Sunday, July 31, 2011


No storms, no wind even but early this morning our power went out. It came on about 7:30 tonight just long enough for Steve to reset all the clocks and went out again. DTE promised power by 8:30 but by 9, they refused to update their estimates. As it was ungodly hot and humid today, we were afraid stuff would spoil so we took food to Naomi's. They have power on that side of the road. But if finally came back.

Friday, July 29, 2011

Maya today

What Maya hears...

Everything apparently. As part of an investigation on why she isn't speaking, she had a hearing test today. The hearing is fine. She does do a few tricks but speaking isn't one of them nor does she babble.

My current middle of the night reading (another big storm keeping me awake last night) is Temple Grandin's "Thinking in Pictures". Grandin is a very high functioning autistic person. She writes on how autistic people think and perceive the world vs 'normals'. Aside from the whole spectrum of functioning, there are also variations on the autistic functioning itself and to reach these people, one must understand this. She was finally taught to speak at 3.5 years by a therapist who made her concentrate on that only by holding her face. She acknowledges that if you did this with many autistic people, the touching would drive them hysterical. She perceives the world in pictures instead of words. Although she is very bright, she can not do algebra problems as it is symbolic. She has a better understanding of words that are literal versus symbolic or emotional. How does one picture happy?

Naomi is off to apply for a marriage license. We ordered the cake, got her teeth fixed, partially prepared for her meeting with the minister next week...

Although it is not as hot as last week, this week has killed some of my flowers as it was much drier.
Gone are the violas and the pretty yellow things I have no name for:
How hot was it last week?

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Puxa vida

Then said they unto him, Say now Shibboleth: and he said Sibboleth: for he could not frame to pronounce it right.  Then they took him, and slew him." – Judges 12:6 *

101 ou 401**

Puxa vida!***

*Biblical precedent for 'mispronuniciations will not be tolerated'

**Roughly translated: Love it or Leave it! 101 refers to Loi 101: a law passed in Quebec in 1974 making French officially the first language of the province. English translations of signs could be included but only if the font was much smaller. 401 is the major highway in Canada mainly in Ontario that people could take if they did not want to conform to 101.

***A common Brazilian exclamation loosely translated as "Wow!' or as the bizarre common American expression
"Good Grief!" as popularized by Charlie Brown

And how does one pronounce 'puxa vida' and why would one care? As near as I can tell 'poosha veedah' Josh is going to Brazil soon and asked me to research his options. He is mainly concerned whether he can drink the water, which hotel would be the coolest, what diseases can he get and how to prevent them, and what are the safety issues, and how to get to the small town outside of Salvador, Brazil where he will be working? He is mainly concerned with traffic safety. He e-mailed the head of the Brazil division requesting a driver. He received a reply informing him that Salvador was not Baghdad, that his car will have a Garmin, and that if he did not feel 'up to the challenge', maybe they would just find someone else. Puxa vida indeed.

As part of my research, I bought a book on Brazil. Within was a statement that the little bit of Spanish that you know will get you nowhere in Brazil. Amount of Spanish absorbed during Josh's stay in Mexico: close to zero. He is a rasa tabula. I figure I should teach him some rudimentary Portuguese but first I have to learn some myself. I have time on my hands, right? The language seems to have a surfeit of exes, aitches and cedillas. I have heard it spoken. I can recognize its  very common 'shhhh' sound. Portuguese  pronunciation  isn't as straightforward as it is in Italian or Spanish. There seems to be many  diphthongs with confusing rules on their pronunciation. And things are pronounced differently in Brazil versus Portugal. I was watching a travel show the other day highlighting the many Portuguese living on our East Coast, many from the Azores and Cape Verde Islands.

As for its culture and food, it is very different from the US and Europe. Lots of coconut and tropical fruit and fish. It should be an interesting stay.

Part of my middle of the night reading recently included the book "Last Night in Montreal". A subplot featured an English speaking girl growing up there under Loi 101. Despite being otherwise bright, she was unable to learn French and thus was marginalized. She was fired from her job for greeting a customer by saying "Hello". Another subplot concerned a man whose life's work was studying soon to be extinct languages. He ends up marooned in Montreal where no one will speak English to him. He knows no commonly spoken languages other than English. The irony I guess is that Quebecois was seen to be a dying language, barely understood by the French French and draconian measures were taken to preserve it from the encroaching English.

A series of very loud storms kept me up last night. It was so hot and steamy this morning. My run was not enjoyable.

So much to do....

Tuesday, July 26, 2011


I emerged from my fortress of solitude yesterday to attend an ex-colleague get together. The occasion was to welcome back a colleague that had been transferred to the hinterlands but then was SOL when our company shut down that site too. He hopes to find a job here. A whole paradigm shift..we used to have such full dance cards. Good thing that I am out of this rat race. Another colleague who recently returned from the same shuttered site was there too. I had not known her but her boss had been the same boss that Ramy and Shanna had that was affectionately known as Dr. Evil. It turns out that she is a survivor of BC, that I will refer to as triple positive.She was diagnosed before Herceptin was offered to 'early' BC patients testing positive for the Her2 receptor that makes their BC much more aggressive. She credits her survival to having a 'good attitude'. Hmmm. I didn't want to argue with her in front of everyone or at all but I felt disloyal keeping quiet to all of those who have died despite having unbelievably good attitudes. I am not against having a good attitude, who wants to be around a gloomy Gus? If you, yourself, have a good attitude, I suppose life is much more pleasant. I certainly try to have a good attitude, not only for my sake but for those around me. But the responsibility to always be so cheerful even as things crumble around you can be so isolating. If you dare complain, the good attitude police are on your case. Have a good attitude or you will die or at least deserve to die. But if this woman wants to believe that she willed herself to live, she can. But if it comes back....

Dysthymia..another good name for a girl if you don't look too closely to the meaning. Still would be a better name than Dolores or Rue. There was an article today in the science section of the WSJ on it. Long days of gray instead of the black days of depression. It is much harder to spot than depression and thus undertreated.
I have lived within various shades of gray, including the darker shades on and off. If a good attitude can cure cancer, certainly it would go a long way against dysthymia one would think.

I awoke from a terrifying dream. I was afraid to go back to sleep or I would find myself back in the same situation. I ended up reading for a few hours.

It was cool thankfully for at least a little bit this morning before the blistering sun found me as I ran. Today's agenda, get the hair fixed before my stylist goes into labor and maybe knock off some of the items in the long list of wedding to-dos.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Hummingbird imposter redux

Picture of a hummingbird moth that Steve took. From the side, it really looks like a small hummingbird with its long mouth parts but of course, hummingbirds do not have antennae.
In the past month alone, I have had 606 hits for my post last year "Hummingbirds and their imposters' in which I have a picture of a hummingbird moth, not even my own. Above is a picture Steve took. They are much easier to take pictures of than the hummingbirds as they do not care that you are hovering on top of them. I have only seen these moths a couple times this year as opposed to my almost every few minutes hummingbirds.

I found my hummingbird feeder on the ground the other day. How did this happen? The little s hook is missing too that affixed the feeder to its holder. Although I have plenty of flowers for them to feed off of, I felt bad that they went without the nectar that they seem to depend on.

