Saturday, July 31, 2010

Differences between cat and dogs

THE DIARIES: This is from one of my favorite blogs Campanastan


8:00 am - Dog food! My favorite thing!

9:30 am - A car ride! My favorite thing!

9:40 am - A walk in the park! My favorite thing!

10:30 am - Got rubbed and petted! My favorite thing!

12:00 PM - Lunch! My favorite thing!

1:00 PM - Played in the yard! My favorite thing!

3:00 PM - Wagged my tail! My favorite thing!

5:00 PM - Milk bones! My favorite thing!

7:00 PM - Got to play ball! My favorite thing!

8:00 PM - Wow! Watched TV with the people! My favorite thing!

11:00 PM - Sleeping on the bed! My favorite thing!


Day 983 of my captivity.

My captors continue to taunt me with bizarre little dangling objects. They dine lavishly on fresh meat-while the other inmates and I are fed hash or some sort of dry nuggets. Although I make my contempt for the rations perfectly clear, I nevertheless must eat something in order to keep up my strength. The only thing that keeps me going is my dream of escape.

In an attempt to disgust them, I once again vomit on the carpet.

Today I decapitated a mouse and dropped its headless body at their feet. I had hoped this would strike fear into their hearts, since it clearly demonstrates what I am capable of. However, they merely made condescending comments about what a 'good little hunter' I am. Bastards!

There was some sort of assembly of their accomplices tonight. I was placed in solitary confinement for the duration of the event. However, I could hear the noises and smell the food. I overheard that my confinement was due to the power of 'allergies.' I must learn what this means and how to use it to my advantage.

Today I was almost successful in an attempt to assassinate one of my tormentors by weaving around his feet as he was walking. I must try this again tomorrow -- but at the top of the stairs.

I am convinced that the other prisoners here are flunkies and snitches.

The dog receives special privileges. He is regularly released - and seems to be more than willing to return. He is obviously retarded.


Whine..whine ..whine. I'll try to stop: I promise!!
I don't like to complain but.......
Yeah you do.

Last night I was feeling very sorry for myself as my toe ached so much, walking was difficult. How would I be able to run? NSAIDs seemed to stop the pain and I was able to sleep. However, I was able to run OK the next day despite the toe and the scraped knee. I was afraid to stop lest the endorphins fade but afterwards, I was OK.
The toe, knee, and lip will heal but I don't think the teeth will grow back.
Really wish I hadn't fallen down but no use crying over spilt milk.

There was a good article today in the WSJ concerning internet security. You whine in your blog about being fat and instantly an ad appears touting some weight loss product. Aside from the commercial stalkers and bots scanning what I write, I had a more obvious stalker for the past few weeks. I have downloaded pages and pages of visits from this particular organization  and individuals associated with them but either they are bored or read WSJ's article on how to be more furtive.

Friday, July 30, 2010

A bloody mess..

That would be my face and knee. As I was putting out Spud's bedding to dry, I tripped on this step I put in to help him get in and out of our house falling onto a ceramic sculpture. The damage:

One split lip: Amazing amount of blood associated with that but it's finally slowly down to a few drops
Two chipped front teeth: dental work will be needed.
Skinned knee; minor but lots of blood. Doesn't hurt beyond that.
Stubbed toe: most worrisome. It hurts if I try to extend it.
Smooshed plant
Sculpture seems OK.

Dontae and his brother came over last night  while Naomi was out running errands. To pass the time, they started to play bball unaware of the hornet's nest hidden in the grape leaves. Oops.

I was out watching Josh. His team was 2 men short (7 play at any one time). The other team had 4 subs and was gleefully counting its chickens before they hatched. But  the 5 guys that showed were the best guys and they ended up winning. Julia came out too and it was nice talking with her.

A nice non-humid morning good for running. Ms. Hummingbird visited the feeded every 10 minutes while I sat out on the patio eating breakfast and doing my puzzles. I hadn't see Mr. Rabbit for awhile but found him the other night non-chalantly snacking in my rock garden. I clapped my hands: no response. Just as I was about to tap him on the shoulder, he moved to another part of my garden.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Hidden hornets' nest and other dangers

I found a piece of this nest lying in my driveway today. When I looked up, there it was next to the basketball net. Good thing Naomi hasn't practised her shooting lately.Update: Although Naomi wasn't tempted to play bball with this thing around, poor Don'tae was not warned. While waiting for Naomi, he and his brother were shooting around. It didn't take long for the whole swarm to come after him in a thick black line with him running at top speed for a block. A few caught up to him stinging him around the eye. Even though his brother was closer, the swarm ignored him though he ran off in the opposite direction. The swarm is now RIP through the wonders of chemical warfare. Couldn't walk the baby pass this thing every day.

When Josh was in middle school and the leaves finally fell off one of our maples, a football sized hornets' nest was exposed. As there had been several hard freezes, he thought it safe to shimmy up the tree and retrieve it. We used this for a science project. The warmer it is, the thicker the walls are to keep the nest cool. It is amazing that these little creatures can construct such a structure.

