Monday, September 30, 2013


Ms Allie loves to sleep
The first picture of Allie taken in the delivery room . Eyes are covered with antibiotic goo

Fancy hospital fountain


Hospital garden of fake plants

The peanut gallery waiting for Allie to be born Steve is taking the picture. Julie's dad and Naomi and some woman who didn't have time to fix her hair doing a crossword puzzle
Miss Allie finally opening her eyes of her 2nd day of life

With mom
with Dad

Sunday, September 29, 2013

A weekend of new cousins

On Friday, Ms. Maya got a new little girl cousin from one of Dontae's sisters. Today Julie gave birth to a baby girl; tomorrow Dontae's brother will have a little boy. This must be a record for new cousin acquisition from 3 separate births.

What a ride it's been.
Nationally the C-section rate is 30%. At this particular hospital that Julie went to: 40%. Co-incidentally, their use of epidurals is 95%. Meanwhile at the University of Michigan Midwifery service, the rate is 14% up from the 12% quoted when Naomi was a patient. Yeah they cherry pick their patients. Back in the good old 60s, C-section rates were around 4%.

Reason for today's C-section? Massive baby. A baby for the record that is more petite than my 3 mega babies and I am a smaller person than the mom. Also failure to progress. Also posterior lie. Also fatigue.

She had been in labor most of yesterday. Finally the contractions seemed intense and close together. They live quite far from the hospital so they were camped out at her mother's a 12 mile drive instead of a 25 mile one. We live  about 50 miles away.  I didn't want to miss the birth of my granddaughter so at about 10 pm, we made the long trip. What I should have done was wait until she was admitted before making the drive. As she was only slightly dilated, they wanted her to go home. But she was feeling too much pain for that to be an option. They sedated her so she could sleep and we went home. I told Josh, when she is at 5 cm,(active labor) call me. He did at 7am and said her water  broke. Please hurry! So on the road again to hurry up and wait. From then on, epidurals, pitocin, more epidurals, more pit such than the heart rate went way down. They would take her off everything and the labor would stop. A real big mess. Last night a midwife suggested that they rotate the baby into a better position but the MD on call nixed that idea. Today the OB way too late suggested the same thing. Don't these people talk to each other? But in the end, she just wasn't progressing fast enough so a C section was offered.

I will provide details about my new cute grandbaby another time. She is healthy and we are grateful. At one point Josh slowly approached us for an update looking so upset that we all assumed he was reporting a death. It took him a while to speak as he was so overcome with various emotions. He finally was able to choke out that everyone was still OK but it didn't look like that for a while.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Maybe Baby

So Julie has been having contractions since 9 that seem to be increasing in frequency so today or early tomorrow may be it...or not. We will see.

It is a pretty day though it started out so foggy. I kept off the main roads due to my invisibility. Amazing how few cars have their lights on.

Friday, September 27, 2013

Confessions of an Insomniac

It is very rare that I make it through the night without waking up for at least an hour or two. I hate the nights!
As a kid, I would not wake up until morning. If I make it to 5 am, I consider that a good night. Usually I am up at 3 am. Rather than lie motionless in bed, I retreat to Josh's old room and read. Otherwise I will ruminate on all sorts of dark subjects depending on what is going on in my life at the moment. Yoga has helped me relax. I noticed how tense my muscles usually are and now I make an effort to relax them.

Usually I am up for good by the time the sun comes out, which sadly is later and later. I have an alarm that goes off at 7:15 am. No reason to be sleeping past then. In contrast, I  love early mornings. The day is fresh with all sorts of possibilities. I drink my coffee thoughtfully prepared by Steve (he claims I make a mess if I make it), look at the internet and do a Killer Sudoku. Then I am off to to exercise while I have the most energy and when it is cool outside.

Scams: Lately I've gotten more and more junk texts. I never respond but now I am collecting them to have them blocked. But it seems each time, it's a different address. Today via snail mail we get this important looking envelope that says Deed Processing. in it, it says due to a recent transfer of property we MUST get a copy of the house deed for $84 or our world will be destroyed as we know it. We also have been receiving all sorts of welcome to the neighborhood offers. What gives? We've been living here now 30 years.
Then remembered we retitled everything into a trust (or almost everything..some investment houses make this really difficult to do).

