Saturday, October 22, 2016

A drive into the country

many faces of Tessa.
Sharon Mills County Park
the River Raisin

milkweed pods The monarch butterfly larvae feed on its leaves. Presumably there is a shortage of milkweed but I see it everywhere 

crimson maples on my bike ride
one of our 3 crimson king maples. The sugar maple has only 25% turned

My hairdresser lives in the southwest corner of our county whereas I live in the northeast. Thus it is quite the drive to see her. I don't mind as it is so pretty. I took the county roads going there. As I was too early, I went to the nearby county park to take photos. Long ago, this was a fording place for the Native Americans across the River Raisin. Then a series of mills operated years ago for the tiny settlement of Sharon Hollow. About 20 years ago, I came across these mills by then turned into a winery, on my bike. We stopped to sample the wine. Bad idea as it is very difficult to ride after drinking. Now the whole area is a county park.

Usually I am given fresh eggs but hawks and eagles have taken their toll on her chicken flock.
It was 37 when I bundled up to take a bike ride today. I was warm but battling the strong north wind was tiring. The sun lit up the fall colors. So pretty.

Game day yet again. As Julie is out of town, Josh and Allie are coming here to watch the game. Hopefully I can get Steve to get my Halloween lights up by then.

74  days, at most, until we meet grandbaby number 6.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Fall colors

We haven't enjoyed the fall colors as much as we did last year. We finally went for a drive the other day. Unfortunately, I think they already peaked
We started at the Dexter Cider Mill which was closed. 34 years ago I ran my first race along the Huron River starting in Ann Arbor finishing here going the opposite direction as the more famous Dexter-Ann Arbor. I had just started my running program 6 weeks before to lose the weight  gained having Josh. Despite dropping all the weight and then some, I kept running and was winning some races. Now I am so slow. Maybe I will speed up a bit when my excess is gone
Delhi with a traffic light
at least one maple with leaves
The big bend of the river. Several egrets and swans were there but did not have the good camera with me. How many times have I run and biked along this stretch?
back to buying 'art' It is is hanging in my green and purple room. I don't know why the walls don't appear their sage color here
this will hang in our master bedroom window as soon as I figure out how. Two bucks
who doesn't need an Italian marquetry musical sewing table? (plays O solo mio). Principal wood appears to be mahogany. Research indicates it to be about 40 years old

My maple trees have not completely changed colors yet. True the Crimson Kings, if that's what they are, are reddish green but the sugar maple hasn't completely turned orange red.  Running through the woods early in the morning is very pretty though a lot of the trees there are oaks and hickories, not known for pretty colors. Until today, it has been very warm maybe that's why the colors aren't so nice this year.

I am slowly shrinking. Not as fast as I would like but probably as fast as medically safe. It has become somewhat easier to ignore my hunger pangs. Not drinking (one beer in 3 weeks) has helped.

Aside from our leaf peeping, Steve and I went shopping. I rarely go into 'new goods' stores anymore. What did I buy? Parrot tulip  and Asiatic lily bulbs. Hopefully they don't become expensive squirrel food though I don't have the numbers of squirrels as I did at the old house to dig up bulbs. And they had a beautiful stained glass lamp I wanted but as I bought a used one the week before, I couldn't justify it. But my favorite purchase was of lights. Shanna has a rotating disc that broadcasts moving ghosts on her porch. I got one that shows falling orange and yellow leaves. It even looks good in my 'orange' living room. They had a light that shows falling red and blue snowflakes for Xmas. To hang on the high hooks of our porch, I have dangling flashing orange spiders for that touch of class. Perhaps today I can persuade Steve to hang them.

Yesterday was Maya's IEP. New school; new personal. I do have much more confidence in this team than in the one at her old school. Extra bonus, she should be here for the next 6 years. Who was there besides Naomi and myself? Well not Don'tae. He forgot. We had her classroom teacher, speech therapist, occupational therapist, social worker, school principal, special ed teacher and an occupational assistant. Yep it takes a village to deal with Maya. I especially liked her classroom teacher who seems to be a good fit for her. I know the husband of the special ed teacher so it was fun sharing stories about him ( he wants me to volunteer as a science teacher for the system; I had done demos in the kids' middle school where he used to teach)

Two interesting terms from yesterday: code switching and sensory breaks. I listen to a podcast on NPR, Code Switching. Basically it is a series of reporters from different cultures explaining what they need to do to fit in with the 'dominant ' culture. Last year, the speech therapist was concerned that Maya's use of dialect (talking black) was getting in the way. This year's therapist is African-American (as is the principal and the social worker) and has no such concern. She says as Maya matures, she will know when to Code Switch.

