Birthday Beercake

At work today some of my colleagues surprised me with a birthday beercake — locals brews configured to form a kind of layer cake, with a special sour beer as a quasi-candle on top.

What a thoughtful and artistic gesture!  They insisted, however, that I leave their creation in my office for a few days, so all visitors can enjoy it.  I wonder how the nightly cleaning crew will react to the new addition to my desktop art?

Our Changing Skyline

For years now, the skyline of downtown Columbus has stayed pretty much the same.  For decades, it’s been the Nationwide complex of buildings to the north, the courthouse and municipal buildings to the south, and the cluster of high-rises surrounding Capitol Square and the LeVeque Tower in the middle.

All of that is now changing, and rapidly.  As I mentioned recently, there are construction cranes all over the downtown area.  Every day I walk past a construction site at the corner of Rich and Third Street that is taking the place of what used to be a grassy expanse adjacent to Columbus Commons that was home to kickball games and exercise groups.  Soon it is going to be the location of a 12-story mixed use building with retail on the ground floor, a few stories of office space, and residential units.  There are similar multi-story, “mixed use” buildings under construction up and down High Street, filling in most of the surface parking lots that have been an eyesore on Columbus’ main north-south street and helping to bridge the “skyline gap” between the taller buildings in downtown Columbus.  And the city is abuzz about the recent announcement of a 35-story skyscraper to be built next to the North Market — an addition that will really change the look of the skyline.

Columbus isn’t Manhattan, where the construction of a 35-story building wouldn’t merit much attention.  Here in the heartland, a 35-story building is a pretty big deal.

But, to my mind, the North Market high-rise announcement, and the other construction projects aren’t the biggest sign of how things are changing in downtown Columbus.  Instead, the most compelling indicator is the money that has been poured into refurbishing the crumbling, crappy Long Street garage, where I used to park my car until the structure was condemned by the city.  Amazingly, a new owner purchased the building and has been working on it for months, giving it a spiffy blue metal and glass facelift and adding a car wash option for parkers.  You know your downtown area is heading in the right direction when developers are willing to put money into a derelict parking garage in the expectation that the conversion of surface lots into buildings, and the influx of workers and new downtown residents, will make a better parking garage a profitable enterprise.

What’s going on in downtown Columbus is pretty amazing, and we’re going to be seeing the results of the changes every day as we drive, and walk, and bike, into work.

 

Flower Power

Our weird winter weather seemed to do a number on this spring’s tulip crop in German Village — at least, it seems like there aren’t as many around this year.  I wonder whether the warmer than normal February, followed by the colder than normal March and early April, took its toll on the flower we traditionally associate with spring (and Holland).

Still, there are a few nice tulip beds to be found, like this beauty on Third Street.  Thanks to whoever planted these lovely flowers — they add a dash of color and flair to my morning and always bring a smile to my face as I pass by.

Stressed Out Pooches

Recently we took Kasey to the vet’s office while we went on a weekend trip.  When we returned the vet reported that Kasey had been very anxious during her stay — so anxious that they actually had to give her some kind of sedative to calm her down.  One symptom of her stress was that when the vet’s assistants would try to walk her, she would constantly tug them toward the road, as if she wanted to return home.

Of course, this news made us feel like crap — nobody wants to hear that the canine member of their family is suffering from anxiety issues — but it also leaves us with tough and limited choices.  Although it is increasingly common for people to travel with their dogs these days, we can’t take Kasey along every time we go on a trip.  We can’t take her everywhere we go, and leaving her alone in a hotel room seems like a recipe for disaster.  We’ve had her stay at our house with a dog sitter who stops by a few times a day for some of our short trips, but that approach often produces accidents.  We’ve taken her to the vet, where the anxiety issues have occurred, and we’ve boarded her at kennels, but those stays seem to leave Kasey sleep-deprived and exhausted.  Kasey is an old dog, and the constant barking you hear whenever you visit one of those kennels seems to really bother her.

People used to talk about “a dog’s life,” as if the leisurely romping and dozing we associate with pooches was the kind of lifestyle we should all aspire to, but researchers have found that dogs in fact deal with lots of issues.  Many dogs have serious problems with separation anxiety when their owners leave the house; others are high-strung and have delicate constitutions thanks to the constant inbreeding needed to produce the latest designer dog.  Some dogs take daily medication for psychological issues, which really makes you wonder:  what does it say when our modern society is to the point where there is a significant issue with dogs being over-medicated for mental conditions?

I’m not sure what we’re going to do with Kasey when we travel; we’ve got a while before we both have to be out of town again.  I do know this:  I’m willing to accept a few accidents on the carpet if that means she doesn’t have to be sedated.

 

A Hotel Lobby Look

I stayed recently at the Renwick hotel in Manhattan, and while I didn’t particularly care for the stenciled quote on the wall of my room, I did like the look of the Renwick’s cozy lobby.  I thought the stacked books painted to create a portrait were an especially cool touch.

Hotel lobbies — constantly pushing the boundaries of room decor!

Lame B-Day

Today is my birthday.  As birthdays go, it hasn’t been in the top 5 all-time.  I’m in NYC, and my flight home has been repeatedly — and incrementally– delayed.  Every half hour or so my phone buzzes and another delay is announced, always with “apologies for the inconvenience.”  I’m now looking at a departure time that is more than three hours after the scheduled time, and I’m wondering whether the next announcement will be an outright cancellation.

All in all, it’s not the best way to celebrate a birthday.  Fortunately, birthdays don’t mean that much to me.