I have another blog about my experience in Italy. Number one hit? Pompeii and Porn.

I was supposed to meet Naomi's mother-in-law to be last week. When she suddenly was unable to come, I  felt rejected. Turns out that she just had major surgery. While she was taking a nap, her daughter dropped off 2 toddlers and left telling the 12 year old brother that the mom had to watch them and left. This was right before Don'tae was going to pick her up for our lunch. Taking care of toddlers probably isn't part of the recovery plan. She felt she couldn't leave them with just a 12 year old and missed our lunch.

Still hot here but not as humid. I have been doing housework..not fun. Later, meeting with former colleagues.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Memories and memorials

One of the sale items from Orchid Lane that the moms and I go to every year. Size: One size fits most. Usually does not apply to me. Don't worry, my hair will be fixed Tuesday assuming my hair dresser doesn't go into labor.

Cleome from last week. Now this area is totally covered with them

Gerber daisy from a week ago. Now there are 4 blossoms.

My lone clematis.

Some morning glory blossoms among the double cosmos.

Hand dyed silk scarf from Art Fair

The patio before the heat wave
Dave's beautiful house sits on top of a steep hill. His property drops down sharply towards the river. A stream with several portions turning into waterfalls snakes through his land down to a fish pond below. Inside, the house could be featured in House Beautiful. We had to park quite  far away as so many came to honor his memory yesterday. It was a reunion of sorts with former co-workers from the early days attending.

One of his co-workers that I had informed of Dave's death came a week early. Didn't I say the 23rd? He returned yesterday wearing a 1987 t-shirt with acid holes from the lab. (it was a t-shirt he received for volunteering for the race I helped organize). Ah chemists...we can be so strange. Another guest was a woman who I had played softball with and hadn't seen since. I do not know what possessed me to play as I am the worst player that there is. I can not throw or bat. And as I was either pregnant or nursing for the 2 seasons I played, I couldn't even do what I can do, run. And I am not a sprinter. But I sort of enjoyed the camaraderie of the women and Steve was off with his own team. I was surprised to find a soccer mom there..what? She has a furniture/decorating business next to Julia's now defunct store. I would visit her sometimes when I was visiting or helping out with Julia's store. Turns out that she did most of the decorating in Lana and Dave's house.

A surprise guest: the man whose obnoxiousness was responsible for Dave leaving our company and starting his own business in part so he would never have to report to someone so awful again. This man is on the patent for a very important, profitable cancer drug. It was from a university where inventors get part of the royalties. Working for a company, everything you do belongs to the company and thus no royalties. He was hired to possibly reproduce his success at our company.He did talk a good game, rare among chemists. It became quickly obvious to us in the trenches that he must have had little to do with the discovery of the drug that was paying him boatloads in royalties. It took much longer for the powers that were to figure out his elaborate con game. But we all had plenty of stories..I guess it is bad form to say that you had fun at a memorial. I did. I do feel for Lana...she does not deserve this. She had saved some pictures of Dave and I but I had copies of them already.

This morning I received a Facebook friend request from a name I did not recognize. Since it is almost reunion time, I've been getting plenty of requests. Once I saw her face, I remembered. She went to the high school in the town east of us but my then best friend(who I sadly have lost track of) was friends with her. In the memorial section of our reunion site, she posted the name of a mutual friend, EH. I messaged her back, did she die of Turner's syndrome?
Yes she had. How did I know this. She had been best friends with EH for years and this was not mentioned until she died.
I took a genetics class in college. Chromosonal abnormalities were discussed. Most females are XX but sometimes they are XO. They never sexually mature, are very short, have a webbed neck. They usually die of aortic dissections. She died at 35 of a heart attack. When I was reading the symptoms, I immediately thought of EH. She was very bright and fascinated with life in the 1920s. She had made me read Zelda, a biography of F.Scott Fitzgerald who she seemed to identify with.
Another classmate I have since identified with having Marfan syndrome. Extremely tall and thin with unusual flexibility. They usually die of aortic dissections too. It is a connective tissue disorder. Steve was suspected of having it due to certain traits though no one in his family ever died of an early heart attack. While he was being screened for being a potential guinea pig, they found his EKG consistent  with someone close to death. At the time, he was running marathons at a good clip so the heart seemed to be working fine. When he went in to have this checked out, the doctor started bending his fingers back checking for 'joint laxity'. He knew what they were looking for. Additional tests showed his heart to be fine but due to the structure of his chest, a EKG is impossible to record. He and the girls are quite flexible but not pathologically so such as my ex-friend. Josh and I are extremely inflexible on the other hand.
Very humid again. I am taking a rare day off from exercising. I am awaiting  my son's arrival to have lunch.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Race

Dave and I after our big race. I certainly needed a haircut.
I dreamt last night that I was racing a mile on an outdoor track. I was trying to remember how many laps, do they measure this from the inside lane or the outside lanes? I was having trouble figuring this all out and it seemed to be an overwhelming distance.

I was never  a sprinter. I remember the indignity of coming dead last except for the profoundly obese in the 50 yd dash as part of the President Kennedy Fitness Challenge in grade school. By 8th grade when I was relatively wiry, I came in slightly better than average with a 7.6 seconds though I rocked at the 440. It was not thought that women (or girls) could safely run beyond that distance.

That was it for a long time for me running. I started taking long bicycle rides in high school and in college, I took up long distance swimming. At one point, some ladies in the co-op wanted to run on an indoor track (Waterman looked like it would collapse any second). I didn't think I would be good for more than a tenth of a mile though I ran a half mile before having to stop. Soon I was running a mile. I had a boyfriend freshman year that had been a cross country runner. It sounded like an impossible chore. Two miles was the standard distance in those days (now high schoolers of both sexes run 3.1 miles; college: 6.2 miles). I ran some to get in shape for my wedding but I hated every second of it and would be beet red for hours afterwards.

I didn't run again until after I weaned Josh in the fall of 1982. I found myself fat. Long distance swimming was not doing the trick for me and it took too long. I figured I would run at lunch instead of eating. I was able to run a mile the first time but it was down a steep hill. I remember Dave telling me that anyone could run down a hill; try running up it. By the end of the week, I made it up the hill too. I entered my first 10k after 6 weeks. The weight was dropping and I was getting faster and faster. By the spring, I was placing fairly high in my age group and the excess weight was gone. I ran my first marathon in the fall of 1984. It was later in the same month that Dave challenged me to a race. We were always betting on things. He was a sprinter and had little endurance. I had a lot of endurance but my muscles had not recovered yet from the marathon. I could not run the mile even at the time I had before in a middle of a longer race.

Our coworkers all showed up for this race on a windy Saturday morning. My plan was to run equal 90s for each 440. The first 440 I did under that but then the times started going into the 100s. Dave's strategy was to stay behind me until the final 100 yds and then just blow by me, which he did with not much effort on his part.
Damn. We all went for beers afterwards and later in the week, I treated him to lunch.

I am going to his memorial this afternoon. He died from head injuries from losing control of his bicycle on a steep downhill a few weeks ago. I saw him a few years ago when he showed up for my 30th anniversary party at work. He looked the same as he did in the picture above; no sign of ageing. I though look quite different. We are younger in this picture than Shanna is now.