One summer, he and his buddies found one of these in a tree in front of his friend's house. They threw rocks at it. Clouds of angry hornets would emerge, eventually calm down, and the the rocks would hit again. The mom walked out of the house during the time that the hornets were searching for their tormentor; the aftermath was not pretty as the mom was allergic to their stings.

Steve found a patch of poison ivy near where I had been weeding last month resulting in 3 weeks of hell even though I only touched it for a second. Growing up in the city, he didn't have this hazard. I was surprised he was able to correctly identify it but he carefully took care of it. At the Girl Scout camp, I took the girls to had campgrounds surrounded by this stuff. The water pump especially had a good sized patch. I spent a lot of time trying to educate my charges. Hopefully they all know now.

And I won't go into the hidden danger of trusting my house guest.

I am taking a day off today. Maya and Naomi are over. One advantage of grandbabies is that they eventually go home but the visits are precious.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Human Guinea Pigs

Scenes of Naomi and Maya yesterday

Living in an University town, we are often approached to do research studies. Yesterday Naomi was approached by the School of Nursing to do a study involving unusual deliveries. What was unusual in their eyes? Pushing less than 30 minutes for a first time mom (actually she pushed for about 5 minutes). It involves having 3 MRIs netting her $360. She ended up not doing the other study during birth as she didn't know who she was supposed to contact

 I had Shanna do several studies as a baby. One was testing the vision of 2 month olds. How do they do that? Turns out babies would rather look at a pattern rather than a blank sheet. The babies were given 2 sheets to look at: most of the time, they'd turn their heads to the pattern. The lines of the pattern became tinier and tinier and looked like a blank sheet. At the point they wouldn't look at the patterned sheet, they assumed that was their visual acuity. Hers was 20/600, typical of a baby her age and similar to what she is now without contacts.

Another was on self-image. At what age do babies realize that image in the mirror is actually them?  She was 12 months for this one. Somehow they snuck a red dot onto the middle of her forehead. If she was observed looking in the mirror and then becoming visibly puzzled by the red dot (as evidenced by grabbing for it), then they knew she knew it was herself she was looking at and something was wrong. Why is that red dot on my forehead? She reached for her forehead so she did recognize herself and knew something was amiss.

Animals never seem to recognize themselves. One of my thankless jobs as a child was carrying around a mirror made of a board covered with foil. I was to put it in front of a male peacock who would interpret the image as a threat and then display his feathers while my father took his photo. My father had a sideline as a stock photographer.

For once, it wasn't raining on soccer night so I watched the guys (and the lone lady) play. It was a rout: Josh's buddy alone scored a double hat trick. I ran this morning in the oppressive humidity. Hopefully it will rain later as the yard needs it. Back to trying to straighten out insurance issues, our full-time job. Naomi and May came today. Maya has more alert periods now and is quite a bit chunkier. She slept for a record 6 hours last night.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Beatle fans

Back in the 60s, we loved the Beatles! We would take turns spinning fantasies about Paul and John leaving their wives and girlfriends for us. Recently I have contacted 2 of these ladies pictured below:
One of the people is no longer my friend so is exed out. The nerdiest one there with the perpetual cowlick and pointy glasses is myself. All of us lived on the same street except Ms. Exe. We are 11 or 12 here.
This is the front of the house. The picture above was taken on the back patio. This picture was taken after the flippers I sold it to fixed it up .

I now have a wall of morning glories. I have lines  all over the place for my 4 plants plus the black eyed susan vine that also has 6 foot long vines. Soon I will be under a canopy of blossoms.

Morning glories in their glory 3 years ago. This kind hasn't bloomed yet; just the smaller darker kind but in a few weeks I will have more blooms than this.

Maya is here with me. We need to go relieve Sunny as Josh is working and Julia is still in Puerto Rico.

It is still hot here but at least the humidity has dropped making my running easier.

Monday, July 26, 2010


Those treated for cancer eventually are told what stage they are: Stage 0 (cancer hasn't spread beyond the original spot) through Stage 4 (spread to other organs). What is Stage 1 for one type of cancer isn't necessarily what is Stage 1 for another. I was told I was at Stage 2A meaning a tumor between 3- 5 cm but with no nodal involvement. But not all Stage 2A s are the same. I had a high grade tumor. If I had a low grade tumor, my odds would improve considerably. But knowing what stage you are at, physicians can quickly assess  approximately where you are at.

The other day at our survivor group, we were a mixture of stages. There were a few Stage 4 people there and one woman was really having a hard time accepting that she may have little time left. Someone glibly told her that no one, even cancer free people don't know how much time they have, the old you could be hit by a bus tomorrow chestnut. Small comfort that was but of course I wouldn't be able to come up with anything better myself.Those of us in earlier stages fear that we could find ourselves in Stage 4. Later I suggested to the moderator that they have a Stage 4 support group..they are in a different place than the earlier stages people.
But not all Stage 4 people are going to die soon.  I know of some Stage 4 people who are now NED (no evidence of disease, not the same as no cancer but almost as good). Cancer is sometimes converted to a chronic condition held in check by various medications. Increasingly more people find themselves in this category.

