Thursday, May 30, 2013

Saving a snapping turtle

She isn't very old judged by the size of her shell but with all the cracks in it, she's had a hard life
Every year in May, the female snapping turtle crawls out of her pond, finds some gravel or mud to dig a hole in, lays her eggs, and crawls back to her pond. Usually this happens earlier in the month but with our long winter, turtle day has been later. The baby painted turtles though, have long since hatched I see.

Just as I was finishing up an early morning bike ride, I found this turtle with  a concerned lady  hovering over it. The city recently installed new crossing stations along the street behind my house. Some cars treat this street as an entrance ramp to the nearby freeway. Meanwhile many kids have to cross it at their peril, more so since they have limited busing. Grass was ripped out during the installations. Then they reseeded covering the seeds with a hay mulch and covering the hay much with nylon netting without considering the turtle.This poor turtle is stuck in the netting. It frantically dug a hole trying to free herself.

This lady was about to pick it up by its shell.
If you do that, she'll snap your fingers off.

How do you know its a she? I was asked.

Only females leave the pond to lay eggs.

In her country, which I assume is India, they don't have biting turtles. The only safe way to move a snapping turtle is to grab its thick tail, which makes it extra mad, snapping and hissing. While I did this, she attempted to break the netting with a stick. The turtle snapped away at the stick.  Finally she was free but headed across the sidewalk to another area of netting. I tried to corral her into a safe zone, being hissed at and snapped at for my efforts but eventually she was headed towards her pond.

My co-rescuer walks a lot and had seen several other turtles that day, which were not in peril. She had no idea that they were snapping turtles, alligator snapping turtles I added.

I can bike but I can barely walk. Some how I sprained some muscle around my hip running the other day. It does feel better now but I will bike until I feel no pain. Today would not be a good day to run anyway. Already hot and humid. And already Josh has a full line of errands for us...
Later edit
The safest (for the turtle at least) way to rescue a turtle in harm's way is NOT to drag it by its tail I read later as it could injure the tail. You are supposed to lift it right under the tail by its PLASTRON (undershell). Now this would be tricky as a) when stressed the turtle emits musk from glands near there b) its long neck can reach its hind paws and it isn't afraid to snap at you. This method might be fine for a small turtle but if you have a 30 pound plus turtle, balancing it might be difficult.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Shunned! and then, maybe not

About 27 years ago, I was fairly good friends with the mother of Shanna's then best friend. We lead a Brownie troop together, along with another woman who I still see sometimes, I'd watch her newborn daughter (who I see just got married, they do grow up) and we'd go out for fun sometimes. After 3 years, she moved overseas (where coincidentally she met Josh's ex-mother-in-law). We wrote to each other occasionally. By the time she moved back briefly, I had Naomi and our daughters never renewed their friendship. I do remember running into her at a coffeeshop and she told me that she had Graves' Disease. I immediately blurted something about doesn't that make you lose weight? (she always has been heavy) Not in her case, she said.

Graves' Disease is an autoimmune disease in which antibodies attack the thyroid. Unlike Hashimoto's, which is also an autoimmune disease targeting the thyroid (which it seems almost all of my friends have), it stimulates the thyroid to overproduce. These same antibodies attack the eyes in 50% of cases causing swelling so severe, one can not close ones eyes. In another 20% of cases, it causes a skin condition that results in severe itching. She had the rare skin manifestation and very little attack of her thyroid. The ironic thing was while talking to her, I had rampant undiagnosed Grave's Disease. For 3 years, it came and went leaving me puzzled. Then I had 'thyroid storm' and it seems that my heart was going crazy. I ended up in the ER though the heart symptoms conveniently disappeared while there. Their diagnosis? Menopause. They were about ten years off on that one. I left disappointed in the medical establishment.

I did go to a follow-up visit in which the doctor took one look at me and said I had Graves'.  How do they train those ER doctors? His evidence: the air conditioning in the office had gone haywire freezing almost everyone. He had on a heavy sweater. Yet here I was in a thin cotton gown sweating. (telling the ER I was hot all the time led them falsely to the menopause dx). He also noticed the swollen thyroid.

When I ran into this friend sometime later when she back in Ann Arbor between various overseas assignments, I told her I had Graves' too. She called me a few years later to ask me to call a mutual acquaintance who also was diagnosed with it to provide moral support. I never did as this acquaintance used me to try to peddle various pyramid scheme products.