Yesterday afternoon, a storm came in and  the temps went from 94 to 72 in minutes. It is misty and hot again. A colleague from Pittsburgh used to refer to high humidity as 'close'. Today I can see how they came up with that term with the pressure of the humidity closing in on me as I struggled to breathe while running.

I spent some time in the pool yesterday with Maya and Naomi. A woman whose unit is across from Naomi's and who is the mother of one of Josh's friends was in the pool with us. She asked me what was new.

Well this one is getting married next month.

I know. I am going to be there.

I was puzzled. Naomi and I have had several arguments on whom is appropriate to invite to the wedding. Did she ask this woman too? This woman came to Josh's because her son was in the wedding party. Turns out that we have to hire an attendant at the clubhouse that we are renting out. She saw Naomi's name and signed up for the job.

Shanna and Ramy are finally going to sign their contract for the condo after much annoying negotiations.

The original house was built in 1890 and at some point later, was subdivided into 7 units. They will have 3 floors, 4 if you include the basement. It looks nice inside with bamboo floors and granite counters. It is on the eastern side of Arlington near the Cambridge border. Ramy works on Kendall square in the heart of Cambridge, not far away but lots of traffic in between. It won't be far from the subway.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The trials of being tall

In the fairy tales I was told growing up, all the pretty princesses were petite and the evil  villainesses were 'big and ugly'. Tiny girls were cute; big girls, not so much. Big feet also were highly undesireable. (Think Cinderella). No lotus buds sprouting from my ankles! I grew fast and then stopped around the age of 12. I stuck out like a sore thumb. I remember being told that I should be ashamed of myself for trick or treating because I was so big. I was eleven!

On top of the cosmetic defect of being too tall, I read recently that it is associated with increased risk of cancers for women, specifically breast cancer but also other cancers associated with 'over-nutrition' such as ovarian, uterine, and colon. Is the American diet making us too tall?

I know many foreign born my age. All of their children are significantly taller and heavier than they are. These were not impoverished people but back in their homelands, they did not eat the American diet that their kids do now. Hormones in the meat? Too much dairy?

The subject of our cancer survivor cooking class was soy. More than half the participants had estrogen positive BC and are trying to avoid estrogens. Soy has estrogen like properties. Numerous studies have been done and the results are very mixed whether soy is harmful to survivors. Cultures in which soy is the principal form of protein have low rates of hormone induced cancers though these same cultures eat very little fat or dairy. We made a French chocolate silk pie from soft tofu; stir-fried Thai tofu and tempeh fajitas.

People in this class are in different stages of their stay in Cancerland. A new woman there is a BC survivor but is currently dealing with cervical cancer treatment. She said that BC was a walk in the park compared to what she is experiencing now. My tumor is bigger than your tumor. Well though a lot of women suffered more through chemo than I, I hardly found it a walk in the park and I was a bit put out. The cervical cancer though is scary. Current recommendations are having a pap smear only every 3 years if you had a string of negative smears. She came down with symptoms within 2  months of an "All clear". It had already spread. So much for it being a slow growing cancer.

Another person has bladder cancer, which is unfamiliar to most of us. Someone asked what the risk factors were. Smoking. Yeah she smoked. A friend of mine's husband died due to a brain tumor from lung cancer mets and she is continually asked if he had smoked. Should she mourn less?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

The Cancer Card..

is still accepted in some places even after almost 3 years since diagnosis.

Cases in point: yesterday my LiveStrong alumni class to continue to strengthen what was lost during treatment.
Later, my Cooking for Survivors at the Cancer Community...I forgot their new name. And today at the Art Fair where I visited a booth where I had  bought a beautiful silk top to wear on the day that I retired the wig once and for all 2 years ago. I bought a  peach silk scarf today (pictures someday when I am not so tired) and Debbi gave me the Cancer survivor discount. Her family has been touched (if that isn't an understatement) by cancer too.

And it was so, so hot..with heat indices over 112. After a while, I couldn't take it any more even though it was so much fun to see everything.

How hot?
From my friend jp

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Weeds in the sauna

We in the Midwest continue to be steamed. I go out 3 times a day to cool off my sweltering plants though some species actually like the heat. I discovered yet another tuberous begonia growing in front today where I would never have planted them as it is too sunny. It is too cold for these plants to survive the winter so I take their tubers inside to replant in the spring. Steve threw out my bag of tubers misidentifying them as clumps of dirt though he did ask why I had a bag of dirt. Maybe some dirt thrown in front had begonia seeds that lay dormant for years. Who knows, it is a mystery.

This plant was inconveniently growing under the shade of poison ivy seedlings. I have discovered a new fact about my enemy: the seed leaves look identical to violet leaves. As I am constantly pulling violets (very hard to eradicate weeds), I am in danger of mistaking baby poison ivy for them. Last year about this time, I had grabbed a plant for only a second but that was enough to set off 3 weeks of a severe rash that even invaded my insides. Fun times: a newborn baby, an accident that resulted in 3 damaged front teeth that I had no insurance for 2 months to fix and the aftermath of the treachery of my now ex-friend. Suffice it to say, I am very careful around poison ivy. I send Steve out to eradicate it as he as a city boy, has had no exposure to it. Today I used a series of plastic bags to do my transplant. I didn't want to risk my gloves.

The torrential spring rains transferred numerous seeds to the cracks of my patio. Zillions of baby petunias, snapdragons, cleome and morning glories.  I have transferred many to pots and into my other gardens quite a few of these plants. I should have killed more of the morning glories as they are now smothering everything. They seem to love the heat and are growing even faster.

At the last minute yesterday, Don'tae's mom decided not to meet with me. Despite our grandbaby in common, maybe she thinks we would have nothing else to share. All speculation but it does make me sad.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Should I stay or should I go...

Her hair is growing in at glacial pace. In some light, it is blonde, in some light it is light brown

Maya is 'so big'. Yeah everyone else's baby could do this earlier but she is finally catching on in her imitative behavior, a major short coming as identified by the powers that be.
It turns out that my 40th high school reunion is in less than 2 weeks, not back in May as I originally thought. My high school class was almost 900 people so obviously I didn't know everyone. There is a Facebook page for the reunion where you can see who is coming. Barely anyone that I knew. My city had a populous east side and a sparsely populated west side. I lived on the westside and hardly anyone from there is coming. I put up a posting Does anyone remember me?

People were nice about it. They seemed to remember me or at least said that if I came, they would be my new friend. On Facebook, I have been using a high school picture of me. One man asked to be my friend and remarked on how well preserved I am. I did tell him that I have aged like everyone else if not worse. The picture I posted was the first picture my father took of me since I was 5. He was a photographer so it wasn't for the shortage of cameras in the house. He said that I was no longer 'photogenic'. Furthermore, it was a good thing that I was 'so smart' because I would not be able to rely on my looks to attract a man to support me. I would need to support myself.

