Thursday, March 23, 2017

Flat and fat

It was Tessa's 5th birthday the other day. I gave her a choice of a flamingo, swan in a tutu or a unicorn head. She chose the unicorn
Allie couldn't wait to try out her new bathing suit
usually at this time of year I have blooms all over the place. Due to winterlasting longer, all I have are frozen flag irises
A hand carved angel to add to my collection. Need to use magic marker on faded eyes
Bizarre classroom assignment for Daniel, Grade 1. What is gold worth to a kid?

Winter continues with lows in the teens. Coupled with a stiff north wind, yesterday's run was especially unpleasant but at least the dirt roads are now suitable to run on. On the one day it
was above freezing and not windy, I went for a bike ride. It felt good but 3.5 miles from
home, suddenly it was hard to maintain my pace. A flat! I usually warn Steve to keep
his phone close while I'm out on the bike but no, he was dead to the world on the elliptical.
No way of contacting him. I was so mad and sad that he does not have my back. I called
Shanna who  was actually closer as the crow flies (though on a very bumpy, hilly rutted
road). No answer. I assumed she was out exercising too without her phone. So it took
more than an hour to walk home (at a 4.2 mph pace, the speedometer still worked). I
was so mad. He was just finishing up when I returned. Yeah maybe he should of had
his phone downstairs, though reception is poor, but he didn't think I would have a flat.

The ground was wet which means grit and tiny glass pieces stick to the tires making flats
more likely. I was going to take the bike in anyway this week. They found all sorts of
things wrong with it though I haven't had any problems. Aside from the tire being badly
worn (Cannondale puts really cheap tires on its bikes, I had replaced the rear one which
gets more wear after a year now I needed to replace the front), my chain is stretched out
of shape and would have fallen off or broke soon and something expensive called a cassette
needed to replaced too. Ugh! But I want the bike to be in good shape for my 2 big rides
coming up. It's been less than 3 years since I got the bike but it has more than 5000
miles on it. Mechanics travel with us for the first ride but for the second, a broken
chain pretty much would be a disaster though we will have a support vehicle. Bike
shops will be far and few between; Pittsburgh, Cumberland MD, and DC.

Years ago, I set out between the coast and Julian CA, a round trip of 120 miles, less
than I have gone in relatively flat Michigan but I was travelling in the mountains in
California going up 7200 feet.  No cell phones in those days. And this area was
relatively deserted so pay phones were few also. I got a flat on the way back about
3 miles from a national monument.  Less than a minute into me pushing the bike to
the possible phone, a couple in a pick-up truck rescued me and dropped me off at a
bike store, who did not charge me as they were impressed by my solo adventure.
The other day, I am sure my neighbors passed me by but no help was offered. 

So I was in a funk: unreliable husband, uncaring neighbors, fat that didn't seem to go
away, bike shop that may be fleecing me, being left out from a certain event, on and
on...all the makings of a pity party but fortunately this has passed though listening
to the news concerning the shenanigans of the Evil One  is disheartening but not surprising.

I finally have crossed the mythical line between overweight and normal weight. I was
close last week but then, despite being good, I actually gained weight. Finally that
reversed though progress is slow the closer I come to the finish line. Also with my
3 months of stretching, I noticed that I no longer have pain when trying to extend
my right arm (the irradiated arm) behind my head.

In less than a week, I will be in sunny and warm Arizona.

