Thursday, May 31, 2012

North by Northwest

I am only mad north-by-north-west: when then wind is southerly, I know the difference between a hawk and a handsaw.    Hamlet

Perhaps the wind was blowing north by northwest yesterday in Seattle when some crazoid gunned down 4 people in a bar and then himself. The name of the bar seemed familiar, Cafe Racer? Ah yes! we were  there killing time on Christmas a year and a half ago. We flew in to surprise Steve's sister on her 50th birthday but we arrived earlier than his brother and wife so we had to find places to hang out on X-mas, not easy as almost everything is closed but Cafe Racer wasn't. It is a funky, friendly place with eclectic art. I am not sure if this madman was a regular. He killed a group of regulars. Too bad, this place was so cool.

The wind was blowing north by northwest yesterday here but I got my bike ride in before it became too strong. No craziness beyond the usual that I could tell but perhaps I couldn't given the wind.

As for the quote above, it was an underlying theme of North by Northwest by Hitchcock. Craziness, mistaken identities... As for being able to tell the difference between a hawk and a handsaw, some think the handsaw is some kind of heron. Still it should be easy to tell the difference between a heron and a hawk.

Who knows the way the wind is blowing in a certain someone's mind?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Pool and Flower Days

My red mullein finally bloomed. The plant is out of scale for my rock garden but I love the flowers. I soon will have edelweiss too, rabbits willing.
One advantage of the condo we bought is the use of a beautiful pool. It is even nicer and closer than our neighborhood pool that we used to belong to. Yesterday Naomi, Maya and I had the place to ourselves. The hot Memorial Day crowds had gone away. Maya is learning to propel herself by kicking. What I should be doing is swimming laps. I haven't seriously swam since I was pregnant with Naomi swimming a mile on the morning that my water broke. But with me running and now biking, I don't think I can fit it in.

I am way behind in my gardening. Today is the Farmer's Market so I got up early while the parking is available and free to start to fill in my bleak patio. So far, 3 baskets, some herbs and impatiens for my 3 bags. I found some of my carnations sprouting in my yard, since transplanted and my zinnia seeds just germinated. A big mystery, who would steal my bromeliad attached to the fence? Maybe the robbing robins. It does look like nesting material.

Josh came over last night to at least close the window of his car that we now have (a 3 person operation) so that I am not stranded here. Julia now wants to see if the marriage could be saved. No one knows what is going on, most of all Josh.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Boys in a Truck

The boys love trucks! To actually be inside of one: pure heaven!

A Nation of Movers

Nobody moves as often as Americans. Perhaps its genetic. Most of us descended from people willing (or maybe not so willing) to make that big leap and cross the over the ocean while others stayed put. According to a recent WSJ article, we move once every 5 years. By contrast, Italians live in their parents' home until they marry (late) and then move just down the street. With the job market such as it is, moving will become even a bigger part of our culture.

The higher our education level, the more likely we are to move out of state. Minimum wage jobs rarely pay relocation (even professional jobs are cutting back on this). 45% of people with college degrees leave the state they were born in vs 17% with no college. Of Josh's friends, the number probably is closer to 80%. Both Steve and I were born in NY (different parts) and moved to MI before we were 30. My brother's path: NY-MI-KS-NY-NC-MI-CA-MA-NJ-CA. Maybe with a PhD, one moves more.

One of my amusements is searching for potential homes for the movers. I love looking at houses. When my friend was a real estate agent, I would go to her open houses just to look. Shanna's family had several potential places that they might have moved to over the last 6 months. I amused myself  exploring potential houses on the internet. Now that she is here and I know the area, I can even have more fun. Not too far from here, I found a very cute, affordable house that I thought everyone would love. Alas, Steve and I drove by it yesterday and it was sold.

I decided to do my double workout yesterday on the day we had record highs. And to make things even more uncomfortable, we had high humidity. The afternoon was spent in my lower level chilling with my phone and junk TV.

Back in the Boundary Waters of Minnesota, Josh battled hypothermia. He and his buddies took a 5 day canoe trip in the wilderness. Unfortunately, a lot of it was during torrential rains and thunderstorms. Especially scary was lightning hitting the open water they were in the middle of. The canoes were these expensive high carbon fiber ones so it wasn't as dangerous as being in an aluminum one. They had to catch their own protein, an especially large pike fed them for 2 meals. They didn't see any large mammals but saw plenty of bald eagles and loons. I picked him up at the airport last night. He was not amused to find out we were unsuccessful in having his car fixed. I can't fix everything of my children's but some how I am the one left with a car whose window won't shut.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Pretzel croissants

I had to buy these last week. How can something be both a pretzel and a croissant? The outside crust tasted and looked like a pretzel but the inside was buttery flakes. Yum. They fueled my trip to Boston.

