however, this doesn’t always eliminate the behavior (and, rightfully, most coaches are paying more attention to the players rather than policing the parents). And there is no sure-fire method to eliminate any negative comments that may take place off the field. Maybe the best place to start is to look at oneself and ask, “Am I guilty of ego-involvement? Am I putting my kid’s needs first? Am I a ‘pusher’ or a model of civility and good sportsmanship?”

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2014smSunday & Monday, Aug. 31 – Sept. 1, 2014. Howard County Library System is closed in observance of Labor Day

Tuesday, Sept. 2, 7:00 p.m. Guided Meditation at Miller Branch.Enjoy a guided mindfulness meditation designed to impart a feeling of peacefulness and connection. Please bring a cushion or meditation pillow. Presented by Star Ferguson, M.Ac., L.Ac. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Wednesday, Sept. 3, 7:00 p.m. Stress Busters for Teens! at Glenwood Branch.Discover coping strategies for stress as you learn about triggers and their physical effects. Practice fun techniques for relieving stress. Ages 11-17.Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

Thursday, Sept. 4, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Understanding Medicare 101. Free. Learn about original Medicare (Parts A and B) and prescription drug coverage (Part D) in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.

Thursday, Sept. 4, 7 to 8:30 p.m. Looking to Lose Weight? Free. Our certified nutritionist and registered dietitian will discuss physiology and health challenges that affect your weight. Plan meals that taste great, provide balance and promote health in Howard County General Hospital’s Wellness Center.

Monday, Sept. 8, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Savage 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, Sept. 8, 10:30 a.m. & 11:15 a.m. Tae Kwon Do: Mommy & Me at Miller Branch. Mommy and child participate in a fun-filled activity, led by instructors from Sykesville Tae Kwon Do, while developing movement awareness, motor skills, balance, coordination, flexibility, and agility. Wear athletic shoes, and loose fitting pants or shorts. Ages 2-3 with adult; 30 min. Registration and a signed release form is required.
Sept. 8 10:30 a.m. Registration|Release   Sept. 8 11:15 a.m. Registration|Release

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Elkridge Branch. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. No registration required.

Tuesday, Sept. 9, 6:30 p.m. I’m Going to Be a Big Brother or Sister at Miller Branch. Prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding a baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Well & Wise event – In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine.*Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Saturday, Sept. 13, 2:00 p.m. Declutter Your Life at Glenwood Branch. Ellen Newman, owner of ClutterRx, shows how to make your life easier by clearing the clutter. Register online or by calling 410.313.5577.

 


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If you want to mix getting fresh air and light exercise with a dash of culture this fall, why not visit a local sculpture or topiary garden? There are quite a few within a driving day trip from the Baltimore/DC corridor. While many flowers are past blooming at this point, there’s still plenty to see.

Ladew Topiary Gardens

No matter when you come to Ladew, there is always something to look at no matter what’s in bloom. Full of color themed gardens and fun topiary works, Monkton’s gardens don’t disappoint. If you want something a little less touched by gardeners, they also have a 1.5 mile nature walk on the grounds as well punctuated by educational points discussing the different types of landscape and foliage.

Annmarie Sculpture Garden

If you happen to find yourself in Solomons, Maryland, this gem is an arts center as well as a sculpture garden. They house works from the Hirshhorn and the National Gallery of Art, as well as their own permanent collection. Throughout the year they also have a rotating temporary collection of works, currently including gnome and fairy houses and artistic birdhouses scattered throughout their ¼ mile path through the woods.

US National Arboretum

Located in the Nation’s Capital, the National Arboretum is 446 acres of gardens and trees. It’s great for bike riding or walking. It’s also free! They also house a nice collection of bonsai, some of which are at least 400 years old!

Chanticleer Garden
Chanticleer calls itself a “pleasure” garden, and it certainly is a feast for the senses. With a heavy emphasis on texture and the sculptural forms of plants, it is a unique visual treat.

Longwood Gardens

Longwood is an impressive collection of indoor and outdoor gardens and one of the nation’s first public parks. It covers over 1000 acres of gardens, woodlands and fountains. If you prefer your summer nature experiences after dark when the temperature has dropped somewhat, Longwood also hosts evening fountain displays, live music and fireworks.

Nik Swaner is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Savage Branch of Howard County Library System. Working in the library allows him to explore and expand his expertise in all manner of geekery.

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nutritionWe all remember that special food our parents used to feed us when we were sick as kids. As adults, it seems reasonable that those same comfort foods would help us feel better as adults, but many times that is not the case. In the new age of gluten-free, anti-inflammatory, plant-based, low GI, diets all promoting health and anti-cancer benefits however, how are we supposed to know what’s right for us when we are sick?

We all know that one of the major side-effects of chemotherapy is nausea. This can lead to loss of appetite and weight loss at a time when you need those nutrients most. A healthier diet can help with those tummy troubles. Either way you look at it, a healthier diet can lead a cancer patient down the road to a faster recovery.

Some changes will be obvious. Processed and pre-packaged foods, the red velvet cheesecake at your favorite restaurant, are almost certainly bad. Others may not be so obvious. Multiple sources list vegan diets as optimal, but this is up to the individual. Cutting back on red meat is a start as many tend to find it has a metallic taste after treatment. Non-animal proteins such as beans and nuts will be easier to digest. Vegetables are going to be the most important food group for cancer patients, specifically leafy greens. Easy to digest whole grains are also important.

With all this knowledge, there are definitely some foods you can, and should, still eat.
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Still not feeling great? Chemocare has some great advice for how to prevent nausea and continue eating when you need those nutrients the most. My personal favorite for stomach problems is eating smaller meals throughout the day instead of two or three big ones.

Aryn is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Miller Branch and has been with HCLS for over 3 years. She has many hobbies including, but not excluded to: exercising, vegetarian living, and eating cake. Perhaps cake is neither “well” nor “wise” but it’s certainly delicious!

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nowhere hairThe title of this post is a quote attributed to Susan McHenry, from The Book of Awakening by Mark Nepo

“Cancer.” The first thought we may have when seeing someone without any hair or eyebrows.