Monday, March 20, 2017

La Primavera

Allie's school photo

Above is the route we are taking this summer from Pittsburgh to Washington DC, all 335 miles of it with only a bit of it paved. We climb 1700 feet from Pittsburgh to the Eastern Continental  Divide, drop 1800 over he next 24 miles (which I did through a heavy thunderstorm) then gradually drop to sea level over the next 185 miles. I worried about the logistics. My friend wants to camp meaning we'd have to carry all our stuff for a week. In what? I could drag along my toddler carrier which full of gear would be another 50 pounds to drag. Wouldn't that be the amount of fat I lost? Somehow I think it is harder to drag it than to have it packed around my gut. And we could take turns  dragging it.  Rasta man thought we could use panniers. However he called yesterday with some good news. We will be supported!!! Some of his siblings will come too and one has agreed to drive a car. Furthermore, I can tent with his sister-in-law which will be less awkward than sleeping next to someone who isn't ones husband. Packing will be less of a challenge. I will have to find campsites that let cars in. The route is full of free to trail user only campsites. So the ride is in two parts; the Great Allegheny Passage which uses old coal train lines to go through mountains, canyons and tunnels. I did that 4 years ago with a group. Then the C&O Canal towpath, which goes along the Potomac River to DC. Flat but much rougher. He has done that portion before. We will take the Amtrak back to Pittsburgh where he has yet another set of siblings.  So I feel much better about this trip though due to crappy weather, I haven't biked in 2 weeks.

It is spring today! Still cold. And when it is warm enough for me to bike this afternoon, there will be rain. The male goldfinches are getting their summer colors finally so a bit of brightness at my feeders though I have plenty of brightly colored cardinals.

We took Josh and his family out last night for a belated birthday dinner. I went for a walk in an unoccupied room with Hannah and Allie that had photos of the local sports teams in action. Allie asked about one photo showing two opposing football players trying to grab the ball from each other.

They should share! she said indignantly.

And the UM basketball team made it to he Final 16 despite many odds against it. Yay Wolverines!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Baby Boy turns 35

On his high school soccer team
5 with his dad
3 years old running his first race
15 months held by his mom with the bad perm. Note all my muscles though. I am five years younger than he is now
2 years old. His straight blonde hair gradually became darker and curlier with age. Here he looks so much like Allie when she smiles
6 years old on the first soccer team I coached
14 with Spud the puppy. He looks so serious here and very much like his father but generally he was happy go lucky.
With newborn Hannah
The day Josh came home. Isn't Steve cute?
this is now with snow falling at an alarming rate. Although it will all melt later in the day, too slippery for me to run now. I want winter gone!!!! Now!!!!

Time flies. It seems like yesterday I was looking at my bruised and puffy baby boy thinking he wasn't much to look at but at least he was healthy . He was 'a sunny-side up' baby meaning his head was turned the wrong way as he was coming out. The posterior position generally is associated with back labor but I didn't feel it. Still the whole ordeal took forever. And he was so big, over 10 pounds. The chop shop that Julie chose to give birth in decided to do a C-section because Allie was facing the same way and was 'big' though almost 2 pounds lighter than Josh but maybe Julie, though bigger boned than me, doesn't have the 12 cm versus the 10 cm others have. By the time he was about a month old, the bruising and swelling disappeared and instead of narrow slits for eyes, he had beautiful big blue eyes framed with long dark lashes. A pretty boy though he never seemed girly. Despite his constant need to be active, he was my easiest child by far. He has turned out to be a wonderful man and father.

Stupid winter. I thought that once it was March, it would be Ollie, Ollie we be free. But no. For most of the past week, I've run on top of snow, ice, with wind chills near zero (though yesterday was fine) but I draw the line on freezing rain. It is the warmest morning this week so far but not warm enough. I spent more time on the torture device elliptical trainer instead. What I want to be doing is riding my bike. Maybe next week. I then will take it to the shop to be tuned up while I am in Arizona.