Naomi and Maya came over yesterday. Maya wants to eat around the clock but so far, Naomi has been able to keep up with her demands. The other day she asked me Aren't you glad I had her?
A trick question as I had lectured her over and over about NOT becoming pregnant so young. I told her that I am glad Maya is here but all of our lives have been made much more difficult.

I ran a long way today to make up for my sloth of yesterday. I suddenly developed a hole in the toe of my shoe. Have to get new shoes pronto as I am now risking injury.

Sunday, July 25, 2010


Bellagio lobby
Close-up of work

The above pictures Steve took when he and Shanna went to Vegas a few years ago. The artist currently has an outdoor exhibit at the Meijer Gardens in Grand Rapids that I hope to get to.  Chihuly is one of the few Americans that has studied glass  artistry in Murano outside of Venice. Steve and I spend some vacation time apart as the demands at home are usually too great to take a vacation together though Shanna was able to stay at our house while the two of us went to England.

Out on the farm

Topiary dolphins from the Montreal Botanical Gardens. I might  go there in person soon to deal with some details of of step-grandmother's estate and see this garden for myself.
Recently one of the Moms (our 30+year post-part-partum support group) purchased a 64 acre farm complete  with a 4 acre spring-fed lake and is currently remodelling the house. We went there last night to provide input on decorating choices (as the whole interior of the home needs updating). As Friday's storms caused wide-spread damage, there was no electricity so it was hard to see all of the insides. As beautiful as the land is and the house will be, it sounds like so much work. In the somewhat neglected garden, there appeared to be a bunch of mint. Oh good, I could use some spearmint but it was catnip. (A warning to the wise: never plant this stuff as it spreads so quickly and can not be killed). I picked some of the leaves for our hostess's 3 kitties and they went wild, especially one of them.

But it was a very nice night watching the bats, drinking wine,  having great food and conversation and being attacked by a peeper. There was a tiny frog climbing the walls of her house (didn't know they could climb). When Mom 1 picked the peeper up for a closer look, it jumped onto Mom 2 who was startled. Alas no video.

Even though it is a beautiful day, I couldn't motivate myself to run. We did have brunch with Josh, which is always nice. Hopfully Maya will come over later. I haven't seen her in 2 days.

Saturday, July 24, 2010


One of the tops I purchased yesterday. Today marks the day that I officially retired the wig last year as I finally had an inch of hair. I've had several haircuts since and have changed the color several times. The chemo curls have morphed into waves which are becoming looser as time goes by.

There was a very interesting (to me) article in the WSJ today about how differences in languages influence differences in thinking (or visa versa). For instance, we'd say John broke the vase but in Spanish and in Japanese, the reflexive is used and they say: The vase broke itself. Causality isn't as important in their cultures but we English speakers, think it is. Now there is no mention of whether this was an accident.(of course if you ask a child what happened, they would say, The vase broke. All by itself? Yep.)Some languages have only the present tense for verbs and their cultures reflect that. It doesn't matter what has happened in the past or the future. Other cultures have no use for the concept of left and right but are very big on north, south ,east, west. (It is south, south west in a very long time). Different language speakers were shown Janet Jackson's infamous 'waredrobe misfunction' and asked to assess blame..whose fault, Janet's, Justin's or none of the above. The answers varying greatly depending on how the event was put into their language's words. Also it stressed that people who learn a new language learn to think differently.

So if ones language is based on one's culture and how things are perceived, then people speaking the same language have this commonality. So are Americans so similar to our English speaking relatives in England? I really think we have quite different cultures: their concept of class whereas we have some hope for upward mobility. It's true how we have different meanings for words (like the clerk in the Canterbury Hotel asking me if I would like to be 'knocked up'.) but sometimes we put different value for the same word. My favorite example is the word scrappy. The chairman of the board of our company was described as such and we were told that therefore, we should all aspire to be scrappy ourselves. So the word scrappy means the same on both sides of the Atlantic: a scrappy fighter has very little skills but wins due to persistence and spirit. Americans admire the spirit; the English note the lack of art and skills.
We will NOT be scrappy, our English colleagues said.
But look who is signing your check: an American company. If they tell you to be scrappy, you will be scrappy.
So being scrappy is good here but not so good in England.

Here in Ann Arbor, we are not big fans of said chairman, scrappy or not. We can come up with some different words. Short sighted anyone?

It was a good thing I left the Art Fair when I did as thunderstorms hit shortly after I left along with another round of tornado warnings and sirens. The heat drained my energy. I was able to run in the cooler drizzle this morning. I went to the survivor lunch and a 'after cancer' group mainly because I really liked one of the women I met there and wanted to talk to her more. Some of the participants are very much still in cancerland. Although my chance of recurrence has not dropped, my thinking about it has really diminished quite a bit due to so many other things to deal with.

