Sunday, June 30, 2013

Glen Echo and Great Falls

The carousel still runs

Glen Echo is filled with Art Deco buildings

The Facade for Crystal pool

The locks of the C&O canal in Great Falls Nat'l Park

The Falls

more falls

even more falls. A crane like bird kept swooping in for the fish. I think it is a darter.
Last Friday night, I figured I could return to Soulmate's house without  a GPS. I was almost back but somehow took a wrong turn that had me drive along the dark, exitless Palisades for quite some time before I could find a turnout to regroup. Out of the darkness, a bright neon, Art Deco sign: Glen Echo. I figured it was some kind of casino but no, it was once an amusement park that the National Park Service has converted into an arts colony of sorts to preserve its unique buildings. We returned the next day for a stroll through it.
From web

My last day in DC was a busy one. I returned to the Bethesda Pool to park for my last run on the Capital Crescent. This time I headed for Chevy Chase where the pavement turns to gravel. Good thing I went early (to beat especially high heat and humidity) as the parking lot was full beyond capacity when I returned. A swim meet. An interesting chant trying to make things rhyme with Bethesda.
 Since my hosts were not up, I stayed outside on their porch swing drinking my many water bottles and reading the NY Times. Unfortunately, the Swedish Spitz had spotted me and went crazy. I thought he accepted me as part of the pack.

Later while we were walking him, a very large black lab without a leash came up to sniff Ruskin. The streets are especially busy where we were and we were afraid Churchill (as his tag said), would become a speed bump. I got a garbage bag from a nearby restaurant to fashion a leash while we called his owners who turned out to be out frantically looking for him. A happy ending.

In Ann Arbor, we used to have a speciality liqueur maker that made excellent mountain blackberry liqueur that tasted so good. Leopold Brothers moved to Colorado but has outlets in a few states (not Michigan!!!) including DC. I was able to find what I wanted at a small very upscale store near my hosts though they only had 2 small bottles left. One for my hosts, one for me. Hopefully being in my trunk for 5 days didn't hurt mine.

After our stroll through Glen Echo, onto Great Falls Nat'l Park driving through very wealthy suburbs of DC. Money, money, money. The Potomac at this part drops dramatically resulting in waterfalls galore. The nearby C&O canal drops too so lots of locks. You can operate some of them or go on a canal barge or ride a bike along the canal. They gave out free bikes for a 2 hour ride. But we were too tired for that.
The C&O canal starts in Georgetown and goes 200 miles or so to Cumberland Maryland where  the Great Allegheny Passage starts up and continues to Pittsburgh for 145 miles. Last year the ride included both parts though a train option was given to go up the steepest part (the last 15 miles which I ended up going down in a deluge.) The Falls themselves were pretty.

Back in DC, Afghan food (my favorite of the different cuisines we sampled during my stay: French, Thai, Peruvian) and we settled down to watch Lincoln while imbibing the blackberry liqueur. But I was antsy. I was going to get up at 4 am for my ride and had to repack. I was busy obsessing about things that could go wrong and just couldn't get into the movie that seemed terribly slow..

The next day, The Ride.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

A Nest of Vipers

Crotalus horridus aka timber rattle snake

Not long after I emerged from the unlit tunnel, I found a group of riders blocking the path annoying me
 as I was on a steep descent. They were just leaving but shouted that there was a bunch of
 rattlesnakes next to the trail. I looked and looked for them. Someone else stopped wondering 
what I had lost.


He found them. I had posted a picture of them on Facebook the other day and someone commented
 that they were babies. No, no, no. As I was unwilling to provide a frame of reference with my foot,
 suffice it to say in the words of our family, These are big ass adults. They were at least 4 feet long
 though hard to tell as they were coiled up. They can be as large as 6 feet. They are specifically
 pregnant female snakes arranged in what are known as 'basking knolls'. The females chill out
 together before giving  birth. Vipers do not lay eggs but give live birth thus their name from 
viparious. There are several color variations ranging from all black to pale tan with lighter
 diamonds than pictured here. Those ones are barely distinguishable from leaves. They are highly 
toxic. They are equipped with huge fangs and a large venom sac. However, they are usually quite 
docile and give plenty of warning (rattling) before striking. But if you step on them, they might not
 be so forgiving. They are the original models for the early colonial flag: Don't Tread on Me!!!!

This rattlesnake is the most common in the East mostly found in woodlands. What toxin it has really
 varies by location. According to Wiki, this one probably is mainly hemotoxic as opposed to 
neurotoxic like its southern cousins.

Back here in Michigan, we have our own rattlesnake, the Massasauga. It is usually lives in
 wetlands and some have been spotted near our nature pond. They have short fangs and
 are not very toxic. I have yet to see one in the wild. I have seen California rattlesnakes in the 
wild in Anza-Borrego State Park but never in groups.

