Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Watermelon Art

Julie's creation from the other day: watermelon dog
From our cruise 2 years ago

Not a watermelon but I liked the cauliflower bunny

Various creations from the world wide web

while I was searching for watermelon photos from the cruise folder, I came across this from St. Maarten

Me waiting for our number to be called so we could get off the ship
By this time time today, I expected to be on the road heading for Grand Rapids. Instead I sit in front of the computer in my robe with my coffee being distracted by looking at photo folders eliminating duplicates of photos (do I need twenty photos of the same sunset...no!). It is cold and drizzly though it would be dry on the western part of the state, my friend prefers to await tomorrow's warmth.

Easily distracted me, I wondered if Julie's watermelon dog had hit the image search results yet. She got her idea from Pinterest. I didn't find her dog but I did find zillions of other watermelon creations and then I decided to include our cruise watermelon carvings...
Yep I am easily distracted.

I will finish my train plans today. I found a site that handles all of Europe. I did all of today's running yesterday but maybe today I could do tomorrow's running. I got my bike back yesterday. They did not charge me for the new, stronger wheel but they charged me for labor and replacing some rim tape they said was faulty. I could argue that the faulty rim tape should be covered under warranty but agreed that the hours making phone calls to the Cannondale people on my behalf should cover it. Still it makes me nervous that the bike broke down twice in 2 months whereas Josh's bike, which we have been riding for almost 20 years has only needed to be serviced once (though it needs a new pedal...Josh will love my duct taped creation when I give him the bike this week).

One more: me on Grand Turk:

Monday, September 29, 2014

Autumn Dreams

The many maples in our neighborhood are starting to change  Sugar maple or Norway Maple...who knows?
Josh had a dream the other night that I died of cancer. I guess it seemed quite real as he woke up very upset and called me to ask how my most recent check-up was. Not for another 2 months and besides, I am out of the immediate danger zone as it has been 6 years. He then started lecturing me on my bad habits, wine drinking and eating badly though I am not sure how he intuits I eat badly other than I am overweight. Oh if only nagging worked!We'd all be thin and perfect.

I had an airport dream the other night with gates switched at the last second, running to that one only to have it switched  again and again. I awoke all tense and anxious until I realized it was a dream. Why can't I have nice dreams? And why can't I sleep at night?

I wanted to get out very early while it still was cool to run a long way as tomorrow, I ll be out of town and no time to run then. Unfortunately I faced rush hour traffic, lots of it. Some even was on my scenic beauty road. We had Maya this morning as Naomi was at the dental school for more than 3 hours. No cavities at least and they removed a wire retainer that was supposed to be removed 6 years ago. Unfortunately her badly placed wisdom teeth all need to be taken out as they are causing bone loss. And no insurance will cover it though she is on a long waiting list to at least get reduced rates. I crossed campus traffic during an apparent class change. Made me want to run a few of them over as they darted in front of me, not in cross walks.

Today is Miss Allie's actual birthday. More photos:

Yesterday they went to a cider mill near their house, the same one my grandfather would  stop at on the way to our house in the suburbs.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

Una dominica bella

From yesterday

Fire hydrant  cupcake holder. The decorations on half of them are chocolate paw prints, not dog poop as Naomi guessed.
Today was beautiful and I got a lot done so all is fine in ex-Cancerland. I went on a long bike ride in ideal conditions. Only downside, a cab, just for fun, tried to play chicken with me coming within inches. I have his number (25!!!) though I haven't done anything with this info yet. I found some beautiful orange cosmos, half of which have gone to seed on public property so I felt entitled to collect the seed heads so I can have my own orange cosmos next year. With a coupon that was about to expire I made a photo collage for my grand baby wall in Naomi's old room. I signed up for a trail ride next weekend. Extra bonus: Josh will ride with me. Oh and I finally made an itinerary for the Italian trip leaving out going to Slovenia. We just will not have enough time.

What I didn't do....look at houses though I was certainly asked. Naomi went with Steve. The first house seemed to have a creepy dungeon complete with chains. Nein danke. And then he took her to a beautiful but impractical house built by Josh's best friend's father that we saw a month ago.

