Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Snowy spring magnolia

A lone feathery blossom Should travel with my good camera
Buds are starting to form, tulips and daffodils are out, small green leaves are appearing. At long last , it is spring. After my run yesterday in which for about the tenth time, a red Dodge Ram with a handicap placard tried to run me off the road (downside to Michigan not having front license plates, I can't get his number), I met up with a good friend for  lunch and a walk in the arb. I noticed two memorials to the soccer mom whose funeral I attended 18 months ago. Apparently the Arb was her favorite place. Wood lilies, peach daffodils and various snow drops were in bloom. But the best were the snowy spring magnolias!
Sad sight: 2 squirrel nestlings were squirming on the ground. I couldn't see the nest. Maybe momma can feed them on the ground or carry them back to safety.
Ran into an old work buddy running along the river and a teacher who I had said at one point I would help with his environmental education classes. He had a bunch of 7th graders in tow. Maybe. Then at home, 2 surprise packages.
Good news concerning several of Naomi's health issues. Still some to address. Below some levity:
pure ignorance
I have posted my stand-up toilet pictures in the past. How does one convert one into a seating toilet...

Monday, April 29, 2013

My grandfather's army life in cartoons

My grandfather documented his WW1 experience as a medic stationed in Toul, France with a series of cartoons along with his war diary of  that I previously spoke. I can't get blogger to put them in the right order..their editing program frankly sucks. And all these were saved as a pdf file which isn't easily converted to JPEGs. There was a program I could download to do it or I could use the snipping tool.

A beautiful day here in Michigan.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

At dusk, the deer come out to play

My friend's property had at least 20 deer. When I opened the door to photograph them, most of them bolted. Tessa's squeals  scattered the rest

Miss Tess enjoying the outdoors

Birthday cake
 It was a beautiful evening for our Mom's group last night. As a special treat, Tess and Shanna came too. We sipped 'birthday girl' martinis aka lemon drops on my friend's expansive deck listening to the peepers until it became too chilly. Tessa honed her walking skills, now up to about 6 feet before she carefully lowers herself to a safe crawling pose just as her mom did some 32 years ago at the same age.The deck railings made cruising that much easier. Inside for our pesto shrimp pasta and then cake and coffee. A nice night with my friends and daughter (and grand daughter)

Rain has made my planned Sunday morning bike ride (the best time for reduced winds and traffic) a no-go. Maybe later. Josh and Julie should visit here soon and then I arrange for the weekly Maya transfer back to Naomi.

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Compost compensation

Election officials, besides their minimum wage, get additional perks. In the past, UM basketball tickets (not this year when UM was rated No.1) rounds of golf and this year Compost! or Mulch! He is entitled to 5 bushels though I think he with all his partially filled garbage bags barely has a bushel so we will go back.While I watched Maya today go back and forth won the sidewalk with various little tyke toys, I weeded my rock garden. Number one weed would be grass.

Ah it finally looks like spring. Today is moving day for Josh and Julie but until his house closes, his furniture will remain put. Steve and I en route to somewhere else, stopped at Shanna's house. She said they had put on the siding. Workmen were working on her alleged house when I asked to go inside Steve diligently taking pictures. Did she really pick out these ugly cabinets? I thought she picked dark granite and this stuff is light. Finally when we went upstairs, one of her 4 bedrooms seemed to be missing. Oops..wrong house. We were a block off.
She closes in a month. Her house looks light years away from being finished.

A beautiful day for my run. Tomorrow, a big bike ride. My ride across Pennsylvania is coming up soon.

Friday, April 26, 2013

California flowers


dew on unknown flower

pretty flower in field


lupine Came in several colors. This color ed lupine is also known as Texas Blue Bonnets


No flowers but i love this staircase to the beach

primroses Should have my own soon

My brother's front yard with roses, hydrangea, thrift
small yellow flower that sort of looks like a dandelion but isn't
more pink ice flower
White ice flower
More pink ice flower

White ice flower close-up
California poppies all over the place
poppy and calendula garden 

Pink ice flower

 As any reader of this blog knows, I love flowers. Given our extended winter (snow again yesterday), flowers have been few and far between though today, I saw dogwood, forsythia, along with the previously mentioned daffodils and hyacinths. Finally some sun here!

Thursday, April 25, 2013

My Grandfather's War Diary

My grandfather drew a series of cartoons about his  army life starting in basic training camp to the hospital where he was stationed. He looks like the man holding the private down as the doctor gives the shot. This was his second series of about 12 cartoons. Presumably there is a first series.

I loved this book. Full of trench warfare slang in 3 languages. A "Thomas" is a French chamberpot in the trenches. Also useful phrases: Don't shoot! Help me dig a trench!
Unbeknownst to me, my grandfather's widow had given my brother boxes of personal effects. One was a box of his photos that I didn't get around to looking at. I assume these were mainly travel photos. He travelled alot. But the much more interesting box was that of his personal effects which included 2 diaries: one from 1913 and one from 1918-1919. Between celebrating my birthday and sightseeing, I didn't have enough time to fully explore these but I spent as much time as possible sorting through these.