Regardless of my prettiness or lack there of, I had vowed that I would never be dependent on a man. I would always have my own money. I saw how powerless my mother was and did not wish to follow her footsteps. True,  most men aren't as abusive as my father and  I couldn't imagine Steve behaving so badly but it has always been in the back of my mind. At any rate, the boys in high school and college failed to get the memo on my lack of attractiveness and I usually had some male attention. Maybe because of my sparkling personality.

One man is coming that I knew though we were hardly friends. He probably was the brightest boy in the school but was very disdainful of others not so bright. He sat next to me in AP chemistry. Despite his superiority in almost everything, he had failed to grow legs that touched the ground sitting at a normal sized desk. Furthermore he wore loafers that dangled from his feet. For the umpteenth time, he had turned to me to glare at something stupid that I said. I kicked one of his loafers off his foot and it went flying 10 feet away. He glared at me again demanding that I retrieve the shoe immediately. I just smiled.

I went to my 10th and 20th and had fun. I was pregnant with Josh for one and just had Naomi for the other. I wish I had looked my best. I have been trying to lose the weight. Maybe I have lost some more but I am too afraid to find out otherwise.

Today in the excessive heat and humidity that seems to have become the norm here, I ran by a new friend. She said something about it is good to get that 'walk' over with early in the morning. Walk!?! Dear Reader, I was running.

Have to work on that form I guess.

In a few hours, I will meet Don'tae's mom. Should be interesting.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Cancer people

This sign just appealed to me. It has little to do with my post
Last week I had lunch with my birthday buddy (whose actual birthday is today..have a good one!). I couldn't remember if his time overlapped with my now deceased friend Dave's. It had but as the birthday buddy was in a different group, he didn't ever speak to Dave.

You Cancer people shut us out. You were a closed group.

By Cancer people, he didn't mean people with cancer or people with Cancer birthdays (which he has anyway) but people who were trying to treat cancer or diseases like cancer. The name of our group of twenty or so was Cancer and tropical diseases. What do cancer and tropical diseases have in common? (The main tropical disease was malaria. It used to be the top killer in the world and might be still if it weren't for AIDS)Private companies did not want to expend their own resources to work on them as cancer seemed hopeless and tropical diseases did not happen to anyone who had money to pay for treatment. We were all on contracts: some with the Army, some with the National Cancer Institute (There was a war declared on cancer in the early 70s. If we could put a man on the moon, certainly we could cure cancer)some with various world health agencies. Also there was some synergy. Some of the malaria drugs were found effective against cancer such as methotrexate. Most tropical diseases are caused by advanced (at least compared to a bacterium) organisms. Protozoa (one type can cause malaria)are eukaryotes just as higher animals are. You may not think you have much in common with a protozoa but you have the same enzymes and biochemicals necessary for life. What kills them would kill you thus the problem. You have to concentrate on subtle differences. Protozoa grow faster than us and need more folic acid. We block this with so-called antifolates. Cancer cells are dependent on folic acid too.

So much more is known about cancer now, it is almost embarrassing to remember our strategies. As it was, the company got rid of all of the contracts and kept just a small anti cancer group. I was shifted to another area: the central nervous system where I remained for most of the remainder of my career.

News has been light on the TNBC front. Recently a company came up with a new way to test whether one has estrogen positive BC and found that using the old way, 10-20% of people who were told that they were negative actually are positive.

And not all TNBC is the same. By analyzing the genetic make-up of various TNBC tumors, researchers came up with 6 different sub-types, each with a preferred method of killing them. Two of the types are not nearly as aggressive. No hints on the distribution of these subtypes. I am hoping that older (defined as post-menopausal) seem to have the less aggressive type. It seems that way but no literature to back me up. The link to the subtypes:

Still ungodly hot here. I went out before 8 am and it was already 80 deg with 100% humidity. No fun to run in but at least we had a little rain. Then off to the cavities, just old fillings about to fall apart. I will just wait until they do.

No radon was found in Shanna's potential home so another hurdle overcome.

We watched The Misfits the other night. What a sad movie!

More enjoyable: Zen on PBS. Parts of it were filmed in Abruzzo; the rest in Rome. What's not to love?

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Summertime and the living is......

Ms. Maya chillaxin' in the pool with her hat fashioned from some leggings. Her mom is behind her

Naomi about nine years ago. Hard to believe she has a one year old and hotter. This is Art Fair Week where the whole town comes to a standstill and the temps do not dip below 90. It will be difficult to park near the Y where my class is. Usually the Moms and I spend a day walking around it but the weather looks especially nasty this year.

Josh, Julia and I joined Naomi and Maya at the pool yesterday, a 2 minute walk from my house. Maya enjoys kicking around and splashing. Although her rash is almost gone, her face became swollen such that her eyes were narrow slits and the bridge of her nose was hidden. Allergic reaction? No new foods..maybe an insect bite though there are no marks or maybe a delayed reaction to those shots.

A lazy day. I didn't even run although I was back out there today, an even warmer and  more humid day. At least there was some cloud cover yesterday.

More negotiations took place for Shanna's house. They have almost come to an agreement.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

What's the story, morning glory?

My garden in late summer a few years ago. How I hope my morning glories will look. Still have the same pot of salmon geraniums shown in the foreground though it is bigger now and has morphed into two big pots plus about 15 plants in my front garden from the cuttings

The left is my new bag of impatiens so now I have 4 bags. It doesn't look as nice as the ones I made myself but it cost only a bit more than an empty bag so it will be reused. I bought it to fill the hole left by me giving Naomi some flowers

California years past, my whole rock garden would be covered with these. I only have 4 plants this year

6 year old geraniums

A glass mobile that one of the moms gave me years ago but I only recently found while looking for something else. While the western sun sets, it sparkles

Small poppy. I really have bad luck with poppies. All my other poppies are dead

The salmon impatiens that now lives on Naomi's balcony. Hope it is being watered

Another gift from the Moms. I was thinking of putting it in my patio but it's getting very crowded
Some of this week has been training my numerous morning glory vines to go where I want. Each plant can grow more than 6 inches a day. The leaves are blocking the light of my carnations and zinnias so I've been pruning the leaves. How many blossoms have I seen with so many vines? One..only one and it was the less desirable small purple blossom. I prefer the large blue ones. I have no idea if I even have any of them as all my plants have seeded themselves. My patio is now fringed with the white cleomes that have seeded themselves. I tried to plant some pink ones but have yet to see evidence that they have grown. Also the cosmos seemed to have multiplied but at least their leaves don't kill my pretty bedding plants.

So this is partially how I spend my day along with a puzzle that I limit myself to a half hour. I love the mornings drinking my coffee that Steve has ready for me by the time I get up, doing my puzzle out with the hummingbirds surrounded by my flowers. I try to run at least 5 hours a week. The heat has made it necessary to do it as soon as I finish my coffee. I hate the middle of the night the most. This is when I find myself having a pity party or obsessing..what am I going to do about this or that. I have a huge pile of books I distract myself with.

I have gone shopping a lot this week buying a nice dress at this cute boutique in Ypsi for the rehearsal dinner and other occasions. It looks nice on me even though it was a splurge. I also bought some fancy sandals to go with it. I also bought quite a bit of other things too along with lots of clothes at the close out sales for Ms. Maya.