Hair loss can be one of the greatest fears for a cancer patient. Many patients about to undergo chemotherapy shave their heads to avoid the experience of watching their hair thin and disappear. Why does this hair loss occur and why don’t all patients undergoing cancer treatment lose their hair? Medication administered to target and kill cancer cells is commonly referred to as “chemotherapy.” Many patients whose cancer treatment includes chemotherapy will lose their hair because of the mechanism of action of these medications. Some cancer patients undergo radiation treatment as well. Radiation may also result in hair loss.

Alopecia is the clinical term for loss of hair from the body. Alopecia can be in a specific area of the body, such as the scalp, or all over the body. Hair grows out of follicles and is characterized by a long growth phase, a transitional phase, and a brief resting phase, after which the hair falls out. One mechanism by which chemotherapy works is to kill off rapidly reproducing cells. Cancer cells and hair cells both divide constantly- and for this reason are targeted by many forms of chemotherapy. Chemotherapy speeds the progress of hair to the resting phase, resulting in a sudden onset of hair loss. Cancer patients receiving particular types of drugs, however, may not experience hair loss. Medications targeting specific cells or parts of cells or those that attack cancer by boosting a patient’s own immune pathways are unlikely to affect hair growth.

LEARN Cancer MEthodSince each medication has a slightly different onset of action and duration of effect, hair loss from chemotherapy may occur within a week or not until several weeks after treatment. Hair loss may be partial or total. Hair will usually return several weeks after treatment is completed. New hair growth may be a different color or texture from what it was prior to treatment, but the change is rarely permanent. Radiation therapy also destroys rapidly growing cells, so hair follicles in the area targeted by radiation may be destroyed. Hair loss in these areas can be permanent. If hair does return, any alteration in texture or color may be permanent because the goal of radiation is to alter and remove treated cells to prevent their regeneration. Radiation may target every cell in its path, while chemotherapy’s long-term effect is to permanently destroy only cancer cells.

Every cancer patient is different. Each person’s experience of hair loss is highly personal. One close friend might have a response you expect, another might surprise you. Be open and forthright and your friend or family member will appreciate your support. When one of my friends had hair loss during chemotherapy, she welcomed the hand-me-down hats from another friend whose sister had gone through chemo. A different person may not have wanted these hats. Sensitivity and empathy goes a long way. Years later, my friend and I still laugh about the wonderful experiences we had because she was bald and wearing a bold hat. It seemed we always got the best table in the restaurant and the most attentive service. Once, we got special attention from a rock star signing CDs after a concert. We’re convinced it was the crazy hat.

Websites for organizations such as the American Cancer SocietyJohns Hopkins Medicine and the National Cancer Institute offer useful information about coping with chemotherapy-induced hair loss. The comedian Jay London has said, “I was going to buy a book on hair loss, but the pages kept falling out.” Nonetheless, there are many helpful text references including Cancer Caregiving A to Z: An At-Home Guide for Patients and Families and Learn to Live Through Cancer: What You Need to Know and Do.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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foodinjarsWe know that some folks have small kitchens—maybe a starter kitchen or a kitchen downsized from a big house to an apartment—but they dream of a big country kitchen with room to store equipment to stretch the harvest season by preserving food at its healthy best. It is frustrating to see those beautiful strawberries or bountiful tomatoes and think “I’d love to make jam or sauce but I don’t have the equipment I would need or the room to store it.”

There is hope for the small kitchen–and it doesn’t require a remodel! Howard County Library System has a few books that might help you make the best of your kitchen and will show you how you can make preserves, pickles & sauces in small batches with very little special equipment.

Sarah Kallio and Stacey Krastins, authors of The Stocked Kitchen (2011), have a “system.” Follow their advice and their grocery list and you will free up lots of space in your small kitchen. They also include a full range of recipes that use only their pared-down list of staples.

The City Cook: Big City, Small Kitchen, Limitless Ingredients, No Time (2010), by Kate McDonough, also advocates a well-planned pantry. She also discusses the equipment needed in a well-planned small kitchen. Her shopping advice is written with New York City residents in mind, but could be applied to our area—we do have access to a rich variety of ethnic and specialty foods. A culinary school grad, McDonough includes over 90 recipes. If you like her book, try her website for more advice and a searchable recipe database.

So, you’d like to put “food in jars”–try Marisa McClellan’s book, Food in Jars: Preserving in Small Batches Year-round (2011). Most of her recipes are designed for boiling water bath canning which can be accomplished with only a pot on your stove that is tall enough to cover the jars you plan to use by 2 – 4 inches. Others of her recipes, like rosemary salt, pancake, bread or cake mixes in jars, homemade vanilla extract don’t require any processing at all.

art of preservingPickling is a great way to preserve a bountiful harvest. Andrea Chesman, in The Pickled Pantry (2012), has “from apples to Zucchini, 150 recipes for pickles, relishes, chutneys & more.” Her claim is that not everyone will like a particular pickle, but there is a pickle for everyone. While you are experimenting to find your favorite pickle you don’t want to have to make six quarts at a time so she writes most of her recipes for one quart batches. She also tells about an intriguing technique to preserve the overflow of cucumbers—dehydrate them, store them in airtight bags or jars for up to a year, then rehydrate them with pickle brine when you are ready to use them.

The Joy of Pickling (2009) by Linda Ziedrich has “250 flavor-packed recipes for vegetables & more from garden or market.” This is an excellent thorough book about the art & science—and joy—of making pickles. She even covers pickled apples, pumpkin, oysters and eggs.

To go beyond pickles you might like, try The Art of Preserving (2012) by Rick Field, Lisa Atwood, and Rebecca Courchesne. They cover “how to make jams, jellies, curds, pickles, chutneys, salsas, sauces and more plus recipes to use your creations.” And they also briefly review “the basics” of home canning, of fruit spreads, and of pickles. I really like that they pair a recipe for the preserves with a recipe to make, such as blackberry preserves used in blackberry cheesecake tartlets.