Mom's group tonight. Sorry ladies..I couldn't  get my act together to make a homemade dessert but hopefully what I'll bring will be tasty. One of the moms bought a farm recently so we'll all get to see that for the first time.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ann Arbor Art Fair

Every year for 4 days, our fair city comes to a standstill due to these fairs. I usually go for a couple of the days. You'd need to go for morning til night to see everything. I couldn't get too excited about going this year but today, on the toastiest and most humid of days, I went with the other 4 moms. It was fun looking at everything. Four of us bought a bunch of stuff at Orchid Lane, one of my favorite shops with their unique clothes and friendly staff. I'll include a picture  of one of my purchases tomorrow. I grossed out the moms with my multi-colored lesion covered torso in the dressing room  though thankfully, I am in healing mode.The rain and thunderstorm came up suddenly and we all scrambled for shelter. Temps were in the 90s. One advantage of living near North Campus is that I can have a free ride on the campus bus to get back home.

Ms. Hummingbird approves of the new nectar though already one of those earwigs found it.

Another soccer night probably cancelled due to a tornado watch and storms. Julia is off to Puerto Rico as she missed out on the New York trip, several Chicago trips and of course the German trip.

No nurse visit for Naomi due to the nurse becoming injured. Hopefully they won't give her a new one as she has a rapport with Ann.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Times Square

This is a picture that I took in Times Square last month. I just noticed tonight an interesting sign in the middle. It almost doesn't look real but it is. Message from above?

Flowers and more

Black-eyed Susan vine
Bag of impatiens

Notice the new look of my blog. The 3rd party provider of my background said they would remove my background tomorrow. Something about it taking up too much bandwidth. They said I could choose another background but last time, it took hours of editing code to get it right so back to Blogger's default backgrounds.Maybe if I had more time on my hands.. I also added a different editor which theoretically has much more features if I could only figure out how to use them. I can now move pictures around instead of them all being loaded on the top. Can't figure out how to put captions yet but all of the above are pictures of my patio as of today with bags of flowers, morning glories, delphiniums, black eyed susan vines, etc.

My hummingbird feeded was really gross and I was afraid it killed my little friend. It has new stuff in it so come back. We just saw it feeding on the neighbor's hostas.

The insurance issue seems to be OK. The insurance that Naomi erroneously was given called to give a screen for postpartum depression and to make sure everything is OK. Naomi said she never got a card from them. You are at 220 Center, right? and  Naomi gave the correct address.

Now the whole problem arose because the wrong address was entered for Naomi so she never received important mail. She asked DHS what address did they have for her but they couldn't tell her because  it was 'confidential'. OK, that is weird enough but wouldn't the caseworker realize that there was something strangely familiar about the address..that it was the exact address of where the case worker was at that moment?

Naomi told them her biggest problem is that they don't seem to be covering UM's bill. Oh we have high-risk patients referred to them all the time.Naomi pointed out that she was not high risk as she was a midwife patient but the woman said that shouldn't matter, she would be covered and if she wasn't, this woman would personally deal with it.

Hopefully she is right.

So Ms. Maya is 3 weeks old today. This isn't a great picture but she is wearing a gift from their apartment mate. What happens at Grandma's, Stays at Grandma's. Their roommate's baby is 4 months old but is the same length as Maya. The baby and his mom moved out though the baby is there sometimes on weekends. So this new photo  editor lets me put pictures where I want them.

Normally I don't like to run 4 days in a row but tomorrow will be devoted to the Art Fair with my friends. I stuck to the neighborhood today. The little hills are no longer a problem. Two years ago I was running every morning in the Appenine Mountains with Dave, the Maremma sheep dog by my side bodyslamming me trying to get me to go back to the village. He was a stray that had difficulty walking but could run. Sheep dogs will herd people if they don't have sheep. In the mountains, they need big sheepdogs to deal with the wolves; border collies won't do. I only saw the wolf once but Elena, my cinema teacher saw it quite a few times as she ran to Secinaro. I worried more about the boars..saw lots of them in my early morning runs.
Dave and I in the piazza outside of the monastery. I'd try to sneak by him in the morning but somehow he'd find me. Once I started feeding him my leftovers, he no longer considered me a sheep and didn't come after me.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Soccer night

Naomi, Maya and beautiful presents..all received shortly before the Sad Event

Last night I went out to watch Josh and his teammates play soccer. It started to rain again but fortunately stopped after about 5 minutes. This was to be our cool day for the week but it was quite hot and humid. Fortunately it was relatively cool in the morning so I could get a long run in.

Due to their usual goalie not being there, Josh played goal, which is not so much fun to watch as when he is in the field but he was awesome. His black eye is finally healing, a workplace injury not a soccer injury. You'd think being an engineer/designer would be a safe job but an employee darting out of the bathroom collided with him catching his eye with their jaw. Fuller Field is surrounded by a river on 3 sides. Leading up to the river bank are trees and a wide zone of poison ivy. Now that they have fences around the fields, the ball doesn't roll into the poison ivy as much (this really became a problem for his former coach) but the ball ended up there last night. The ref jumped the fence to retrieve it with me running after him to tell him what was there. But he said that he is resistant and it's part of his service to get the balls out of there. Hopefully he doesn't sensitize himself.