Steve and I went for a rare meal out this morning. I had bought one of those groupon clones for a fancy brunch that included 2 fancy drinks. But Steve no longer drinks. So I had two before noon..
and could barely walk.
One was a heady mix of champagne, bourbon and peach bitters; the other calvados and cognac.

We later bought pretzel rolls, also tasty.
Then a visit from Shanna's family; so nice having them here.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Maya loves artichokes...

and her police car.
This is how we spent part of the afternoon. Up and down the sidewalk. She is supposed to power it Fred Flintstone style but it is so much fun to have grandma push her. She used her hand signals to indicate stop and go.
Earlier Naomi was here to have an artichoke, a favorite here in our family. Maya did not want to be left out. She likes to dip things. Soon she learned to scrape off the good part of each leaf with her teeth. And she loved the heart.
Josh had left his car for us to deal with. Among the many things that were to be fixed was his window, which is stuck open. All we had to do is pick this thing up and pay for it, difficult as Steve work long hours now (this part time job has turned into a full time ordeal due to someone over-promising deliverables). I dropped off Steve at the dealer and left as I had Maya. The window is still stuck open so no driving in the rain or leaving it any where except our garage. And unless Steve starts biking or walking to work (doable: I used to do it), I am stuck here. Ugh.

From the day before. Yeah I need the roots dealt with and I hadn't time to put on make-up. Maya is very suspicious of little Tess. Maya is almost 2 years old and Tessa is 2 months. The grandboys' picture is behind me.

Friday, May 25, 2012

The Fragility of Love

This is the favorite picture of my DIL on her wedding day. She looks so happy and hopeful. I recently made a photo book for her 30th birthday full of photos since she met Josh 13 years ago. Prom, senior, engagement, wedding, honeymoon, family gatherings, and pictures of her at my other children's weddings were included. I put this photo on the cover. Less than 36 hours after I sent away for this book, Josh gave me the shocking news that this marriage is over. He gave her this book the other day. She probably just threw it in the trash along with the marriage.

How do these things happen?How can you promise to love each other one moment and forget these vows later? It makes me sad.

Years ago I saw Scenes from a Marriage. One moment a couple is getting some kind of award for having a good marriage (?); the next moment the marriage is dissolving before our eyes for reasons I could not fathom. The whole movie did not make sense. One of the few married friends I had was with me. She said one had to be married to understand the movie. My unmarried friend that was with us was equally puzzled.

Josh is currently on a 5 day canoe trip in the boundary waters of Minnesota with some of his buddies. I know the first day was all rain. I hope he will be able to have fun.

All toasty here. I got up early for my run. In the shade, I can be comfortable. This afternoon will be spent with Ms. Maya. If I were a good grandma, I'd be at her class now to spare her the stranger anxiety she'll have when she is separated from her mom. But I do need some time for myself.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Accidents will happen...

Shanna's van came with satellite radio for a year. We listened to this on our long drive. They played two Elvis Costello songs that appealed to the boys: Oliver's Army and as we were pulling into the drive: Accidents Will Happen. The former appealed to Oliver and the latter to Daniel.
The next morning I found Daniel singing the accident song, which consists of him repeating over and over sort of musically, 'accidents happen, accidents happen'.  I was surprised that he took such of interest in Elvis Costello, but it turns out that Thomas the Tank has his own version of Accidents Will Happen and that the Costello song merely reminded him of it.

Turns out that he was a Cassandra.
An accident did happen.

Ramy was rear-ended while driving the moving truck. The driver who hit hit claimed Ramy suddenly appeared in his lane. Ramy claimed he had been in the lane but the guy must not have been paying attention. The truck is only minimally damaged but the car is totalled. Seems like a straight forward case but the police claim Ramy should not have been on the road. New York has these roads known as Parkways which means most trucks aren't allowed on them. But what trucks? The law says no commercial trucks but is a small moving truck a commercial truck? He wasn't driving it for commercial purposes. Is ignorance of the law an excuse? Michigan has parkways too but they don't exclude trucks. It generally means either a divided road or something that winds through a park. But this will be a pain for many reasons. It really put a damper on Shanna's spirits and caused much worry. Will he be too shaken up to continue the ride?

He got in at 9 am this morning. Shanna and the kids will move in with his mom later today. Her house is only about 5 miles from here. Certainly beats 750 miles.

Subtle message

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Big Moves

This month both my brother's family and Shanna's family are leaving their Middlesex county homes to move: my brother is moving to California from Princeton, NJ and Shanna from Arlington (near Boston) to here. They put their houses on the market the same week. Shanna had an offer almost instantly though lots of negotiation were involved. My brother had lots of interest but the offers didn't pour in until he lowered the price. He left more than a month ago for his job but his stuff left last week soon to be followed by his wife. He has a beautiful house on the coast overlooking the especially big waves.