We (and I use the word loosely) have been making some improvements around here. We finally have a front door that locks for the first time in I don't know how long. The door knob fell off making it difficult to go in. The high humidity means we empty the dehumidifier every 12 hours of its 50 pints! I threw out more clothes that I would not wear even if I were thin nor would any one else. I have now comfortable running shoes. Maya learned to clap this week which according to the public health nurse, was a major concern. If she won't or can't imitate, she will be doomed.

I have been sad this week. My planned trips are becoming less of a reality though Steve has offered to go on them with me. Josh called me angrily yesterday about some minor dispute Julia is having with Naomi. I am not the one to call. Shanna's house purchase is in jeopardy. The inspection revealed numerous issues that the seller does not want to fix. They are at an impasse now. I want her to have a house. And the age old problem to wean Naomi from the Bank of Steve and Sue? And this wedding...

There was no fancy wedding for wedding dress. I catered the wedding myself with some help from my mom and my step-grandmother. My father's friend arranged for the venue. Steve's parents gave us a nice reception in Brooklyn which they probably could not afford. My now ex-friend did the flowers. No professional make-up and hair styling. No tiara. Steve and I have simple gold bands.

The other day, Naomi asked if I were glad she had Maya..a trick question. Of course I love Maya but so much is more complicated.

Josh called recently for me to research Salvador, Brazil where he will be this fall. Despite it being the third largest city and a major destination for Europeans, I had not heard of it. It does look interesting and has very nice soft sand beaches. Maybe he can take his mom...
The old city district from Wiki of Salvador

Friday, July 15, 2011

Shayna Shanna

Shanna and her own boys about 9 months ago

Shanna at high school graduation with kindergartener Naomi. Naomi is now 3-4 inches taller than Shanna

Upside down at 16 months

So my first baby turned thirty-two today. I love her so much and am so proud of her.

Thursday, July 14, 2011


Roseola..sounds like it would be a pretty name for a girl, right? Ms. Maya has had three days of having a temperature which at one point reached 104 deg. Today she seemed cooler but..was covered with a rash. Chicken pox? Measles? A weak form of either disease from the shots? The nurse thinks roseola caused by a virus.
Meanwhile, the person who was supposed to evaluate Maya for her'significant delays' failed to show up yesterday. I had missed part of my class to see her so I was just as annoyed with her as Naomi. Today when I returned home from my run, I was surprised to see this Toni Collette look alike on my couch along with Naomi, Maya and the woman's son. For some reason she didn't look at her calendar yesterday and ignored the beeping that indicated she had an appointment. But since she seemed to be a reasonable person, for a change, I forgave this. She said that despite the report saying how deficient Maya was, she said she was only marginally delayed and couldn't really see the need for a complete evaluation. She should be making more sounds and doing more imitative behavior but all else checks. Maya for her part has stepped up the imitative behavior, which is cute to watch. She is a very pretty baby and is also quite sweet. The evaluation person  will check in about 6 weeks later to see if progress has been made.
Yesterday I finally got around to replacing my worn out, feet maiming running shoes with new cushy ones. They felt so much better this morning. I had a deer surprise me on my run, jumping right in front of me.

Last night was cheap margarita night. To be able to order the cheap bar food that goes with it, one needs to order a drink, a problem since Steve has not had alcohol in over a year. So I drank his too and a gin  and tonic. Suffice it to say I was impaired but that does not stop my mouth.

I sat on my patio receiving visits from both hummingbirds catching up on phone calls. Two of the calls to the remaining two of  "Los Tres Amigos". Three of us were very good friends at one point. We also happened to be the same height. Both of them were working at the company my recently deceased friend owned so I wanted to know how they were doing. One of them I hadn't spoke to in years. I was hurt that I didn't hear from him during Cancerfest. I remember that it was him I was speaking to on the phone while listening to NPR reporting on the planes hitting the World Trade Center. Anyway, it was very nice to speak with him again..he is such a sweet man. The other amigo called while I was speaking to the first but I will return that call tonight.
I also called Shanna to see how her home inspection went. With a 120 year old house, there is bound to be some issues. Turns out the central air isn't so central so more negotiations will  be needed.

Then I returned a call from one of the Moms.
Then I finally got a hold of my travelling partner from college. There will be no European trip for us this fall which makes me sad.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Hot from shots

Daniel's hair seems to grow up, not down. He will be two next month
Ms Maya felt very hot and cranky yesterday. Temp=101.8 deg. Last Thursday, she had the following immunizations: chicken pox, mumps/measles, polio,  and hepatitis A. This seems too much for a little body to handle. The nurse said as long as she is eating and is alert, not to worry. It was thought by them that this was a reaction to these shots. She seemed better this morning but now Naomi reports that the temp is 104 and she is very cranky.
And you can't say No to these shots. Is she at risk for Hep A? They gave her this shot when she was first born too. I am not sure which shot is causing the problem. I know it is inconvenient to get them one at a time but it seems it would be easier on the body. Of the above shots, my older kids got only polio (oral) and the MMR, though they were older for that.

Yesterday was spent spreading the word to old friends about Dave's death. Many of these people I haven't spoken to in years.

Today I had lunch with my birthday buddy though it is his birthday not mine. It was nice sitting out on a patio though it was getting warmer and warmer.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Growing to the Sun

Naomi and Harry. Birds like to perch on the highest object possible.
Big storm coming! Take cover Immediately! My TV keeps beeping alarms. It should hit here in 15 minutes or so. After more than 2 weeks of no rain whatsoever, I am looking forward to a little rain. It was so hot and humid this morning that sweat from my swinging arms would splatter in my face while I ran.

Although it is just past noon, the sky has turned very dark. I just ran out to put the umbrella down, not easy to do as Steve has tied the rope into lots of knots that had to be unsnarled in the high wind. My solar lights lit up.

Going to the Sun...This is the name of a road that I nearly met my death on. It goes over the continental divide in Glacier National Park. There was a blizzard on it when my father drove us in July way back in the 60s. I usually sat in the front seat as navigator as my mom wouldn't or couldn't read a map. There were numerous switchbacks with no railings and the road was becoming slick. My father panicked easily and at one point took his hands off the wheel and covered his eyes..not too useful given the situation. I tried to calm him down and eventually we made it out of there safely.

As I typed this, the storm came and went. I received a phone call from a wife of a former colleague of mine. I should have know better as maybe she has only called me once before and shouldn't have been so cheerful. Her husband was a good buddy of mine way back in the early 80s. He was exactly 2 weeks younger than me. We used to bet each other on me being able to compete in various races at a given level. I won all our bets except the one in which I said I could outrun him in a mile. I think usually I could have but I had just finished my first marathon a week before and had not recovered. Anyway, due to a bad decision from our mutual boss, he quit, went back to school, and formed his own company, which I greatly admired him for. I saw him a few times over the next 25 years, the last time being at a celebration for my 30th anniversary with the company. My then boss, a wonderful man, arranged for people from my past to visit and tell a story about me as in This is your Life. I was touched that so many people came back. My boss recorded everything and gave the transcript to me at the end of the day. Dave was one of the mystery guests and this was his story:

One of these was a mile race with our next guest. This person, though athletic, was not a regular runner. Sue thought that this should give her the advantage. So on a cool, cloudy day at the Huron High track, witnessed by many friends and colleagues, the two ran around the Huron High School track 4 times. The race was competitive, but Sue ended up buying the beer. Unfazed, she said she should have agreed to a 2 miler.
            Our guest also worked in the same lab as Sue. There are always adventures involved with that. One of these occurred as our guest was helping Sue adjust her mechanical stirrer. As the stirrer started up, Sue's hair, which was much longer back then, got tangled up in it. Not a pretty scene - let's just say there was much screaming and profanity. 

