Friday, February 17, 2017

almost spring

From when I watched her Monday. Her birth hair is getting sparse. Hair is sort of reddish
Valentine orchids
I bought some tulips to brighten up the house
finally all in bloom. Another head is beginning to open up too
Maya is obsessed with the yoyo. She spent the night Tuesday
The two grandsons reading before sleeping
from the cooking class. Topic: unusual pizzas. This one is cooked in a skillet with 12 grain crust covered with lots of fennel, Machego cheese and caramelized onions. Also had slivers of fennel sausage and fresh parsley. She made two more kinds including a breakfast pizza and a deep dish pizza that was sort of like a ricotta quiche. All too tasty. They weren't ready to eat until well after my yoga class started. Do I eat or go to yoga. Eat of course
from last week's buying binge (kept out of resale shops this week). A beautiful serigraph that looks good in our master bedroom

Today Steve's siblings come from separate coasts. His brother should be on his way here now; the sister comes later in the afternoon.
I went for a run in the woods today even though it was below freezing. The roads are quite sandy so it was not slippery. It was nice not to have cars whizzing by at 65 mph seeing how close they can get to me. I saw maybe one car on the deserted roads in an hour. I could hear lots of woodpeckers calling to each other. For the next 5 days, it will be above 50. Yay!

Everyone will come over tonight except Maya. I will be lucky to get her early Sunday. She spent the night with us for the first time in a long time so Naomi could enjoy Valentine's Day with a date. I wish Naomi remembered to get cards for Maya to pass out. She was the only one without them. She is much easier to take care of since she has been on her ADHD drugs. I can have her sit still for various projects for a much longer time.


Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Nothing tastes better than skinny







I finally received the results of my son's family's photo-shoot. How hard would it have been to include the tops of their heads? They are a beautiful family.

I did watch the baby yesterday while her mama had a doctor appointment. I tried to capture her smiles but failed. She is now 6 weeks old. Tempus fugit. Today we will watch Tessa in the afternoon and Maya in the evening.

The title is an alleged quote from a model. Kate Moss? Not sure but I have been struggling to adopt it. Last weekend's challenge was Philly cheesesteaks Steve brought into the house. Again, one step forward and two back. I am almost 40 pounds down now. I now weigh only slightly more than Naomi. True she is taller and bigger boned. I am fitting into 15 year old jeans of mine. Aside from my running and biking (only once was I able to bike this month and I froze my feet doing so), I've been working out on our elliptical trainer and lifting weights. All of this is time consuming. But warmer weather is coming so there will be more biking, especially as I need to be in shape for my self supported tour through 5 states (if you count DC as a state) in August.

Steve's family is coming at the end of the week. Should be fun. We will have a houseful of people.

We went to see Lion last night. Excellent photography and a wonderful story. In the past month, I've gone to more movies than I had seen in a decade.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Margins

two of the 4 amaryllis flowers are finally in bloom plus another head of blossoms is about a month away from blooming. A bit of brightness during these drab days
stylized clay cat bought today. Will go in the kitchen with my other red stuff

I read yesterday that they have this new device used during breast lump incisions that can distinguish between cancer cells and normal cells. It will beep if it detects cancer cells so the surgeon can keep cutting until the beeping stops. The device costs $1000 and can only be used once. There are no false negatives (good) but there are some false positives. Insurance will not cover the cost of this device even though it drastically cuts down on re-incisions. The current rate of re-incisions is 30%; the average cost 9-16K. Even if ignore the human costs, the usual risks involving anesthesia and surgery and the stress of and pain of going through it, from a pure economic sense, using this device would make sense.

I was one of the 30% who needed a second surgery as poor margins were obtained in the first surgery. My tumor had doubled in size since it was first detected a month prior. If they had just ultrasounded it right before surgery, then she would have known to cut more. A few years later, UM said they would do a pathology of the excised tumor and surrounding tissue on the spot to determine whether they should keep cutting. that would make sense. What took them so long to consider that? And it the second surgery, they took so much tissue I didn't have more than half a breast left. If I knew they were going to do that , I would have gotten a mastectomy.

So the Orange One has lived up so far to thinking people's worst fears. OMG. Why do people vote for someone who does not have their best interests? The Hidden Brain podcast had a good story on that.  woman from the most liberal corner of the country (Berkeley, CA)went to the opposite end of the spectrum (rural Albama) to try to figure out why people who needed and got so much federal aid would favor someone who would cut it? And those liberal Berkeley folks, why would they vote for someone who would be against their self interest (higher taxes for so-called entitlement programs). She concluded there must be a deeper reason, which she dubbed the Big Story. The poor look down the social economic ladder to find the source of what they perceive to be the source of the ills: poor blacks and Mexican immigrants. The liberals look up to find the source of evil: big banks, deregulation. Sort of simplistic. I always wondered how the few slave owners managed to get the many poor white sharecroppers to fight for their cause.

