Monday, June 30, 2014

Musical pairs

My Indian feathers are starting to bloom. They are on long thin stalks and sway in the wind to look like hundreds of butterflies fluttering over the rock garden. They have also spread all over the rock garden. Locals can have some 

I love lilies, just beginning to bloom. I lost a lot of them to rabbits and planted more  but a lot never came up
Guess what? Itsy bitsy bunny is alive! Although it hasn't seemed to grow much in the past few weeks so maybe it's a cousin. It would be hard to believe that it escaped the Murderous Cat's diligence. Murderous Cat seems to be gone along with the rental people across the street.

So I love symmetry and co-incidences. I love it one week we are staying in Kent County Michigan and then the next in Kent County, England. And on my last bike trip to the nursery (the one in which I discovered the Moose and Squirrel house), I am looking through the perennials for the names of plants I forgot, find them and then forget the names before I've biked much past the nursery and then I find The House and note the realtor's name. This one I won't forget. It is the same rare, mispronounced name of the once huge dairy farm that was subdivided into little plots that both we and Naomi now live on. Naomi's street has the same name. It was obvious from looking at her that this was a married name. She said her ex-husband didn't profit much from the Dairy Dynasty as she called it.

The name of the street is a variation of the street we first lived on.

Steve and I both have moms who were the 5th children of seven. We both had Grandma Minnies. Our Great-grandfathers both came from Prussia (though of different ethnicities)

And in the past two weeks, two friends with very similar names (names long since retired in the 50s along with my boring name) from different periods of my life decided to contact me and ask to  get together. (just as a year ago, two other long lost friends contacted me having the same common last name out of the blue).

Friend one lived a few houses down on my street (I am friends with 3 others of the same street including the director of the ride I will go in in just 2 weeks). We were best friends in 5th and 6th grade. By junior high, she outgrew me and started hanging out with much more popular girls. I've run into her just a few times over the years and we are Facebook friends. One of the closing numbers of that concert we went to last week was The House of the Rising Sun. This reminded me of her as we both taught ourselves to play guitar and we sang this together. I could sound like Eric Burton. I had posted some picture of myself at the concert. When I got home, she had posted a comment, which she very rarely does. I reminded her of our song. She couldn't believe I remembered that (we spent lots of time rehearsing it) and asked to meet up with me again.

Friend 2 was from high school and a bit of college. She and another woman (with the same name as friend one). The three of us were the only women to take advanced math classes out of our huge school so we stuck together. Our high school was half Jewish but in advanced placement classes, the students were almost 100% Jewish, me being the exception. I did have a common Jewish last name (though in my case, it is Scottish) but with my bland, beige looks I was often told I didn't look Jewish.
She is a classical guitarist and a gifted musician. She did not follow up with her math abilities but in Freshman year college, she was in a music theory class with my friend Soulmate. I introduced them. Soulmate came from a working class home where education was not considered important. His family is the perfect nature trumps nurture argument. Soulmate and his brothers managed to go to Ivy league schools (though Soulmate didn't go to Harvard until his internship) on scholarships. He and his younger brother were amazing self taught musicians (no money for lessons). His brother played Finlandia for me when I visited once (very well too. Steve asked how do I know he played well? Well I was a self-taught musician as well though not on their level) Soulmate's instrument was the French Horn so from him, I learned all things French Horn going to concerts, etc. Even though he was not a music major, he tried out for various music octets, quartets at the music school and was accepted. But the technical aspects of music were difficult for him to decipher. He showed me what he was expected to learn. Good luck with that! I couldn't help. But for Friend 2, this was easy-peasy. She had a lot of training already. I can't remember if they got together though he would mention her name all the time. I didn't see friend 2 until our 5th high school reunion. Her Jewish heritage was very important to her in high school. I met her husband. He couldn't possibly be Jewish. And there was my husband, Jewish. A bit of irony. As for friend 3, she is a lawyer in Manhattan and a radical orthodox Jewish lesbian  (yep there are some contradictions there).She refuses contact with me even though at one point we were good friends. Maybe Friend 2 can provide insight if she hasn't been abandoned too. She just contacted me out of the blue.

As for Soulmate, I was supposed to visit him in DC after the bike ride along with another friend nearby in MD. This potential house has put plans on hold though we might have our answer today. Another offer came through last night. They will be weighing the offers today. Maybe they will wait for more but the clock is ticking for them. I am torn and part of me almost hopes they reject us.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

The offer

We went for a drive yesterday to look at the yaks

Mom and baby
We are in the middle of putting an offer for the house. We had an appointment to see the inside. The kitchen looked much nicer than the photos, beautiful yard, living room, and master suite. I could see us living there. The upstairs had not been updated and the gardens could use some work. But actually the house would be a good investment and it is move-in ready. There is an offer already on the table but the sellers were willing to wait to see what we came up with. For one thing, they have to move pretty much immediately and we can close early.If we offered full price, we'd get it for sure but I am betting that our offer will still be good enough. If not, well too bad. I can live with that given my mixed feelings about the situation. To make things even more stressful, two of the kids were badgering us to make a full offer. I guess they are afraid that we will just continue to live in our embarrassing-to-them house if the offer falls through. Fortunately Steve was on the same page as me.