Some time about a month ago, he and his wife Lana had gone to Virginia on a much needed vacation. His brother and wife came along also. His brother went on a bike ride with Dave and there was an accident. Dave received a massive head injury and hung on for a while. Lana knew the chances of his mind recovering was very slim and Dave would not want to live like that. A massive stroke occurred a few weeks into this making her decision much easier.

What does one say? How unfair this is? He will be missed. At one point he was a big part of our lives. He was on various sports teams with Steve, a very good athlete. He was breathtakingly handsome. Most chemists are very shy. Not him so when the two of us worked together, we were constantly at each other. It was fun. I knew all his stories. We went to his and Lana's wedding, went to his thesis defense party, cheered him on in his business venture. 

My friend Chez from Australia recently started a blog post in one direction and ended up in another. This often happens. I was going to talk about the minor miracle of plants trying to reach the sun; sun flowers tracking the sun daily turning their heads always towards the sun (girasole, the Italian word for them means : turn to the sun) and my morning glories grabbing anything vertical so they can climb closer to the light. I gave them some old raspberry canes to climb, which they have now out grown so I have various strings. It is amazing that they sense this and grab.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Sun and fun in the Thumb

I am back from my 3 night adventure with the Moms, a nice break from the same-oh,same-oh in the South. I do really need to get out more. Too much bleakness and pity parties in the last year.
Yesterday was mostly spent at Sleeper State Park on Saginaw Bay near the tip of the Thumb. We had perfect weather. The Bay is quite shallow which means the water warms up quickly. I spent an hour bobbing up and down gently with the waves clinging to an air mattress with a friend while the other two friends clung to another mattress. Up and down: up and down. Soon I had motion sickness compounded with a case of bad shrimp and a brief return to fried foods that I had been good up to that point abstaining from and too much wine the night before as we sat in the cool night gossiping away. I had to return to shore to the little camp we set up on the edge of the water with our beach chairs, umbrellas and our picnic lunches. I tan reasonably well but I knew my skin would not be protected from so much sun and I had sun screen on almost every part. Almost every part. I assumed my feet were used to the sun and besides, I was in the shade. But while I napped, my feet became uncovered as the sun shifted positions so now they are quite red and painful. Still I got off easy compared to some of the Moms who thought that just one application of suncreen would last through swimming including the easiest to tan Mom. The other two Moms are very fair but one was very careful to keep applying. It was a very pleasant afternoon and special for me.

A little girl near us was taking the rocks out of the water near the shore and making a pile. Good for her. These rocks really hurt my feet as I was returning to shore. The local rock is sandstone though there is also a huge limestone quarry nearby. Up the coast a bit is Michigan's most known ghost town; Grindstone City. All that is left are broken grindstones laying on the beach. From the girl's pile, after she left, we selected some attractive pieces for our gardens. Mine has different layers of green and black. This will be added to my mainly Michigan pink granite, a bit of chalk from Dover's cliffs and some green marble from Liguria, Italy.

The Thumb is amazingly flat and the drivers drive fast. Faster than the 5 to 10 mph over the limit I usually go. I was passed by huge trucks (many with liftgates my son designed).  We went from small town to small town passing fields of sugar beets with deer nibbling the greens.

The local fish from the bay is perch so my friends sought that out in different restaurants. I am not a perch fan. I could have eaten the back-up fish, whitefish but instead, I had greasy, overcooken shrimp, not how it was described on the menu. I did have a nice meal in the cutest cafe ever in Caseville the next day.

These tiny towns are from a different world than I am used to. My friend, who grew up in one of them (where we stayed in her parents' place) itched to get out of there with its narrow options ASAP. The road I ran on one early morning was named and led to Deckerville, home of our homegrown terrorist of the Oklahoma City bombing fame.

Ladies in these towns liked to have pretty gardens which we admired on our group walk and on  our car rides. They seemed to use different flowers than seen in Ann Arbor gardens. All of us keep gardens so it was interesting to us. As many of the trees in the Thumb were removed years ago, sun loving flowers are grown: lots of hollyhocks, unusual lilie, roses and petunias. No shade loving impatiens or tuberous begonias.

We would arrange in a circle outside drinking our wine at night coming in after the mosquitoes came out. We played silly games and laughed a lot. A good weekend.

Back at the homefront, Ms. Maya had gained enough to keep the doctor happy. At one year old, she weighs 9.05 kg or 19.9 #, 30%tile (as opposed to 5%tile at one point). I am used to babies being in the upper 90%tiles for everything. As she is 80%tile for height, she is not a chunky one. The doctor did not have most of the concerns the public health nurse had but is concerned about the lack of babbling and words so another consult with 'experts' is scheduled next week.

As Josh was also gone this weekend and Naomi was tending to the pets of one of the Mom's, Josh wanted to keep Sunny with Steve for the weekend. But Steve did not want to deal with Sunny's incessant demands (throw me the ball, please throw me the ball..) he said he would prefer to deal with my friend's animals and Naomi keep Sunny, the German Shepherd in her home turf. But it had taken a while for Harry the conure (type of parrot) to like Naomi and she was afraid that Harry would not like Steve. How to tell if a parrot doesn't like you? They attack and being bit on the earlobe hurts. Believe me, I know. Harry doesn't like me. However, if they like you, they groom you checking your hair for mites. Eventually Harry checked Steve's sparse hair for insects so that was a success.

And Shanna and Ramy will be homeowners this fall after much going back and forth with the sellers. They are moving to this cute community, Arlington, right next to Cambridge, where Ramy works. They had lived there initially when they first moved to the Boston area. No more living right on the ocean but crime will be lower and the schools will be much better. Houses cost so  much more there.They would be able to buy a mansion here with what they will need to pay. But the Boston area has jobs; Michigan does not.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Look at the hand..

The left hand, palm down. This is approximately what the lower three-quarters of our state looks like surrounded on three sides by Great Lakes. Everyone in the US knows this but this is for the benefit of my non-US readers. Turns out not many in Europe are aware of Michigan. After a while in Italy, I gave up explaining where I was from and just said I was from LA as my companion was. People in Italy know California and New York and maybe Florida and Texas. I guess I could have said NY as I was born in the Southern Tier, more resembling Abruzzo (though the hills aren't as big) than NYC.

I live just above the wrist in line with pointer (I've been singing Where is Thumbkin? to Ms. Maya). This weekend, I will be staying in the middle of Thumbkin's thumbnail with the Moms on a much needed trip outta here. I think I have broken a record for staying in one place and I am getting very antsy. We will go to the beach on the tip of the thumb nail. Josh on the other hand ( or on the same hand) will be at his friend's fancy cottage (probably bigger than our house) on the tip of ringman. It will rain there but not where we  will be at.