The Big Book of Preserving the Harvest by Carol W. Costenbader is a classic. The newest edition is from 2002, but classics age well. Another classic is the Complete Book of Home Preserving (2006). Both of these have well-illustrated and complete instructions for all kinds of preserving; from canning to drying to freezing.

These titles are readily available at Howard County Library System. So, no matter how small your kitchen, you can get the advice you need to preserve the harvest—in small batches.

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.

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Saturday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. Ask A Master Gardener. Discuss gardening questions and concerns at the Glenwood Branch. University of Maryland Extension – Howard County Master Gardeners. Also offered at the Miller Branch Saturday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m. – 12 p.m. and Aug. 18 7 – 8:30 p.m. No registration required.

Saturday, Aug. 16, 10 a.m. Compost Demonstrations. Master Gardeners discuss and demonstrate composting on a drop-in basis at the Miller Branch. Free bins provided for Howard County residents. University of Maryland Extension – Howard County Master Gardeners. No registration required.

Saturday, Aug. 16, 11 a.m. Crop Swap. Do you have an abundance of vegetables from your garden? Let’s crop swap! Bring homegrown produce to trade for something new and delicious at the Miller Branch. Share growing tips and favorite varieties. Families welcome. Leftovers donated to the Howard County Food Bank. Set up from 11 – 11:30 a.m., swap from 11:30 a.m. – 12 p.m. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Saturday, Aug. 16, 3 p.m. Kindergarten, Here We Come. The Central Branch will have stories and activities to help mark that all important first day, including boarding a real school bus. For children entering Kindergarten this fall; 45- 60 min. Cosponsored by Friends of Howard County Library and Howard County Public School System. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.7880. Another is offered on Aug. 19 at 10:15 a.m. at the Savage Branch and again at 7 p.m., and also at 2 p.m. at the East Columbia Branch. Offered again on Aug. 20 at 10:15 a.m. at the Savage Branch and at the East Columbia Branch at 7 p.m. And offered Aug. 21 at 10:15 a.m. at the Savage Branch.

Monday, Aug. 18,  Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch – a Well & Wise Event. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Also offered, Tuesday, Aug. 12, 1 – 3 p.m. 

Monday, Aug. 18, 2 p.m. Infectious Diseases. Learn about infectious diseases, how they are spread, and how disease detectives work to find and stop their spread using medical technology and nanotechnology at the Savage Branch. Participate in mock disease outbreaks around the globe to learn to identify and handle some of the most dangerous diseases, select the right medical or nanotechnology methods, and develop a communication pack to let others know. Being an Infectious Disease Detective has never been more fun! Ages 11-18. HiTech is funded in part by a National Leadership Grant for Libraries from The Institute of Museum and Library Services. Visit hclibrary.org/hitech_events. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760. Offered again on Aug. 19 at 2 p.m. , Aug. 20 at 2 p.m., Aug. 21 at 2 p.m., and Aug. 22 at 2 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 25, 7 p.m. I’m Going to be a Big Brother or Sister. In partnership with Howard County General Hospital: A Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. A Well & Wise class. Come to the Central Branch to prepare for the arrival of a baby in this class for new siblings. Enjoy stories, activities, and bring a favorite doll or stuffed animal to practice holding your baby. Resources for parents, too. Families; 30 – 45 min. Ticket required. Limited space; tickets available at Children’s Desk 15 minutes before class.

Tuesday, Aug. 26, 5 – 6:30 p.m. Weight Loss Through Bariatric Surgery in the Howard County General Wellness Center. Learn about weight loss surgery from Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery. Register online or call 410-550-5669.

Tuesdays and Thursdays, Sept. 16 to Nov. 6, 6:30 – 8 p.m. Healthy Weight Connection. Kick-start individual lifestyle changes, including diet and exercise, to help you reach a healthier weight. Receive personalized guidance from a certified dietitian. Various nutrition topics and gentle yoga. Class held in the Howard County General Wellness Center. Cost is $195. Register online or call 410-740-7601.


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When you get a cancer diagnosis, it is natural to panic, get depressed, and feel angry. But, as Dr. Agus says in A Short Guide to a Long Life, take it not as a death sentence, but as a wake-up call and an opportunity to take control of the health of your own body by learning all you can, studying your options, and going forth with the best treatment that you and your doctor have decided on, all with the best positive attitude you can muster. But don’t become so micro-focused on this one area of your health that you let other areas of your life get pushed aside or forgotten, such as the simple joys of playing with an animal friend or eating a delicious meal.

You know your health is all wrapped up like a rubber band ball with your emotions, your lifestyle, and your attitude. More than anything, eating can be the most important and healthy thing that you can do to guarantee your body receives the raw materials to fight the growth of cancerous cells and to keep the rest of your body humming along in fine shape.

I am going to list a few of my favorite cookbooks from Howard County Library System for those who want to have some new recipes for themselves, a family member, or a friend who may be living with cancer and going through radiation and/or chemotherapy treatments. They may need some help with preparing a nourishing meal, especially if they have a decreased appetite and not much energy. Don‘t forget, drinking lots of fluids is super important, so check out the great drinks and smoothie recipes too–they are great for throwing in healthy ingredients!

The most beautifully illustrated book of clean, green, and fresh recipes is No. 4, but my favorite is No. 1 because it is written as if there is a helper there with you as you plan to make a tasty recipes with notes of interest on how certain ingredients are beneficial or may help with treatment side-effects. For instance, one note says that metal, as in silverware, can often have a bad taste or feel in your mouth when you are getting cancer treatments. So, the suggestion is to go get some pretty plastic ware so that your eating implements are not an impediment to having some yummy healing food.

My son, who underwent two radical craniotomies for brain cancer, said that it was the preparation of the food and often the smell of the cooking, and even sometimes the energy to do the chewing, that really didn’t make eating appealing. Things that could be prepared quickly were helpful. What he appreciated the most was cold things like yogurt, ice cream, fresh fruit shakes, and smoothies. Simple things like crackers and dips or hummus, omelets, cereal or even ramen noodles were preferred as well.

