calendar_2014smMondays, July 21, 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.

Saturday, July 26, 9-11 a.m. Home Sweet Home. Children ages 8–12 and their parents learn ways for children to stay at home alone. Register at or call 410-740-7601. Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, Md.

Monday, July 28, 5:30-9 p.m. Adult/Child/Infant CPR and AED. Learn skills to clear an airway obstruction, perform CPR and how to use an automated external defibrillator (AED). Earn two-year American Heart Association completion card (not a health care provider course). Cost is $55. Register at or call 410-740-7601.Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, Md.

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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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© Innovatedcaptures |

If your sleep partner thrashes around and frequently kicks you during the night, don’t assume he or she is angry at you. And the friend who can never sit still for more than a few minutes may not just have “ants in her pants.” They may have a neurological disorder called restless legs syndrome (RLS), also referred to as Willis-Ekbom Disease named after the doctor who first described this condition more than 300 years ago. While anyone, even children, can develop RLS, it is more common among women. According to The Johns Hopkins Center for Restless Legs Syndrome, five percent of the general population and as many as 10 percent of those over 65 years old suffer with this condition.

RLS Symptoms The hallmark of this condition is an abnormal creeping sensation in the legs that causes an uncontrollable urge to move them. People with RLS can barely sit through a movie or quietly read a book without having to get up and move, and it makes sleeping almost impossible. Rest brings on symptoms, which usually peak at night, and activity relieves them. These sensations may be felt anywhere from the thigh to the ankle in one or both legs and sometimes in the arms, but rarely in the feet. Some people’s legs jump on their own, and there may be semi-involuntary movements of the legs. Many with RLS will have rhythmic or semi-rhythmic movements of their legs while they are asleep.

RLS Causes?

  • Iron deficiency – There is a strong relationship between iron deficiency and RLS and even people with normal blood iron levels may have iron deficiency in the tissues that can cause symptoms.
  • It’s in the genes – There is considerable evidence that there is a genetic component to RLS and, while genetic variations do not always cause RLS, they can increase your risk of developing it. We also know that there is a connection between several genes and iron regulation, which supports the idea that iron levels and genes may trigger the onset of RLS.
  • RLS is also associated with pregnancy, kidney dialysis and increased age.

Treatments We like to start with treatments that don’t require medication, such as hot baths, massaging the legs, applying hot or cold packs, moderate physical activity, and restricting caffeine and alcohol. These remedies may bring some level of relief, but for most, they will not bring a good night’s sleep. Certain medications, such as antihistamines, can actually make the condition worse, but others have proven to be very helpful in reducing symptoms. So if you or your sleep mate can’t lie still at night and it’s keeping one or both of you awake, it may be time to seek professional help for diagnosis and treatment. For information or to schedule an appointment, call 800-WESLEEP (800-937-5337) or visit

Rachel Salas, M.D., is a neurologist and assistant medical director of The Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at HCGH and director of its home sleep testing services.

read more 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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Mondays, July 14-Aug. 18, 11 a.m.-12 p.m. Qigong: Meditation in Motion. There is a state of the heart known by ancient traditions and cultures to vaporize illness from the body. Whether we profoundly heal illness, or learn to live in a state of holy joy, irrespective of our circumstances, living in this state of heart changes the way we think, feel and heal. Learn self-healing practices to powerfully unlock often unrecognized or neglected Mind-Body resources. Access your inner Molecules of Medicine! $72 for six-week class or $15 per class. Room 100 of The Medical Pavilion at Howard County. Taught by Bridget Hughes, M.Ac., L.Ac. Registration is required, call 410-964-9100 x 2 or email

Tuesday, July 15, 5-6:30 p.m. Weight Loss Through Bariatric Surgery. Learn about weight-loss surgery from Johns Hopkins Center for Bariatric Surgery. 410-550-5669 or

Wednesday, July 16, 7-9 p.m. Happiest Baby on the Block. Parents and parents-to-be learn techniques to quickly soothe baby. $50 per couple (includes parent kits). Call 410-740-7601 or visit Howard County General Hospital Wellness Center, 10710 Charter Drive, Columbia, Md.

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Female boomers well into their middle-years are unfazed by much. They’ve lived and seen it all – except (and frustratingly often) when it comes to themselves as the main character inside those sherbet-colored book jackets that the Library of Congress keywords “men-women-relationships-fiction.”

Escaping, at any age, into an addictive read is good for the psyche (less calories than M&Ms) and a woman’s right. But if AARP membership is looming, and the main character is once again 22 and trying to come to terms with a hole in one of her Jimmy Choos, not so much.

“Once in a while,” my 56 year-old hair dresser remarked recently, “I’d like to see me reflected in one of those beach reads. I mean, I may be an ‘old hen,’ but I can still make soup!”