What have I been up to during my absence from the Blogsphere? Not attending to the many little things I should be doing. After a weekend of eating maybe like a normal person, I am back to deprivation so weight loss continues. I know it is not recommended to weigh oneself daily as one misses the big picture, but for me, skipping a day turned out to skipping a decade to no good effect. But I get sad when the numbers are bigger and happy when they get smaller. At the moment, they are smaller so for the moment, I am happy.

I went back to yoga. I met the instructor a few weeks ago and she promised to be reasonable. Alas, she was ill last night when I went to her class but the sub was good. I hope to work on flexibility and balance. I saw the Pats win at a Super Bowl party Shanna had. Actually we left when it looked like the had no chance in hell but continued to watch the game at home. Boston was our adopted home for a while. No love for Atlanta.

The ice finally melted on our street so it is somewhat safe to run there now until another snow hits. I have not been able to ride my bike since late January.  If it is suitably warm, it is raining.

I bought more stuff during super senior day. This time I went too far so I will take a break. I have the stuff hidden in the garage for now.

Today I make the long trip to the opposite corner of our big county to have my hair fixed.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Connections

I thought this mermaid would look great in the green and purple room. Alas, wrong shades. Would it look good in Tessa's purple bedroom? Not appropriate as it is topless. Will end up over the door to my beach themed bathroom
this cow doll looks great in the green and purple room
my 1 month old doppelganger
I started to organize some of the many things that need to be done. This photo was taken July 4, 1896 in Troy, Ohio. My almost  6 year old grandfather is on his father's lap. He looks big for a 6 year old. All are redheads except dad and the oldest boy. Mother Eusebia had her last child at age 42. I think the room would look better without all the fur pieces on the floor.
Maya on her way to the long awaited birthday party. She was so excited. She does not get to go to many non-relative parties. The last one she missed because her father forgot to take her. We made sure this didn't happen again. Unfortunately her parents are feuding again so I had to pick her up
Another hand-made doll complete with a chintz chair to plotz in. $5.
Tessa was here Friday. Always cheerful

Maya received her invitation to a classmate's party over a month ago. She became obsessed with this party. She would look through the toys I have wondering aloud if her friend would like this or that for her birthday (pronounced birdday by her). No her mama would buy something new for her. She could select a special card (I had bought Naomi an assortment for such occasions) for her friend though.

The party was at a bouncy castle place east of me. Her dad's place is on the west side of Ann Arbor. Naomi worked until almost the time of the party so I picked her up. I overestimated the time it would take to select thistle seed at the big box store near him (though flower seeds were 10 cents a packet, hopefully some will germinate) so I ended up going to a somewhat over priced consignment shop out there. I have bought a few things though, that are good deals from then. I found my arty dolls and a reclining cherub. My friend who is battling all kinds of crud wants a reclining angel (if there is such a thing) I sent a photo of the cherub. No reply (turns out she was too ill to lift her head up). If she wants it, I will go back and negotiate a better price.

Near their snack area (I was offered ginger chocolates) was a photo of the da Vinci horse (I have 2 photos on my wall I have taken of said horse). A man sitting in the snack area said he was an expert on this horse as he was from Grand Rapids where a full scale replica of the 600 year old horse is at Meijer's gardens. I said I was in Milan where the original was supposed to be (da Vinci had a clay model there that Napoleon's soldiers destroyed by using it for target practice) and despite what he thinks, there are several models of this horse world wide including one in Pennsylvania. He immediately checked this out on his computer he had set up there. Yeah I am right. We got to talking. I had said I used to work for a big pharmaceutical company. As a sales rep? he guessed wrongly. Ha!   I am so far from being in sales...do I look polished? No basic research..way behind the scenes. Turns out he is in a clinical trial company associated with the University. Somehow we clicked. What we have in common is this..he has the same 10 foot marlin on his wall that I had retrieved from the trash a few months ago. What are the chances. My marlin is quite banged up (it is resting in the basement). He said it could be restored for $100 or he might buy it from me. Who needs two marlins? I guess they are quite pricy. The store had a used northern pike that was only 2 feet long for $350 . Impressive amount of teeth. Do not take the hook out of that one by hand.