I did know she was back in town and that she had a friendship with Josh's then mother-in-law until the latter left for The East (leaving me to provide for her daughter). From 2 other friends that we have in common, I knew she was working where I take Maya for therapy. But when I ran into there, despite saying her name, she looked right through me as if she didn't know me. Or worse, she did know me but believed I should be shunned.

Why couldn't she be troubled to say Hello? Is she that mad at me? My feelings were hurt. Did this former mother-in-law say something awful about me? This was before the marriage broke up. I know I let these things bother me way too much. I ran into her a few more times but I made no attempt to contact her. Once burned, twice shy.

Until the other day. Through Facebook, she sent a friend request and I accepted. Yeah I  know, being Facebook friends is kinda weak. My new theory: she just couldn't recognize me in my new fat suit (I was always fairly thin when we had previously had contact). She has also walked right by Shanna without acknowledging her but I guess that could be excused as adults rarely look like they did as an 8 year old. Or maybe she just has a really bad memory for faces yet she remembered my name as we do have a Facebook friend in common.

Today Steve and Naomi have their stitches removed from their minor surgeries.

We have been having strange weather. Yesterday, I had a narrow time slot to run but it was filled with lightning and thunder. I waited until late in the day (when I have absolutely no desire to run). One moment it is sunny, then it pours. I waited even longer. By this time, it was hot and humid. I could sense instability. I never went more than a mile from home as anything could happen. The tornado sirens started just as I finished up. I immediately checked the radar to see what was going on. The sirens go on if any part of the county gets hit though it looked like the path was north of us. Josh's new house was right in its path though no sirens for him even though the town 4 miles due west of him (in a different county) had the sirens going. Did they think the tornado would just stop at the county line? The tornado dissipated.

He is nervous about tornados as he seemed to be in the path of one about a year ago. It was swirling on top of him. He chose to out drive it rather than huddle in the basement. The houses less than a half mile from him, including one he almost bought, were smashed to smithereens. Fortunately no one was even injured even though they were in the house (we have basements..why didn't that school in OK have a storm cellar for the kids?)

Monday, May 27, 2013

Grandbaby girls

Who rocks this outfit best?

Our living room looks like a toddler playground with the slide, dual rocker and assorted toys. Cost of the rocker? zero along with another slide which I am keeping outside. Too cold and rainy for the girls to play outside. Miss Tess's parents were in Canada for a wedding. The boys were with their other grandma. Miss Maya came over only for  2 hours. In 4 months, we will have another baby girl.

Fortunately it wasn't raining this morning for my run. A small herd of deer jumped in my path.

The lawyer sent us a huge packet setting up trusts,  our will and medical powers of attorney. Just don't have the heart to go through it. Under what  conditions do I want to have the plug pulled ? How to fairly divide the money assuming some is left.  Do we recognize the grandchildren and to what degree?  Steve keeps nagging for me to deal with this. A chore that needs to be done.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Side Zoomers vs Line Uppers

This is the situation: You are on a busy 2 lane going one way expressway. There is a sign saying due to construction, the right lane will disappear in a mile. What do you do? Immediately merge into the left lane or wait until the last possible moment to merge when the lane disappears? Or if you were in the left lane to begin with, zip into the emptying right lane and zoom ahead of those lineuppers in the left lane and then merge at the last possible second.

Now expressways move the most efficiently if all possible lanes are utilized giving some justification for the side zoomers. But lineuppers in general view the side zoomers as narcissistic assholes. If the side zoomers weren't in the relative anonymity of a car, would they barge ahead with their shopping carts in front of a line of twelve waiting shoppers? Steve said in New York, they would. He frequently found fights in the lines and in the narrow aisles of the local Waldbaum's, something he never witnessed in placid Michigan. And in general, being polite in New York would never get you across town.

As for myself, once I have decided to merge, I sometimes block the path of sidezoomers forcing them to merge BEHIND me.

Oh my reading in the middle of the night. Why can't I sleep?

It is nice out. I went for my longest yet for this season bicycle ride made easier by little wind and a comfortable temperature. I will be in shape. My Pennsylvania ride is in just a few weeks.