Monday bright and early, I flew to Boston to help Shanna move the kids. INSOMNIA: hate it. Although I have no problem going to sleep, staying asleep is a problem. Usually it doesn't matter much. I just read all night but I had to get up very early Monday morning so Josh could drop me off at the airport on his way to work. So maybe I slept 3 hours. Of course I didn't drift asleep again until an half hour before the alarm went off.

I took what they kept calling an ultra low budget airline, which I carped about in my last post. Since I didn't want to pay $45/leg for carry-on, I put everything I needed in my purse. I had debated about shipping some stuff ahead of me in one of those all you can stuff mail boxes but decided that really I wasn't going to be there even 24 hours and would just borrow stuff from Shanna if I really needed it. I was wearing two shirts but I managed to spill coffee on both of them (Shanna's washing machine was still available). But the two planes I had to take were on time and I got to see Atlantic City though no buildings in sight, just foggy fields. Their airport has 5 gates and has not been updated in years. I think I slept most of my trip. I was looking forward to the final approach to Logan flying low over my favorite past running path on Castle Island but it was so foggy, I couldn't see the ground until I was on  it.

The afternoon was spent watching the grandbabies while their parents ran various last minute errands. Some of the stuff I helped move into the truck. (The boys loved the truck-see pix later) We had a nice last- meal- ever -in- Arlington takeout Thai from my favorite restaurant there. Fortunately I did sleep that night so we could make our big drive the next morning.

Driving 750 miles by myself is tough enough. I have done it numerous times over the past 4 years. But add 3 very young children in and you have the recipe for a big headache. It is hard for little boys to sit still for so long. So they kept undoing their seatbelts. Also fun, territory wars and secret pinchings and denials that the other's crying had anything to do with him. And Ms. Tess, she wants her feeding s every 2.5 hours or else! The day before she had her first round of multiple shots and was not amused. She at least was in a better mood for the ride. I always tell Shanna how fast I can make the trip (12 hours the record which was when I drove back last month). She told me that no new records would be made that day. As it was, it took 14.5 hours. We were blessed with the fastest border crossings ever but ran into traffic and construction in various spots. We settled on a routine: I would drive and Shanna would crawl back there if she had to to mediate disputes and to keep in a steady supply of DVDs for the boys' viewing pleasure. At our rest stops, she'd feed Tess while I tried to entertain the boys and siphon off their considerable energy. Actually the whole ride worked out much better than we were afraid of and I love just talking to Shanna. So out last big trip from Boston and into Pure Michigan at sunset over the bridge into Detroit that from a distance, actually looks pretty. I drove a different route back than I usually do to try to avoid the awful traffic on the construction near my house. This  takes us  past the WORLD'S LARGEST TIRE, which I thought the boys would appreciate and our new fancy bridge. But avoiding construction was in vain. Three very busy lanes funnelled into one. Argghh!

Her husband spent yesterday loading the truck with the help of a student he had hired from their previous move. He should be on the road right now (or he will be in hellacious traffic) en route to NYC where he will pick up his brother to help with the drive and the move itself.

It is almost 8 am here. The boys have discovered all my garage sales purchases and are spreading them all over my living room. Steve is supervising. I don't think Shanna slept much. The boys had a major meltdown coming here last night. They were excited to be in a new place and wanted to explore but it was time for bed.

It is good to have all my children now in one place. Pure Michigan.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Trying to sleep during road construction

and other annoyances.

Lots of road construction projects going on in our fair city and around. There is absolutely no co-ordination between one project or another so all the north-south streets will be blocked. Well given my life of leisure, I can avoid the roads but not the current expressway repaving project. So as to not inconvenience so many people, they work in the middle of the night. However as the crow flies, this is less than a half mile away. I woke the other night to what sounded like several helicopters hovering over the house. The racket continued for several hours and started up again in the middle of last night. Since it was warm out, we had the windows open much for sleep.

A very bad airline: I vowed I would never take this particular airline s****t (the missing letters might as well be hi) after my friend had purchased a ticket 2 months in advance and the day of the flight, told her she had no reservation as her credit card was 'no good" even though she used the card after that with no problems. Did they call her to warn her that her reservation was cancelled? NO. She could buy a full price ticket (5x the original price) and still make the flight. I found only 2 airlines that didn't charge almost as much for one way as two ways. One of the airlines had very inconvenient flight times. So the airline I am taking charges an arm and a leg for checked luggage and carry-ons. I am only spending one night in Boston so I will manage with what I can cram in my purse. Today I get an e-mail saying it was Time to Check-in!!! with warnings that I will be charged to check in at the airport and I will be charged to use their computers to print a boarding pass. Since this flight has two legs, double the charges. So I start the check in process and it won't let me do it unless I purchase seats. Two of them for each leg. There seemed no way around this. The screen said I didn't have to buy the seats but I would need to check in at the airport (and then be charged twice to do that plus the printing of the boarding passes). So I buy the stupid seats. You'd think they would be included....
Then the kicker, I had to buy 'baggage' of some sort even though I am only taking a purse. There was no getting by this screen (also kept getting hard to block come-ons for their credit card and for their $9 club which despite its name, cost $50). I then noticed that boarding passes can only be printed within 24 hours of the flight and it was 24 hours and 10 minutes. Then why send me the e-mail saying it is time to check in? I did print the passes out later without buying baggage rights. And I am very nervous that my adventure with this POS airline is not over.