The humidity really drained the life out of me during my run this morning. Due to all that is going on, sleep is difficult. My rash is getting better though.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Talon talent

Looks like Baby Pan. Instead of her ears, you can just see Naomi's talons for that Rosemary's Baby vibe

Naomi really likes to have those silly nails. Of course they interfered with basbetball. The coach had seen her off season and said that those nails better be gone before the season. She didn't get nails while pregnant due to the toxic fumes but not long after Maya popped out, Don'tae's sister gave her a set. Maya occasionally latches on to the wrong body part. To break the suction, you are supposed to insert a finger in the baby's mouth to stretch the lips. But with these nails, Naomi can't do that.

They went for another visit to straighten out the insurance fiasco. Allegedly it will be fixed but only time will tell.

I was reading up on Legg-Calve-Perthes disease. In it, the femur head doesn't have the proper blood supply so the head becomes brittle and fragile. It is genetic and fairly common in small breeds especially Manchester terriers (which Dakota may be part for all we know-she has terrier like behaviors.) This happens in humans too. The vet suggested this could be the case as a 2 foot jump onto carpet should not fracture a leg.
Soccer night tonight. It was raining for the last 2 games and he was out of town for the 4 games before that. Tonight is fairly cool so I'll watch Josh in action.


This insurance issue seems to be an on-going nightmare. Maya now is covered for sure and has her card but Naomi is in limbo. They had switched her without her knowledge to another plan that didn't include UM even though she expressly said she needed to go to UM. UM alerted them that she wasn't covered a week before the birth so she went in for the umpteenth time and they said they would switch it. But they didn't and UM is now billing her. Steve is trying to straighten this out for her as Naomi lacks the necessary skills to deal with this.

Yesterday I posted a picture of Oliver thinking it was Naomi as an infant. Oops.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

The good, the bad, and the ugly

The Good..

Maya is very healthy and growing quickly. She has now a social smile. Naomi has turned out to be an excellent mom full of milk. The baby rarely leaves her body and sleeps on her chest. It hasn't worn a hole on the back of its head like many babies left to sleep by themselves. She is patient and attentive. I hope she continues to be. People have been very supportive of her sending her many presents and encouraging her to keep up the good work. So many times, even mature moms, have had their breast feeding derailed by bad advice. Yesterday Josh and Julia stopped by when Naomi and her little family was here. My kids are my blessings and we are close. Naomi went out to dinner with Dontae for the first time without the baby. I had a bottle of expressed milk to tide Maya over. Still Naomi has many obstacles to overcome in her life.

The Bad....

Insurance issues are a nightmare. More work needs to be done this week to untangle this. We took one credit card away from Naomi and she chose to open another account and has managed that badly. The investigator seemed annoyed that Naomi was the owner as she would be harder to prosecute, not that they might not try. He said he didn't believe she was the owner. Basically that is his interrogation style: you're a liar! That can't be! Naomi showed him numerous videos on her phone of Dakota's early days and when she persuaded him to let her see Dakota one last time, it was very clear she was the owner. Dakota was so happy!!Maybe they will let me go home..I've been so good. but Naomi had to walk away bawling her eyes out. And they don't consider being uprooted from a happy home cruelty? Do they think threatening to seize a dog while you were in labor cruelty? Obviously animals mean more than humans to them. THE DOG WAS NOT IN PAIN AND WAS PROVIDED WITH MEDICAL CARE. The dog had some rare medical condition in which part of its femur was missing or dead. This would have been impossible to predict.
Withholding medical care is considered 'animal abuse'. But the dog did receive care..$500 worth. Obviously we were not hiding anything. We went to this organization for care.The investigator regalled Naomi with cases he is working on..dogs having all 4 legs broken, dogs beaten with a hammer (this case was in the paper today) and I asked him..honestly do you think this case is even remotely like that? He said no. I do think he feels badly now that it is clear what the story is but he allegedly has no choice. The prosecutor reviews the case Monday. I had him read the vet's written statement that the dog did not appear to be in pain. He wouldn't include it in the report but I had him sign that he has read that statement.The sheriff did tell Josh that the dog was unusually friendly and happy.

The ugly...
Me. I am a mess of weeping wounds. I can not wear a bra now and my eye is all swollen due to a lesion on my lid. At least the lesions inside..yes private parts have gone away. I am not going out in public for a while though I have had visitors. I keep putting on antibiotic ointment to prevent secondary infections. I realize that a shot of prednisone will make this all go away as it has in the past but I am without a doctor no thanks to insurance changes. Three weeks is what I've read this takes to pass..this too shall pass. A few days left.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Dakota in action

The dogs have clearly identified whose toys are whose. The big rope even though it weighs as much as Dakota, Sunny decided was Dakota's so if Dakota touches the rope,Sunny drops it. But the reason I posted this was to show what an active, healthy dog Dakota is and what a miscarriage of justice this is.The dog does not appear to be in pain. Even the vet wrote that the dog didn't seem to be in pain. When I pointed out they came an hour before I took Naomi to the hospital to have a baby, they said that wasn't any excuse. It wasn't like Dakota was hemorraghing to death, she had a limp.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Maya smiling

The State of Sue

Maya after her first bath

The State of Sue is surrounded by construction . Our quiet street has turned into I-94 as cars avoid the 2 of 3 main gateways to the city snarled by projects. The Art Fairs start next week so it will be impossible to drive anywhere then. Even my 'scenic beauty' road that I run on and rarely see a car has been discovered. Busses and double hauling gravel trucks drive down our street at break neck speed. The school has put a sign up Please don't speed on our street!
This is ignored.