We have Ms. Tess with us for a day and a half. Of all the grandbabies, she is by far the easiest. She is very interested in new surroundings, content just to look around, will eat about anything we put in front of her, smiles constantly, and is very cute. We have had bits of Maya over the weekend too.

Josh and Julie visited us in between their many tasks. They still haven't closed on Josh's old house.

We took Tess shopping. Our best find? A gyro bowl as seen on TV but for a fraction of the cost. see Kids allegedly can't spill anything from it even if they tip it upside down. We'll see how it holds up to the boys.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Mushroom houses and other northern experiences

View from our balcony on our second night

Fireplace in common area where we stayed the first night-an Earl Young creation

Pan of Bay Harbor

Sculpture in front of Charlevoix library

One of the mushroom houses that actually looks like a mushroom

Charlevoix lighthouse

Bay Harbor mansion

another one

Cool sconces in our second place

Lobby of second place

Residents getting ready for Operation Petunia. Every spring, Charlevoix residents line 5 miles of streets with these. It was supposed to happen today.

mushroom house

My favorite mushroom house

another one

Small office behind larger mushroom house
This one was for sale. 1.1 million for 2000 sq feet

What to do with used skis

Even the walls are interesting
miles and miles of trillium
We are back from our two night northern adventure. We stayed the first night in Charlevoix, which is surrounded by water, Lake Michigan, the Pine River and Round Lake which leads into Lake Charlevoix. When I was a kid, we'd stay at the nearby Camp Michigania for UM alums. My father and his friend would often visit Charlevoix to look at the yachts. I thought at the time, the town was called Charlie Boy. Aside from the beaches, marinas and rich people's guest cottages, the town is full of 'mushroom' houses aka Gnome homes aka Hobbit Houses built by a self-taught architect Earl Young who wanted to use all natural material for his structures. His favorite material was Onaway rock (we had stayed there on our first night on last year's bike ride). There are about 30 of these homes, if not more, scattered around the town. Even parts of our hotel was built by him. Anyway, they were fun to look at. We were able to walk to quite a few of them from our hotel and then found a whole bunch more the next day by driving around. We had a nice walk along the beach just as the fog was rolling in. Alas I found no Petoskey stones for my rock garden.

We visited Petoskey in the evening, a cute town full of restaurants and shops.
Our room featured a deck that overlooked Lake Michigan, if you craned your neck. It also had a fireplace, a jacuzzi, pillowtop mattress so we were comfy.

The forecast called for rain the whole time we were going to be away but it didn't come in until late the first night and didn't return until 2 or so the next day so we had some rain free time. However, this morning when I wanted to run, it was 34, pouring rain with a stiff 30 mph wind. I stayed in. At least I got a nice long run in Charlevoix  It did clear up by noon but still was cold.

We stopped in Bay Harbor which is reclaimed land I believe from a cement factory. Unbelieveable houses, some pictured above that have been recently built.  One is going for $6 million. Where did all this money come from? The houses are all gated up but are visible from the marina which we took a walk on.

We had stayed at the lodge in Alanson before last fall. I really like it even though we were kept inside by the rain. Our balcony was covered though so we sat outside watching the beautiful world huddled under a blanket. The room came with champagne and a jacuzzi (and a kitchen..didn't need that).
The rain finally stopped this morning right when we were going to leave. I did have time to feed the fish they keep in a pond. They were hungry. We drove through the Tunnel of Trees which are much prettier in the fall. I will be riding my bike through this in less than 2 months. The woods were filled with trillium and forget-me-nots. Very pretty. We ate at the Legs Inn. Unfortunately it was too early for their gardens to be at their full beauty.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Irises, Columbine, and Snow in Summer

I have several patches of irises and I just planted 90 dwarf ones. I have several colors of columbine spread out all over. Unfortunately the fancy ones over the years seed themselves to become just blue.

Snow in Summer plant that has invaded my rock garden. It is not completely in full flower. Each year, I pull most of it out but it comes back with a vengeance. Right now it is pretty.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Executive functioning

Executive function is a product of the frontal lobe involved in the ability to plan, manage time, relate stories, decide what is important and consider consequences. Presumably having early superior executive functioning is more predictive of later success than early displays of cognitive abilities. This is a term that I never came across while dealing with my own young children and furthermore, I didn't encounter it when discussing special education options for one of my children even though it is now clear to me that was the primary problem (not 'language processing').