Hearing aids: Is hearing a medical necessity or a selfish indulgence? Steve was denied coverage as there was no reason for him having them. Did he just want to look cool with wires hanging out of his ears? Even without the aids he was kept up by all those construction trucks for the past two nights.

But not all is sucky. I will see the 3 Boston but soon to be Michiganders babies tomorrow. I had a very successful garage sale hour with 3 targets: a Little Tykes car that Maya could travel in Fred Flintstone style; a baby gate; and a bicycle carrier for my car. The weather has been beautiful though increasingly toasty. I bought a few plants for my garden yesterday and did some gardening today. I have enjoyed seeing friends.

And later today, a visit from my hummingbird. I've had the feeder up for a while but no action.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Pure Michigan

The rock garden two weeks ago before the Snow on the Mountains and pinks bloomed What is blooming here are the creeping phlox, primroses , forget-me-nots and thrift



Snow on the Mountain which has spread all over the place. Anyone want some?

Purple  and white iris
Last month returning from New York, we crossed the state line into what the sign says is Pure Michigan. Naomi, Ms. Literal, asked what is that supposed to mean? What is so pure about Michigan?

It is sort of a silly motto. Yeah I know we presumably have experiences that can only be had in Michigan (officially: a better state). I suppose it is better than what is on the state flag saying something about seeking a better peninsula in Latin. Perhaps the writers did not know the plural of peninsula but the Upper Peninsula took offense that again, they were forgotten. From time to time, they threaten to secede. They already have chosen a name for their new state: Superior. Ha! They are not merely better but....

This morning, I went with Naomi and Maya to their It Takes Two to Talk class for the speech delayed. Maya is the youngest and the only girl. There is always this element of blame if your child is not doing all that they should, you must be doing something wrong. And I know I could never claim the title of Good Mother as my child became a teenage mom. What didn't I teach her? And my favorite, was I a teenage mom too?

I have a bunch of these this year. I planted them 3 years ago and this was the fst time they bloomed. My lavender ones are missing in action though
The set-up is that for an hour, they entertain your child while you go off with the other parents and learn 'the right way'. Ms. Maya still has stranger anxiety so if I am not there, she screams when Naomi leaves. But I was there today so all was right in Ms. Maya's world. One of the helpers was a former soccer and volleyball teammate of Naomi's, a student at UM now. Maya had her 6 month evaluation the other day. Aside from her lack of  spoken language (she has reasonable receptive language), she is developing fine. Maybe she can become a mime? She is now combining gestures and signs. She is very cute.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Comforting Ms. Pedantic

How do you comfort Ms. Pedantic?
You hug her and pat her on the back repeating
 There, they're, their.

Ms. Pedantic, c'est moi! This was my side line back in the day when I was 'working'. I know this may be surprising to many of you given the poor editing of this blog (as pointed out to me by several) but I am very good at criticizing others and was routinely handed manuscripts to edit. I was armed with just a few of the old spelling saws I learned as a child such as:
  1. You can't sepARATe A RAT from a cat.
  2. The princiPAL is our PAL.
  3. Old AGE is a trAGEdy.
So the last one I didn't use much given the unemotional nature of our writing (just the facts ma'am), but my colleagues were batting 500 with the correct spelling of separate. This was despite a major part of our our job involved separating the desired from the undesired. We made new compounds to be tested as possible drugs for various therapeutic areas. You put A and B together and hope to obtain C but instead you are left with a mix of A, B, C with bits of D, E, F and the rest of the alphabet sometimes. It also isn't always clear which C is. As my pal with whom I will spend the week biking used to sing to Offspring's tune: You've gotta keep them separated!!! while performing this laborious task.

Actually only my one time boss used to abuse rule two routinely. I would patiently explain for the umpteenth time that although 'principal' could be an adjective and a noun, 'principle' is only used as a noun and if he can't remember that (I did consider the possibility he was inserting this each time as a test of my alertness), use the word 'main' instead. Another colleague used 'tenant' instead of 'tenet'. Principle would be a fine substitution in that case.

And why do I need comforting? This week's news is so shocking to me: a game-changer. But it really isn't about me, it is about my son.  I am so sad for him.