My trunk is covered with angry red-purple lesions. I can ignore the itching during the day and take Benedryl and Zyrtec at night. I awake at 3 or 4 wanting to itch. In general, they are going away. At our cancer cooking class, someone said that chemo has made her much more sensitive to poison ivy although repeat exposures make things worse. Also global warming somehow has increased the amount of poison in poison ivy.

About 9 years ago I did the Dances with Dirt, a 60 mile relay race. We had a 5 person team; I was the youngest and the only woman. Our times were corrected for age and sex so I was an 'asset' plus I was still in good shape then. We were each responsible for 3 legs of about 4 miles each. The legs were graded 1-5 in difficulty. I took 2 of the easiest legs but my third leg was the most difficult. The easiest legs weren't all that easy-on the very hilly Potawami Trail, which is steep and narrow but at least there is a path. But the hard leg was cross country following ribbons. There was a deep gulch that I had to slide down. I noted the poison ivy . I had covered myself with ivy block but some of it managed to get me. I needed a prednisone shot for that. To get out of the gulch, I had to lift myself up grabbing tree roots. Suffice it to say, this impacted my pace. I tripped on hidden barbed wire on the rare part I could actually run on. One of my teammates lost a shoe wading through knee deep mud. I was supposed to run through a pond but I opted to run (crawl?) along its edge instead. It was actually quite fun planning our strategy. I was in charge of figuring out where to be. But my lasting effect was that I am now really sensitive to poison ivy.

I have dealt with my roots and have shorter hair so my chemo curls are back. I have been running alot but I am waiting on my Y scholarship to return there. I haven't been good about doing arm exercises outside of the gym.Yesterday, the heat index was around 100. No exercise that day. I did go to Happy Hour though.

Maya is officially smiling. See next post as Naomi managed to get it on her phone.

I've been spending alot of time gardening buying some cheapo perennials for my rock garden. What I really need to do is buy some rocks from the Rock Shop. My patio is now a habitrail of runners for my morning glories. Soon it will be full of blossoms.

I will have lunch with Josh while Naomi (and Maya) eats with Steve.

We just got a beautiful package from Texas.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Shayna Shanna!

4 years old at preschool
2 weeks old having first bath

9 years old with brother. People often asked if they were twins despite the size and sex difference

11 years old . I know she hates the short hair but I like this picture as you can see her beautiful eyes and lips

High school graduate

Young adult catching the bouquet. Yep she got married next

Getting married

With her own little babies in Boston

It's hard to believe that my first baby is so old! I think of myself as being in my thirties but no, I can't be as I have a 31 year old now. I was so looking forward to meeting her. I wanted a baby girl so badly. No sneak previews in those days. My labor was the opposite of Naomi's; a whole lot of pain and no dilation to show for it. I was between 1 and 3 cm forever with nurses feeling my contractions saying they were 'nothing' and that I haven't felt anything yet, just wait until they get real! Well eventually Shanna dropped and the contractions got real but manageable and she soon was born. With her chubby cheeks, I thought I saw a mini-me but as time went on, she became more like Steve's mini-me.
But in many ways we are quite alike even though we don't look alike. We have similar tastes in books and movies. She is a scientist currently as a full time mother. She is very devoted to her two little boys and has reserves of patience that continues to surprise me. She is much more reserved than I. I wish she lived closer to me. She is the daughter that everybody dreams of and I wish her all the happiness in the world. Happy Birthday!

Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Twelve days old. Her eyes are almost open here. Note Naomi's new set of talons.

Naomi's insurance is still a mess. Steve went down with her in an attempt to straighten it out. Who knows when that will be settled. WIC weighed both Maya and Naomi. Maya weighed 8.5 lbs (a gain of 5 oz in a day or they have a strange scale) and Naomi weighed what she did when she was 16 weeks pregnant..not much.

Vicarious European adventure

The main platz near the Dom full of musicians, mimes, biergartens, cafes in Koln
Paris fountain

Josh's Paris breakfast

The Kolner Dom at night

Josh doing the limbo in a bar. Big glass of Koelsch nearby

Eiffel Tower

The Dom during the day. Second tallest cathedral in Europe

A Beer Bike. Not sure if you are to peddle while drinking

Josh and his 2 co-workers at night

Not sure yet if I will get my own European adventure this year so I have to live vicariously through my son. I was hoping since his companions were at least 10 years older, they would know Europe more but it turns out that Josh was the Paris expert based on my notes to him and his French class.
Maya had her big weigh-in yesterday: 8#3oz A whopping gain of 11 oz in a week and 9 oz since she was at the doctors' last Tuesday. Seems a little yellow to me and a lot sleepier than what I remember newborns as but noone seemed concerned. Naomi spent some time straightening out her school stuff and I gardened avoiding things that I should be doing. I didn't run as I am just tired. I can ignore the poison ivy during the day and it is getting better, but at night after the Benedryl wears off, it becomes hard. Still new spots keep popping up too.