But in general, I've been enjoying myself though as usual postponing the many details I should be doing. At least I don't need to spend hours on the phone battling the insurance company any more. I did see the dentist yesterday for a routine check-up. It was good not to feel guilty about his office not being paid. On his ceiling, he had several nice prints of Arizona to look at. His favorite place: Canyon de Chelly which is maybe 200 miles from the Grand Canyon. Oh well, I guess we will have plenty to see where we are going. Do we visit people? Steve has cousins in Tucson, who so far have ignored Facebook requests. He can call them. And there is a lady who used to be in our Mother's group for 4 years before moving to Tucson. And the desert should be in bloom! In the Desert Museum, they have several species of hummingbirds one can get very close to. I am looking forward to that. And a barn owl rests in the porch ceiling during the day of the place we will be staying so maybe I will get to see a live owl not in a zoo for a change. I saw a dead owl while running a month ago. And a year ago, Shanna took a picture of a great horned owl on a subdivision house near her in the middle of the day.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Ides of March

Occasionally houses for sale will scroll through what ever website I have open. Hmmm, this one looked familiar. My grandfather had it built in 1939 and sold it some time in the late 70s. 5000 square feet  was too much for 2 people. No pool in those days

It sits on top a steep hill. The terraces my grandfather handmade are now gone

Fancy staircase. All was carpeted when I was a kid. Most of the rooms have been updated excepting my father's old room
What it looked like in the 40s.
super senior day purchase. Who doesn't need an oil copy of Birth of Venus. Apparently whoever painted it couldn't do facial features or perhaps was going for an abstract look. Fine for my bathroom

Five years ago, it was a record breaking 76 degrees here. Then a cold front came through causing all sorts of disturbances including a tornado where my son lived, an F-3 which is strong as they get in Michigan. He saw the tornado bearing down towards his house and opted to try to out run it in a car but the storm caught up to him. It didn't hit his house but hit the house he was considering just a quarter mile away, which was leveled. It leveled quite a few houses in that neighborhood. Many people were home as it happened about 5:30 at night but no one was injured. Hiding in their basements worked. His trees were covered in pink insulation looking very much like cotton candy. He had called me right when the tornado was there.

Steve and I were in Massachusetts waiting for Tessa to come out. It was almost as warm there but no storms. I actually had trouble running as it was so hot.

But today, still snow and ice. Worst 12 degrees and a strong wind making half of my run miserable. A small path had melted so back and forth; back and forth. Finally some progress: I am just a half pound over the line dividing normal and overweight. I bought some smaller capris at the resale shop for our desert trip in 2 weeks.  I am not spending much money on clothes that will be just temporary (hopefully)I hope to be a size smaller by the end of this which may not be until the end of April.

We had Maya for a while the other night. She wanted to show off her printing, which is very good. I guess she no longer qualifies for 'occupational therapy' for bad small motor skills. She was writing the alphabet, which she can say and write individual letters but she does not know which letter comes next even though she can say the alphabet. Frustrating. Even more frustrating is getting her drug. Her doctor has to approve it a month at a time but didn't this month as she was ill and apparently no one covers for her. So Maya went without today being a pain. The doctor is back but is not responding.

Monday, March 13, 2017

Three kids in a tub

Lots of bubbles

This time, I was more careful about how much soap I put in
Josh and the girls came over the next day
Oliver got to hold his littlest cousin. Hannah looks dubious

It is winter here again, damn it. Two inches have fallen already with more to follow. And it won't melt any time soon. Still as it is so cold, it was not that slippery so I could run a little.

Between two years ago and last year, I had slowed down significantly. Yeah, I had gained weight between those times but now that I am so much lighter, I should be Ms. Speedy. But I am not. Yesterday, I ran fresh meaning I didn't do an hour of the elliptical trainer and weights before I went out. I tried to concentrate on my form and at least for the first half of my long run, I was able to do it faster than 2 years before though not by much. And my weight! I keep thinking of it as a giant spring that with increasing effort I am pulling slowly back. If I were to let go for a second, boing...all fat again. I was obsessed with that this weekend. I had been good all week with no weight loss to show for it and then I let go for a second (2 glasses of wine! veggies with fattening dips!!) and suddenly 2 pounds more appear. How will I maintain this?  I am back to where I was in the beginning of the week.