Yesterday, according to Statcounter, I received a record number of hits for the day but it was not yesterday's post that interested people. It was an old post  What color is your tumor?
From what I can tell, it is on some 'natural cure' website. On the off chance that you, my new reader came from that site, this is my advice to you.

Baking soda will not cure your cancer. Also, despite its simple structure and availability, there is nothing NATURAL about baking soda.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Which is worse? Certainty of something awful or mere suspicion?

I've been told twice that I had lumps that were probably breast cancer. In the first case I was told (after a very long interval) that it probably was not; the second time it was most definitely BC. Did I feel any different once I knew the truth? Strangely I did not, not even relief in the first case. I have honestly felt more relief finding missing keys. I was so upset about the suspicion that actually finding out it was true didn't change my overall feelings. I had grieved already.

Yesterday this played out again but not with me and not with cancer. Something felt terribly wrong but there was no proof. Proof surfaced yesterday but awful as the truth is, there was an element of relief, that someone was actually right. Suspicion can eat a hole right through your heart.

It was awful news but by the time I went to comfort my grieving child, a plan was already hatched to get through this.

Years ago, a choice had to be made between A or B. I suggested that there was a third option: C, the unknown but if it really was between A or B, I would select B. A was selected. Not my call, I was merely providing input based on my instinct. But yesterday I hear, Shoulda chosen B.

Yeah I am being really vague here. Not all who need to know have been told yet. It really is sad news and it will be even sadder for some others. It makes my petty argument with Steve look....well very petty.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Double workout

I got out as soon as possible this morning to do my run before the sun became too hot. Afterwards, I hopped on my bike and rode for about the same distance. I will get in shape.In between, I came across my neighbor, formerly a walker, running. We cooled down together and she wants to bike with me. Cool. Biking long distances is something that should be done with a partner, more things can go wrong.

Aside from once becoming very lost in the Shawagunk Mountains, the only time I really needed help running is when I tripped on a tree root in the woods just minutes from my house. When I am in severe pain, I pass out. When Shanna drove me to the ER, they were more concerned with my low blood pressure than my arm. They assumed I passed out causing me to break my arm. No it was the other way around. The chief resident could not fathom why a middle age woman (assuming I live to108) was running. Was I escaping an abusive spouse?

Before cell phones, I once rode 60 miles to Julian, CA in the mountains and then back the next day. There are long stretches of complete wilderness. Yeah I got a flat tire. I figured I was about 2 miles away from a ranger station. Within a minute of my combination of running/walking with my lame bike, I was rescued by a friendly couple who drove me to a bike shop way far away.

Monday, May 14, 2012


Miss Tess rocking her harem pants
In Shanna's cute little town, they have an upscale baby store in which outfits start at $40 or so. But these were in the bargain bin, only $1. Such a deal..In a week, I will get to see her (and her brothers) in person. Can't wait.

It is Day Two of Steve's silent treatment of me. This generally lasts a week and hasn't happened since we blamed each other for Naomi becoming pregnant. It makes me sad for many reasons.
Oh and it's all his fault.

Breast cancer yoga tonight. I came in with my rib hurting again for no good reason and the pain was gone after the class so Namaste indeed.

I am so behind in my gardening. Those snow on the mountain plants have taken over my rock garden. Once they are finished blooming (they are pretty)..out they go. They are wiping out my pinks. I try to keep several pots of geraniums alive during the winter. They usually get all leggy but survive but the month with hardly any water was tough on them. They are finally recovering from that abuse.

I finally was able to touch base with my bicycle riding partner. He had just finished a 200 mile 2 day trip.Well yesterday I went for 10 miles so I guess we are at different levels right now. We leave 2 months from today

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Mother's Day 2012

My mom when she was 18 or so. She died more than 4 years ago
Mother's Day started with a nice brunch compliments of Josh and Julia. Her mother is in town but she will be taken out later. They also gave me a pretty necklace and chocolate.

Not sure what Naomi is up today but her plans do not seem to include me. Oh well..I must not be too disappointed.

I've spent too much of the day trying to make a photobook for Julia's 30th birthday, only 2 months late. I had a different project in mind for her that I had planned well in advance but for various reasons, that didn't work out. I've made about 7 photobooks by now so you'd think this would have gone smoothly. Twice everything was erased and I had to start over. Arghhh!!!

I have been slowly increasing my bike mileage to prepare for my trip in 2 months. Although my cardiovascular system is just fine, I need to grow some quads and get used to sitting on a seat for an extended period.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Where eagles fly

Today on a bright sunny day, one of the Moms and I traveled to the flat northwest corner of Ohio to the funeral of one of the Mom's father. The other two Moms went up the night before for the viewing. We drove 30 miles along the Maumee River and saw, about 5 miles apart, 2 bald eagles. This is the heartland, full of German descendant farmers. Lots of unfamiliar hymns. It may surprise some of you but I used to be in my church's choir. Some of the hymns we used to sing were quite beautiful but perhaps Lutherans use a different hymnal than the one we used. My voice changed at puberty to its current low, nasal yuckiness and my vocal range was considerably reduced. I no longer sing except to entertain very young children.