This batch of snakes is well known. Presumably its nearby lodge which I think we found the
 opening for, contains 15-20 snakes. The signpost has been removed so snake haters can't find
 them and kill them for sport. They do more good than harm. Still given how isolated we were,
 it would take a long time for antivenom to be delivered to us.

Other wildlife sightings were sparse surprising given how far from civilization we were. Only one
 deer sprinting across my path was spotted by me. I went early in the morning by open fields
 which I thought would have been filled with deer but no. Meanwhile back at home, Steve saw 
them walking down our street. I saw an eagle early into my ride through a scope someone had 
set up just outside of Pittsburgh. They must be common there as many people were lined up
 along the path eyes up with binoculars. Other people spotted turkeys.

On the third day of riding I heard a familiar screech:


Friday, June 28, 2013

Bicyclist's vasculitis

No this is not sunburn nor does it hurt And it was partially covered up.

One of the most popular page loads of mine is the one about golfer's vasculitis This is a painless bright red to purple rash the occurs on the calves after a day of exercising out in the heat. It is some inflammatory reaction that results in broken blood vessels. I do not have varicose veins nor did I ever get this before I went to Italy. It lasts less than 2 days so doctors rarely get to see it. But it is common in those 3 day walks.

I've biked much farther before than I did last Sunday and in heat. But this is the first time this has happened to me biking and on my thighs no less. I didn't even notice it until I was in the shower truck. Later I was sitting on a bench just relaxing and a woman sat down next to me. 
Would ya look at this!?
I pulled up my dress.
Would ya look at this!?

It never happened before to her either and she is a very avid bicyclist but we had gone through some very strong heat in the worst part of the day with no shade. I told her what I believed it to be and said  would be gone in 2 days. We biked off and on together over the next week. We called each other Rash Sister. She's a fun lady.

Tunnel Vision

Big Savage Tunnel. More than 3300 feet long. Dimly lit

The view once I got out of the tunnel

Not sure why they have doors but it does close down in the winter
I am back from my eight day adventure, a mix of seeing old friends, sight seeing, adventures, biking, camping, meeting new people. I am still trying to process it all and deal with practical issues such as wet camping supplies, starving hummingbirds (how hard would it be for a chemist to make a 25% sucrose solution, seriously) etc.

When I first got back on the interstate to make that sad trip home, Schubert's Wanderer's Fantasy came on the radio. What  apt music to describe my voyage especially the crashing crescendo towards the end. Picture me careening down a mountain side in pouring rain hoping that I didn't lose control of my bike, a rental bike whose model name, I kid you not, was The Fatty.

In the past, Mendelsohn's exuberant music showcased in Breaking Away came to mind as I crested hills and went racing down them but this was a much slower paced ride. I have ridden those same hills in Brown County, Indiana where the film was filmed. Not sure I would do that again unless I had the disc brakes that The Fatty provided. And as they say, the older I get, the better I was.

Other triumph of the spirit music: Elton John's Funeral for a Friend (Love lies Bleeding) came on shortly thereafter ( I am quite the channel surfer, one advantage of being alone). I remember being able to do a whole arb run extra fast to that. And my old favorite heard for the first time as a naive college freshman, Saint-Saens Organ Symphony now popularized by the pig that was able to display his sheep whispering skills thus avoiding his Christmas ham destiny. So many triumphs one could have! Yes dear Daughter of mine, the one who knows who Saint-Saens is, that was the work we were listening to on the way to the Side Track, only the boring early movements. What background music should we have for an overweight 60 year old cancer survivor hauling her body up those 2392 feet? Or for an acrophobe with balance issues (thanks chemo!) biking on the edge of a gorge going over trestles with 200 foot drop-offs?

Back to Tunnel Vision. One of the few useful tidbits of info given to us before the ride was that we should have some form of lighting for the three long tunnels we would be going through on the last day (just yesterday I was just starting the ride 24 hours ago!!!), one of which would be completely unlit. They were quite insistent on it. Other safety tips, not so much. My solutions: Hope the rental bike has one. (not the case) Hope the rider in front of me has one (no rider in front of me though the biker behind me shouted he had one but I was too lazy to stop and wait). Mount my iPhone with the flashlight app in the front mesh bag. The latter would have worked if it wasn't drizzling, though dry in the tunnel, but I was literally on a roll and didn't feel like stopping. What I stupidly figured is that because I could see the end of the tunnel, I would just head towards that and hope no obstacles were in the way. Imagine that your entire field of vision was entirely black except for a 1% white dot. I could detect no floor, sides or ceilings. I tried to focus on that increasing white dot but I was getting dizzy. Also it was a steep descent. Maybe I would have felt more grounded if I were pedaling uphill. I felt like I was floating in space. It was a very strange disconcerting feeling. We had gone through a 3320 foot tunnel earlier through Big Savage Mountain that had very tiny yellow lights in the ceiling, a lot were burnt out, that made it hard to see the ground. We emerged at the other end to see a stunning vista (pictures sometime to follow). Later we went through a shorter, somewhat lit tunnel that shared space with a train( with a warning not to enter if an incoming train was there). A rider had a nasty spill there. An ambulance made its way slowly up two miles of trails to get to him. In some areas, it would have been many more miles for rescue. We were clearly in the wilderness. What would have happened if one of those vipers I encountered (pictured on Facebook) decided to strike? Or if the bears that Soulmate had taped for me on  scenes from Cumberland made an appearance?