Gold Star Day: This is the day I circled on my calendar marking off the weeks diligently leading up to this. But what is happening? Julie feels it will be Sunday. Last night (late again, my MIL is not aware we live in a different time zone)my MIL called wanting to know details about the new baby. No new baby.
But it is a beautiful day. After my run and bike ride, I sit on the patio surrounded by my flowers and a humming bird. The chickadees are spending more time too using the ant trap as their water bowl (It hasn't rained here forever). I read the paper and rehydrate. ne of the articles concerned possible endings for Breaking Bad. My favorite: Walter joins forces with Tony Soprano, kill all the Nazis, releases and forgives Jesse, who goes off to college to become a chemistry teacher.  Walt becomes Hal and remarries to have 4  boys, one of who is Malcolm.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Humming birds and moths

Sphinx humming bird moth
Recently Steve got yet another camera as if his other one wasn't fancy enough. The sphinx moth paid a visit yesterday afternoon and using his new camera, he was able to photograph it. Much better than my iphone photo in the rain and dark I took a few weeks ago. They fly almost as fast as a hummingbird. You can see the wings are beating very fast. They do not have a beak but have a very long tongue as you can see here.

Ms Dominant hummingbird not only watches the feeders against invaders but keeps an eye on the flowers too. No one except her is allowed to feed on my patio. One of the meeker hummingbirds will sneak to feed on the lower flowers but is quickly noticed and chased away. Sometimes they fly just inches from our head during their battles. I wonder if anyone has ever been impaled in the eye from a hummingbird beak. Steve thought it was close to happening with him the other night.

No word re my new grand daughter.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


What divides the low performing math students from high performing ones is the ability ones is their ability to understand fractions. Until one understands fractions, there will be no learning of algebra. But how do you teach it? Previously dividing up pieces of a pie into halves, quarters, eighths was supposed to help illustrate what fractions we. But circles are hard to draw and does a fifth of a pie look that much bigger than a sixth?
New research shows using number lines is more effective Some kids have trouble grasping that 1/2 is bigger than 1/3 as 3 seems to be a bigger number than 2. And when you multiply fractions, you end up with a smaller number, another difficult to grasp concept.

In high school, I tutored algebra. Fortunately I had bright students that already understood fractions. I took a job fresh out of college teaching GED math. I  had no experience with adults. What do they know? I did my student teaching in AP chemistry and regular chemistry.High grades in algebra (and geometry though not necessary useful) were a prerequisite.

My adult students were a mixed lot. Only one was younger than myself and she already had 3 kids. Some did not even know their time tables. Most could make change. No one except my star knew how to handle  fractions. My star was a former juvenile delinquent who kept being placed in remedial classes due to low grades. However he was quite bright and I got him through at least a semester of algebra, good enough to score  in the high 90%tiles. For the rest, I drew circles dividing them up and having them color in the proper fractions. Some understood, most did not.

INTERVENTION: So Julie's OB does not believe in letting his patients go a week beyond their due date. This baby therefore WILL be born on or before October 4th. She has dilated a little bit more but no contractions. She goes in Monday for a fetal stress test and it will be decided what the plan of attack will be then if she doesn't have the baby before then.

A beautiful day again. Some of the maples are turning red. I almost fell down on my bike ride. The bike ramps here are not well designed and my bottom bracket is very low. I wasn't careful to keep my pedals in a neutral position  during a steep turn  and my pedal caught on the side of the ramp.

Ms. Maya actually was happy to go on the bus today. When she waved and blew kisses to Naomi in the parking lot, all the other little kids started to too.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

You can only get divorced on Tuesdays

This has been our year for divorces. first Josh, then Naomi. Today she and Don'tae had a meeting with the mediator to hash out custody arrangements and child support. After the meeting, she was told now she could get divorced any day she wants.
How about tomorrow?
No, it had to be on a Tuesday.
So next Tuesday, she will be unmarried.

Today also was the first day for Maya to ride the bus to school. She was very excited to see it come but when Naomi didn't get on with her, she was taken back. Naomi later got a call from the teacher to say that she asked to use the bathroom and did number one and number two. No big deal right?
She is 3 years old, about a year older than my kids but things happen later for Maya so we have to take our victories where we find them.

No baby yet. The baby did drop though so that's good. Technically she is not late. Tomorrow they will find out the OB's policy on interventions.