Sensory breaks: Due to Maya's severe antsiness, they recognize that after sitting still for more than a few minutes, she needs to move. So they allow her to go due her back bends and cartwheels (she is extremely flexible) to blow off steam. She especially has trouble in the afternoon, so she is taken out of the classroom. She gets lessons while playing catch. Hopefully once her drugs are approved, her restlessness will decrease and her attention span increases.

In the classroom, she is not behind for current grade level. I keep comparing her to my other grandchildren (and children) so perhaps I need some perspective; the others are probably exceptional. She has made lots of progress just in the 6 weeks she's been at the new school, which is the neighborhood school the kids went to. Even out he in the boonies, the kids here ae assigned that school.

How can any one vote for that sleaze ball Trump? I assume his main base is lower class, uneducated white racists but then on my bike rides in fancy neighborhoods, I see his signs. So he won't accept the results of the election. What does that mean? He will orchestrate a coup with his thugs?

Monday, October 17, 2016

A weekend with Maya

We tried to fill the weekend with as many activities as possible as Maya is not one for sitting still. A visit to the scarecrows on the Plymouth main square. The Dorothy one was the least scary.
Star Wars Day at the Plymouth Library. We met up with Daniel and Oliver. First stop; face painting
the boys are various Star Wars characters. Maya's is from Monsters, Inc

Later met up with Josh and Allie at Three Cedars Farm. Maya has been too afraid to take the train by herself but having Allie with her gave her courage
Corn pit
My handsome son
colors are almost at their peak
peppers from the Plymouth Farmer's Market (better prices than Ann Arbor) plus some of my last tomatoes. The frost got most of the rest of them

I have been dreading this day ever since I got a huge bill from the dentist (due a week before I actually received it). Apparently they are tired of the run around I am getting from my insurance company and want to be paid. I imagined spending this entire afternoon battling yet again Blue Cross. They had given me permission to use my out-of-network dentist to fix the results of the accident. I have all these thirty digit transaction codes written down and dates of my many conversations. Usually I get nice, seemly helpful people but in the end, they always give the wrong instructions. The last person I had spoken to, as I was packing to go to California, was not helpful . My dentist needed to put the right code on the bills but admitted this code does not exist so sorry, I won't ever be reimbursed.

But I began my probable ordeal with another call to the dentist to see what the insurance company told them. Surprise, surprise, they had just been contacted by the insurance company and needed yet more info and said my bill will be paid.
So that's good news but we will see. At least it will be a few weeks before I have to deal with this again.They paid the plastic surgeon $8000 for an hour's worth of work. This bill is much less than that but represents hours of work.

We are in the midst of a week of Indian Summer. Yay for that. It is beautiful outside. I have been running and biking quite a bit and now have lost 12 pounds. Good but I have a long way to go.

As I have some fears for Maya's safety (need to talk to the AAPD sometime this week to see if my fears are the least bit justified) Dont'ae reluctantly let me have her this weekend. Naomi works on the weekends. From my years of babysitting, being a parent, doing science demos for all ages, helping out in classrooms, tutoring, being a Girl Scout leader and coaching soccer, I have come to the conclusion that the easiest kid to watch is a six year old girl. At this stage in their development, they are still very eager to please adults and have the self control in general to behave as asked. As the girls get older, their focus is less on pleasing adults and more on pleasing peers with  annoying results. However Maya has severe ADHD (as diagnosed last week..still working on a medication the insurance will approve). As much as she wants to be good, she just can't unless we tire her out. She is a whirlwind of motion even in her sleep. She is very thin even though she eats more than an adult.  So this weekend, lots of bike rides, walks, visits with cousins, trip to the apple farm, trips to parks. She is too easily distracted to even watch TV for much more than a few minutes. She especially enjoys going to Shanna's house. Extra bonus: this weekend they had Lucy, the first grade classroom guinea pig who takes turns going to various students' houses. Shanna as a child, strongly reacted to guinea pigs (and rabbits) so she was a bit nervous about this. Turns out Oliver has the same symptoms she did as a child but now her symptoms are much milder. Maya enjoyed holding Lucy as the girls took turns feeding her. Lucy made her little purring noises of contentment as she was petted.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Presto pesto!