Ah so many experiences to be shared at a later time. Stay tuned!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Capital Crescent and beyond

Tunnel on the Captital Crescent

My friend and her grandbaby  So happy to see her

Ukrainian  Orthodox church

Ukrainian Particular Catholic church made with no nails It was supposed to be beautiful inside too
Instead of running along busy River Road, I drove to the Bethesda pool parking lot to begin my trail run on a rare not so humid morning. The Crescent Capital Trail is one of the busiest in the country connecting Maryland suburbs with Georgetown, DC. It goes through lush woods with streams not far off the path. If I could figure out how to pull photos out of iCloud , I would include them as I ran with my phone.  Soulmate was up when I returned so we had a nice breakfast chatting in his screened back porch. It has been very nice to reconnect with him in person. We do talk often by phone. We took his Swedish spitz, who has a striking resemblance to Laika the doomed Russian spitz sent into space by the Soviets back in the 50s, for a walk through another green space near the Slidwell Friends School that so many pols send their children to. During drop off times, lots of Secret Service cars.  I was tired as I got up at 5 am but since tomorrow I need to leave by 4 am, it is good practice.

How long does it take to go 25 miles in DC rush hour traffic?  Soulmate figured 2 hours. True it took 45 minutes for the first 10 miles but once I got on the rarely used toll road, no problem going pass where Josh's ex in laws live and where one of my original blogging friends probably lives. When I first started blogging, immediately Renee from Seattle, Kathy from Chicago, and Sharon from Olney MD formed an online support group. They have since moved on but here I am. So I ended up at my HS friend's place in Northern Montgomery county an hour early. I went to see two Ukrainian Churches, one made entirely of wooden staves. Very unusual. I could not get inside where it is allegedly quite striking.

I hadn't seen my friend since our 20 th HS reunion.  Naomi was a newborn then. Here she was with 2 adorable grand babies to watch.  We had fun reconnecting over dinner. Oh the trials of parenting difficult children! A special night. I figured I didn't  need a GPS to get back but I was wrong. Somehow while taking the River Road exit, I got shunted to some dark deserted parkway along the Potomac that seemed to have no exit from. I was tired and scared. Finally I was able to pull over, find the GPS that I threw somewhere in disgust as it no longer let's me input the letter "l" and my friend's name, city name, street name, and state name all contain this letter. I had to go there the old fashioned way, paper map, hard while driving alone. I actually wasn't too far off with my detour and found Mass Avenue.

My bike ride begins tomorrow so my readers will have to wait a while. No wifi in the wild.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cross State Runs

Yesterday morning, I started my run in DC and ran into Maryland to the Capital Crescent Trail. It was pretty but I had to go along a busy street for too long during rush hour. Today I will just park somewhere in Bethesda and eliminate the bad part.

I have run across state lines before, the first time actually crossing the border in the Detroit Free Press a marathon, which begins in Canada.

I also did A run that started in NJ crossing the George Washington bridge into NYC and just a training run from Illinois into Indiana and back.

It is nice here with a screened in patio to sit in with a nice breeze.

We took the subway downtown yesterday to eat in a nice French cafe, see the Renwick Gallery, and just sightsee. I haven't  figured
 how to extract my photos from iCloud so that will wait.
Cool Art Deco facade of downtown DC building

Bamboo Considered an invasive weed here

Capital Crescent trail

Golden Triangle  brownstones

Reswick Museum of arts and crafts

Ruskin the Swedish spitz: like Laika the doomed Russian spitz

where we hung out alot

Me in front of some white building

Dontae remembered this as that White tall thing. Now covered with scaffolding thanks to the earthquake

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Veer for Deer

View of Green Mountain on way
Six states (if you count DC, and with their snarky license plate slogan "Taxation without Representation" I guess they want to be counted too) later and I am here in a pretty flower filled neighborhood close to the Maryland border waiting for coffee before heading out on a run on the Capital Crescent.
I forgot to bring a iPad keyboard so this is a pain typing.

My deer experience was in West Virginia. I am in the middle of a 3 lane freeway going 70 and I see a just spotless fawn step into my lane. No problem, I switch to the right but then it reverses course right into my new path. I avoid it by slamming on the brakes. This is not what you are supposed to do. In western Michigan, there are signs all over, Don't Veer for Deer.
We both survived.