What helped my son the most? Someone who was there providing love and support as well as a full pantry and refrigerator with lots of good-for-you ingredients for wholesome recipe options, especially as he felt better and began to want to experiment with more foods and flavors as his health, energy, and well-being improved. You will find a treasure-trove of great recipes in these books to complement any lifestyle or condition, and remember healthy eating is for all of us always –and thanks for reading my story.

Susan Cooke has worked in Howard County Library System for 20 years. She loves golden retrievers, fresh veggies, and (of course) reading good books. She is proud to have her daughter Sarah Cooke working for HCLS alongside her!

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1CarePackageIt’s natural to want to show someone you care for and have been thinking about them, but it can sometimes be hard to come up with what to do or say. Do you send someone with cancer a get well soon card? Take them out to dinner? Send flowers? Just give them a hug? (Probably advisable, unless you’re sick -in which case stay away!) One good option is to give them a care package – it will show that you’re thinking about them and that you care how they’re doing, even when you can’t find the right words.

So, what do you put in a care package for someone who’s dealing with cancer (or other serious illness)? The following are just a few of the things I would pack for a friend going through treatment.

  • Something that’s cute or nice to look at; a little thing that will make them smile. I added  a small vase of flowers and a happy bumble bee knot-wrap containing a bath bomb and some sweet soap – just to help them relax in the bath and smile a little.
  • Soothing ginger and mint teas – to help an upset stomach or lessen nausea
  • Tea ball (a robot!)
  • Tea scoop
  • Travel mug
  • Lotion to soothe irritated and dry skin, the stronger and more intensive care, the better.
  • Lip balm
  • Hand sanitizer (unscented if possible)
  • Some treats, just for fun! A little bit of chocolate can make anyone feel a little bit better sometimes.
  • Streaming video service subscription – great for those days when you’re too exhausted and run down to go out for entertainment.
  • Easy to make chicken noodle soup
  • Home-made lap blanket
  • Travel water bottle – though a whole case of bottled water for the trunk of their car can be a big help after chemo sessions
  • The theme of my care package is "comfortable self-care." I thought about the things that would make me feel better and the things I would like to have on hand. The beauty of care packages is personalizing them. Some people need skull caps or soft hats when their hair starts to thin or magazines to flip through while sitting in a chemo chair. These are only a few of my ideas, what would you put into a care package?
  • Something that’s cute or nice to look at; a little thing that will make your care package recipient smile. I added a small vase of flowers and a happy bumble bee knot-wrap containing a bath bomb and some sweet soap – just to help them relax in the bath and smile a little.
  • Soothing ginger and mint teas – to help an upset stomach or lessen nausea. Tea ball (a robot!), tea scoop, and Travel mug.
  • Lotion to soothe irritated and dry skin, the stronger and more intensive care, the better. Think about lip balms and unscented hand sanitizer too.
  • Some treats, just for fun! A little bit of chocolate can make anyone feel a little bit better sometimes. If they don't eat them now, they'll still be there waiting. It can be nice to have a treat to look forward to.
  • Streaming video service subscription – great for those days when you’re too exhausted and run down to go out for entertainment. The library is a great resource for streaming and digital content, be it e-books, digital audio books, magazines, and even some movies. A home-made lap blanket (or any exceptionally soft blanket) along with some easy-to-make chicken noodle soup can bring real comfort.
  • Finally, something that your care package recipient will take with them everywhere: a travel water bottle. Though, a whole case of bottled water for the trunk of their car can be a big help after chemo sessions. Extra points if you have a cooler to spare.

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.

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calendar_2014smTuesday, August 12, 7:00 p.m. Movin’ Up to Middle School. Starting sixth grade? Meet new classmates, discuss the big move, and learn the secrets to success at the Elkridge Branch. Compete in a book bag relay and combination lock time-trial! Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.5088. Also available August 18 at 7:00 p.m. at the Miller Branch.

Wednesday, August 13, 4:00 p.m. Kindergarten, Here We Come. The Glenwood Branch will have stories and activities to help mark that all important first day, including boarding a real school bus. For children entering Kindergarten this fall; 45- 60 min. Cosponsored by Friends of Howard County Library and Howard County Public School System. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.5579. Offered again at 7:00 p.m. and on Thursday, August 14, 10:00 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. at the Glenwood Branch, and August 14 at 10:30 a.m. at the Elkridge Branch. Also offered August 16 at 3:00 p.m. at the Central Branch.

Saturday, August 16, 11:00 a.m. Crop Swap. Do you have an abundance of vegetables from your garden? Let’s crop swap! Bring homegrown produce to trade for something new and delicious at the Miller Branch. Share growing tips and favorite varieties. Families welcome. Leftovers donated to the Howard County Food Bank. Set up from 11 – 11:30 am, swap from 11:30 am – 12 pm. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.1950.

Monday, August 18, 10:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m. SAT Prep. The SAT is the most widely used college admission exam. Take advantage of our SAT Math Prep course specifically designed to help students excel on the math portion of the test. Students will take an official practice exam to simulate the experience, learn test-taking strategies, and solve problems related to algebra, geometry, and probability. Grades 9-12 only. Graphing calculators are recommended. HiTech is funded in part by a National Leadership Grant for Libraries from The Institute of Museum and Library Services. Registration is required. Register online or by calling 410.313.0760.

 Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch – a Well & Wise Event. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Also offered, Tuesday, August 12, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Elkridge Branch. No registration required.


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Sick by Eric C. Bryan [https://www.flickr.com/photos/flowers-of-the-sea/]One of the illnesses I dread most are summer colds—the worst! Summer is usually the time of year when I feel my best. My rheumatoid arthritis doesn’t like winter and cold weather makes my joints stiffer and achier. So when the summer rolls around with the warm days, I have more energy and generally feel better than any other time of year.

Maybe that’s why I have extra hatred for summer colds, because they strike when I want to be actively out and about. Recently I caught a cold that unfortunately turned into bronchitis. My husband and I feared something else was going one when the cold didn’t improve after a couple days, I spiked a 100 plus fever and my cough worsened.