Years ago, we went deep sea fishing in Florida on a extremely choppy day which caused all of us to be very seasick. My father's friend's son caught a baby barracuda (18 inches; adults are 6 feet long).He was so excited, he did not get sick (he couldn't even ride in a car without vomiting). It cost $150 to get that thing stuffed way back in the mid 60s. He has that thing in his office to this day.

I had to leave my new friend to pick up Maya. We've since been communicating m email.

Maya is a year old than most of her classmates plus she is very tall for her age so she towers over all of them. Two little boys would not leave her side. Apparently she hangs out with them at recess. At her check-up a few weeks ago, the doctor was pleasing with the glowing reports from her teachers about her drug induced concentration. Bonus, she hadn't lost any more weight. Still she weighs only 4 pounds more than Allie, more than 3 years younger.

Friday the Moms got together at one of the houses deep into the country 2 miles  (seems like so much more) down a dirt road that is covered with a sheet of ice this time of year. It was very nice just gabbing away. I didn't prepare a homemade dessert as I thought I would be babysitting more than I did. I brought a chocolate babka.

As for my diet, one step forward, two steps backward. Friday found me more than 37 pounds down so I got brave and tried on my 15 year old pants a size smaller. They fit! but with some bulge over the waistband. I considered wearing them as a reminder not to make the bulge bigger but back to my baggy pants. Maybe in 2 weeks I will wear them comfortably. In boxes somewhere, I do have more of my smaller clothes. Hopefully this obesity will be a thing of the past.

On tonight's agenda: superbowl party at Shanna's. Tomorrow: watching a movie with the Mom's.

Thursday, February 2, 2017

Spending time with MY granddaughter

She was alert for most of my visit so I could finally bond with her
Hannah does not look like her older sister. I assumed she looked much more like her father than her mother but staring at those eyes, I realize it is ME whom she looks like
week 8 of waiting for this amaryllis to bloom
sun and snow
me at ArtPrize. So much less of me now
from the internet. How do you see yourself?

My kids do not look like me for which I am grateful. They were beautiful children and now good looking adults. They have a good looking father.. I do see different aspects of their personalities that are similar to mine, especially with Josh. They are quite different from each other though Josh and Shanna look very similar. I relate to each one in a different way. And between the three of them are 6 grandbabies. Do I see my children in them? Not much though Tessa reminds me of a more feisty Shanna.

Josh and his wife made a will after Allie was born. What would happen to Allie if the two of them were to disappear? Go live with one of her aunts(that would make sense) No. Allie would live with the other grandma, a single woman who is older than me and still working. Does this make sense? Josh told me I could have the next baby which would be Hannah. Of course they should not be split up though Allie right now thinks that would be a good idea as she is tired of being a big sister and resents that Hannah gets carried around.

Allie has some sort of strep infection. They do not want the baby to get it and have divided the house into two zones: Allie and Hannah's. They also need separate caregivers so I was assigned Hannah yesterday (Steve went there today and got Allie) Thus I got plenty of Hannah time. She is now 4 weeks old.

The roads were covered with fresh slippery snow going there about 12 miles to the north. It melted there while I was there so I assumed I could run once I got home. Wrong. We had much more snow and it did not melt. Annoying. And today, it had turned to ice. Spring isn't coming soon enough.

I saw my friend today who is the battling the effects of a stem cell transplant and drove her to one of her many appointments as she is too weak to drive. Cold air sets off an asthma attack. I prewarmed the car for her but in the 10 seconds she was exposed to the 20 degree air, it set off an attack.

After mulling this over for the past week, I decided I will do the bike ride from Pittsburgh to DC through the mountains. I thought it would only go through Pennsylvania and Maryland but no, it swings into West Virginia and Virginia too along with DC of course. The Pennsylvania leg is all uphill. At least I will have less fat to haul up (but more equipment). 

Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Movie night

the restored Michigan Theater

A better effect would be the sign saying 'this is a decorative fountain only' to be placed elsewhere
our backyard this morning. I am skipping running. I did run yesterday on an inch of new snow but 4 inches is a bit much to plow through
3-D bizarre alligator bookmark I put up on the wall of strange creatures including a model of Gaudi's 'El drac' from Parc Guell in Barcelona to amuse kids

For the past 3 Mondays, we've been going to the movies. Last night's pick: Manchester-by-the-Sea at the restored Michigan Theater though this movie was in one of its tiny annexes (anneces?)about the size of my living room. The main theater was reserved for La La Land. Still the lobby is gloriously restored. Their senior rates are a bit higher than the big commercial palace and you have to park in a crowded area. Also the big snow decided to hit during the last hour of the movie leading to a scary slippery ride home. For some reason, Steve removed the snow brush so I had to wait for it to melt. My friends wanted dinner afterwards but it was well after nine and the snow was getting worse and worse. Too many meals out lately to no good effect.