I took the long way going the length of Maryland. Very pretty. I made several stops recommended to me but not in Antietam, home of the battle that I had to report on long ago mispronouncing it the whole time. At home, the theme for naming our subdivision roads is Revolutionary Battles but they threw in two Civil War names for fun or ignorance: Gettysburg and Antietam. I stopped to see the Green Mountain Overlook, strolled through Cumberland, stopped to see the C&O towpath that paralleled my route and bought gas that is 70 cents less. than pricy Michigans.

Good new! Ohio raised its speed limit to 70
Bad news, most of the state is a construction zone. Not that they seemed to be doing much.

Funny place names:   Eighty-four and Laboratory, both in PA. Negro Mountain in MD..
Funny road:  Pig's Ear in WV

Empty threat? photographing speeder's license plates in MD construction zones. Am I safe with my no front plate MIchigan style?

Good news, Ohio 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013


The last day from Meyersdale to Cumberland should be fun

Leaving DC the last time

I haven't been to Washington DC since Hurricane Katrina, which happened during my stay. Not that there was any sign of it there but the owner of the B&B I was staying at kept us informed during breakfast. There were no TVs there, not that I had time to watch given that I was at a meeting (ostensibly) and running around seeing this and that and meeting up with various people. I dd buy a paper eventually, which I read while on the tarmac forever and among other things, learned the price of fuel had doubled suddenly due to various refineries being hit.

We had a chatty pilot. Due to the wind that day, we had to use the runway that faced the Washington Memorial. But the plane was too heavy to clear it on take off so thus we had to sit idly while they burned off the excess fuel (now as I was just reading, much scarcer). Apparently siphoning it out was not an option.This took much longer than the flight itself. I hate waste.

You wouldn't want me to hit the Memorial, ha,ha.

No I would not. But a little planning on the part of the airline would have been nice. It wasn't that the wind direction was a national secret and that maybe, they would not need to fill the plane to the top. And hopefully, the info that they plugged into some computer on how much the plane finally weighed and what the lift would be were correct so we didn't get to see that memorial close and personal. It was (sort of) like nagging a kid over and over to use the bathroom before a trip and then 15 minutes into the strip, a stop is demanded.

I hope my exit very early Sunday will go more smoothly as I need to be in Cumberland, MD some 120 miles away at 7 am. I will go by it on the way there even though it isn't what the Garmin recommends. Soulmate, who will host me, keeps sending me different routes I  should take complete with which scenic stops  I should pull out for. I am to avoid the turnpike at all costs as he is certain I will meet my death in one of those tunnels. He called yesterday to see exactly what route I had decided upon. Well I will be  on the Turnpike for a little bit but I will get off before the dangerous part and make it to safety to WV and MD. I see Rte 68 is all speckled  on the map meaning that it is Scenic. I had hoped to eat lunch in Morgantown. He gave me his recommendations. I didn't tell him that I was hoping to find that chain of biscuit joints that I used to take the kids to when we were en route to white water rafting on the New.

I had last stayed in a beautifully restored turn of the century B&B on Q Street near Logan Circle rather than the sterile Hyatts and Marriotts my co-workers were in. The last time I had stayed in a soulless chain hotel by myself in a big city, I had had a mini-meltdown overcome by loneliness and a disconnectedness. No more that. I would host my meeting friends in my residence for the duration and they were impressed. It had an outside veranda in a private garden and the B&B owner brought out homemade cookies for my friends. Even Soulmate was quite impressed with all the wood work. He pointed out that 5 years previously,walking in the immediate neighborhood would have been dicey and to avoid points immediately south or even worse, east. And walk I did as it was not exactly on a metro line. To see him, I would walk to Dupont Circle for the Red Line, take it to Tenleytown (which sounded to me like Tinytown)and then walk forever again to his house (I'd get a ride back). I looked at the map yesterday. His house is a block or so to the MD border. I was trying to see how easily it is to run from his house to the Capital Crescent trail. Not obvious to me.

Still trying to get ready. You would think a bike ride scheduled around the summer solstice would obviate the need for a bike light. I am renting a bike. Gotta to call to see what it comes with. On one of the days, we go through 3 long tunnels, one 1000 feet long without lighting. Also today, I have a not pleasant medical appointment to deal with.

But tomorrow.. Blue Skies.

From website: the veranda where we ate cookies

Monday, June 17, 2013

Closing Day

She finally has grass. Wouldn't white wicker chairs look cool on her porch? Not what she had in mind though. She is thinking of painting the front door and some Adirondack  chairs to match. Purple? Turquoise? Salmon? Some salmon colored impatiens would look nice in the flower bed..when I get back.

What every girl needs before a bike ride..sparkly salmon nails in even a brighter shade than last time

Maya feeling her unborn cousin at the Father's Day BBQ
Shanna's house has taken longer to build than some of her pregnancies. But today, with the laying of the sod and painting of the columns (or 'ones' as Oliver called them), it was finally finished in time for the closing. So did we want Tessa or the boys for the day? As Steve would be dealing with them by himself for part of the day as I had a previous engagement with some of my work buddies, I let him chose. Later, in the sweltering heat and humidity, I took both of them in The Prowler. Nothing like an extra hundred pounds of kids plus trailer to get a workout going up the minor hills in our neighborhood. We went to the playgrounds at Shanna's former school, a thrill for the boys.