The acronym that kids learn to remember the Great Lakes is HOMES. Josh will be near the "M"; I will be near the "H".

Ms. Maya has her first year check-up later today. Hopefully she will weigh enough for them not to be concerned. Also we will see what the doctor thinks about the public nurse's alarm that Maya is woefully deficient.A report was sent to the doctor.The doctor wants her to be able to say one word by now, which has not happened although she sometimes sounds like she is saying Hi. But I will be curious how they think they are going to make her talk before she is ready. No she is not deaf. She seems to pick up on the most subtle sounds.

Our only chance of rain will be  Monday at the earliest. Too bad that we couldn't' have had some of May's rains now. I am hoping that Steve will water my flowers while I am gone.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Mandatory drug testing

As previously posted, I am not a fan of this. For starters, there is a presumption of guilt and one is always forced to prove ones innocence. How UnAmerican! It is banned in several states including the ones that the megacompany that took over our company is incorporated in and where the majority of the employees worked.
But we were forced to show up within 2 hours  of receiving a phone call or be fired. This could happen up to 3 times a year. How many people did they catch? Who knows? My guess is zero but I do know it promoted a culture of hatred towards our conquering hostile take-over company and it was a huge waste of the stockholders investment. But if you have nothing to hide, what's the problem?

Because there are false positives! This was brought home to me in a story from one of Julia's friends who recently had a baby in another state. When admitted to the hospital, she was asked to pee in a cup with no explanation for what the urine was for. She assumed they were testing for glucose or protein and didn't think much of it until 3 hours after the birth in which she was visited by the State speaking to her about 'child endangerment' and threatening to remove her newborn. Why? The urine was positive for THC. She was outraged. She had the baby without any drugs, uses cloth diapers so her baby will not be exposed to whatever that is in paper diapers, is married to a doctor, is a well-educated professional herself. She demanded a retest, which was negative. She was told that there are up to 5% false positives..sorry.

The company downplayed the false positives and said that testing positive for opiates from eating poppy seeds was an urban legend. Well it isn' happened to Steve who was being screened for being a guinea pig for our former company. He was a fan of these particularly rich in poppyseed bagels. Once we were taken over, we didn't dare eat anything with poppyseeds or take that over the counter stuff for turista.

I haven't googgled yet to see if that state tests all OB patients or just does it randomly but it would be a good reason not to have a baby in that state.

The possible rain went right over us. Argh! No rain in sight.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Laying in wait

One of the biggest differences between ER+ and ER- BC is the issue of dormancy of the cancer cells. In ER. negative BC, rarely are there recurrences after five years. Indeed the median time of recurrence is 18 months. The risk for recurrence in ER+ BC remains constant for ten years. These nasty cells are hiding out just waiting for the right opportunity to grow.

Cancer cells are not the only bad actors that have a dormant period. Herpes zoster virus is another. People have chicken pox as children caused by this virus and recover but the virus never goes away. It lives in the nerves just waiting for a good time to strike, usually 50-60 years later. Instead of infecting the skin, it infects the nerves, painfully usually on ones trunk.

A good friend of mine a few weeks ago was going about her business and suddenly had double vision and went to the emergency room. Possible cause of double vision? Brain tumor (this was the first sign of a brain tumor in my relative). This was ruled out in various scans as was a stroke. She reported some painful itching on her face. Turns out the shingles (herpes zoster) had infected her 6th nerve which controls the fine movement of her eyes. It will take a while for the shingles to clear and in the meantime, she needs to wear an eye patch so she will see only one set of images at a time.

It remains hot and dry here. I have to water things constantly. I went for a long walk with my son and his dog today. His business always shuts down this week. I hadn't been alone with him for a while. We have our best talks when there is just the two of us.

Steve got me a new computer. The CD drive was non-functional on the old one so we couldn't load antivirus software. The computer was old and riddled with viruses but I am used to all my favorites, how the keyboard feels, where all my stuff can be found. I was all sulky about it even though he did me a favor. I hate typing on this and didn't blog yesterday because I didn't even want to look at the new one. But it was a nice thing and I will adapt.

Sunday, July 3, 2011


Callas..there should be 4 different kinds in this container but so far, I just see the pink variety. Nearby is my herb basket, mainly a huge rosemary but also mint and a little basil. I have too much thyme in my rock garden. I keep cutting it back (at least I smell good after this) but it continues to spread.

Ms. Hummingbird. Still do not have a good picture of her boyfriend who tends to visit in the evening when the light is too low

Orange and yellow tiger and Asiatic lilies

Red lilies

pink snapdragons

two-toned moss rose
I love lilies of all kinds. I have a few star-gazer lilies that will bloom later along with my many day lilies which have buds but no blossoms. The Asiatic and tiger lilies are out in full force in my yard for the next few days. Wish they would last longer but in this heat (96 degrees yesterday!!!) not going to happen. It finally rained a bit last night. Lots of thunder and lightning but very little rain.

A lazy, hot uneventful weekend here. Steve and I went out to brunch and later, Josh and Julia will have a small birthday party for Ms. Maya.

Saturday, July 2, 2011


Maya enjoying her cake at Don'tae's family's party for her

Steve found a doll for her almost her color. Not easy to find a mixed race doll.
A few weeks ago, I was walking along a row of condos in Naomi's complex. A girl of 3 and a boy a few years older were  on the porch knocking on their door screaming to get in.  The boy out of frustration started hitting his sister hard on the head and she screamed more. Just as I was about to suggest to him to leave the girl alone, the door pops open and a screaming woman emerged furious about all the noise and suggested that she really give the girl something to cry about. Yeah, mother of the year, lock your kids out. Do I tell her that the girl had plenty to cry about and then see her abuse the boy? What does one do? This, BTW, happened in a town where a man is serving prison time for shaking but not injuring a parrot. But what did I do? Nada.

Flash forward to yesterday. A firetruck is racing down the road behind my house. Not too unusual as the township's firetrucks regularly race back and forth. But this one stopped. Is it turning into the complex for Naomi's condo? The one time that it did, I was asleep. Naomi had called the ambulance because her sister-in-law to be was going into shock and needed to be at a hospital ASAP. I went out to investigate. The firetruck had stopped in front of the condo of the abusive mother. Who knows the story there. Hopefully all will be well and  the crazy rageaholic  will get some help.

When will it rain? There is a small chance that it might later today but everything is extremely dry. I have to water my flowers constantly.

I ordered the Athena dress the other night, nervous because we are just guessing at the size. I did try on the same size dress from the same manufacturer and it was a bit big. Also I hope to be smaller by the wedding but I can't play that game. I can always get it altered. I will have to figure out a way to hoist up my one and a half boobs. Sewn in cups? The owner of the store, motto "Clothing as Art" was very sweet and we schmoozed for a long time.