Monday, July 12, 2010

How does your garden grow?

This is not a marigold but an orange cosmos. Very small. One of the few plants I grew from seed successfully
One of my morning glories. The color didn't turn out right here. It's a deep purple blue as opposed to the bright blue of conventional morning glories which have bigger blossoms but haven't bloomed yet despite the many vines I have

Pink cosmos with some of the tickweed (coreopsis) in the background

My own cleome

Tuberous begonias. I have many colors. I have been saving the tubers over winter but I didn't plant them until late so only one is now in bloom
So my camera is back. It isn't as fancy as Steve's and it is hard to take good close-ups but it is easy to use and I can find it when I want to.
Each year is good for certain flowers and not good for others. My hits and misses:
Gerber daisies. The flowers are pretty but the leaf/flower ratio is too much. Right now I have lots of healthy leaves but no flowers!
Dahlias aka slug food. I don't know why I buy these but the flowers are so pretty. I have a few blossoms still but the leaves are almost gone.
Lobelias: I love the deep blue ones especially but I mostly have the light blue ones. I had a bag in which the ten plants or so looked good for a week and then started to die. I tried to save a few planting them elsewhere.only 2 still alive. I since formed another bag of impatiens so I have 3 bags along the fence just full of blooms. The lobelias in my baskets still are blooming though.
Petunias: Love them but last year all of them got some strange disease in which they would die from the roots out. Not unique to me as I saw others' baskets full of diseased petunias. I can't put these in the ground as the slugs find them. As it is, in my containers, the slugs find them but they seem safe in hanging baskets.
New flower: Black eyed Susan vine. I don't think this flower is related to black-eyed Susans (of which I have plenty as they spread from the neighbor's bed to mine) but it has the same color.
Morning glories: I grew many plants from seed but Mr. Rabbit found the seedlings especially tasty so I have maybe one plant left from that. I bought a different variety as a plant and I now have a whole network of vines on strings all over the patio. Yesterday I had 8 blooms. Still waiting for the ones I grew from seed to bloom although some of the vines are 6 foot long. Don't even have buds yet.
Tickweed: I got several colors of this from my sister-in-law from mature plants she dug up. It looked like most were going to die after a week but most of the plants have since rallied and I have new blooms.
I love cosmos. One year I could only find the giant form which formed 8 foot trees crowding everything else out. I now have more manageable smaller varieties at 3 feet tops.
Geraniums: I have had the same salmon one for 5 years looking bad in the winter inside but coming to life in the spring. I trim the leggy plants down sticking the cuttings in dirt and have gotten lots of new plants this way in pots at least. Now I am trying to just put the bare cuttings in the ground in front. Not sure if this is going to work but for now I have blooms.
Snapdragons: Big ones and little ones. The little ones are particularly colorful.
Impatiens: I am not going to put these in the ground around the patio any more as they take over the world. They are fine in containers and bags. As long as they are watered, they are easy.
We had a family dinner last night in which Josh got to meet Ms. Maya. He bought her a Koln am Rhein shirt with a picture of the Dom on it. My phrase book was returned unused. He was not a fan of German food going to McDonald's instead which I think is a big shame. He like the corporate cafeteria with its homemade breads and little sandwiches. He did like the food in Paris but somehow found himself on that roundabout from hell going around the arc de triomphe-driving was scary off the freeways.He was surprised at the German work ethic: many breaks, people wearing wild clothes to work, lots of constant chatter. He thought it would be the opposite with Germans as some sort of efficient unsmiling robots. None of their behavior would fly where he works (same company). Everyone was very friendly to him. He had bought a German soccer jersey for a low price but one of his new friends met in a biergarten pointed out it was missing a star in its insignia.
It was a nice evening with lots of discussions and the new baby who still is very sleepy, which worries me somewhat. She sees the nurse today.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Hair repurposing

Ok, so I keep things too long. I rarely throw things away including drugs. I did throw that Prem-Pro away right away when I got the cancer diagnosis as I think even though I had estrogen negative BC, somehow it probably had something to do with it. I have a bottle of Decadron..a fluorocorticosteroid that I was supposed to take with the AC but didn't as I hated the side effects..bloating, restlessness. I couldn't avoid it as it was added to my iv before dosing and added in even larger doses with Taxol. I did try to talk her down to the smallest dose possible. Could I use this for this poison ivy? In the past, for huge reactions, I've received a shot of prednisone (less active than decadron) and my immune system stopped attacking me.
If I ignore it, I don't feel it especially during the day. We took Oliver to the woods the other night for a walk (ooooo..spooky!) and I noticed this stuff is now popping up in the middle of the path. Anyway, the rash has gone away in parts. Still the cause and the effect just don't match..I only grabbed that stem for a second.