You'd think that with all the trips I have been on, packing would be a breeze but camping supplies add an extra level of complexity plus the space limitations. Hope I have everything planned for....

At any rate, I have one more day to fret.

I got a break yesterday morning as rain was forecasted  for my big training ride. But it came through early. I have 435 miles this year of riding under my belt so I should be fine. I don't ride until Sunday morning. I leave Wednesday to go to DC to see friends.

Josh had a BBQ for Steve and Julie's dad, whom I had  not met before. A very nice man with reddish hair. Could their little girl be a redhead? 14.5 weeks to go.

A very nice day.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

My Own Private Vegas

One of the things I accomplished yesterday was to organize my patio a bit more. But some of my solar lights seemed to be missing...
I asked Steve whether he had seen a particular light and he confessed to breaking it. Now Dear Reader he already broke two others earlier in the season sending me off on a solar light spending spree. Why didn't he tell me especially as I can reuse the top of the light? He figured I had so many I  would not miss it.

It looks like Vegas as it is, he snarled.

Well why didn't he man up and admit it or at least replace it. He said he would buy me another. Well he said that about the last ones and never did.

Repeat after me,

Don't Sweat the Small Stuff.

My solar grass flashes which does lend a cheesy Vegas look to it all though I think I can turn the flashers off. But I like my lights. It is my own W-O-N-D-E-R-L-A-N-D.

I sat out there late into the cool night sipping Pomaceous (an artisanal apple brandy I bought somewhere up north) watching the antics of my flock of hummingbirds though hummingbirds do not flock, they fight when together. I have 4 at least. The 2 females look quite different, one having white tail feathers. The two males look identical but one is clearly dominant. While one waited patiently waited his turn on a solar light wire right next to me, the other took its time on the feeder and flew off eventually. But as soon as the other male tried to have a drink, it was back in a flash driving the second male away. The males don't try to drive the females off. During the day, the feeder is all theirs.

Above me was my flock of chimney swifts twittering  non-stop to each other as they hunted. Fortunately they no longer live in my chimney. They twitter non-stop too as they roost clinging to the insides of the chimney with their grappling hook claws. I have been too lazy to put a screen over the chimney but they are avoiding it now anyway. Maybe it is now too dirty for them.

And today, my special bird treat was to see a Baltimore Oriole while I was biking.

In a few minutes, Shanna will take me out for a birthday lunch. It will be nice just the two of us.
I share a birthday with Queen Elizabeth but almost 2 months later, we are both celebrating  it.

Friday, June 14, 2013


My friend has sourced some $3 appletinis at happy hour. So yummy, which we enjoyed yesterday.
I got a few things done today that are on my chore list so yay for me!
And Maya got another Prowler ride.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Alternative protein sources for Breast Cancer Survivors

This was the topic for our survivor's cooking class last night. Many BC survivors avoid meat as a protein source due to 1) fat 2) hormones and 3)antibiotic residue. Ditto to dairy products. This leaves us with:

Soy. Now this one is controversial  as soy contains phytoestrogens that may stimulate ER+ tumors though BC rates are much lower in cultures that use a lot of soy. However fermented soy as in tempeh has much less of these possibly offending estrogens. She prepared braised tempeh that soaked up ginger and garlic flavors. Sounded gross to me but it actually was tasty.

Seteine: This essentially a big gray cake of gluten that some people make artificial meat out of. You can make it taste like anything you want. Now some people there thought gluten is just as evil as soy, sugar, meat,etc so there wasn't much enthusiasm for this but it is a low fat form of pure protein. To showcase this ingredient, stuffed zucchini filled with mushrooms,seteine, olives, garlic and onion was prepared with a roasted red pepper sauce.

Legumes: No one could object to this. A salad of lentils, food yeast (I would leave that out), peppers, tahini, garlic, onions and spinach was prepared and served over brown rice. This was my favorite dish though I am not a fan of brown rice. In the past, brown rice was always prepared with lentils as one lacks the essential amino acids that the other has to make a COMPLETE protein but this theory seems to have fallen out of favor.

Minor sources of protein: nuts and seeds, microalgae such as spirulina, and grains such as quinoa. And there is always fish.

It is fun to see the regulars and to provide each other support.

Storms moved through last night but somehow to both Steve and my amazement, I slept through them. However the night before, I could not sleep. I spent most of the night reading.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Up from the Ashes

Ash trees are seen on the right

Daniel and Maya building a tower

Tessa on the Rocking Eggplant
Glass sculpture that Maya always visits


Bird puppet props for a story
Maya outside the library

The library
A few years ago, most of Michigan was invaded by the emerald ash borer, a very pretty beetle that left a wake of dead ash trees. In some parts of our neighborhood, 50% of the city trees were ashes and thus killed. What to do with all this wood? Build a library branch out of it.