Allie's party was very fun.Julie had lots of clever, dog themed decorations. Paw prints leading from the street to the door; dog dishes full of 'kibble', a dog carved out of a watermelon for the centerpiece, dog ears for all the young guests, doggie bags to take home full of favors and of course a ball to take home too. And Sunny, their half-time German Shepherd was there thrilled to have lots of eager ball throwers for her.
Technically she won't be one until tomorrow. She took her first steps at the party toddling back and forth between her fans. I think 4 steps is the record. I never would have guessed she'd walk before one. Josh was out buying her a potty today, about one to two years earlier than necessary. She presumably is using a potty at school. Well maybe they just caught her at the right time.

One of the party guests was a young man who as a boy, I took on two of those bike rides. I hadn't seen him in person since the last ride, though I've seen pictures. He was there with his pregnant wife. Josh had met Julie because of their wedding. He was one of my favorite Josh buddies so it was fun to talk to him. He was born a half hour after Josh and delivered by the same doctor.

Time does fly....

More photos:
Allie walking between Naomi and Josh

Oliver getting his dog on

Shanna's family with the dog balls lined up behind them
Note bedraggled begonias I planted about 5 weeks ago. It took a while for them to be noticed

Sunny dressed for the occasion

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Birthday Pawty

The birthday girl and aunt

Everything had a dog theme

Cupcakes on fire hydrant holder had paw prints or bones decorating them

More decorations. Later kids played put the bone in the dog's mouth

All kids got puppy ears to wear

Birthday girl with her parents

Friday, September 26, 2014

The bridge that almost killed my son

Aerial view of bridge collapse (Click-on-Detroit)

Shortly before dawn this morning, a few seconds after my son went by, a waste truck with a boon sticking out toppled a pedestrian bridge on to the freeway. The only one killed was the truck driver, a miracle that the others could stop in time. If it were just a bit later, kids would be on the bridge connecting a neighborhood and the school. The expressway being shut down for who knows how long? (they will try to remove the bridge today) puts a major crimp in many commuters' plans, including my son's.

So again he feels like he narrowly escaped death similar to having the tornado 2 years ago miss him by a quarter mile (though many houses were leveled, no one died). He thinks we should NOT buy the Dexter home as there is no below grade area to hide during tornados. I think he was closer to death being on a canoe in the boundary waters during a thunderstorm far from shore (why wasn't there a bit more planning?)

It has been beautiful this week with no rain in the forecast for a while ( except inconveniently on the day we planned a minitrip to the west part of the state next week).

I've been trying to enjoy it with runs, bike rides, an outside lunch, the Moms on my patio the other night before we go into the deep freeze soon.

What I haven't done is any trip planning or at least for our October trip. I did get a ticket for LA in late May to go to The Wedding using up soon to expire miles.

Some funny things this week. First I got a manicure at the local Chinese place  versus the far away, but much cheaper Chinese place near Shanna's (we live in the expensive district:gas is $3.60 a gallon here versus $3.18 at the Costco on the south side). My manicurist rattled on a mile a minute to me in Mandarin the whole time. There was no one else she could have been speaking to. Good job on the nails however. Then this morning I am running (I had a late start and early plans so I wasn't going to have very much time) I come across a very distraught Asian lady. She said she needed to find a bus to take her to the mall. Which mall? The mall (we do have lots of malls around here). No buses run through our neighborhood and she was walking away from  the busy road that has a bus line. What did she need to buy? (thinking that maybe she could buy it locally). A transformer for her computer (wtf? later I figured she meant a converter to change her Chinese computer into an American one..good luck with that even at the very big mall). I asked her if she knew Mandarin. Of course she did, she's Chinese. (Well not necessarily and I do know Chinese who speak Cantonese instead). I told her of the Chinese mall just a 10 minute walk away and covered with Chinese letters so she will know she's at the right place. Go into the grocery store there where everyone speaks Mandarin (English not so much) and someone there will know what she has to do . Maybe someone there has experience with these 'transformers'. Well at least I think they speak Mandarin. The restaurant has a beautiful waitress who was a well known news cast lady in Shanghai (probably Cantonese). Steve's boss knew her from his Shanghai days. How she ended up here from her glamorous career must be a story.