The worst was when we had the realtor come to see what we need to do to put our house on the market. A lot and though that is no surprise, it will be a pain to go through it even though we won't be in the house while it's being done. And of course my feelings were hurt.


I did get a nice bike ride in before the rain. I think my new odometer reads low compared to the old one that matched the gps on the cell phone perfectly. I will need to calibrate it against the gps at some point. I am thinking it is 3% off.

Saturday, June 28, 2014


Bizarre sign in front of the mini-sub. Deer and coyote would be a more appropriate sign
 Boy do I hate the word should. I should do this; I should do that. It sets me on edge.

I have spent the last 2 days going back and forth with myself  whether we should do this I sit on my patio with all my pretty flowers thinking how much I will miss them. My sister-in-law left beautiful gardens in NJ that she worked thousands of hours on before she moved back to California. She didn't want to go back to NJ even to see her daughter graduate. She never said, but I bet she missed the gardens and it would hurt too much to see them. Of course she has beautiful gardens in California with the added advantage of things not dying in the winter.

 Yes there are gardens already in place at the new place. And we have to work fast, lots of 'interest' already in this property though we will have a few advantages over other buyers. And the sellers are moving to Seattle shortly so they want to move quickly. We have an appointment to see this tomorrow.

I did take a short ride on my new bike to get used to it though I rode my rental bike 160 miles last year with no break-in period.

It is so warm and humid in the mornings these days. In my neighborhood, I smell roses. Out in the country, I think the sweet aroma is that of crown vetch. In one patch near the new house, I smell wild garlic.

Yesterday I was eagerly awaiting the big sale at a certain nursery near my house that generally is way too expensive but then cuts prices by quite a bit. Cars were lined up in advance of the 'big sale' But what a disappointment. Prices were hardly lowered at all. I can do better at the nursery on my bike trail and even at the Farmer's Market.

I went with a friend back to the Botanical gardens to check on the century plant. Still hasn't bloomed!
And in the future, I won't go back on a sunny day. Outside temp=85; inside 100+. Greenhouse effect.

My hollyhocks

This 80 year old plant will bloom and die. The blossoms are going to start opening up in the next week I've been told

A bit taller than last time

pretty bromeliads


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Moose and Squirrel

Do we want this?
While I am biking, I am on the look out for potential homes. In the bizarrely named small subdivision outside of town (Moose and Squirrel..a Bullwinkle reference?), I found this today. So it is in a relatively quiet place with a 1.4 acre lot, nicely landscaped, on a paved road that is right off of my usual bike route, near my scenic beauty road for running, township taxes (which are about the same that we are paying in town) but Ann Arbor Schools in case Maya ever lives with us. There would be plenty of room. It has a huge dining room ( no way we can fit our expanding family in our current one) and lots of amenities. It cost about $150K more than we can get for our current house (and we still need to do a lot of work). I got Steve all excited but I have lots of reservations, mainly all the work needed here and do we really need 3100 sq feet? Lots to think about. I didn't immediately pedal the 4 miles home to report to Steve. I kept on riding and thinking (and making up for my shortened ride Sunday). A nice day for it as it almost windless. And I still kept it to myself for a few hours while he installed a new modem (with me thinking, don't fix what ain't broke..for both the computer and the home situation). What have I started?

I did spring for a new bike. A light weight hybrid with disc brakes. I did get a discount on it and they threw in an odometer complete with a carbon offset calculator. I probably could of gotten a better deal with a lesser name brand bike or online but I am tired of worrying about it. I didn't get the shock absorbers, nice on bumpy roads and trails but suck energy from smooth roads (though you can lock them down)plus they really add to the cost of the bike. And the bike actually fits me instead of stretching out on a bike made for Josh. And the pedals aren't held together by duct tape so that's a plus.

And I got my prescription mess finally all straightened out so all and all, a productive day. Later, a bit of irony or co-incidence. I went looking in the spam pile for something a friend sent and right on top of it, an announcement that my former company and its vast holdings will offer the drug I need again. The rule is, if my drug belongs to the company, I can get it for free. But just a few hours before, I arranged for a year of the stuff I have to pay for. And how did the spam senders know this announcement would interest me?