Now I hear there is a pine beetle that kills a specific type of pine. As the tree dies, the wood turns blue. What to do with blue wood? Market it for floors and furniture. A company formed that does just that. Bad Beetle, they call themselves.

Almost every Tuesday, I take Maya to story hour and Shanna brings her three. Lately Naomi has been using her time off to swim laps. We have quite the international crowd as our sector of the city is the most diverse. As story hour targets preschoolers, sometimes it is the first exposure to English. For a half hour, a storyteller alternates with a guitar player. The story teller tries to have as many props as possible. The kids are encouraged to dance at least once. Then it is free time as the kids haul out a closet full of toys. Daniel and Oliver favor building things, Tess likes to rock on the eggplant and Maya collects dinosaurs and tries to help the boys in their building projects.

Maya loves routines. She loves to press the elevator button, walk along the wall pictured above, swing on the bicycle stands and pat the glass sculpture. She is intimidated by all the other kids and usuallyits quietly holding Oliver's hand or sitting on Shanna's lap. Then they stamp the kids' hands.

Shanna will move out of town soon. I suppose she'll go to a new story hour.
But it has been fun for the past year.

Soon we are to have strong storms here. It has been raining on and off all morning. I biked anyway. I don't mind getting wet but the brakes down't work as well in the rain.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Prowler

The Prowler is the brand name for the bicycle trailer I bought last year to haul my grandchildren around. Theoretically, I could haul two but I have only one child size helmet and only so much strength. Oliver especially seemed much heavier this afternoon. It was also quite hot and humid. Naomi had some medical issues to attend to this morning so we had Maya again. Hard to fit in my workout but I did despite the heat and humidity. Then Shanna's babies came for the afternoon.

Last year Daniel and I would always go to a playground but school is still in session so he was disappointed we didn't have that alone time together. I gave the boys rides separately. It should be good strength training. Shanna had some house issues to address and took Tessa with her. The boys and I went to a playground and had a good time. I did try to take their pictures but they would not hold still, not even Daniel.

Ah so much stuff needs to be done around here yet I can't even begin. I did finally get around to looking at the brochure for my Pennsylvania ride.  On one day, we go through three long unlit tunnels, one is 1000 feet long. Do I find some riders with a headlight to follow?  Do I hold my iPhone flashlight in my teeth as I ride? We cross something known as the Eastern Continental Divide at 2300 feet and then drop 1200 feet or more into Maryland in 20 miles. We do have the option that day to tackle the highest point in PA. No to that.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Solar grass

From the website. I will try to take a picture  at night to see this stuff in action.

I love solar lights. Alas, I don't take care of them well so they don't last very long. I recently replenished my supply with new ones including a glass rose that is so pretty and 3 sprigs of solar grass. It's in blinking mode now. So at night, my patio looks like Fantasy land.
Haven't set out many flowers yet. I am discouraged how quickly they become rabbit food.

It is a rainy, dreary day. I ran in it anyway between thunderstorms. Then off to the lawyers' to sign a bazillion forms taking care of any contingency likely or unlikely to arise. No court for the kids, at least on our behalf. Glad that is done except for retitling things.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Lost and found

I wrote recently of a friend who I lost touch with and although I have seen her, she hadn't acknowledged me crushing my fragile ego but then she just asked me to be her Facebook friend out of the blue.

But today, my best friend in high school who I haven't seen since our 20th reunion contacted me. She just happens to have the same common last name  as the friend in the first paragraph, one of those top 5 in the country names. I never even tried to find her because of her name, and worst, she married someone with another top 5 name. Even better, she lives in a DC suburb. I will be there in a bit more than a week to stay with my college buddy Soulmate before my big bike ride. Maybe I can see her too?

So cool.

The forecast called for rain all today. But it didn't happen so I was able to do the big bike ride. I think I am much stronger than last year even though there is still too much of me to haul up hills. Fortunately rail-trails don't have a grade any more than a train could handle.

Then Josh and Julie came over to discuss their baby registry and what might they get from my daughters. Julie is slightly more than 24 weeks. Since all their house issues are settled, she is concentrating on the baby. I think I got my act together sometime in the 9th month.

Those pesky rabbits!!!!! I've always had a few but usually they left my good plants alone. No more lilies, no carnations, no edelweiss.. Maya is thrilled to see them though.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Talking puzzles

This was one of my finds last week: a puzzle that rewards one with animal sounds as one correctly places the piece. What sound does a goldfish make? Bubble sounds. Maya is becoming faster and faster at it. Aside from her speech difficulties, poor fine motor skills are also a problem.

Amount spent on puzzle? 50 cents at the local school book sale. I bought a few silent wooden puzzles too along with some kid and adult books. A new pile for my middle of the night reading.