There was a 21 gun salute to honor her WW2 vet father, tough on the ears. He was the last of 13 children to pass. As his wife was one of 13 too, there were plenty of cousins there. I am not sure my friend could count them all. But it was interesting to match faces with stories and to see my friends's son who I used to babysit.He had brought his youngest son with him, a child halfway in age between Oliver and Daniel but way bigger than both.

We had a church lady lunch, pure heartland food.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Tornadoes and breast cancer

No there is no link between the two other than they are such random occurrences. Yes there are some people more likely to be hit with a tornado such as living on a plain in the middle of the country just as there are risk factors for breast cancer.

Michigan is fairly far down on the list for being hit with tornadoes. But the few flat areas we have also house large populations so we are high historically in tornado fatalities. Dexter's tornado almost 2 months ago exemplified its randomness. About 7 years ago, Josh and Julia were deciding between two houses to buy that were a half mile apart. One got hit seven years later by the tornado and the other was spared. Luck? Good living on their part? God was looking out for them?

In many of the houses that were totally destroyed by the recent tornado, people were huddled in their basements. There were no serious injuries despite the devastation to property. Some people commented later how God was looking out for them. Why did He send a tornado their way in the first place? Are people in Dexter, MI more deserving to live than those in Joplin, MO?

There seems to be a resistance to grasping the concept of randomness. There must be a reason....
Why did I get breast cancer? Was it the Prem-Pro? Was it the wine? Was it bad karma for all the not so nice things I have done?

Ann Arbor, with its small hills, has been spared severe tornado damage. One came through about 15 years ago and wiped out some huge trees on the edge of the city though no one was injured and no homes were destroyed. The local paper interviewed one lady whose hundred year old trees were knocked down.  She expressed some dismay that now she would be treeless plus she had to deal with all the felled wood. Understandable to me. But later, a few people wrote letters to the editor on how dare this woman moan property loss when she should be thanking her lucky stars that she was still alive?
This would be understandable if they had had a loss of life due to that tornado but to me, they were just being mean.

Yesterday was a Maya day. First there was her enrichment class in the morning. It is fun watching her explore and then attempt to do all the hand motions associated with the songs. Later it was her one-one therapy in which she was to be evaluated as she has been in the program 6 months to see if she should continue. Alas she was sleeping. But as her speech is delayed at least 8 months, she clearly still qualifies even though she has made strides in almost every other area.

Then I returned to my Cooking for Survivors class. The menu? Modified Italian food such as pasta al fredo cutting down on the usual amount of fat and healthy polenta. Tasty.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Breast cancer yoga

Avoiding yoga because one is inflexible is like avoiding eating because one is starving

Old saying per my instructor M

Naomi on the beach last month with her aunt practicing for her  yoga class
Recently a newsletter said that the Cancer Support Community was starting a new class; Yoga for Breast Cancer. Well sign me up although there is no sign up, one just shows up. I had tried yoga before during treatment but ended up in tears as my wig keep falling off and my muscles were so sore from Taxol. I realize that yoga is not a competitive thing but I also knew that in any given class, I would be the 'worst' one there due to my inflexibility and now total lack of balance and I hate being on the bottom. Josh recently has been going with his wife to yoga, granted an advanced class, and he is the worst one by far despite being a great athlete (no flexibility though he probably has great balance).

Four of us showed up. I knew two of them already and the third, bless her heart, is a newbie, currently on Taxol. The instructor M went through BC treatment at the same time I did and believes that yoga got her through the whole nightmare. We survivors seemed to have the same issues; lack of flexibility and extension on the side the cancer was on, lack of balance and mysterious pains near the affected breast that make us worry that it could be mets but probably is just damaged nerves. And the survivors who are on estrogen blockers have additional issues due to the fact that the drugs themselves give them  muscle and joint pains.
Our instructor promised to tailor the class to our needs. So the class went very slowly. It was a bit too 'new age-y' for me but maybe I have a bad attitude. Maybe I do need help learning to relax. The few times I have gone for massages, there have been comments on how tense all my muscles are. I did enjoy the instructor and my classmates. I will return.

I am an election day widow again. Steve left before 6 am to do his civic duty for a one issue school millage election. I probably won't see him for 14 hours.