With my rheumatoid arthritis (RA) I often am more susceptible to bugs because I’m taking immunosuppressant medications. This means I pick up illnesses easier than others and that a regular illnesses (like a cold) can easily become more complex and turn into more serious issues. Hence, my cold turning into bronchitis.

Since a cold can turn into a bigger problem, I’ve been talking with my doctor about prevention steps to avoid contracting bugs. She told me one of the most effective practices is to avoid touching surfaces with my hands and to wash my hands frequently. While there are plenty of objects I need to touch every day, I do try to avoid highly-trafficked objects like door handles (or use a paper towel when grabbing a door). Also, I’ve become more aware of not eating or touching my face unless I just washed my hands because a lot of the bugs we pick up move from surface-hand-face-mouth. My hope is that cutting back on exposure will help me to stay healthier and avoid contracting viruses.

Additionally, I talked with my doctor about vaccines. People with suppressed immune systems can more easily contract illnesses that vaccines may be able to prevent. For example, I get the flu shot every year and make sure I’m up-to-date on other available vaccines. Consulting with my doctor is very important because there are certain vaccines (with live viruses) I cannot take because of my RA, while other additional ones are highly recommended.

It also can’t hurt to talk with a doctor about vitamins. I’ve found that taking a multivitamin and vitamin C every day has reduced the number of colds I get every year. Just making sure you’re having the right amount of nutrients and eating healthy can support everyday health.

Prevention is a powerful thing—much preferred to getting sick and all the time and medications needed for getting well again. Talking with a doctor about some simple steps you can take to stay healthy can be worthwhile and save the hassle of a nasty summer cold.

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

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fault in our starsI don’t want to say “You have to have been living under a rock not to have read/seen/heard of The Fault in Our Stars” because heaven knows I am frequently unaware of popular things, current fads, or even world-changing news at times (plus it is a little unkind to say that to someone anyway). But The Fault in Our Stars is colossally popular. It was even first mentioned on this blog two years ago by our wonderful JP. And, though I have yet to see the movie (sorry, Nerdfighteria, I promise as soon as it makes it to DVD, I’m there), I have read the book and laughed and cried through the amazing story of Hazel Grace and Augustus.

But what is the appeal? Why has a love story about two teenage cancer patients struck a chord in so many people? (It really is much more than a love story between two teenage cancer patients, but I can’t go into it without giving too much away.) I think (aside from the fact that the writing and the characters are humorous, honest, heartbreaking, smart, and realistic), the book’s popularity has a lot to do with how much cancer still looms in people’s lives. I’ve rarely met a person whose life hasn’t been touched by cancer in some way or another. Additionally, according to the CDC, cancer is still the second leading cause of death in the U.S., and, according to the WHO, lung cancers are the #4 killer in the world.

But why is this ancient beast (The American Cancer Society cites the first recorded description of cancer from Egypt at about 3000 BC) still plaguing us after so many years and so much research? Cancer certainly gets a lot of attention. For example, in FY2013, The National Cancer Institute’s budget was $4.8 billion. And there are numerous cancer research programs throughout the world. Even HCLS carries four periodicals devoted to cancer alone, and there are over 1,200 books in our collection dealing with this topic. But cancer continues. Is it really the result of a fault in our stars?

this star won't go outWell, maybe it’s a fault in our cellsThe National Cancer Institute states: “Cancer is a term used for diseases in which abnormal cells divide without control and are able to invade other tissues.” Or maybe it’s a fault in our blood or lymph systems since it “can spread to other parts of the body through the blood and lymph systems.” Or maybe cancer is a fault in our genes as the American Cancer Foundation points out how certain risk factors that run in families and abnormal gene function can also play a role in cancer.

Maybe, however, we should stick with blaming our stars after all; The National Cancer Institute points out that cancer “is not just one disease but many diseases,” and with many possible causes. These causes and risk factors can include: chemical and environmental elements (including food content and radiation exposure), genetics, hormonal changes, infectious agents, exposure to the sun(!), tobacco use, weight, and physical activity levels, just to name a few without getting too in depth. We might as well blame the stars (not just the sun, but all of them) since some factors we can control, some we can’t, and Fortuna’s mood seems to come into play more than we’d like. No wonder cancer remains a provocative topic; it truly can come out of no where and change everything.

Alas, cancer is still very much a reality in the world, and I think we all hope for a day when it’s not. The Fault in Our Stars treats a frightening topic with care but without a sugar coating. Sometimes just a sense of mutual understanding can provide great comfort. And I feel this book has touched many hearts; it certainly did mine. If it touched your heart too, you may want to check out This Star Won’t Go Out: The Life and Words of Esther Grace Earl, a collection of works from the brave, young lady who was one of the inspirations for The Fault in Our Stars.

Joanne Sobieck-Lingg is glad to blog about her many, disparate interests (though expert in none, except maybe parenthetical asides). In past lives, she was a writer, proofreader, editor, project manager, teacher, and even co-coordinator of a certain health blog. She has been happily ensconced among the fiction and teen books at the Central Branch of HCLS since 2003.

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calendar_2014smMonday, Aug. 4, 6:30 p.m. Move with Games at Elkridge Branch – a Well & Wise Class. Exercise while competing with friends on the Wii or XBox Kinect. Healthy snack provided. Ages 11 – 17. No registration required.

Monday, Aug. 4 & 18, 3:30 p.m. – 5:30 p.m. Blood Pressure Screening at Glenwood Branch – a Well & Wise Event. Free, walk-in blood pressure screening and monitoring offered by Howard County General Hospital: a Member of Johns Hopkins Medicine. Also offered, Tuesday, August 12, 1:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. at Elkridge Branch. No registration required.

Tuesday, Aug. 26, 5 – 6:30 p.m. Weight Loss Through Bariatric Surgery Learn about weight loss sugery from Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery. Call 410-550-5669.

 

 


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self healingMusic gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination and life to everything. ~ Plato, ~400 BCE

Every sound in our environment affects our minds and bodies.