Finally good news. In the accident I had now more than 13 months ago, I broke 2 teeth. My medical insurance is supposed to cover this and supplied me with names of oral surgeons. But oral surgeons don't repair broken teeth with intact roots (had painful root testing in which the dentist applied electric current in various places to see if there were live nerves). It would have been easier if I had needed implants, which would be much more expensive but less hassle insurance wise. I had to wait to get an out-of-network exception, which I did. A year of phone calls due to denied claims because the dentist didn't supply the proper medical codes because there were no medical codes. I could never get the same person twice to settle this. Three weeks ago, I finally got the person who is specific to my former company who got me the out-of-network exception. She sounded so helpful and hopeful saying she dealt with cases like this all the time, no problem, She said she would call me in three days to tell me whether the dentist supplied the right paperwork. Yay!  But she never called. I was going to demand to speak to her this week at some time, couldn't wait, but the dentist called today to say all has been paid. I can throw out pages of notes each containing some 30 digit code of each conversation. One less hassle.

It was the weekend with grandbabies with all except Maya being around. We will have Maya tonight. Shanna and her kids spent the night. They wanted the Jacuzzi. I had made artichokes for them, which my kids loved. I make a buttery lemon, garlic, soy dipping sauce but they refused to try it. Allie and Maya love artichokes but they weren't there for them. More for Shanna and me. (see weight gain).

I have 3 pairs of cardinals looking for seeds in the snow. I threw some sunflower seeds right outside our patio door so they would come up. Tessa was here this morning for a closer look. Out in the wetlands during my long run yesterday, I could hear the sandhill cranes. Once rare now they are more plentiful than the herons and egrets. The vultures are back. Plenty of clean up for them.

Saturday, March 11, 2017

Take the high road, there is much less traffic

What big eyes she has
Hannah was in a much better mood when we took care of her yesterday versus a eek ago
I love paperweights
For my wall of masks

There is no website showing all the recent road closures due to power lines draped over the road so driving is an adventure these days. And in town, half of the traffic lights are still out causing traffic jams. According to the energy company that supplies us, this is the worst power outage they ever dealt with:  800,000 homes and businesses without power with another 200,000 customers of the competing company. We got an automated call saying we had a 95% chance of having power by Sunday night but it wasn't clear if they were referring to our current house, the one we sold or Naomi's condo, which we own. The condo association sent a message that no power plus record cold equals frozen pipes so take precautions so I fretted about that. Aside from having water dripping, what could we do? But power came on late last night so yay for that. Naomi works near where she lives. They ordered a huge generator to be parked in a semi outside the store, so heavy, it sunk into the pavement. As we had had so much rain recently, the trees were not firmly rooted causing many to fall in the 60+mph winds Wednesday. Here on the ranch, we were without power for only an hour. After 2 days, they finally reopened our main road.

Is this the worst outage they've had? When Shanna was only one, we had a derecho come blasting through lasting only 10 minutes. The sky turned dark green during mid-morning. 10 minutes of 80 mph versus 12 hours of 60 mph? Which is worse? We didn't get our power back for a week but as it was summer, no danger of pipes freezing. A huge cottonwood was knocked down across the street from us, the worst tree there was with that cottony  choking crap covering our lawn for a month every summer. And our almost dead birch tree was uprooted.

And it was 10 degrees when I went out to run this morning and windy. Fortunately it was dry and the dirt road is below the surface of the land so it is protected along with the many trees.. It will be way too cold to bike for the next week or so.

We had our Mom's group last night with me bringing dessert. I opted for a skillet lemon almond tart, sort of like a lemon frittata as it contained no flour. It was very quick to make requiring only time to zest a lemon. I made a sauce of limoncello and fresh blackberries as it was a bit dry. So I was off of my strict diet for the night and now feel guilty and feel fat. This too shall pass.

Funny story: one of the Mom's asked Siri to make a phone call for her and Siri told her to go f#$@ herself. Hmmm.

Earlier in the day, we relieved Julie. Allie's school was closed due to the power outages and no one has been getting sleep. So we took the baby while they slept.