When my kids were little, the main talking toy was the Say and Spell.  It was a big plastic clock-like toy with about 12 pictures. On one of them were animals. If you set the dial to a given animal and pulled the string, you'd hear a crackly animal noise. Now almost everything has little computer chips in it. Almost all toys now talk and sing.

When I was a kid, there was Chatty Cathy. Pull a string and she either said Mama or I love you. Never had one.

What Maya's favorite toy now is a bubble gun purchased at the five dollar store (inflation). We've since bought a gallon of bubble solution so she won't run out.

It has been cool and sunny all week. No excuse not to run and bike. Between the two, I've managed to move this ancient body more than 90 miles this week.

Friday, June 7, 2013

My kids' houses

Old photo of Josh"s  new house. It is finished except for trees

Shanna's house that she hopes to close on in 2 weeks. Maybe they will put sod down today. The neighborhood is supposed to be turn of the19th century houses with modern updates inside. I found a wicker set that would have been so cute on the porch but my vision was not shared.
Josh is now down to one house. At the closing today, he was asked where his wife was.
He said he didn't have one. All the paperwork had his ex-wife's name all over it. How they knew of her existence, who knows though I suspect the real estate agent messed up. Josh was not married when he bought the house and never added her name to the deed when they were married 18 months later.. It was not an issue in the divorce, although by some weird dowager right's law, Julia was entitled to half the house (and half the debt). He had to leave the closing to run to the court house to get a copy of his divorce decree. Then they wouldn't accept it because it wasn't certified. Finally they said they would accept it if he paid them more money, which he refused to do. It wasn't his mistake. Why didn't they send the papers over earlier?
His realtor ended up paying the extra money, which it was probably his fault anyway.

So a relief to him to sell the house at a lesser loss than he thought. And we get our bridge loan money back.

I was so crabby yesterday. Besides wasting time dealing with Verizon and Apple and then having to type my contacts in myself, Naomi got a letter from the State Treasury saying she owed $1000 of sales tax on the car whose title we signed over to her. Usually this is paid, if needed, when you apply for a new title. As we charged her, $0 for the car, the tax should be $0. If it is a transfer between relatives, then no tax is owed. Fine they said, but we have to prove our relationship. So lots of digging around and copying documents.

Another why I hate Siri story. My friend used her to navigate to our other friend's farm the other night. True, the farm is a half mile down a private road but it does have a mailbox on a main road. Siri had her take the freeway 4 miles past the correct exit, get off and then told her to get on the freeway in the opposite direction. Then it told her to turn into a rest stop and that she had arrived at her destination. WTF? She ended up calling me. I am better than Siri at least.

But for all my ranting against Apple, Verizon and the State Treasury, it occurred to me what a whiner I was. I was watching Maya while Naomi helped Josh with last minute packing (her solution to saving gas now that it is the highest priced in the country due to some BS, is to drive our cars). The neighbors are honorary grandparents and had a three year old themselves in tow. They had bought a dollar store kite and took the little boy to the park to fly it. Maya and I came too. Although there wasn't much wind, he was able to get it airborne while running down the hill. A cheap thrill. Maya was amused. The man has stage 4 prostate cancer. He will get on a clinical trial that will work for a while and then it doesn't. They are fresh out of clinical trials for him so he will go back on traditional chemo, which he hates. As it is Taxol, he was asking me what he can or can not do on it. He enjoys his walks. If he can't do them... I said I walked every day. I would have ran but the Red Devil had made me anemic. But the big worry, will it work? Will they find another clinical trial that will? This makes my petty concerns....well petty.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Never get an iPhone!!!!!

Hate it! Hate it!

This evil device has erased all my contacts because I unloaded pictures to a computer that was not synched with iTunes. Was I warned that this will happen?No

Apple is Evil!!!!!!!!

Update: I was on the phone for an hour with Verizon who tried to get me my contacts back. Nice and patient as he was, he didn't know anything. He had me install some back-up assistant which sends a code that had a dash in it. Is there a dash on the keyboard? NO!!!!! Then it turns out I had to memorize a 6 digit number that flashes on the screen for a second. Nice system. But contacts.

Verizon has some blame in this in that they didn't warn us that all could be lost if I didn't put things on iCloud. Naomi has broken numerous phones but Verizon has always had her contacts. I didn't break this phone though I feel like it. Never again will I buy another Apple product.

I finally found my old phone missing a charger, chip and a battery. Not sure why Steve removed this stuff but eventually he came up with everything. After we charged the phone up, I could see that all the contacts were still in the phone. We took it to the Verizon store but they would not do it for free. The Apple Store tried to do it but didn't know how as my old phone was not their product. Shame on Apple and Shame on Verizon for poor customer service.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Blame the mama, part infinity

Four years ago I found myself impatiently waiting for radiation. If you were more than ten minutes late, your appointment was cancelled. If they are late, well, that's just too bad. Usually I sat with other breast cancer patients but on this particular day, I was alone with a man about my age. He shared that he had throat  cancer.
Do you want to know how I got it?