Consider a warm evening with crickets chirping outside your open windows and distant passersby murmur quietly. You’re well on your way to sleep, when a car’s brakes screech, followed by a discordant crash and angry shouts. The tranquility you were experiencing is gone, affected by sounds in the environment.

Music has a profoundly positive effect on the mind and body. Music helps us to concentrate, wakes us up or helps us to sleep, excites or calms us. And people used it for social bonding—in religion or love, or for mind-altering experiences such as war dances, since before time began. Anyone who has rocked out at a concert or flipped on the radio to your favorite music station knows that we are still using and enjoying music today.

Scientists have recently identified the ways that music changes the state of the body. The levels of the brain chemicals dopamine and the endorphins rise; the pupils dilate, antibodies increase (with their protective role in the immune system). In the brain, music activates the amygdala (involved in processing emotion) and prefrontal cortex (involved in decision-making).

These chemical changes explain why music is so appealing. With an increase in the brain chemical dopamine, anxiety decreases and depression lifts. Research has found that music is as effective as medication in decreasing presurgical anxiety. Even sick premature babies respond well to the playing of music. People listening to music at the gym showed improvements of 15% in their endurance and workouts, and coronary disease patients boosted cognitive and verbal skills while exercising.

So, the pleasure of listening to music is an important part of a balanced wellness program. What kind of music is best? Whatever you like! Pick your favorite music, make a playlist, and “medicate yourself with music.”

Jean has been working at Howard County Library System’s Central Branch for nearly nine years. She walks in the Benjamin Banneker Park whenever she gets a chance.

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think like a freakStep up to the “retrain your brain” challenge. When the authors of Freakonomics and Superfreakonomics, Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner, offer to share their unique insight into decision making, seize the opportunity. “Readers seemed to think no riddle was too tricky, no problem too hard, that it couldn’t be sorted out. It was as if we owned some proprietary tool – a Freakonomics forceps, one might imagine – that could be plunged into the body politic to extract some buried wisdom,” write Levitt and Dubner in their new book, Think Like a Freak. Experts on how to look at data differently, Levitt and Dubner have inspired readers to abandon preconceived notions and embrace nontraditional analysis of economic, political and social phenomena. I recall a fascinating question the authors had posed in their first book: Is it true that one’s name plays a part in determining one’s destiny in life? Thanks to Freakonomics, readers gained understanding of the significance of baby name selection. We learned what names tell us about parenting, economic mobility, and social stereotyping. I am ready to be a Freakonomics insider and exercise a similar approach to my own world.

Levitt and Dubner take us behind the scenes of their research techniques. They explain how to find the most useful questions, understand the data we use to answer the questions and apply effective techniques to implement a solution. Their ideas can be implemented in analyzing personal as well as global issues. When thinking about solving a problem, consider how a “freak” would do it. Do not think “right” way vs. “wrong” way. Instead, be conscious to seek out new information. Do not be satisfied with data that merely confirms a bias you already have. Be wary of traditional wisdom. Distinguish between correlation and causality. Persevere to find the root cause and do not settle for the proximal cause.

Freaks realize the importance of recognizing and acknowledging what they don’t know. Admitting you don’t know an answer not only takes the pressure off, it allows you to seek out the information needed to make a successful decision. Besides, to gather useful information, you have to ask the right questions…to know what you don’t know. Take your time and dissect a problem by asking and answering small questions. Levitt and Dubner argue that few problems are solved through focusing on just one big question. 

Thinking like a freak requires we accept that humans are motivated by incentives. As we train ourselves to use the brain of a freak, we learn that the majority of people make decisions that value personal gain over the greater good. This is not a negative statement, rather it is an insight that helps us understand how people think. Knowing this, we then use the power of reward as we work toward our goal. A freak also knows that data-accurate stories motivate people. The power of a telling a good story is, in part, enticing the listener to put him/herself in the other person’s shoes. The other part is including data to focus the listeners’ attention on facts. 

Freaks maintain their ability to think like children. They avoid the constraints of prejudice and willingly confront even the most obvious assumptions. As Levitt and Dubner point out, proof of this concept is that children are more skilled than adults at figuring out magic tricks. This is because, unlike adults, kids are not set in their ways and burdened by presumptions. Also like children, freaks are not afraid to have fun. Why suffer while you study when you can enjoy the journey instead?

I invite you to further explore Think Like a Freak. Learn intriguing skills such as teaching a garden to weed itself. Analyze whether knowing when to quit is just as important as deciding to proceed. Become a Freakonomics insider.

Cherise Tasker is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the Central Branch and has a background in health information. Most evenings, Cherise can be found reading a book, attending a book club meeting, or coordinating a book group.

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Reserve this item at Howard County Library SystemMoving can be one of the most fun (yet daunting) tasks a person ever has to face. You have to research until you find the desired new home, go through all of your belongings, and pack. The stress starts early and lasts until you’re fully settled in your new place.

I recently moved into a new apartment with a close friend. I thought the search was the tough part- and then, came the packing. I have a lot of stuff. A LOT of stuff. When I started tearing apart my closet, I found school assignments from elementary school. I felt like a hoarding mother with a soft spot for nostalgia. I knew I was in for a long and stressful process. After a while, I realized that getting rid of stuff wasn’t necessarily the issue. However, looking through everything and deciding what to keep was quite overwhelming. I had to ask myself a series of questions in deciding what to keep: Why do I have this? Where did it come from? Why is this valuable to me? How long have I had this? Do I need it? Do I use it? Would someone else benefit more from having this? These are just a few of the many questions that you can use to determine an item’s value. In Downsizing Your Home with Style, we’re invited to shift our perspectives from “I’ve got to get rid of this stuff!” to “What can’t I live without?” You’re not sacrificing your beloved belongings, you’re reducing your things to the “best and most loved.” That’s not a bad way to look at things.