It is a beautiful fall day. Nice and cool for my run and later a little bike ride.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Bicycling on Walnut shells

Daniel and his light saber

Mermaid costume for Maya .  Comes with a starfish bracelet and fancy head piece

Tess studying her shadow

my niece in fall leaves
I took off biking into a stiff wind yesterday morning, temperature 50 degrees. Ah fall! The route is lined with many black walnut trees (didn't people used to steal these?). The squirrels toss the empty shells down into my path. Blackbirds are congregating in large noisy masses; vultures are picking away at the most recent deer roadkill. The two hummingbirds are still duking it out for rights to the feeder. As I went to change one of them yesterday, the hummingbird flew into my face. Was she protecting the feeder or urging me to change it as a wasp was rotting away inside.

Later Shanna and the grandbabies come over. They seem to like the Buddha Board. Even Tess managed to paint something. But after 5 minutes, their art creations evaporate into the breeze.

Each morning I awake thinking today I will meet my new grand daughter. But alas! No progress. Due date is Friday. Half of babies are to born after the due date theoretically but with so much intervention, I don't know how true that is any more. Naomi's OB said she never lets her patients go past their due date. This made me uneasy as her due date was determined by a late ultrasound. Maybe her baby was large for gestational age (seeing how tall both Dontae and Naomi are) but that turned out to be a moot point as we had to quit the OB and Naomi went into labor without any prodding.

Saturday, September 21, 2013

Waiting for baby girl..

Days are long when you are waiting for a baby to be born. I was 10 days late with Shanna and time just stood still. When I was about a week late, during an OB visit, my blood pressure was sky high and I had severe edema. I was told I would be induced the next day as I was risking eclampsia. But in the hospital the very next morning, the edema was gone and my blood pressure was normal. Also they said I wasn't responding to the pitocin and I was sent home minus a baby. A few days I awoke with mild contractions that went on for the whole day though they weren't particularly painful.  We to the hospital to be checked out by an especially unpleasant resident who said my contractions were nothing and that if they were real, I wouldn't be smiling but screaming for dear life. She said my OB told her to admit be anyway because the high blood pressure returned but I definitely was NOT in labor. I didn't see much point in staying there plus I had plans for the evening. Within an hour, I was back. since I had dilated just a little in that hour, she said I was now in labor.

Since Josh has his football viewing friends over tonight, he wants the baby to stay in for just one more day. Tomorrow he will focus his thinking on wishing the baby out. We will see how that goes.

The last evening of summer 2013. I sat for a while on my patio waiting for my hummingbirds while I drank a mojito. They didn't appear. The cosmos swayed in the breeze. A cold front had come through and I experienced that rare feeling of being cold.

Last night, a friend and I had a Orange is the New Black marathon viewing session. A great show.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Orchids versus dandelions

 Are you an orchid or a dandelion? Chances are you are a dandelion (70% of caucasians). You will thrive anywhere with a minimum of attention. Even if you are pulled out, one little root hair left behind will be enough for you to come back. Crappy childhood? Really bad or clueless parents? Doesn't matter, you will survive and do well as you can adapt to almost anything. I know so many dandelions who had Oprah book childhoods that make you gasp OMG! But they grew up to be productive, happy people.

But the orchids have to be raised carefully or they will not thrive. Instead of a brilliant flower, they will be anxiety prone, depressed people incapable of useful planning. They will not know how to make themselves happy over the long haul.

This is not my theory though I think a lot of it makes sense. It has many names besides the orchids/dandelions. The most common one is The Vulnerability theory. There are a series of genes that make 30% of people vulnerable to how they are raised. One of the many papers that discusses this

As most parents and even as children, I am interested in the nature versus nurture contributions to who we are and to whom we raise. This theory suggests that for most people, it is nature; but for the 'orchids' nurture.

So how do you tell if you have a budding orchid or dandelion. Apparently as toddlers, orchids are especially prone to tantrums, throwing things, being unco-operative, willful, impulsive, etc.But if these orchids are treated correctly, they will out-shine the dandelions in time. But how? One suggestion was to read to them even if they are too antsy to sit still. Other useful advice was hard to come by. No mention on what to do if your orchid is well beyond toddlerhood.

Julie is now 39 weeks pregnant. She has increasing signs that baby girl is soon to arrive. This is the last day she will go to her office to work. Until the baby is born, she will work from home.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

More Art....