My grandfather was an extremely impressive man. Everything interested him. He was an avid reader with a photographic mind. He also was very out-going with a booming voice. He commanded respect where ever he went. He was born into an upper-middle class family in Troy, Ohio, the 4th of 5 kids in 1890. He received a forestry degree from the University of Michigan in 1912 hoping to use it around the Puget Sound area. This never happened. Included in the box were detailed notes for his botany classes complete with publication worthy diagrams of plant parts. Later he would take me on walks giving me the Latin names and all the conventional names and uses of every plant. Maybe about 1% of this stuck with me. I know for a class project, he planted willow saplings around a recently dammed portion of the Huron River (Barton Pond, right outside of Ann Arbor. The dam provided the city with power for quite a while). These now over a hundred year old willows are still there and were huge even in the 1960s when I was told about them.

The 1913 diary covered his experience as a forest manager in Boyne City, Michigan. Many diagrams of his work spaces and lists! He loved lists. Trees that he saw, plants that he saw, birds that he saw and insects. Top of the insect list was Black Flies! These made him and his co-workers miserable. The saddest thing he wrote is the crew destroying a nest of indigo bunting fledglings and the mama bird hovering over the former site for hours with food for her now gone babies. I didn't spend much time on this diary concerning the quotidian life of a lumberman..on to the War Diary.

Previous to the war, he had moved to Moline Illinois to be a chemistry teacher. He met my grandmother who had a master's degree in Latin and German who taught at the same school. Despite her having higher degrees than he, his salary was much more. Her mother was a trained concert pianist who had studied at the Boston Conservatory of Music. I wonder how many of her fellow students were women. In 1917 on a visit home, he contracted small pox. Outside of town, there was what they called the Pest House, a small cabin  where diseased people could recover without infecting others. In a photograph, he is smiling outside of it so I suspect his case was mild though it left scars. He enlisted into the army in 1918 not long after his 28th birthday in late August 1918. I skipped through his basic training in Georgia to where he was sent in France. He was stationed in Toul, a town in Lorraine just east of Nancy. Steve and I drove by it in 2003 spending a few hours in Nancy (half of which was driving aimlessly around trying to figure out how to get out of it and towards Strasbourg). We should have stopped in Toul, right off the N4. The Germans had won back Lorraine in the Franco-Prussian War of the late 1800's but France and its allies must have won at least part of Lorraine back by the time the US entered the war. He was just 60 miles away from Verdun, center of the largest slaughter encountered in probably any war (we did visit there) but Toul was generally considered quiet. Still lots of bombs fell around him like a hundred 4th of Julys at once. He never expressed fear or anxiety in this diary, mainly just wonder. He seemed to be perpetually in good spirits despite having constant disagreements with his co-command whom he skewered in his cartoons so I assume these cartoons were not for publication.Although he hadn't gone to med school (yet), he was a medic and was quickly promoted due to his calm  and commanding presence in the face of danger. I read his promotion recommendations  But the actual time near the front was short as he came there in late September and by November, the war was over. He didn't return to the States until July 1919. He had a lot of time to travel with his fellow officers and seemed to enjoy every minute of it.
He married his fellow teacher a few years later and found a better paying job at John Deere where he was a manager of some sort. Somehow he was able to invest enough money to finance a medical education. Maybe he pulled out of the market at the exact right moment. Early in 1927, he had my father, his only child. If only some of his wonderfulness had rubbed off on him. He started medical school in Ann Arbor that summer right after turning 37 making him the oldest student by far. As he was close to 80 when he retired, they got years of service out of him. Even in retirement, he was in constant demand as a lecturer. He never used notes. He also had numerous publications.

On one of his lists, he listed every disease he ever had with dates underlining and starring the most serious. From diphtheria as a 4 year old, the small pox at 27, to squamous cell carcinoma at 40 (a red head that was constantly outside was at great risk) and , a series of broken ribs (not starred). He had a mild heart attack when he was in his 70s and insisted that his wife drive him 560 miles home to be treated. He had a stroke when he was 88 (I was pregnant with Shanna) leaving him paralyzed on one side briefly but through unbelieveable persistence in occupational therapy, he recovered. Shortly after his 90th birthday, he had another heart attack in which he was revived but told me, if it happened again, he was to be let go. He wanted to quit while he was ahead as his mental abilities were still in top form. Choking on food a few days later, he started to have another heart attack but he insisted that no one come near him.

My biological grandmother was usually in poor health due to diabetes. When she died, he quickly found a new, much younger  Quebecoise wife who lived until just a few years ago.