In the past, preschools in order to develop skills useful in later years focused on academic skills: knowing colors, counting, simple math, letter identification and what sounds they made, etc. Yet what some researchers are finding is that pure knowledge is not all that useful in the general scheme of things. How to teach kids to organize, sort through what is important, control one's impulses,etc. The key to self-regulation is:
Specifically 'mature dramatic play' involving other children, role playing  and in general, just playing pretend

So in my little family, I have two extremes of executive functioning and lack thereof.

Kid one: spoke early, wrote early, could sound out words, knew colors, obsessed with spelling, read fluently at 6

Kid two: Not an intelligible word until two or three. Needed speech therapy at 4. Could not hold a pencil, did not know colors, not interested in which letters are what or what they sounded like.

 Conventional wisdom would indicate that kid one would have an easier time in school and then life than kid two (not necessarily their birth order btw..we are not even going to discuss kid three). However things turned out the opposite.

Some of this is genetic; some of it is environmental and thus changeable. I did try to raise my kids similarly. I read to them, I grilled them on body parts and what sounds do what animals make. I tried to fill their little lives with enriching experiences but I did not get the same results.

When kid two was 15 or so, he was paired up with a soccer teammate for a day performing community service. Ordinarily they would not speak to each other, My child was a 'cool' kid, very popular, good looking and athletic. The other was not any of that. He was kept on the team because of his good attitude. But he had a life plan which he shared with my child who came to me later that day wanting a life plan too. We discussed several options and one plan was adhered to.
Much later, child two was devastated by some personal news. How to get through this? By the time I could get there to comfort, already a plan was put in place. (item one: power washing a deck)

Kid one is floundering and it is painful to watch. There is no life plan, just a series of fulfilling impulses. I suggest a plan which is followed briefly but then abandoned  I do not know what to do any more. Furthermore, child one insists that they are an adult and resists all sorts of help.

Kid one has been tested quite a bit over the years. superior math ability but poor reading comprehension. What part of each story is important? Too hard to tell. There have  been no tests on executive functioning which I see now, that there are. How does one teach one to organize one's thought? Write lists?

I had a friend once my age who had extremely low executive function. Never finished projects, always late due to poor planning, always losing general, one hot mess. Yet this person had talents but never was able to apply them. Fortunately this individual was not dependent on earning a living.

I do not want this for my child.

It is almost 90 out and has not rained for ages. I ran very early in the morning. However for our minivacation this week, it will be cold and raining.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

My Grandbaby has a Volvo!

Today was the Reveal Party. There were pink and blue plates to select from depending on what you thought the sex was. When the cake was cut into, either pink or blue was revealed. Not obvious in this photo, the color was pink

You can see a small baby bump on Julie at 21 weeks
Tess enjoying herself
Group shot I am next to Julie. Her mom is in front of her. Her mom's best friend graduated with me .
So I was told 2 weeks ago what the sex was though I never was sure that Josh wasn't misleading me. Her family wanted to wait to know at this reveal party thrown today I had asked what made the technician think it was a girl

Well there's her Volvo right there.

Not a Toyota?

It reminded me of the old Seinfeld episode in which Jerry didn't pay attention to his date's name and things progressed beyond what would have been acceptable to ask again. She did say something how it wasn't easy growing up with a name at rhymed with a female part.


Turns out her name was Dolores.
I have been there before as I am terrible remembering names. I did go out with a guy whose name I didn't  know just because I forgot as soon as I was told.

The party was fun. Later Shanna and her family and Naomi went to Josh's house for the first time.
I had gotten up bright and early to bike way before the cars came out. And no wind.

Friday, May 17, 2013


Lilacs blooming very well this year. They smell so pretty. These are 2 different shades of them intertwined In front I have a smaller version that blooms later

My rock garden. I removed more than half of the gray-greenish stuff which will be covered in white flowers next week. But it killed a lot of my good stuff. In bloom, the creeping phlox, bugle weed, primrose and thrift
I spent 5 hours straight doing some activity:  an hour long run followed my 7.5 mile bike ride and almost 3 hours of gardening putting in the compost that Steve earned as an election official. I planted a peony and a zillion irises along with some calla lilies. After my minivacation next week, I'll get annuals.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Hummingbirds and Lipomas

