|lots of zinnias|
|leopard lilies which really is an iris|
|tiger lilies and liatris just starting to bloom|
|josh and the girls|
|lots of zinnias|
|leopard lilies which really is an iris|
|tiger lilies and liatris just starting to bloom|
|josh and the girls|
|cleome pretty but smelly|
Ten years ago I enrolled in Wayne State's Summer Abroad program in Italy. Our workplace had closed down but they gave us a sizeable 'retraining' allowance which could be used at an 'accredited "institution. I didn't think I would go back to work, though Steve did for a while. I decided to learn Italian in situ. I was hesitant to sign up. Six weeks without knowing anyone might make me go crazy. I once nearly had a psychotic break at a meeting in which I had felt totally isolated. This was before cell phones. But I was glad I went up in a very small hill town in the Apennines in Abruzzo staying in a monastery. I started the blog to keep contact with those at home. Sue in Italia. I found out I had cancer shortly after I returned so thus. Sue in Cancerland which turned into Sue's escape from Cancerland..
I feel a bit hesitant to spend a whole week starting tomorrow alone though Naomi will be with me 2 days in the middle. Also many of the same people return year after year including one nice man I spent a lot of time with in bars. He also rides at my speed. But I can call people and I've brought books.
This is my third round of poison ivy and its way worst than the other 2 rounds. Fortunately I have drugs now which make it feel a bit better. I can almost ignore it during the day but nights are tough. I hope the worst is over. My contact was with a dry vine. Can't believe the reaction it set off two days later. Worse, I see lots of poison ivy that I missed.
We are now in a drought though currently a few drops are finally falling. Its supposed to rain a lot downstate while I'm gone. I might get some rain Monday morning, the first day of riding. I have more than a thousand miles under my belt this year. I should be ready.
I am always stressed before leaving. Do I have everything? Most things are packed. I won't leave until noon. Also I was stressed out trying to use a companion certificate before it expires for Steve. Utah here we come this fall.
|we took a walk in the arb the other day going to the river which was full of rafts and kayaks. The girls love the water but the sharp rocks were hard on Allie's feet. Then we went out to dinner|
|yesterday morning my cabana cushion was covered with these muddy footprints. I guess the raccoon likes to relax there too|
|Maya as a mermaid holding her new kitten Nala|
|An artist down the street once a year opens up her extensive gardens and invites other artists there too. I bought this from a sculptor whose studio is in the other direction. I've bought stuff from his wife in the past, mainly tiles. I had fun filling my new planter with end of season annuals though he markets it as a strawberry pot|
|my spaghetti squash have developed corkscrew tendrils to fasten to my deer cage. I've been harvesting zucchini, crookneck squash and patty pans|
|I have huge balls of pink hydrangeas|
|phlox with evasive catnip though I did package up some for Nala|
|The same artist who made my Fu Manchu strawberry pot made this life sized blue giraffe for ArtPrize a few years back which now is in his parking lot down the street from me. When I took this photo, I had no idea that I used to stay at the artist's farm. Small world|
|I threw a cheap box of wildflower seeds in a pot to see what would grow. Tickweed, bachelor's buttons, alyssum, poppies, baby's breath amongst a few other pretties I don't know the name of|
I found this interesting skull at the art in the garden
This morning I heard frantic splashing in my pond. A mole was trying to get out. He was able to rest on my lily pads before trying yet again. Now I am not a fan of moles as they can quickly turn a yard into a maze of tunnels though on the positive side, they eat the grubs that turn into Japanese beetles, which I hate more. I did save him though with a shovel. I don't see any tunnels yet. I have fished out several of his brethren's dead bodies.
From hot and humid last week to hot and dry this week. The former is hard on people; the latter on plants so I've been watering much more, free except for the electricity for the pumps. We had one blessedly cool day so I could run for almost 90 minutes before the heat came back. Biking is much more tolerable in the heat so I've been doing that a lot. Next week is my big ride. Naomi will come up one or two of the nights as we are staying in cool lake cities. We will be criss-crossing the tip of the Mitten going from Lake Huron to Lake Michigan and back going about 60 miles a day.
Every year, the neighbor on the same lake as our little community is named opens her yard which is extensive with numerous gardens. She specializes in bird paintings. I did get one of hers of a house finch at a thrift store though I paid full price for one of a red bellied woodpecker. About 5 other artists show up with their wares too along with folk singers and a nice spread of food. I bought the above pictured strawberry pot which I had fun filling yesterday with various annuals. Maybe I will switch them out with sedums for when I bring it back into the house for winter.
We spent an afternoon with Josh's family with a walk in the Arb. Unfortunately the heat had started coming back.
We no longer have our rodent guest Chewy as Shanna's kids missed him so much and wanted him home the minute they returned. He was certainly energic, running from one side of the house to the other in his ball. Instead we are probably on the hook for a cat guest as Don'tae gave Maya a kitten for her birthday, which carries a lot of expense for someone who can't afford it. Already the kitty ha been here and will spend some time next week when Naomi visits me.
Just as my poison ivy was finally clearing up, I expose myself to more. A huge vine was weaving its way to the lawn where Steve is liable to hit it with a weed whacker (very bad if you get that juice on you). I double gloved so I could remove the top pair of contaminated gloves with the ones below. However the long vine hit my bare arm while I was trying to fold it into a bag. The vine had not been injured so maybe I didn't get any oil on me. That was two days ago. Usually blisters form two days after exposure. I have one newish blister but it could have been from the last exposrure.