After my dress ordering, I got some bi bop bim, and went to watch Josh with Julia on his new soccer team. Sadly, Josh and his friend are the only talent and they lost. They have a third friend who keeps promising to show up but never does. His mom was the one who died of DCIS run amok last fall. Julia earlier in the day had taken Naomi to register. In one store, a saleswoman kept trailing them insisting that Naomi sign on for some expensive, fancy china. Julia politely told this woman that everyday china was all Naomi would need but this woman kept insisting. She also crassly lobbied for other useless expensive stuff that Julia seemed helpless to stop. The officious saleslady was lucky I wasn't there. I will be polite once but when that it is ignored, I become, not so nice.

The biggest problem is the capacity of our venue. We have to include all the personnel in the final total which cuts down on the number of guests. Naomi and I have had countless discussions on who should be a guest. Sample: a bridesmaid has a baby. Who is going to watch the baby while she is standing with Naomi? Naomi's solution: invite the grandmom to watch the baby. Sue's solution: grandmom can stay home with the baby saving two precious spots.  A family of 4 just declined which gives us some breathing room. A lot of the 'guests' are actually babies..lots of them but they count as people. Too bad that can't be counted  in tonnage..twelve of these babies being equivalent to an adult.

Sidetrack: weighing things metaphorically in 'tonnage'. One of my favorite things is what Shanna wrote in a report in middle school. Tons of black people died of starvation during the Depression.

Say what? Exactly how many tons of these people died anyway? Was the tonnage measured before they starved or after?

Even better: on a housing show last night, a realtor remarked As you can see, there are tons of space.

How many tons of space?

Friday, July 1, 2011

Maya is one!

The birthday girl. We took better pix with Naomi's camera but didn't have an opportunity to load them yet

Time flies by. It did not seem all that long ago that Naomi was an infant and now she has a baby of her own, a one year old. I was less than thrilled when rumors started surfacing on Facebook that Naomi might be pregnant. She was only 18 and a very young 18 at that. How would she be equipped to raise a child? Life was hard enough. I finally confronted her, are you pregnant or not. She wasn't sure and she had no idea how pregnant she might be if she was. She never took my advice about keeping track of certain things. Birth control pills were taken haphazardly. After she moved out, I cleaned out her room and found numerous cycles with just a few pills missing. I had warned her about back-up plans..also not followed. I had her take a pregnancy test: positive. We soon saw an OB who thought she might be 12 weeks or so and heard a heartbeat. Later that day, she had an ultrasound that indicated a 16 week old fetus. It was old enough to possibly figure out the sex. A flash of the hamburger sign, 3 vertical lines that could only mean GIRL were seen for a second by me and the technician but could not be captured on camera. Soon pictures  were taken of a mysterious swelling between the legs. Could be a boy.  The technician said a boy with only 65% certainty..not much better than guessing. Later ultrasounds never showed this swelling but they did not show the hamburger sign either. Naomi started thinking of the baby as a girl without any hard evidence. She wanted everything pink.

So what is the proper attitude to have when you find that your teenager is pregnant. I felt despair and felt like a failure as a mother. I tried so hard but after a point, things get out of control. I think I had an on-line pity party, since erased. One watches TV shows with moms measuring success by having their teenagers turn twenty without becoming pregnant and winces. A friend of mine had a baby at the same age as Naomi and another of our friend was forbidden by her mother to see her as pregnancy might be contagious. Naomi has several young friends with babies. Not one of the baby daddies can be found. One of the baby mommies left her son with a friend for only  'a few hours' and didn't come back for 4 days. And the money issues: Don'tae works hard but has very little to show for it. He is a good daddy and very affectionate to his baby though. We had to have the state provide some assistance ( our insurance covered Naomi only when she was a full time student but it would not cover Maya unless we adopted her.) The housing situation was awful too. They paid for an apartment in a crime ridden complex for too much money. We bought the condo, which should be a good investment for us in the long term and in the short term, gives them nice, safe nearby housing that was affordable for them.

But in the end, you are dealt certain cards and have to figure how to play them and not whine about why you were dealt those cards. Occasionally people hint to me how things might have been different if only I had.....
I don't appreciate these hints.

As I have documented in photos, Naomi barely looked pregnant and never wore maternity clothes. A day after the delivery, her belly snapped back into its flat self. Naomi does not suffer in silence but she swore she would never get an epidural because she hates needles. She did take a class in natural childbirth, which she actually used. But it is easy to say you won't take pain killers when you aren't actually in pain. I would have said there was a 99% chance that Naomi would be begging for an epidural but she told them no on several occasions, even when things got 'bad'. We showed up at the hospital the day before the birth because Naomi thought her water had broke. We were there several hours before being attended to as we were low down on the triage totem pole but when they finally monitored her, they found 1) the waters were intact 2) she was 6 cm dilated 3) she was in active labor with strong contractions 2 minutes apart. The fly in the ointment was that Naomi did not feel these contractions beyond a tightening. They advised admittance but she hadn't slept or eaten in a long time so I said that I would take care of that and return once things progressed. We spent a good portion of the next day walking and walking but the contractions remained 2 minutes apart and still she could barely feel them. We returned to the hospital after Don'tae put in a day of work. She had dilated another cm but still not much happening. When I was 7 cm dilated with Shanna, 3 hours later, I had her but it took forever to get that far; most of the time  was to creep up to 3 cm.

 In the triage area, I had asked the midwife to ascertain that the head was down. Of course it is. I feel it. But is it posterior? The only pain she complains of is in her back. Well I don't know that, do you want me to do an ultrasound?

Yeah I want you to do an ultrasound. The midwife in Shanna's case insisted that the head was down and only when Shanna was trying to push Oliver out did she discover that the baby was breech. This will never happen again on my watch. But Maya was in a perfect position, I could see for myself. She was also 'practising breathing' a good sign. Still we were left to wait for a good time. I amused myself futzing around with the computer left open in the room. There was a spread sheet with all the OB patients vitals: how many weeks they were, how dilated, how effaced. Naomi's official designation was 39wk1d. 7cm.  Some woman was in labor at 23 weeks. Scary and sad. Not many were as dilated as Naomi so why were we chilling in triage?

She eventually got a room and since labor was so easy, she decided to invite several people to be there. However, the new midwife on duty decided that things would speed up if that bulging bag of waters were broken. She was right. Maya was out in less than 2 hours later with only 5 minutes or so of pushing. Naomi spent part of that time in the whirlpool but by that time, she was plenty uncomfortable. She did a lot of breathing and seemed very much in control of things. Who would have thought? It was thrilling to see ones grandchild slowly emerge. With the boys, I could only see fuzzy reflections in the glass. I did hear Oliver's first cry and saw him red faced and kicking on his way to be cleaned off seconds after his birth. Daniel's birth was much scarier taking way too long with lots of nurses huddled over him. I heard no cry though finally some nurse saw my anxious face and gave me a thumbs up. The mask had muffled his cries.

She's been a good mom. Maybe the prolactin mellowed her. She is one of the few young moms who nursed beyond a week. She is still nursing but Maya does not want to be weaned. Financially, this baby has not been kind to anyone's pocketbook and has delayed Naomi's studies. But she is a cute, engaging baby that everyone adores. I will post her pictures later. We will have a party for her Sunday. Don'tae's family is doing something for her today.


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