Today Shanna and her kids are spending the night. Should be fun.

Thursday, March 9, 2017


Maya had a half day of school so I picked her up and brought her here. A bit tall for the rocking goldfish
Before picking her up, I visited my favorite second hand store. They had a fancy Asian screen similar to the one in my living room for $250. For $35, they had this cute one I am using to subdivide my basement
the other side of the screen
Maya has never had a hair cut. Her fro is growing
looks even bigger from behind. Naomi just puts it in a bun. On the weekends, various aunts braid it.
Before the gale force wind started around 10 am yesterday, while the winds were still less than 30 mph (later steady winds at 60 mph wreaking all kinds of havoc with even stronger gusts) I was able to run in the forest with the trees that broke the wind somewhat. Tough in my neighborhood where all the houses are very far apart, few trees and nothing to break the wind.

Just as I finished warming up my coffee, I opened the refrigerator for cream. Dark inside. The power had just gone off and the winds had only just started. As our pump is electric, power outages mean no water too. I brushed my teeth with seltzer water. Opening the garage door manually  is a two person operation. Our door is twice as heavy as the one in the old house.

Wednesday is garbage day. I had uprighted the garbage can several times already. As the truck was coming, I held it upright and a gust of wind blew the lid hard onto my forehead. Ouch. Other people's cans were rolling all over the street.

So lots of power outages though ours came back on after an hour. Stoplights were out; power lines blocked the road. The main road we live off of is blocked heading west. I went down a south bound major road today and found that blocked too. The outage map quickly went off line. Some people won't get their power back until Sunday. And we will have a record low tonight so fun for them. As Naomi and thus Maya had no power, they spent the night with us. About third of the local schools have no power so they were cancelled. Maya's school was open though. We lost some shingles. As we looked out the window yesterday afternoon (Maya was looking at rainbows my beveled glass was creating on he floor), we see the neighbor's yard suddenly burst into flames (prevailing wind blowing our way). WTF? They had a fire extinguisher that quickly stopped the flames but we remain puzzled to its cause.
The subject of our Survivors cooking class last night was flavonoids; the various pigments found mainly in fruits and vegetables, the more colorful the better. High consumption of them is linked to lower obesity and cancer but this could be because they are contained in lower calorie food. So a salad with all kinds of color due to spinach, blueberries, pomegranates, avocados, apples and blackberries. It had goat cheese on it and a citrusy dressing. Quite tasty. We had kale and bean soup too and for dessert brownies made of carob and black beans, which tasted better than it sounds. A fun time. My friend was too sick to attend. I made friends with another breast cancer survivor. She would not eat any of the dishes because they would interfere with her food plan even though the foods all were fairly low calorie. In order to prevent obesity, she once weighed 75 pounds more, for 30 years she has stuck to a very low calorie regimen. 30 years sounds like a long time to me for self deprivation. Even though I have been on my diet for 5 months, my instructor noticed for the first time, I had lost some weight. She assumed it all came off in the last month. Nope, only about 8 pounds of it did. Rumor had it that the freeway I was going to take home was blocked by semi trucks that had blown over so back to the backroads, where downed powerlines would make me back track.

Finally all was quiet this morning but it will be a while before all the damage is repaired. I went to a water aerobic class with an ex-colleague. In the locker room, I ran into  a woman whose son played soccer with Josh in high school. My friend told her how much thinner I am now but sadly I am much heavier now than when the soccer mom last saw me. She never saw me fat. We jumped up and down for an hour to Beyounce with some young dude barking orders at the edge of the pool. I got some sort of workout as my legs are now sore. Then we sat in a whirlpool for a while in which I didn't have to worry about bubbles overflowing. I scrubbed myself thoroughly to avoid hot tub dermatitis which happened the last time I was in a public hot tub. The gym, which was nice, would be nice to join but is very expensive. Once I turn 65, it is much cheaper.


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