Well, here are some books that may make her shout, “Winner! Winner! Chicken dinner!”

Blue Rodeo by Joann Mapson

If you’re like Maggie Yearwood, and limping away from your car wreck of a marriage, what better place to ease the pain than the ancient mountain village of Blue Dog, New Mexico? That’s Maggie’s mid-life plan anyway – especially as the move now puts her closer to a school for the deaf – and her embittered son. More than that, she seeks isolation as the only possible cure to her artistic impotence. At least, until a little Navajo/New Age Karma puts her in the path of luckless sheep rancher, Owen Garrett. Gritty and chile bola hot, Mapson’s second novel is filled with distinctive voices who have weathered life and love, but are ready to go around a second time. Messy, sexy, and true.

Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakthrough by Ruth Pennebaker

It all begins when Joanie Pilcher’s ex calls to say his 20-something girlfriend is pregnant. If that isn’t the icing on the cake (which already consists of an opinionated live-in mom, Ivy, and an angry adolescent daughter, Caroline), Joanie doesn’t know what is. Maybe her therapy group will – although their whining and complaining is secretly getting to her as well – not to mention, her boss who keeps reminding Joanie how lucky she is to have any job at her age. Meanwhile, bewildered Ivy tries to grapple with a world suddenly moving at warp speed. Walking into a boutique, the saleswomen inform the septuagenarian that she may be too old to appreciate their merchandise. Ivy’s kiss-off? Shoplift a scarf – which promptly lands her in jail. At the same time, Caroline, who suffers the realization that she is invisible at school, channels this rage into dying her hair pink and convincing herself that she has multiple personality disorder. All of which begs the question: can this wacky dynasty be saved? NPR commentator Ruth Pennebacker delivers with an ending that’s both predictable and satisfying. Like milk and cookies.

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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You or your sleep partner anticipates when it will begin every night. That dreaded sound of a buzz saw with intermittent gasping and choking sounds that can wake you up and keep you awake for too much of the night. Snoring is the subject of cartoons and sitcoms, but in real life, it isn’t very funny.

What is obstructive sleep apnea (OSA)? Just about everyone has, at some time, experienced snoring, but chronic loud snoring accompanied by the actual cessation of breath that lasts for ten seconds or more is the most common symptom of a sleep disorder known as obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) or sleep disordered breathing. The back of the airway is obstructed by the tongue and the back of the throat collapses so that air can’t come through to the lungs. People with OSA may even have trouble breathing during daytime napping. This causes retention of carbon dioxide and a drop in blood oxygen levels that can lead to headaches, daytime drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, insomnia, depression and nighttime urination. Anyone can develop OSA, but men are more prone, perhaps because they have bigger and more muscular necks; and women sometimes go undiagnosed because they display different symptoms, including depression. In children, sleep apnea is usually associated with enlarged tonsils and/or adenoids. A large tongue, excess tissue in the upper airway, blocked nasal passages or the structure of the jaw and airway are other risk factors, as is being overweight. As the waistline of the American public has expanded over the years, so has the number of people with sleep apnea.

What are the consequences?
Without treatment, sleep apnea can have many unfortunate consequences, including stroke, diabetes and cardiac problems. OSA can also aggravate other medical conditions, such as high blood pressure, acid reflux and insomnia. If you have existing high risk for any of these conditions, OSA can move you faster toward developing the disease; and because oxygen levels sometimes go down very low during sleep, people can die from sleep apnea.

What is a sleep study?
We always want to get the patient’s history, but with symptoms of OSA, an overnight sleep study is required to make a conclusive diagnosis. This study, also called a polysomnogram, can be done either at the hospital in a sleep lab or using portable monitoring equipment at home. The purpose is to evaluate how a patient breathes during sleep. A trained technician will connect wires to the patient’s head, chest and legs in order to monitor the oxygen level, breathing pattern and sleep pattern throughout the night.

How do we treat OSA?
Adequate treatment of sleep apnea can improve both symptoms of OSA and its associated medical conditions. For mild apnea, sometimes a pillow or sleeping on one’s side can help alleviate the symptoms and there are dental appliances that reposition the lower jaw and keep the tongue forward to open the airway. But for more severe cases of OSA, CPAP (continual positive airway pressure) machine therapy is the gold standard. A machine is worn during sleep to push air through the throat and keep it open during the night. For overweight patients, weight loss and sometimes surgery, such as removal of tonsils and adenoids is recommended. Tobacco, sleeping pills and alcohol can exacerbate apnea, so avoiding these substances may help. Remember – snoring is not just annoying. It can be a warning sign that you have a sleep disorder that may have serious health consequences and a “wake up” call that you need to improve your sleep!

Francis Chuidian, M.D., is a pulmonary, critical care physician with the Johns Hopkins Center for Sleep at HCGH. For more information about the center, visit

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