My mother gave it to me. She had HPV was I was born and I got infected coming out.

I had never heard of such a thing. If I were a defense attorney for the mama, I would have asked if there wasn't some more likely activity that he engaged in that would have exposed him to HPV more recently? But maybe Mama's vijayjay was as close as he got to a woman (or a man). I did look this up as soon as I returned home. That HPV could cause throat cancer in men (mainly: it causes cervical cancer in women) was a relatively new finding discovered at UM no less. It is allegedly one of the fastest growing segments of new cancer cases. On the positive side for these men, it is much less fatal than the type believed to be caused by smoking and drinking.

Flash forward to yesterday. I am drinking my coffee while doing my killer sudoku half listening to the Today Show. One of the anchors piped up in disgust that Michael Douglas told an interviewer that he got his throat cancer by having oral sex with an HPV infected woman.

Everybody knows that he got it because he's a hard drinker and heavy smoker.

Silly, silly woman. (where is Ann Curry? I liked her better). I really hate it when people try to blame people for their cancer. Before saying this,she should have consulted a medical person. It is relatively easy to tell if throat cancer is caused by HPV or not. Even if he hadn't had a test, the fact he has recovered from Stage 4 cancer is a clue that it is different from the smoker's throat cancer. Now where he got the HPV is another story..Would she have been less disgusted if he said he got it while being born? As it turned out, he back-pedaled saying he wasn't for sure when he became infected especially since his ex-wife was furious that this implied she had HPV. At any rate, he didn't know he was exposing himself to throat cancer while engaging  in this activity so as a public service, he was warning others. So what is the chance that this activity will lead to throat cancer? 15,000 new cases in men between 50-65 are popping up per year. I don't have any statistics on how many of these men did this but I am guessing that this is a low risk activity.

Now with that new vaccine, perhaps 30 years later, the rates will go down. Or even faster, if boys start getting vaccinated too.

Monday, June 3, 2013

Down on the farm

My friend has 3 free range hens that are good for 2-3 brown eggs a day. They are locked up at night

View from back deck 

A nice night to sip margaritas while looking at wild life
We had our Mom's night last night. The babies will be turning 34 this summer. Among we 5 moms, we have 10 kids and 7 grand kids with 2 more on the way. A nice night for sharing and eating wonderful shrimp-crab enchiladas. The wild blueberry clafouti went caflooty. I had used Julia Childs' recipe for cherry clafouti, the traditional kind, thinking substituting blueberries wouldn't change things too much and I also used a deeper pan. this thing took forever to bake. The top was mushy, the bottom burnt. I was quite embarrassed. It tasted all right though and it wasn't like we had a lack of food there or wine or other drinks.

Nice and cool here. My hip is still a bit sore but after 5 minutes of running, I don't notice it anymore.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Orange-Gold Sparkly Nails

My nails

Lake that I stopped at this morning on my bike ride. I did my first biathlon here, swimming a mile (harder than I thought as I am blind without glasses) and then running a 5K X-country (much easier)

The other day I treated myself to a deluxe mani-pedi, the kind in which they massage your legs for almost an hour and put all these hot towels, hot stones, different masks and scrubs, etc on your feet and legs. Alas I picked a color that I believe is too dark for my toes but I do like my fingers. Over the regular polish, she put a gold glitter glaze. Wish I had asked her to put this on my toes too.

I didn't get manicures while I was working. Even though I always wore gloves, somehow acetone would leach into them. I would put polish on my toenails to cover up various running injuries. Chemo, especially Taxol, is especially hard on nails. Some people lose most of their nails during treatment. I lost a few toe nails and some of my fingernails separated from the nail bed. They were covered with Mees' lines, 4 white stripes for each cycle and some brown stain that looked like I got coffee on them. But now, my nails are all better.

Sundays are the best day for a long bike ride. Alas, I awoke to strong winds. I kept putting off going out there, lazy as I am, but the winds were increasing. Fortunately they were only straight-on head winds for a brief period and by some miracle, I had more tailwinds than headwinds as there was a switch in my favor. It also looked like it would rain, as it has been for the past week. But when I was on some dirt roads that wound through the woods, the sun came out. This is inconvenient as it is hard to tell shadows from pot-holes with bright sun.
 I stopped for water and a stretch by the lake pictured above. A man came by me with a trash container that he was emptying into the lake. Hmmmm. Turns out he was relocating a snapping turtle roughly the size of the one I rescued earlier this week. He lives on a pond with ducks and geese. The turtles eat the ducklings upsetting his kids. He said this was the 4th turtle this week he relocated. They were found digging holes in his yard to lay eggs but he thinks he got them before the egg laying. He loves the ducks but hates the geese. He has trained his dog to chase the geese away but to leave the ducks, quite a trick.

Mom's group tonight, on a Sunday. Our schedules conflict so much these days, it was the only time we all could make it. I am bringing dessert. Wild blueberry clafouti anyone?


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