Like I mentioned, I have a lot of stuff. Not only is there an abundance of stuff, but it’s all quite awesome. Whether it’s an item that was gifted to me or something that I found at a thrift store, I keep my belongings in good condition. This actually makes it more difficult when deciding what to get rid of. First, I offer belongings to friends who I think will appreciate certain items and give them a good life. Then, I take the remaining “give-away” items to a local donation center. Rarely, but on occasion, I may sell some things to make a little extra money.

Here’s another tip: upcycle! When you have an item that you absolutely can’t part with (and have no reason to keep) you can re-purpose it! Upcycling is a great way to hold on to a beloved item and actually get use out of it. I’ve found many creative ways to re-use otherwise trash-worthy items. One of my favorite re-purposed items came from a busted bass drum – which is now my bedside table. I have also used old and broken jewelry to make new jewelry and hair accessories. Repurposing items is fun! Plus, it can help you save money.

The other important thing to keep in mind is having an organization system. There are plenty of containers in various sizes sold in stores to aid in this process. This might be a possible opportunity to repurpose something! My roommate and I recently bought small hooks (cup hooks) and pieces of half round molding to make a wall mounted necklace rack. Total cost? Less than $3. Organize Your Home is filled with great tips on keeping your belongings organized no matter what room you’re in or what it is you’re trying to accomplish – like moving your household!

As stressful as moving can be, it is important to keep the end goal in sight. With plenty of research and organization you can find the perfect home and feel confident in the amount of belongings that make the move with you. While you might not need all of your old school assignments, it’s alright to gather all of those old band t-shirts and make them into a brand new quilt!

Laci Radford is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch (while her home branch, in Savage, is being renovated). She is a music lover, writer, and an avid reader. She enjoys attending concerts, plays, and other forms of live entertainment. Her favorite activities include scoping out unique items at thrift stores, bonfires with friends, and having tie-dye parties. She is studying Psychology and plans to become a music and art therapist sooner rather than later.

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Ahh, the farmers’ market…

vegetable literacyHow wonderful to have the farmers’ markets back! If you are lucky enough to have a market nearby you can plan your menus around an easy weekly visit to their tables full of colorful, juicy produce! Maybe you will even run into a vegetable that is new to you—have you tried kohlrabi yet? Maybe you like beets, but are looking for a new way to prepare them, or you’d like to find a recipe that will entice your family to eat kale. It’s time for a new cookbook! Here are a few recent cookbooks from the shelves of Howard County Library System.

The Farmers’ Market Guide to Vegetables: Selecting, Preparing and Cooking, by Bridget Jones, has been a staple since its publication in 2001. How nice to be able to highly recommend a new title, Vegetable Literacy (2013), by Deborah Madison. At “the vanguard of the vegetarian cooking movement” for over three decades, Madison now explores and celebrates the diversity of the plant kingdom. Her approach is to introduce us to each of twelve plant families, such as the carrot family, the mint family, the cabbage family, and show how ingredients are related and can easily substitute for each other. Each vegetable within the family gets several paragraphs of history and advice, a list of selected varieties, and a bit of “kitchen wisdom” followed by several wonderful-sounding recipes fit for a chef’s repertoire and a tantalizing photo.

heart of the plateMolly Katzen is well-known among vegetarians as the author of the Moosewood Cookbook, The Enchanted Broccoli Forest, and several other vegetable-themed books, including Salad People for preschoolers and up. Her newest is the The Heart of the Plate: Vegetarian Recipes for a New Generation (2013) and it is lovely! I find the deep eggplant-colored cover and the illustrations and photos more appealing than the “handwritten” style of the Moosewood books. The organization is by categories such as soups, salads, pasta, sauces, etc. She has added a helpful list of the recipes that are “vegetarian” and those that are “vegan.” Katzen’s definition of her cuisine is “a beautiful plate of food, simply cooked, maximally flavored, and embracing as many plant components as will harmoniously fit.” this is one I will be taking home!

leafy greensForks over Knives: the Cookbook (2012) by Del Sroufe and others, is a companion to the Forks over Knives book and video. Whether or not you are convinced by the original book and video that you should embrace a wholly plant-based whole foods diet, the cookbook is a great collection of healthy recipes. There are only a few enticing photos, but that leaves more room for the wide variety of recipes. You will probably be introduced to a few new ingredients—be adventurous!

One of the most important categories of vegetables—and perhaps the most confusing and intimidating—is the leafy greens. Mark Bittman is the author of the How to Cook Everything series, the Minimalist column in the New York Times, and several “minimalist” cookbooks. Bittman wants you to enjoy your leafy greens! His Leafy Greens: an A-to-Z Guide to 30 Types of Greens Plus More Than 120 Delicious Recipes, written in 1995, when he was an avid gardener, deserved a reprint in 2012. The A-to-Z guide includes dandelions, seaweed and other wild greens as well as the more common collards and spinach. His recipes aren’t only about greens but about how to use them with pasta and proteins. The whimsical but realistic illustrations have also stood the test of time.

cooking with flowersWhat if you are the only vegetarian in your household—or you are a household of one? You may need the advice in Joe Yonan’s Eat your Vegetables: Bold Recipes for the Single Cook (2013). Yonan has an easy conversational style that encourages one to experiment and have fun cooking. His advice will help the single cook to shop efficiently and cook without a lot of leftovers.

My last reading suggestion is the whimsical Cooking with Flowers (2013) by Miche Bacher of Mali B Sweets. Bacher is trained as an herbalist but it is her creativity with everything from lilac sorbet to dandelion jam that will inspire you.

Summer is the easiest time of year to get plenty of healthful vegetables in your diet. Try being a “farmers’ market chef” this summer!

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.

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Female boomers in the U.S. make up a tad over 50% of the current population. And they are, healthier, wealthier, wiser, and making more lucrative investments than men. At least, according to Stephanie Holland of Sheconomy: A Guy’s Guide to Marketing To Women. But publishers and their authors don’t necessarily pitch to their vibrancy.

Library customers who make up the above statistic come in every summer asking the frustrating question: “Aren’t there any good books out there where the main character is – well – over 45?”

And the answer is: “There are! And you’re going to have a heck of a good time reading them!”