For about 5 years, Naomi has had an ugly growth on her arm. Harmless but ugly said the doctor 5 years ago. Lately it has started to grow and she finally has insurance so off to the dermatologist  They were undecided whether it was a cyst  or a lipoma but as it started to be painful, it was removed today. As it turned out to be solid, it was a lipoma. I am not sure if they are biopsying it. They did biopsy one suspicious mole that they removed on the first consultation. In the past few weeks, I've been to numerous consultations of various sorts but none for myself. Two days ago, it was the oral surgeon. Steve finally had his implant put in.Three months ago, they were going to do it but his jaw turned out to be too decomposed to place it. They had to build his jaw up with I don't know what. It was painful. Fortunately the implant placement itself was less  so but as he was on all kinds of drugs, I needed to drive. Such bad teeth he has! The dangers of feeding kids soda.....

And one of the hummingbirds returned. I didn't have my feeder out yet but did have the petunias that Shanna gave me. Monday there was a record low off 22. Two days later, in the 80s. Fortunately biking in 80 degree weather is no problem.

I lost so many plants over the winter, it has made me too depressed to start my gardens again. But today I bought few replacements for my rock garden and some sweet smelling stock to place around my patio.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013


What does the word lethal mean to you? Does it mean that it might kill or will kill you? When a prisoner is sentenced to death by lethal injection, do they mean, well maybe the injection might kill him or it might not, we'll see.
I finally got around to reading Our Feel Good War on Breast Cancer published recently in the NYT. My fellow blogger Pat from Positives about Negatives had sent a rebuttal to the paper because it characterized TNBC as LETHAL scaring the Baby Jesuses unnecessarily out of the newly diagnosed when the truth is, most do survive it though the 13% fatality rate Pat quoted (much smaller than I was told for my particular stage) is not small and it is scary. It is roughly the same odds of death as a single round of Russian Roulette only the death will be more painful and dragged out.

One of the article's main points is the uselessness of frequent mammograms as most breast cancers are slow growing and harmless. One might as well just wait until one can feel the lump I guess. It detects harmless DCIS more often than actual cancer which she claims has only a very small chance of ever converting to 'real' cancer. Well  the last funeral I went to was for a woman who was diagnosed with 'harmless' DCIS. And although zillions of women are now getting mammograms due to all the publicity, the death rates have fallen only slightly and that is mainly due to Herceptin and Tamoxifen. Proof positive in her book that mammograms are useless excepting for a very, very few people.

Well I am one of the few I guess. I couldn't feel my tumor. I was lucky that the timing of my mammogram was just right. Any earlier and it would not have been seen and any later, it probably would have spread. At the size it was when they finally got around to removing it, there was a 50% chance that it already spread.

This is what she had to say about catching TNBC by mammogram. The chances that one catches it before it turns lethal are very slim. Even if it is big enough  to see by mammogram, it already has spread enough to kill you.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A cold, windy Mother's Day

Sundays are the best day for bike riding. I can have the roads mostly to myself for a few hours. However upon awakening, I could see the trees swaying in the wind. Temp=35; winds WNW 23 mph gusting to 30. I figured that I don't go west except for half mile bits at a time so that hopefully, for most of my ride, the winds would be crosswinds. I find 35 deg quite toasty for running. A long sleeve tee shirt and tights are all that I need. However comfortable bicycling temps need to be at least 20 degrees warmer for me or my feet and fingers freeze. Gloves help somewhat. Also cold wind in my face makes my eyes water. I could not read my speedometer for the first half of the ride nor could I hear much except wind noise. I was able to hear the ancient sounds of sand hill cranes though I couldn't see them. Their distinctive cries can be heard for more than a mile.
Birds that I hardly ever saw around here ten years ago: cranes, vultures, turkeys and so many hawks

A bird I never see any more: pheasants

At one point, Shanna called me just as I was cresting a hill (would not have heard the phone going downhill..28 mph with the wind pushing me). I wrap the phone in a baggy so my sweat doesn't erode it but it was buried under layers of clothes and my gloves didn't help untangle it from its wrapper.

The ride was much easier going back. I actually became too warm even though it was still in the 30s when I got home. A few flakes of snow was seen later.I am tired, Dear Reader. Since May began, I've biked 100 miles and ran over 50. I think I will skip the yoga class tonight.