And then there was an incident with Soulmate. More than forty years ago I may have or may not have did something that I would not be proud of. My story is that this never happened. For a while, he was hellbent on finding the truth. The last time he attempted to get me to admit to it was 30 years ago while we were drinking. 
I'm not that drunk!
42 years later, I thought he had forgotten about this but with a very weak segue tried to trick me into possibly admitting to this while we were talking a few days ago.
Nope, still sticking to my story.

My bike is finally ready 2 weeks later. What's not clear is who is paying for this as I have not spoken to them directly. Below are some scenes from this week:

Depot Town : Ypsilanti

for some reason, there are pianos on the sidewalks in Ypsi these days

Usually these places are shut down as soon as they are opened as the law is so unclear

Where we had lunch today..a beautiful day to eat outside

My monster cheddar cauliflower. I included a few objects for scale

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Losing my impatiens

My patio a month ago. Unfortunately I do not have a good picture showing how dense and beautiful my wall of impatiens were

Victims of downy mildew disease. All the flowers drop off and then the leaves. There is white fuzz on the underside of the few remaining leaves
Impatiens have been my go to plant. They are tolerant of shade and overwatering and quickly spread. A few small bedding plants quickly turn into huge balls of color. They don't need to be dead headed, just fertilized once in a while and watered.I always plant a flat in front and divide another flat or two into 5 bags and some planters. The one wall of my patio is shaded by the neighbors fast growing arborvitae. Although I have a few plants growing along the fence, the arborvitae roots have been making planting anything on that edge impossible so I need bags and planters.

Last year there was a warning not to buy impatiens because they could be diseased with downy mildew. Beautiful flats of flowers went unsold.   I bought a few flats for $3 apiece and had no problems. I didn't hear of any warnings this year and bought my impatiens in May. (impatiens are not frost tolerant). Even as late as two weeks ago, the impatiens were beautiful and healthy. Then leaves and flowers started falling. Maybe because it went to 35 degrees one night? Almost all of the ones in front are gone. My two huge planters in back are now filled with dead flowers and the fungus is starting to attack the bags. True in a few weeks, frost will come and they will be dead anyway. But this is worse because the fungus will presumably survive the winter. I can not plant in front any more with impatiens. I will need to replace all the soil in the bags and somehow sterilize them to kill the spores.

Since this attack seemed to be sudden and they were healthy all summer. I am assuming bees spread the fungus from somewhere else.

I am having a Happy Hour for the Moms on my patio this evening and am sad because it is no longer pretty. We were going to go out but it was hard agreeing to a place that fit our hours. My house is central to the others and I don't ever shut down.

My patience has been stretched thin this week. On Monday I fired off a scathing e-mail to anyone at Maya's school who could be responsible for this incompetence and annoyance of Maya's denial of a bus pass. At the very last minute, she was denied one because not all her medical records were complete. She had been told several times that everything was in order and by some small chance, it wasn't, they would let Naomi know in plenty of time. Naomi pleaded with them saying how hard it was to drive 50 miles a day with very little income but no, rules were rules. Meanwhile this school likes to think of themselves as some sort of life coach asking Naomi if she needs help with every aspect of her life (menu planning, resume writing, discipline tips, exercise routines, job searching, etc). I reiterated how stressful their policies were. If they are trying to help the families and the students, they most assuredly were NOT. And they lack compassion (and common sense).

When Naomi arrived at the school for the umpteenth time to deliver Maya, one of my addressees cornered Naomi and apologized for her part in this debacle but still the bus pass was not given until yesterday. Now we will see if they hired a bus driver that will go to the right stop, always a problem.

Steve refuses to be excited about the trip as he thinks it is interfering with the house hunting. I really, really wish I didn't get this started. Again I said that we will move but just not now.

But bright things are on the horizon. First the Moms tonight, tomorrow I'll see Shanna's kids, Friday I go to lunch with a good friend. Saturday, Allies's first birthday party. Tuesday back to ArtPrize in Grand Rapids with another friend. And the trip..still to be planned. And no rain or cold for a while.

Maya hopefully waiting for the bus. No word yet whether it came

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

When Larry fell out of the sky over Scotland

Almost twenty-six years ago, the man that I replaced for my first job as a chemist was on a plane that was blown up over Scotland, presumably by Libyan terrorists.