I wish I had 'borrowed' this diary to read it more thoroughly  At some point, all this historical family stuff will be transferred to Shanna as the other grandkids are not interested. Or maybe to a great-grandkid.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Back to snowy Michigan

San Francisco from our plane

Van Goat chevre on my new, beautiful fused glass cheese plate from Luna-Sea (Pescardero) my brother and his wife got me for my birthday along with 4 other goat cheeses
It is April 24 Dear Reader, and it is snowing. This was going to be my bike riding day. I don't even feel like running though at least for the past 5 days, I managed to get 4 long runs in. There are paths along the ocean. Each day, I tried to cover a different part. On some of the runs, I took my phone camera with me. Compared to last fall, there were so much more flowers in bloom: lupine, eunium, sand daisies, snap dragons, ice plant and many more that I don't know the names of. On some of the runs, I ran through fields of phlox, which we will have here, but they smelled so pretty. Yesterday, the fog was so dense, I couldn't even see the ocean right next to me.

Back to Reality: Right off the bat, I had to get up at 7 am (which to my jet lagged body was 4 am) to take Maya to her classes as Naomi had some medical issues to address, more so than I thought. A growth will be removed tomorrow (not serious but other things could be a bit more so). I was running late taking her there.  I drove through town which is shorter but more traffic because the longer expressway route has been stop and go the last few times I took it. I go by the fire station and wouldn't you know, all their trucks came out ahead of me on a run. The boys would have been thrilled to see that. I have to get paperwork from Dontae tonight to give to the Headstart people tomorrow. Maya may or may not qualify for special preschool through the school system as she is making so much progress recently, she might not be considered special needs. She still needs speech therapy. When will I rest?
Josh got a very close to full asking price offer on his house but work still is in progress there so someone has to let workers in. Well I will let Steve handle that one. His biggest hurdle now is whether the appraisal will be high enough.

Whale Watching: Whale watching is not for the impatient. Some people stayed at Pigeon Point all day hoping to sight a whale. I gave it ten minutes. Fortunately the first day I went, I saw at least ten sightings. None when I went back with Steve. The California Gray whales winter off Baja California and make the 10,000 mile trek to the Bering Sea every spring. The males go first. The first male was sighted there April 17. Bringing up the back, are the females and their offspring so that's what I probably saw. I didn't see the calves that others kept saying were there, just the adults. A male can be up to 50 feet long so they are not tiny whales.

Bay Area Bridges: I didn't get a chance to see the Bay Light project on the Oakland Bay Bridge. Due to the State of California being broke despite containing the wealthiest people in the world, the Golden Gate toll collectors were all let go. So if you cross it, you'd better have a transponder. Anticipating this, I brought my EZ pass but it is NOT accepted in CA (why the HELL not?!). If one goes over the bridge without the special transponder, the license plate is photographed and you are sent a big bill. If you have a rental car, this bill can be as much as $45. I read the fine print of my contract (font at 3 points). It says there is something called a 'plate pass' embedded in  the license plate.
Even if we just use it once, we will be charged $5/day for the duration of our rental period, the toll itself and some administrative fee. Were we verbally warned of this BS? NO! So car renters, my advice to you is to stay clear of the Golden Gate. I suppose California not using EZ pass can be excused because they are surrounded by states not using it (or any other system) But in the East, this is what is used.
At least the bridges we did use (hopefully not triggering the plate pass as we paid in cash)only were $5 and one only paid in one direction. At various points, we used the Oakland Bay Bridge, the Richmond bridge, some tiny bridge going to Vallejo and the 7 mile long San Mateo Bridge; all the same price regardless of length.

Weather: Absolutely beautiful with not a cloud in the sky. Highest temp: 70 degrees though inland on that day, it was 90 but we were on the water except in Sonoma/Napa.Not so beautiful here.I see my daffodils and hyacinths and snow drops (fitting!). The forsythias are not even out.

Food: Too much of it. Lots of crab as that is what is fished in the nearby bay. Good Italian too and Mexican.  There was an artichoke field near the water near my brother's. His area is the pumpkin capital of California though no pumpkins at this time of year. Strawberries and artichokes were the two main crops sold now at the farm stand. In Pescaderso, all other fresh berries including their weird  ollallaberry were in their market. It was nice in the evening to sit on the deck overlooking the trees and the ocean while we sipped our wine.

My Big Birthday Surprise:  It was very special to be surprised by my family and spend the weekend with them. I was truly surprised when I turned around in the Stanford Art Museum and saw the 4 of them. It was fun also sharing the beauty of the places around my brother's house in our drives. Also I thank my brother and wife for arranging for their sleeping arrangements. They have a huge, beautiful house but it is not full of guest rooms.

Monday, April 22, 2013

My Big Birthday Scenes

sand dunes

Montarra Beach

Alamo Park

Land's End SF

Along the waterfront SF


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