But it was a nice day. I saw all my children and grandchildren and a good friend over the course of the day. I received  3 batches of pretty flowers, a nice card and salty brownies. Later Josh and Julie took me out near their new neighborhood. And then later, my favorite PBS shows and Mad Men.

Earliest demonstration of empathy I ever seen: One of the boys was crying. He was mad/sad that he couldn't play his favorite game any more. Tessa pointed at him to alert his mother that he was crying. Then she sidled over to him to hug him. He pushed her away as he was angry. Then she pointed at him and repeated trying to comfort him. She is not quite 14 months old.

Presumably we had a record low of 22 this morning. The car was covered in frost which I had to scrape away before driving Maya to her class. One more day of this and then her mother can take over.

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Sex and Chemo

I smell sex and chemo here
Who's that lounging in my chair
Who's that casting devious stares
In my direction
Mama this surely is a dream
with apologies to Marcy Playground

During one of my last visits during chemo, the oncology nurse asked how my sex life was. What I should have said as I suspect almost everyone else says, was
But no, I said it was not fine. I said I felt absolutely nothing, no desire, no pleasure, no nothing.
She looked alarmed so I am guessing everyone else must answer that there are no problems. She suggested that she give me a referral for some type of counselor who I guess would talk me into loving sex again. I passed on that.
She didn't offer a referral for a counselor to talk me into growing more hair.The lack of hair distressed me just as much.

What would have been helpful was a reminder that this too shall pass.

Did I discuss this with Steve? How do you tell your husband that you don't desire him any more? Repeating over and over, it's not you, it's me. But it wasn't me. I wasn't me. I was changed. I didn't tell him a thing. He was waiting on me hand and foot. I wasn't going to deny him some loving or make him feel bad.

We are warned ahead of time that chemo kills most fast growing cells along with the cancer cells. The most life threatening is the lack of new white cells though the Neulasta stimulates new white blood production. The red cells die off so we are anemic and in some cases, though not with the usual breast cancer drugs, our platelets take a hit so we are at risk of bleeding  to death. We are told that we will lose our hair and not just the stuff growing on top of our head. The mucus linings of our digestive tract will not be replaced regularly.

But so much else is stopped that we are not warned about. Oil gland production stops, apocrine glands cease to work (a good thing), digestive enzymes are not regularly replaced. So many chemicals that the body routinely makes are not made for the duration. I  assume this includes all the chemicals responsible for human desire. Younger women's cycles completely stop, sometimes never to resume.

I was reminded of this recently as I listened to an old NPR show on testosterone  We all have it, even women, and it is a key chemical for desire. They aired several stories; one of a man whose testosterone levels for some medical reason, dropped to zero and another person's level was twice that of a usual man. both were surprised how much of their thought processes were altered due to differing levels of this hormone, not just their sex drive (which also was greatly impacted). They were surprised that so much of what they believed to be intrinsic to their being depended on chemicals. Interestingly, the testosterone poisoned person suddenly became interested in science.

Yeah true I was having trouble loving my pale, puffy hairless self with the bloody snotsicles constantly streaming from my nose and I did feel crummy most of the time but I don't think it was my suddenly bad attitude that interfered with my desire, it was a lack of a whole chain of neurochemicals and hormones and no bunch of talking were going to bring them back.

But things pass and most of everything came back, which is my message to you going through chemo.

One 'blessing' of triple negative breast cancer is that  while anti-estrogen drugs won't do us any good, they won't do us any bad either. I've heard that life on Tamoxifen pretty much sucks all of the pleasure from sex. And although chemo lasted 4 months for me, being on anti-estrogens can last 5 years and now they are thinking 10 years might be best.

Our beautiful spring is now on hold. Cold, rain and wind have returned.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Pyramid Schemes

The other night upon returning from my yoga class, I found Naomi waiting for me asking me to have an open mind.
She said that she decided what she was going to do with her life, sell diet products. A friend's brother was presumably making lots of money doing it and now his sister, her friend, was too. All she would need is a thousand dollars.....and then her future would be secure.

I could be driving a Mercedes in three months

Yep, the web site promised this. Before I could explain what a pyramid scheme was, her friend stopped over to explain the whole thing from an obviously canned script. As with all pyramid schemes, the profit isn't from selling the actual products but convincing others to pitch in a thousand dollars. I mentioned to Naomi that although she may know lots of people, the number of them that could contribute $1000 would be very low.
I knew you weren't going to have an open mind. You don't want me to succeed!!!!