The Arb has lots of poison ivy so I tried to keep Allie on of it though I think kids need several exposures before they react. I know I was exposed quite a bit before I started reacting after Josh was born. If Steve knew what he was doing (he keeps forgetting what it looks like), I would have him on poison ivy duty.
|Maya got her horse ride for her 8th birthday|
|two trips around the corral She was very nervous and wanted to bail but was quite excited afterwards|
|three kids in a tub. I tried to convince the boys they didn't need swimshirts indoors and the glasses would get steamed up but they had fun while their parents went out for a rare night|
|the sun was just rising as I got to Whitmore Lake last Sunday, an hour away to do my 32 mile loop|
|Chewy, the aerobic hamster we have for the week|
|Annoying: they are burning off all the vegetation on an empty lot. Stunk up the neighborhood for two days|
|some of my lilies|
|my new glasses: not as colorful as I remember them being|
|ceramic mermaid for my hallway|
woven paper art
I have to stop buying up fancy dresses in which I have no place to wear them. I did get a sensible sun dress which I will wear much more often. And as you can probably tell, I can't weigh one more pound and fit into that dress. I haven't lost all my winter weight yet though I am close. 5 more pounds and I will not go any lower.
Saskatoon berries. At a nearby apple orchard there was a sign for U-pick Saskatoon berries
A new one for me. I looked them up. A relative of an apple, they are small as a blueberry and taste somewhat like them. They are a variety of service berry, which I had two trees full of until the various wildlife cleaned me out. As they are charging $5/pint to pick them, it would take 2 pints for a pie. I think I will stick to rhubarb for tomorrow's pie for the moms.
As we are entering a heat wave again, back to biking versus running. I was up at 5:30 to beat the workday traffic.
Later today: horse back riding for Maya's birthday. Hopefully she won't freak out.
|Google 'enhanced' my Ohiopyle bridge photo|
|and that of the silver tree on the Mall|
|Hannah enjoying playground equipment Later we took her to see baby farm animals. She was not a fan|
|a pensive Maya|
|big smile. She turns 8 Sunday. Her hair has never been cut. If you were to pull a strand down, it would go to the middle of her back|
Several times Josh has told me that though he was glad the way we raised him, he will never let his girls roam the neighborhood like we allowed him to. A mixed compliment if I ever heard one: yeah you guys were great but we aren't going to do what you did.He admits all his buddies' parents let them wander too otherwise he would have no one to play with unless we arranged 'playdates' in advance.
He is not alone apparently according to a recent Wall Street Journal article. Kids these days get much less freedom than their parents who in turn got less freedom than their parents ie. my generation. Are there more child molesters out there? More speeding, drunk driving cars? More gangs? Is it too hard to learn to look both ways before crossing a street? The downside to all this over protectedness is that there is now a increase in anxiety disorders with the constant reminders on how dangerous it is out there. And there are laws in some states saying you can not send a sub twelve year old to a park by himself. Age that a kid can walk to school by themselves? Ten according the College of Pediatrics. Age that I walked myself to school? Five.
When I was four, I wandered around all day by myself. I assume my mom was busy with my baby brother. It was a small town and I was told never to cross this one particularly busy street, which I did as things were more interesting on the other side. Only once did someone ask how old I was and why wasn't I in school.. They said I was way too young and too far from home so I was walked back. My mom just shrugged.
No I didn't let my kids do this when they were so young but after they were 7 or so, they were free to explore our neighborhood as long as they came back at a set time.
I have decided to do the bike ride by myself to stop from feeling sorry for myself. I will know people there as lots of them return year after year. And I do make friends fairly easily. And I am in good shape so I am doing it though I don't think there is a town up north I haven't been to We are doing the top of the mitten: Charlevoix, Petoskey, Mackinaw City, Cheybogan and Onaway. Lots of lakes including Lake Huron and Michigan.
We took Hannah and Allie to an animal farm full of baby animals. Allie likes them but Hannah screamed in terror.
|These will be my new 'fun' glasses. Not the thriftiest of choices. I had already picked out some reasonable frames at Costco but bowed to pressure from a very good saleslady. You look like a fun person, don't you want to have fun glasses too. This photo doesn't show all the bright colors, mainly orange, in the frame Once I have them in hand, I will have another photo with them and my new op art backless dress that I splurged on later that day|
|Tessa and her pet hamster who I will be watching soon|
|Steve thinks my crow flag will scare the birds away. I do have a cat flag too but that is suspended over the kids' area in the basement|
|I have 4 lush heads of romaine in my garden|
|Allie appears to be blinking here as the still shot has her with her eyes closed.|
|Maya doing the splits. She finally did lose her other top central incisor but looks strange as now she has just one enormous tooth in the empty space|
|from the GAP website. When we went across this, it was raining|
On Father's Day afternoon, when I scheduled a BBQ, it was 97 degrees with a heat index well over 100. Hard to get people outside even though we had shade. Maya was with her father and Hannah was home sick with her mother. Still it was nice to have the 4 grandkids over who played well together along with our 3 kids. I harvested half a shopping bag of Swiss chard which when cooked, shrunk down to less than 2 cups. I was on the road by 5:30 am, already 70 degrees, which is fine for biking. I had to travel 4 miles before it was light enough to see my odometer. I had my flashers on so if there were any cars on the road, not very many, they would see me. As it was sunny, I had to go my complete loop which means dirt roads for my eastern trip, which is tree lined and blocks the sun out of my eyes. If I took the paved road, drivers would be blinded by the sun and not see me.
I've ridden over 120 miles since I came back, mainly because it was too hot to run. Still trying to decide whether I want to go on my bike trip up north all by myself. I am sure there will be familiar faces. I did the GAP on an organized tour 5 years ago by myself (a friend was supposed to go with me) and it turned out fine.
How awful can Trump and Sessions be? There is biblical precedence for separating children from their mothers? And his blackmail: pay for the wall or I keep them locked up. And then he said it was all the Democrats fault for putting the kids in cages.