Dinosaur made from junk. Probably people will vote it in the top ten

Interesting food trucks: Righteous food and What the TrucK
With the right lighting, anything looks good. These are stryofoam shipping containers for different objects

Ugly Jesus. Initially I was going to nominate this for the worst art but this photo improves upon the real thing. In Europe, I looked at beautiful religious art more than a 1000 years this what evolution does for us?

Is it a giraffe? A pteradon? TB should recognize the restaurant behind it

Lots of seed beads

These are bells you can play

At night, this glows golden. During the day, hard to see

Social issue church

Unhappy tourist

This was a series of ten doors. My friends face is pressed against the first window
Cute..but is it art?

Fish eye
We had a great day for ArtPrize though we drove through rain (and a rainbow). All was dry and sunny once we got to Grand Rapids. The breeze kept it from feeling too hot.
However, there wasn't nearly as much art as in years past though they say there are just as many entries. Must be much smaller installations. Also, we thought the quality was down. Much, much  more junk. Cutting crude cat shapes and slapping on sloppily  painted eyes and trying pink ribbons around the necks does not make art. And how many sculptures from junk can be entered?

Most unusual medium? egg plant slices. Some sort of papery product was made up of eggplant mush and allowed to dry in random shapes. Another installation was about 30 bales of steel wool dumped  in a row. What?

But there was still a lot of beauty and creativity. My feet were quite sore after tromping around for about 8 hours though we did take a break for lunch. Was mired in some awful accident on the freeway for about a half hour on the way back.

In the GRAM store, I bought a mini Buddha Board for the grandkids. I am not sure what it is made up but it is an easel in which you paint with water. You can admire your work for about 5 minutes and then it is gone when the water evaporates Maya enjoying painting on it this morning.

As for the baby,she may be coming soon. Julie has shown some signs of dilation. My guess is tomorrow as said before but then again, what do I know?

ArtPrize 2013

discarded electronic equipment, lots of transistors

lots of pieces from 'found art'

Even flowers

bicycle inner tubes and tires

glass orchids

full sized knit room

Participatory art: Each visitor added a rubberized petal

life size glass cat fish

acrylic model of Grand River

lighted glass art Colors kept changing At least 50 feet long

Very intricate pencil drawing. This is only about 5% of it

My favorite: the trash mirror. Little panels made of bits of trash equipped with light sensing diodes. This is a shadow of myself. Bits of trash flip around in response to what is in front of them

Reflections of a city
No longer Bland Rapids....
More later as I need a run before the rain

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


Look on my works, ye mighty, and despair!'
Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare,
The lone and level sands stretch far away". 

An apt ending of a poem for the last episode of Breaking Bad. Everything falling apart. How the Mighty have fallen!

Today Naomi drives by a woman lying on the running path near my house surrounded by ambulances. She thinks it could be me but is busy driving Maya to school. You didn't stop? Well I called you, didn't I?

Did my hater of runners throw something more lethal this time? Or did she have a heart attack? I went back to the road where I was attacked, this time where I could not get hit, to see if the same truck would go by around the same time. The car that was directly behind it passed on schedule but alas, not THE truck.

Haters seem extra busy this week. The shootings in DC; racists enraged that Indian-American won a beauty pageant. She entered in part so she could afford medical school. And what are those racists doing with their lives? And what kind of world will my rainbow grandchildren enter?

Obviously sad here..more going on than this.

But tomorrow, we go Grand Rapids to experience ArtPrize. That should be fun.
This photo does not do my injury justice. The section that extends into 'the bikini' region is almost black. It hurts especially if I accidentally lean into it.

Monday, September 16, 2013

Why I hate pick-up truck drivers...

One hour after a pick-up truck passenger hurled something at me at 50 mph
I suppose there might be a few good men out there that drive a pick-up truck but I have to say, probably only a few. For some reason, pick-up drivers just love to torment bicyclists and runners like playing chicken, seeing how close they can swerve next to you or sneaking up behind you and blasting the horn. But until today, no one has thrown anything at me. And there were witnesses..but did they stop?

The object was a filled to the top iced coke from a Speedway. I didn't see it thrown, just suddenly felt a big thud against my upper thigh. It wasn't the driver but the passenger. As there were cars behind the truck, I couldn't get the license plate but as a**hoes are creatures of habit, I will stake out the road and get the plate.

Not a day brightener Why would someone think this would be funny?
But over the Green Things Farm, a rainbow.

And when I returned, a visit from Ms. Maya


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