So I left it at this, if her friend was driving that Mercedes in 3 months, then maybe I would reconsider.
Argh! I hope she let this drop.

Someone in Josh's frat house was involved in a similar scheme and he just would not shut-up about it. I think they finally banned him from ever mentioning it again.

I also am not a fan of businesses that exploits ones friends list to make a buck. Over the years, I have been to a whole slew of Tupperware parties, make-up,toys, crystal, candles and jewelry parties. Always I felt obligated to buy things at about twice their value. Never did I agree to have one of these parties.

I don't mind the products themselves, just how they are marketed.

I was once asked to attend a breakfast/fashion show with a mother of one of Josh's friends. She was a make-up salesperson that I occasionally bought things from. But what it turned out to be, was a recruitment fair for new make-up salespeople. Ugh! And I paid to go to this. But it was interesting to listen to sales tactics (you are doing your customers a big favor by allowing them to buy your superior products). They also used interesting math to show how much one could earn conveniently overlooking the cost of goods ( 100% mark-up). I think they quoted a high of $20/ hour neglecting the ten dollars that was paid to the company and the pyramid of salespeople above you. And at the time, I earned much more than that. But I thought that would be crass to turn to my potential recruiter and ask her how much did she think I earned anyway.
Obviously she had no idea. We won't even get into how crappy of a make up sales person I'd be as I barely know how to put it on myself much less give advice.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013


My buddy refused to look at the camera

Maya at class. Now has enough hair for a little ponytail

Sweet Tess

3-D image of Baby Five. It would have been better to get the body and face in focus than just the hand Weight: 12 oz
This is the best time of the year. Flowering trees all around, not too  hot and a whole summer stretched in front of us. And a new baby as soon as summer is over.

As for Baby 5's gender, there will be a sex reveal party in a couple of weeks. This is a new one for me.

After our trip to the park yesterday, Oliver and I took the long way back through the woods. The enormous sugar maples have their leaves now. The ground was covered with wood lilies, trillium, may apples and little purple things. So pretty.

I've been taking Maya to her classes lately. She's quickly making progress so now maybe she is less than a year behind. Still her enunciation needs work. At the library story time yesterday, I went up to a vaguely familiar lady with a grandchild in tow. Are you so and so's mom? Yes she was. She had asked me years ago to come to her girl scout troop to tell the girls about my life as a chemist. I was very pregnant with Naomi at the time, which interested the girls much more than my career. I told the woman that this was the baby's baby besides me.

Today was biking day. I was blessed with nearly windless conditions.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Tail winds

I am going up hill at 16 mph. Am I  super awesome all of a sudden  or do I have a tail wind? Eventually I will have to turn around and face the wind but I get a reprieve,the wind shifts 90 degrees while I take a break at a nursery, E instead of S. I still have a small eastern component left to my ride but not as much as the southern component...and it will be down hill.
So my longish bike ride worked out without me becoming too sore.

Later we went to Josh and Julie's new house for my birthday dinner (yeah, I know, it was 2 weeks ago). The appraisal for his old place came in conveniently at the asking price (his biggest worry) but they found radon, which he has to deal with. There are some other minor maintenance issues too. Negotiations are in progress on who pays for what.

I looked on the radon map for Michigan. It is by county, not sub-divided into townships. There are 3 ratings: high chance of radon, moderate chance and low chance. Our county: high, Josh's new county: moderate. Shanna's: low. But individual rates can vary. Our house was tested low. Josh should have known better as these tell-tale pipes are all over his neighborhood.

So half of their furniture has been moved to the new house. Josh's stuff is being used to stage the old house as it still is being shown in case this offer falls through. They still have no grass though today, they are getting a patio. It was a nice evening. It is satisfying to see your kids settled and doing well. Tomorrow is that ultrasound. I have been promised instant results.

As Naomi will be occupied in the mornings for the next week and a half, I took Maya to her speech class. She tries so hard but still she has problems making more than one sound correctly at a time. And then my run, later than I wanted it. and then another 2 hours of trying to deal with this yard. When should one have the lawn mower fixed? Well before the grass starts growing or do you wait until you actually need the mower? So many including Steve chose the latter and it won't come back for 2 weeks. Meanwhile the grass grows more than an inch a day it seems. We went to Josh's old house to take his mower as he has a service do his old lawn and doesn't have a new lawn. We did get to see his house all spiffed up for viewings.