And my house is now so much lighter. Once a year, we can get rid of 'electronic waste' for free. Last year this day was on the same day as the boys' baptisms so we missed it. Gone are the three huge TVs, numerous broken answering machines, keyboards, etc. I wasn't able to convince Steve to get rid of the numerous semi- working computers as they may have 'stuff' on them or the broken dehumidifier (huge, it might not have fit with all the other stuff) but at least some progress has been made. Now I just need to convince him that we don't need monthly progress reports going back 15 years for every brokerage account we ever had no matter how neatly he has compiled them or the several huge copies of chemistry reference books that no one ever uses and even if we did, all the info is on-line.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Wildlife show nightmares

I finally looked this up: American oystercatcher on Sandy Hook, NJ shore among the bivalves they like to eat. This was hunted to near extinction but it has made a comeback. I hadn't seen one before last month
Although I love wildlife and reading about it, I hate watching shows about it as they usually contain  Circle of Life  material. Yeah I know predators have to eat but I don't have to watch them do it. Even trailers for these shows make me sick: there was one that featured an orca jumping to shore to snack on a baby seal with its mother helplessly looking on.

There have been two though that gave me nightmares. One was this beautifully photographed series on migrations. In order to eat, the wildebeest have to migrate with the seasons to new pasture land. Twice a year, they must cross this crocodile infested river.  The crocodiles know somehow that they are coming and are ready with gaping mouths. This is their twice a year feeding opportunity. The wildebeest know they are there and show some reluctance to plunge ahead but they must get through this. Meanwhile the photographers have mounted their fancy cameras on the banks so they can get close-ups of the ensuing slaughter. This isn't long after they showed the  hyena variety of partial birth  abortions. It sucks to be a wildebeest. It didn't take long to switch the channel but the images stuck with me.  

Then I was at Shanna's watching a special on birds. This can't be too disgusting, can it? They did a bit about why the toucan has such a long bill. To better dip into these hanging nests to eat the fledgings as their parents try to beat them back with their wings helplessly.  The little birds keep building deeper nests. The toucans with the longest beaks survive.

Yesterday my nature encounters were with the end game: road kill. aweasel and a giant bull frog. The other day I came across a newly hatched snapping turtle. Usually it is about now that their moms leave the ponds to lay eggs on land. But this year, every thing is 2-3 weeks early.                            

Sunday, May 6, 2012


I have been watching that show on PBS in which ones genealogy is traced and if no written records exist, then ones DNA is analyzed.
One week they analyzed Kevin Bacon's roots, probably because of that game Six degrees of Separation from Kevin Bacon in which it could be proved that everyone knows someone who knows someone who knows someone to the sixth power who knows Kevin Bacon. Well if your ancestors come from England, there is a good chance you are his cousin. They found that he and his wife were 5th cousins.

Last week, they did the family tree of three African-Americans: Samuel Jackson, Condi Rice and Ruth Simmons, the first African-American president of an Ivy League Univ. Most African-Americans have considerable amounts of European blood no thanks to slave owners raping their women. But it is very hard to prove given that these children are not recognized and their biological fathers are rarely recorded. Through family histories, some of them can pinpoint their ancestors. In two of the three cases, the relative who was thought to have 'contributed' European genes turned out not to be the case. In Dr. Simmons case, they did identify her 'white' family. Since the written records were so spotty, they took their DNA.
Mitochondrial DNA is passed from mother to child without any contribution from the father. There are now databases of the mitochondrial DNAs of about fifty African tribes who were most likely to become slaves. It is now possible for African-Americans to figure out where their mother to the umpteenth power came from. However when they did Dr. Simmons' DNA, they found out her 'mother' was not from Africa but a Native American, news to her. Jackson's DNA was from the same tribe that Kunte Kinte came from in Roots.

In a pilot project in Brooklyn, they took the DNA of African-American middle-schoolers and matched it to their database. They had a special revealing day in which they told the students where their roots were. The kids all seemed thrilled and vowed to visit that part of Africa when they could. Aside from giving people a sense of where they came from, could this have practical applications? For instance in Ghana, women who have breast cancer get TNBC 80% of the time, which is especially deadly. The high rate of TNBC among African-Americans is thought to have its roots in Ghana. Until this gene is identified, in the mean time, if women could find if they have Ghanian ancestry, perhaps they can be more alert.

So if one was to take the mitochondrial DNA of my darling granddaughter Maya, who is considered to be African-American because her father mostly is (with Native-American and unknown amounts of European blood thrown in), what would be found? No tribes in Africa! No sign of her Jewish or Celtic roots either. Most likely it would be that of some Prussian lady. And sweet little Tess would have the same despite their very different backgrounds.

Today has been a better day. I have finally recovered from drinking too much Friday between my 3 hour birthday lunch with my buddy and a night on the farm with my friends and wine and cosmoses, although both occasions were very fun. Yesterday I was tired and sulky fretting about poor decisions that I have little control over but end up picking up the pieces. Steve and I did go out for a long walk (running just seemed too much to do) hoping that the fresh air would help. Later we baby sat Ms. Maya with her spending the night with me. Fortunately unlike most toddlers, she is NOT a wiggleworm. I woke up with enough energy to do a long run and...after nagging myself non-stop about this, and a short bike ride (need to train for my week long ride). And bonus, Naomi has abandoned her modeling plans, at least through the scam route.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

So you want to be a model....