Fall is great for beautiful sunsets and sunrises
Tess in her school photo looks a lot like her mom
Cooper's hawk likes to hang out around my feeders
Even though I prefer to have an orange and blue lamp, this looked so pretty I bought it anyway
Big sky: while running this morning, I observed large clouds coming and going. Very pretty
We will be seeing more of her
today's lunch place
A pretty day; I hoped to eat outside but too cold

Traditional pesto is a mix of basil, parmesan cheese, pinenuts and garlic ground with a pestle (pesto is Italian for pestle) into a paste. As we learned in our Cooking for Survivors class yesterday, many substitutions can be made. My favorite one yesterday was a mix of kale, sage, pecans and cheese which initially sounded disgusting but it turned out to be quite tasty especially served over roasted vegetables. I didn't plant kale this year but the mild winter enabled last year's kale to survive and thrive to the point of taking over my garden. As I have now all this 'free food', I tried to make some steamed kale the other day. Not loving it. But maybe I will if I prepare it the way it was last night. Another pesto was made from cashews, arugula, and spinach served on toast rounds with roasted peppers, roasted eggplant, and goat cheese. Yet another with sun-dried tomatoes and cilantro.

I hadn't eaten anything but a few strawberries previously all day to the class and was starving but at least it was healthy food. I had picked up my friend to take her to class as her treatment for leukemia is making it difficult for he to see. The leukemia appears to be gone but the side effects of the treatment are still there, one causing irreversible changes. The class was fun. I should be using these recipes much more often as I try to return to my former self. Today was a step backwards as I had one beer at lunch, the first drink in 11 days, but I am mostly being observant.

I was the first to vote in my township. I went in just to register for an absentee ballot and found that today was the first day I could get one.  So that's done. Why am I not voting on Election Day? Well we might be gone but I pulled the geezer card again. Sixty year olds I guess are too feeble to show up in person..

Funny bumper sticker in the parking lot.

Vote for Bernie!
OK, then Hillary I guess.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Knowledge of good and evil

the road to our ghost town
It is Day 9 of my 200 day improvement program. A long way to go. This involves no drinking, except one drink perhaps on social occasions, no sweets or treats and an increase in fruit and vegetable consumption. As the weather is cooler, my time spent running will increase. For the first few days, it was especially hard as my body missed the alcohol and food but now it is getting used to the new normal. And I have lost weight, mostly in the beginning which I assume was water weight but perhaps the fat is slowly dissolving too. What will make me successful? Incessant weighing.
Recently I read a study on a group of dieters that were divided into two groups though with the same food plan: one group would be weighed often, with the results electronically sent to the researchers and the other whose weight would be recorded only at the end of the study. Big differences were found at the end. Well my weight won't be electronically sent anywhere but in the distant past, this is how I lost weight.

Previous to menopause, I never was much more than 15 pounds overweight excepting in the few months surrounding giving birth. Even then, I would be back to normal by the time the babies were one. But in the past 10 years, I have gone through so much physically and emotionally. I have let myself go. Cancer especially was not the weight loss opportunity as it is for others. Having to take steroids on top of few red blood cells made me ravenous but too weak to move much. Yeah, all excuses.

Now it us quite cool out. I had to wait Sunday until it was warm enough to bike (40 degrees) If I bundle up with my fleece this and that, I can stand 30 degrees for short periods but the wind gets through eventually.
Dawn today. These maples are now red

On my now longer runs, I go past gated driveways, some quite long. What is behind them? This is one of them recently on Zillow  Almost 6 million. And in Michigan, this buys quite a lot.

Some good knowledge: I have a friend who is an adoptee. There were rumors about her biological parents that I thought would be easy to confirm or deny with a DNA test. Certainly if it could uncover my 6th cousins, identifying half sibs would be easy-peasy. Well the half sibs are half sibs. And she found a whole side of her biological family she previously knew nothing about.

Bad Knowledge:
Last week I wrote about a murder in Maya's father's neighborhood. Little did I know how that will impact her life. OMG is all I can say.

A three year old party

Allie with her birthday bear that Steve got for her

Saturday, October 8, 2016

ArtPrize continued

like the copper bison
not so much the elephant which won some big prize

this was one of many pieces composed of duct tape
If you looked at this with a naked eye, you'd see just tiles
architectural detail on Amway Hoel
This grandfather clock was carved out of walnut. The eyes moved back and forth along with his tie in sync. His moustache told the time

more duct tape

a city arises from a decomposed tiger. What's the message?


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