Julie and Romeo by Jeanne Ray

Julie Roseman and Romeo Cacciamani (both over 60 years old) are rival Boston florists whose families share a decades-old grievance. The fact that no one is precisely sure why or when it began doesn’t matter. In fact, all that Julie can remember from childhood is her father spitting on the floor if anyone dared utter the name “Cacciamani.”

Bitterness between the families only intensified when Julie’s teen-aged daughter, Sandy, and Romeo’s son, Tony, tried to elope. Fast forward almost 20 years: Julie’s divorced, Romeo’s widowed, and the Roseman-Cacciamani feud continues to simmer. Until Julie and Romeo meet at a job fair.

Suddenly, all hard feelings – not to mention the arid climate of post-menopause and erectile dysfunction go out the window — or at least the door of Romeo’s cozy, walk-in flower cooler where the two — well – combust. Hysterical!

Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand by Helen Simonson

Suffering Downton Abbey withdrawal? If so, consider this well-mannered English confection (replete with hedgerows and high tea).

When his brother dies, staid widower and retired schoolteacher, Major Pettigrew, can only seem to express his grief to Mrs. Ali, a warm and affable Pakistani shopkeeper (and widow) whom he’s known for years. But sorrow has a way of making one ‘see’ someone anew. Especially when there’s a shared delight in discussing Kipling.

Slowly but surely, their world begins to eclipse everyone – including small-minded neighbors and self-serving relations. Everyone but them.

There is nothing, Simonson reminds us in this endearing tale, like the rich patina of mid-life love.

A Year by The Sea by Joan Anderson

And finally, not fiction, but a sobering memoir. And by a grown up, now 64.

While 26-year-old Cheryl Strayed, (Wild), may have clue-lessly walked the Pacific Crest Trail in toe-pinching hiking boots, and thirty-something Elizabeth Gilbert showed readers the way toward becoming a pasta-eating yogi in Eat, Pray, Love, memoirist Joan Anderson chose a far less glamorous path to self-discovery.

In her mid-fifties, her husband of many years informed her he was taking a job offer out of state – one that would necessitate selling their family home. Joan’s reaction, after a pragmatic assessment of her life (or rather shelf-life as wife and mother) was not what anyone in her family expected. She headed for Cape Cod.

There, a dilapidated summer house would become her unlikely ‘muse’ for the next twelve months. The best part of Joan Anderson’s life was far from finished.

Lucky us.

Aimee Zuccarini is an Instructor & Research Specialist at the East Columbia Branch. She facilitates several book discussions and writes the book reviews for The Maryland Women’s Journal.

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https://secure.syndetics.com/index.aspx?isbn=9780393070217/LC.JPG&client=hocop&upc=&oclc=I only think about olive oil when I really want fresh mozzarella with tomatoes and basil, and I generally just pick whichever brand at the grocery store looks the fanciest without being too expensive. Of course there’s a whole world behind the scenes that I had no idea about! It turns out that I should be treating olive oil more like a fine wine – carefully chosen to exact specifications with the flavor, quality, age, and origin in mind.

Tom Mueller’s Extra Virginity: The Sublime and Scandalous World of Olive Oil is more than just a risque title, it’s an eye opening “journey through the world of olive oil” covering the oil’s history and traditions, plus fun stuff like rampant fraud in the industry and the popular Turkish sport of oil wrestling.

There are eight flaws which can be found in olive oil:

    1. rancid
    2. fusty
    3. winey
    4. vinegary
    5. muddy sediment
    6. metallic
    7. esparto
    8. grubby

The presence of just one of these flaws barrs the oil from being graded as extra virgin. According to Mueller, many olive oils are labeled as extra virgin despite not meeting the standards legally imposed for such an assignment. Lots of these oils actually fall into the poorest category created by the International Olive Council (an intergovernmental agency instituted by the United Nations – this is serious business!): lampante, meaning “lamp oil,” which by law is unfit for human consumption and must be refined before being sold as food. I don’t know about you, but I don’t feel great knowing that this is what I’ve probably been using.

1053785_40698773Why does it really matter? The taste suffers, for one. Further, excess refinement, aging, or mixing with other oils removes a lot of the health benefits that lead many to the use of extra virgin olive oil (EVOO) in the first place. Mueller explains that “real extra virgin olive oil contains powerful antioxidants and anti-inflammatories which help to prevent degenerative conditions (p. 7)” and those properties are actually found in the same substances that give the oil it’s integral flavors. High bitterness and a velvety texture are signs of tocopherol, squalene, and hydroxytyrosol – antioxidants – and a peppery sting the back of the throat is a sign of oleocanthal – an anti-inflammatory (p. 104-5).

Desirable aspects of a good EVOO are a balance between bitterness, fruitiness, and pungency (peppery). Choosing a quality EVOO involves quite a few factors, but Mueller provided some tips for us laymen to follow if we can’t quite get to Italy to pluck olives off the tree ourselves:

  • It’s very perishable, so try to find it as fresh and close to the mill as possible – hey, the more local your food is the better, why not olive oil too? You want to protect it against light and air, so darker colored bottles are better if you can’t find it fresh.
  • Look for a best by date around two years away, as that should indicate that it was bottled recently. A harvest date is even better, and if there is one look for dates from the current year. Quality EVOO will be good for around 18 months to two years after it’s harvested and pressed.
  • Check the label for the specific grade: extra virgin. Ignore buzz words like pure, light, and first or cold pressed; as non-regulated terms they mean nothing. Even “pressed in Italy” and similar phrases are misleading as olives from other countries are imported and bottled in Italy before being re-exported with an Italian flag on the bottle.
  • Remember, different olive oils are good for different uses. A robust, full-bodied, or “early harvest” oil will pair well with strongly flavored food while a mild, delicate, or “late harvest” oil will work better with less flavorful foods (Mueller suggests it for chicken, fish, or potatoes).

I can’t wait to find a specialty oil seller now so I can experience the difference between quality EVOO and the stuff I’ve been using – I suspect I won’t be switching back.

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.

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