And not any plane, the very same plane we were often on on our trips to NY. Pan Am had a flight originating out of Detroit that went to JFK then on to London then on to Frankfurt. Most of the passengers came from JFK so there were plenty of empty seats to JFK which Pan Am sold cheaply to those on standby. JFK was the most convenient airport to Steve's parents' place but mostly international flights went there. Almost all flights to NYC from Detroit go to LaGuardia or Newark, not convenient at all for us. Extra bonus: as this was an international flight, Pan Am gave us welcoming packages that included wine.

Larry was on the reverse route originating from Frankfurt coming home for Christmas. He was in Germany for business, long since promoted beyond his bench chemist days. The plane stopped in London for more passengers and luggage. There was presumably a warning a few weeks previous about a semtex bomb that would be placed in a Swedish passenger's luggage (who would not know it) on this flight but some how the warning was buried under paperwork. Not long after the London stopover, in 8 seconds radar showed a blip that was a mile wide.

What passengers bought tickets for this flight but didn't get on? Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols and the lady that would play Samantha on Sex in the City. More suspicious was an Indian guy who had gone to a wedding and was having a few drinks after his luggage had been checked and lost track of the time and missed boarding by a few minutes but he was cleared. He said he was haunted for years about the What ifs. Fate.

I soon met Larry as he was on the same contract as I was to prepare compounds for the National Cancer Institute. There were chemists in Detroit and Ann Arbor. He preferred to work in Ann Arbor so I got his job in Detroit. Once he vacated his job in Ann Arbor on the contract, I was able to get that job too and move to Ann Arbor (I never stopped living in Ann Arbor hoping for that day). He and his wife (Sue!!) went to a meeting with Steve and me a few years later and at dinner, he told us about their Peace Corps  work in the 70s in Afghanistan. His wife went there as a nurse. One mother-in-law brought her daughter-in-law to the clinic demanding to know why there were no grandchildren. Um, the girl hadn't hit puberty. Their stay was shortened by a coup.

Larry was an excellent softball player and played on the same team as Steve for a few seasons. He studied business on the side and soon was promoted out of the lab into management and put into the position that would lead to him being blown out of the sky. Fate. This was  very big news in 1988. 243 passengers were killed and a few more on the ground. I couldn't stop thinking about sweet Larry falling from the dark sky. I always assumed he was freefalling but I have since heard that the front of the plane laded relatively intact, the first class section. He was in seat 15J. Was that first class? One passenger was still alive when a Lockerbie villager found her but couldn't get help fast enough.

We will be flying to Milan from JFK in less than 3 weeks. Must, must make arrangements.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Purple carrots

There they are, the purple carrots. A bit smaller than the orange ones. According to the sign, they are sweeter
Before we went on our house exploring trip, we stopped at the farm market on my bicycle route. Still have lots of cheddar cauliflower. I bought one that must weigh 10 pounds. Huge. I bought some of their sweet white and yellow corn for dinner along with some bright yellow pattypans that I fried up with peppers, garlic and bacon. What I didn't buy was their monster zucchini, purple carrots and orange beets. Not a fan of beets, red or yellow. Orange is the new red. Naomi came along for the ride. She played with the pygmy goats and the burros that I had taken Maya to see once, who wanted no part of them.

All week Steve has been badgering me  telling me about this one house..better than M&S, cheaper, ideal... I agreed to see it in the spirit of having an open mind but reminding him We Are Not Ready.
And it was nothing special. It sat on nice land and was new but was...boring.

But then I agreed to see something that was, imho, out of our price range. It was a custom Arts and Crafts house sitting pretty on top of a hill surrounded by patios,a fire pit, and beautiful gardens. This house, smaller than many we've looked at, would be perfect, except the price (and although its not as far as some, still not where I want it). See some images below:

And it looks much better in person than in these photos. Lots of other people were looking too but maybe its uniqueness was what they wanted to see. What would have to happen to make this house ours? Stay on the market until we return and drastically reduce the price.

Later, Maya returned from her weekend away all crabby. She liked the corn, nice and sweet.


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