Naomi and her friend that went with her to the model search. Yes they are both very pretty but so are a million girls
Recently Naomi and a few of her friends went to this modelling agency which for just $800 (to start) will set them up with potential agents. Oh you are so pretty...I'm sure that you will get jobs. This has scam written all over it. But she doesn't want to hear it from me or Steve. What do we know aside from everything on the internet saying they will take your money and just give you hope? We are just being super kill joys.

She's already counting her bucks as a  super model.

We are not giving her one dime for this but no matter, Don'tae with his minimum wage job will some how do it.

Friday, May 4, 2012

Soccer Mom Redux

How many soccer games have I attended in my life? At one point, Josh was on two teams as was Naomi. Even Shanna played on a team for three years. I coached some of these teams when the kids were young.

Josh is playing in an adult league. Some of the players are quite good though usually he is the best one out there. When his buddy still lived in town, they were awesome together and a joy to watch. He has another friend that signs up with him now. This man overestimates his talent and refuses to sub himself out. The teams are uncoached. It is up to the player himself to decide that perhaps he needs a rest. The bench can only hint: Run! If you're tired, we are here!!

Back in the peanut gallery, I have been advised to keep quiet. The coach in me keeps wanting to advise, Like if you are too tired to go after the ball, you're on the bench! I would take my girls out if they slowly walked through their paces. Josh meanwhile is constantly ordering everyone around.

But it was a nice night in the park surrounded on three sides by the twisting river. Vultures circled overhead. Later in the year the bats come out. I do get to connect to my son after the game.

Today was a busy day: running, gardening, making my dessert for the Mom's dinner later, and  a 3 hour birthday lunch (this should do it for my birthday celebrations). Later we go to the farm my friend purchased a while back. No animals yet. They have been renovating it for 18 months. It will be interesting to see the final result

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Baby's first patent

Maya striking a pose. Sometimes she tries to duplicate her mom's yoga postures

Where I worked what ever you discovered remained the property of the company . You could include the patents on your resume, and if the patent was especially useful for the company, perhaps your performance evaluation would be good for that year.

A similar arrangement exists at the company Josh works for though they will pay you extra for patents assuming certain milestones are accomplished. His was finally issued last month so a big bonus for him though it is only a small fraction of what his invention is saving the company. 

I received my birthday present yesterday: an iPad. Still trying to figure it out.

Sometime yesterday evening I had my 50,000 visitor to this blog. I would have had even more if I installed statcounter in the beginning and if it actually counted visits from Smartphones, which it stopped doing a few weeks ago.

It is close to 90 right now but I was able to run while it was still in the 70s. Finally got a big chunk of gardening done.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Separated at birth?

Even though they are great uncle and niece and have different ethnic backgrounds, somehow they look very similar here though my brother here is 9 months and Maya is 21 months.

Today was Maya's enrichment class "Fun at One". Last semester she was the youngest but now she is the oldest and the tallest. They repeat the same songs with the same gestures every week. Maya now can do most of the gestures. Today's fun activity was going in a swing made by lying down in a sheet which was held by two adults. None of the other babies wanted to try this but Maya kept wanting another turn. They get a half hour of free play, which for her was jumping on the trampoline, going down the slide and playing with the tool bench.
 I will make one last trip to Boston to help Shanna take the long drive here with the 3 kids in a few weeks. Yesterday I blogged about my memory of the May Pole Dance where I grew up in NY? Today I found actual photos of what I observed. (see blog yesterday) So it was not my imagination.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012


Growing up in upstate NY, May Day was a big deal because there was the May Pole dances. At the elementary school, we had crepe paper streamers tied to the tether ball pole and we danced around twisting the paper ribbon as we went around. We then got to observe the May Pole dance at the high school which was a big deal. They used the flag pole to tie multicolor ribbons. A girl wearing a fancy dress the same color of her ribbon  would spin around to band music along with about 9 other girls. It impressed me. I wanted to grow up and be one of those pretty girls twirling around the May Pole.

No one ever seemed to ever hear of May Poles here in Michigan. I never saw a May Pole dance again. After a while, I wondered if it weren't a figment of my imagination.

On a Mad Men episode a few seasons ago, they showed a May Pole dance. It was also set in upstate NY though not in the part I lived in, so these things did exist.

Taken by George Banks in 1958. My five year old self is in the crowd somewhere. We lived across from the high school. I remember the pole being taller but the pretty, full dresses are clear in my mind. My house is not visible in this picture. I am surprised that my father did not photograph this but maybe he was at work.

Crowning the May pole queen by the same photographer


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