I like the movie even though it was very sad. How to get past grief and guilt. It did not have the storybook perfect ending where all is better. Only a few moments could be had. Everyone has been saying how great Casey Affleck was but I think the teenage nephew did a far better job. Have I been to Manchester-by-the -Sea? Maybe. I know we drove all over Cape Ann where the village is during our month stay in Massachusetts. We went to places north and west of Boston such that we could get to Cambridge in an hour or so . My dad liked to go to Rockport and Gloucester (and Cape Cod, we always by-passed Boston) which were in the movie too. The scenery looked very familiar so that was fun to watch.

Steve is out with the snow blower which is getting far more use than last year. Maybe 5-6 weeks more of this crap? I did a bit more on the elliptical. I am no longer listening to soporific Ira Glass; old Rolling Stones is more motivating. There are so many piddling things that need to be done inside that are so easy to put off.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Birthdays and anniversaries

Steve and his birthday crème brulee
Hand painted pillow brightens up the den. I bought it for our orange and blue living room but it looks better here
orange and blue glass
Allie and Hannah
At 18 days Finally more alert. Looks more like baby Josh
Oliver, here at 2 months, turned 9 on Steve's birthday

Do I want to take this trip through he Alleghenies again? A friend asked but we would be self supported and go all the way to Washington DC from Pittsburgh, 335 miles almost all unpaved. The first half, the Great Allegheny Passage goes on coal train abandoned lines; the second half goes on the towpath of the C&O canal. Flat but rutted. If I could figure out the logistics..

one of the many bridges along the way. There are also several tunnels, one completely unlit

the basking knoll of female timber rattlers I came across on the trail not long after crossing the Mason-Dixon line. As it was too dangerous to put my foot as a scale, you have to trust that these are huge snakes. Although they aren't aggressive, they cause most of the death by snakes as they are located where fundamentalists use them in their services. Stupid is as stupid does. Western rattlers are losing their rattles as the noisy snakes get shot. Natural selection in progress. The quieter rattlers are just as poisonous.

Ten years ago, my colleagues and I all had to head to various auditoriums, some of them off site, to be told that our company at some point, unspecified, would pull out of Ann Arbor. A huge shock. Bonus, our company was the biggest tax payer in Ann Arbor so the town would feel our pain too. Lots of anxiety and tears. Steve, though, thought Yay! as the company who took over the company we worked for in a hostile takeover 7 years before made our working life quite unpleasant. Still I wasn't even 54 yet. Very young to retire. I thought I would hang around until I was at least 60. They were offering a few of us positions at their other sites, most of which have been shuttered too with much less generous severance packages. Naomi was still in high school. We didn't think it was wise to move even if we would have been hired elsewhere.

I continued to work for another 9 months, Steve a year. They did give a generous severance package so we are able to make ends meet. I don't know if I am yet used to waking up without having to go to work. I manage to keep busy.

It is also the 2 year anniversary of us having this house. How time flies! No it was not fun moving, packing, cleaning up and repairing our former house and then keeping it up while we tried to sell it. Glad that nightmare is over. I am also glad we moved. Ann Arbor was getting much too crowded. I still haven't organized all the stuff I should have. As there are no time limits, it is hard to get motivated. I seem to be fixated decorating the house with resale treasures.

Today would have been my father's 90th birthday. If he had taken care of himself, he might have made it. His father had lived that long. For most of  my adult life, we did not get along. He disowned me.

Thursday was Steve's and Oliver's birthdays. Oliver and his siblings came over the night before for dinner and a garishly decorated cupcake. They had fun playing in the basement, which has more kid stuff now and my various lights upstairs. Seems like yesterday I was driving across Canada and New York State trying not to miss his birth listening to my Italian language tapes to keep awake. We could see the Boston Pops shooting off fireworks in downtown Boston as Shanna mulled whether she was in labor enough to justify the hospital trip. Just as I was going to sleep, she said it was time. Nine years ago.

I have been going out to eat much too much in the last couple of days. My strategy is to eat half of what I ordered and then take the rest home. As of yesterday, I was down a bit over 36 pounds. Still I won't be done with this until early April.

Too snowy for a bike ride. Should I do the 335 trail ride which will involve much planning? The first 135 miles as largely uphill. At least I won't have so much body to haul up but now I might need to haul up supplies instead. Then there is a 15 mile steep downhill into Cumberland Maryland. It would be flat along the canal to DC but the path is in worst shape. Still there would be mountains around us for the first half in Eastern Maryland

Friends may come over tonight for the SAG awards. Fun to look at the dresses.

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