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Dinner by the tracks

One branch of my quince mutated to white

Quince. Looks better if the blossoms come out before the leaves
Today is graduation day at UM. We are giving the town a wide berth. By late tomorrow, our population will drop considerably. So my friend and I chose Ypsi to eat my birthday dinner outside within just a few feet of the railroad tracks (Restaurant is imaginably named Sidetrack). Everyone had the same idea to eat outside on the first weekend night that one could so there was a wait. When the train barrels through, which it did 3 times, everything shakes. I tried to get a photo of the train next to our brightly colored umbrellas, but alas, I was too slow.
In California, we had gone to a brewpub which rated its own beers according to their IBUs (international bitterness units). The average ale would rate a 20 but they had a  IPA brew seeped in 5 different hops that was rated 63 which seems to be the top of the bitterness scale. Could I tolerate this especially as I seem to be missing many of the bitterness receptors others have? Yes I could. Well I had a tasty IPA last night, IBU not specified, and a strawberry crispy chicken salad. Yum.
Later we went down the street for coffee and Let's Get Sconed! scones. Coconut chocolate.
A very nice night with good company.
An east wind blew the cool Lake Huron air on us this morning (hope the east wind does not portend rain for tomorrow on my big biking day) making my run on the Scenic Beauty Road quite pleasant.

Friday, May 3, 2013

My grandbaby is the size of a mango

19 weeks and should weigh about a half of a pound. Maybe more given the size of the parents. Tuesday is the ultrasound day so maybe we will know its sex.
Just a few days of warmth and everything came out. My quince hedge is all red now. Part of it mutated to white. Ran and and biked today and tried to make a dent in my gardens. So much to do and I am overwhelmed.
Dinner with a friend tonight.
From the zoo yesterday

Thursday, May 2, 2013

At the Zoo

Shanna and Tess

Maya and Naomi

In the Butterfly house. Maya was not a fan. Didn't like the butterflies flying around her head


A row of scarlet ibises

The boys wanted to see the polar bears the most

Strange stork-like bird nesting en masse
A beautiful day for the zoo. The kids excitedly ran in all different directions. Rounding them up was like herding cats. We walked from one end to the other promising the kids a train ride back. Alas, it was not running (Why????It would be a great money maker). A very hard walk back.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

The Scourge of Formica

Josh's newly updated kitchen in the house he is selling. Not sure if the bottle of wine comes with the house
Nothing says dated like Formica. No matter what one's budget is, the expectation is that you will have granite or quartz countertops. Even the modest condo we purchased for Naomi has quartz. After numerous people sighing Formica!!!, Josh was forced to install granite counter tops along with stainless steel appliances to sell his house which is currently under contract but contingent on several things.. No one wants to look at white stuff.

Confession: We have white appliances, white cabinets and gasp! formica. We did update our kitchen about 15 years ago from its harvest gold/country decor but apparently, I guess we have to do this more often. We did rip up all the orange shag carpet leaving beautiful red oak beneath though I guess that is outdated too. Either a dark stain or a bleached look is acceptable. But at least we have no vinyl except in the foyer and the way downstairs.

We watch HGTV which is complete with Canadian accents (Hoose and aboot for house and about) and terminology. Ensuite? That's a master bath and very desirable. No brass or fiberglass please. And no panelling!!! Also unacceptable: wall paper and shag carpet and popcorn ceilings.

Most over-used phrase: Open concept. Everyone wants this now apparently. The opposite I guess would be 'defined' space. Why build interior walls at all?

But the most astounding thing about these renovation shows is the math. X amount of upgrades always seems to yield 2X increase in value. Yep the advertisers have a vested interest in having the viewers consider renovations.

I biked by the house we should have bought went we had the chance for half of its now value. It is out in the country but still close to Ann Arbor and within its school district . It is a beautiful neo-Victorian.

So I did my 20 miles today with no fatigue.  I have 6 weeks to get into biking shape for my Pennsylvania ride. Biked by 3 female turkeys in a corn field and later pretty free range chickens, complete with an impressive rooster right on my road. It will be close to 80 today.


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