Another strange item I had kept was my hair. On the fourth day of my second treatment of AC, my scalp was burning. The weight of my hair seemed oppressive...a strange feeling. I sit here with hair half as long as I had that day and I don't feel my hair at all. The hair would fall off in clumps. Finally I just started cutting leaving about an inch behind throwing my cuttings into a bag. I had thick hair so it was a big bag. Even an inch seemed to weigh down on my scalp and that hair started snarling . My silky chin length hair rarely formed snarls but now it was so off that went too. The stumble left from my cuttings fellout within a day or two leaving me totally bald. Not a good look...I never let anyone see me bald. I certainly didn't allow pictures. It is true that when it was growing out and I had a half inch of transparent hair, when I was out in the country running, I'd take off my hat as it was so hot and sweaty but I would put it back on once I returned to the neighborhood.

So I came across this bag a month or so ago. Why am I saving this hair? It was one big snarly mass. We still have Naomi's hair neatly plaited in 7 inch pieces to donate to Locks of Love some day but that is potentially useful. I have noticed that clumps of Spud's fur left outside are taken away by the birds to line their nests with pug fur. Would the birds want my hair? I ended up using it for mulch covering it with a layer of dirt. When we have big rains, some of my hair is exposed.

Shanna was having trouble finding a room last night so maybe she and the babies drove all the way back home to Boston. Hopefully they slept.

Josh has returned from Germany but didn't stop by (even though I have his car)much to my disappointemt but I imagine he is tired. We are having a family dinner tonight at his place so he can meet Maya, born during his absence.

And little Maya was here yesterday still very sleepy. She did open her eyes briefly to look around. They are blue and look very much like Naomi's but they will turn brown probably. Naomi very much enjoys her and can't imagine a day that they will ever be at odds.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Coming and going

The sisters hold each other's babies. Daniel is almost 11 months and Maya is 8 days old

So Shanna and her family are on their way to Boston and Josh is in the air now crossing the Atlantic to come home. The last 2 mornings, I sipped my coffee on my patio surrounded by my flowers, which are finally filling in nicely, holding my dumpling Daniel while he drinks his bottle. He is quite the charmer!

Later at night, we had a family dinner. I made panna cotta though Shanna would have probably preferred creme brulee. We had an evening with all 3 grandkids. Not sure when that will happen again but at least I have Maya to watch grow. She is now cordless.

Next to my house unfortunately is a rental house. Sometimes we get lucky and have reasonable neighbors; other times not so much. Usually they are college students or recent graduates. Last night I was awakened to yelling and splashing (there's a pool) at 4:30 am. Dudes! I got dressed and asked them to please keep it down. They said they would but of course they were too drunk to comply. I know the owner of the house but now she has an unlisted number. In the past when her illegal tenants ( can't have more than 3 unrelated people living together in our neighborhood and there are sometimes 5 in there) partied in the middle of the night I would call her. Oh did I wake you? Then I left messages at her place of business but I lost the satisfaction of waking her.

I thought this weekend was supposed to cooler. NOT! But I did get a run in.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A hard night

Me pushing Daniel along the paths
Daniel and Oliver in the bird's nest at the Botanical Gardens

The babies must be sick or their allergies are too annoying for them to sleep quietly. At least Oliver is. Every hour it seemed, one of them would be crying. Daniel even when healthy, gets up twice a night. Shanna deals with the grand majority of this. Her husband currently has a muscle pull in his back and can't pick up kids. I don't know how Shanna copes with this living on very little sleep. I don't know how Naomi will cope further down the road when Maya's newborn adorableness wears thin.  But so far, she's very patient and soft spoken as she should be to her sweet but demanding baby.
I didn't sleep much as the topical steroids aren't working their charms plus I heard the babies. I dreamt many disturbing dreams. In real life, I have a friend who has 10 children, most of whom are adopted. I have just found her again and know that her one child that is Shanna's age just had a baby. But in my dream, she was a celebrity coming to town. I know her! I kept telling anyone within hearing distance. There were press conferences with people criticizing her decision to have so many children. I kept trying to get her attention and remind her how we were friends. She recognized me in the crowd and asked for my phone number which she didn't write down. I found her husband who had turned into an old man with Alzheimers'. I was trying to make a connection with him but the disease had too far progressed.

There was finally a break in the heat wave and we had rain late in the day. While Steve was with Naomi and Maya dealing with many issues including the dog, I had Shanna and the kids. Her husband was in the ER trying to get help with his back but was too low in triage for them to see in any reasonable time frame. They will try again today. We took the babies to the Children's garden at the Botanical Gardens which I thought Oliver would enjoy. He did to a point but the heat was too oppressive. They have a tube slide built into a hill I knew he'd enjoy. But if kids try to take a short-cut instead of following the path back to the top, they will meet up with my friend Poison Ivy. I stopped one little boy from this route. Oliver enjoyed the gift shop with its wind-up bugs and snakes. Daniel liked the chirping bird stuffed animals. We enjoyed the air conditioning. It is fun seeing the boys learn new things and see how their minds work. Shanna was taking Oliver for a walk the other day and asked him if he thought it was time to turn around. He said Yes and he rotated his body around a few times and continued the path they had been taking.

We are keeping Maya away from the boys in case the runny noses aren't due to allergies. I didn't see her yesterday at all and missed her little sounds. I am hoping she'll become more alert. She is now 8 days old.


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