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

LIbrary Day

Maya was thrilled to see the 'triangle' again

playing under the bike rack

story time at our house

My pink geraniums are finally full of blooms
It's been a while since we went to the local library's storytime as it was the same time as school. But school's out! Shanna and her 3 kids came too. Their local library has storytime too but the kids like the story teller here and the musician. I take Maya. Of course this is something Naomi should be doing but with school out, she needs a break I guess from constant Maya duty. Maya was thrilled to come and ran excitedly to her favorite things, opening the handicapped doors with a press of the button, hugging the mosaic pyramid, looking for cecropia moths in the aquarium, swinging on the bicycle rack..but when actual storytime started, she became overwhelmed with shyness and clung to my legs. She would not sit with her cousins and would not participate in the many songs and dances for the kids. After storytime (theme: bugs) she did participate in free play building towers with giant legos. Back to our house for lunch. Maya does love her cousins and especially bossing Tessa around who is almost 2 years younger. She ordered Tessa to sit next to her while she 'read' a story to her making up most of the words and lapsing into her pretend language she babbles in when regular words fail her. Tessa sat next to her politely looking for an escape.

Mushrooms are popping out all over in the rain forest that Michigan has become. Today it is foggy, too much so to safely ride my bike. Should I buy a new bike? I want a hybrid, lighter weight than the one I've been riding originally bought for Josh when he was 14. The pedal is held by duct tape after me hitting a curb cut that I am lucky I didn't go flying. Steve found a 'lightning deal' on Amazon for what was probably a good deal on a aluminum mountain bike with the disc brakes I want (instead of the glazed rubber I have that don't work at all in rain and there will be hills up north) but as I tried to research it, the deal was over in an hour. At any rate, I didn't need the ability to go over stumps. I wouldn't mind having the bike I rented for my Pennsylvania/Maryland trail ride last year. I was a bit annoyed that it had skinny tires for the gravel trails. I slid a bit particularly in the rain but I was flying on the few times I was on the roads. Plus it had disc brakes. I thought the model was called "Fatty' (how apt?) but that turned out to be the name of the suspension system. I had not told them my weight ahead of time, just my inseam length and my height. I overestimated the inseam and the bike was a bit too big making it hard to get off of. It reminded me of the story of an overweight woman feeling harassed because "FAT' was labeled all over her luggage. Turns out that was the airport code for Fresno, where she flying to. And I have allowed no time to tune my bike though it seems to be shifting fine. Lots of little things to do and a lot of things eating up my time. Need to waterproof the tent if I find the right supplies and if there is ever a dry day.

When I was a minute from home yesterday, it poured so hard I couldn't see.  I decided I was going to postpone my run until night time (when I really have no energy) but then the rain soon was just a drizzle so I continued all sopping wet.


Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Snakes alive!

A nest of vipers that I took on my last day of my bike ride through the Allegheny Mountains a year ago.
This a 'basking knoll' of timber rattlers awaiting to give birth. They are probably 6 feet long and would be the most poisonous snake in the US given the length of its fangs and size of its poison sac but it is the most docile of the rattle snakes. Crotalus horridus is it official name. Usually they are lighter in color but in this section of the mountains, they are dark.

This week a boy was hospitalized due to massasauga  rattle snake bite he got wandering through the botanical gardens. They have signs warning of them all over the place there and have a stuffed one in the lobby. They are the least toxic rattle snake with tiny fangs and small venom sacs as opposed to my friends I came across last year on my bike ride. I don't think I have ever seen the Michigan variety unless it was those snakes swimming with their heads out of the water going from island to island at the Girl Scout camp. I've seen California rattlers quite a few times.
Snake deaths in the US are rare, about 5 a year and most of the victims were at holy roller churches doing snake Jesus will protect you from the fangs. Well He didn't. In Northern Appalachia, they use timber rattle snakes and in the south, copperheads. Snake trials seem rare in California.
Another rainy day. Will write later.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Photo Book

Click here to view this photo book larger

Shutterfly baby photo books are the perfect way to preserve your baby's precious moments.

The Rock Garden today

The rock garden. Once it was a stump that I covered with dirt and terraced with rocks. Over the years, the stump dissolved and the rock garden became flatter. It would have been best if I put all the tall plants in the middle.

All of these except the zinnia, which is in my newly expanded side garden are in my rock garden today. As some of the flowers are quite tiny, my iPhone won't do though I thought I took a nice shot of the primrose the other day with it. I just asked Steve with his fancy camera to take what I wanted. I do have a camera too but it is only a few steps better than the iPhone.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Huron Valley Trail

I went by this glass display again


Allie at our Novi restaurant. Novi got its name from being train stop No. VI

The road I took to get to the trail. At one point I could put my feet in 3 different counties.
I meant to be on the road by 6:30 but I just couldn't wake myself up. East winds again and rain in the forecast (which never came) so I was going to do a repeat of last week's route with a few extra miles thrown in to make it 30, which will be the shortest day of our ride in a few weeks. It was cloudy this time so I didn't have to squint going into the sun. The Huron River Valley Trail runs from somewhere west of South Lyon, through South Lyon to New Hudson through a bit of Milford and then on to Wixom. At around mile 19, I could turn off to Josh's but I took it to its end in Wixom doubling back to get 25 miles in. We were going to Josh's later that day anyway; I just came a bit early. I ended up more tired from my ride this week despite it being shorter but perhaps it was because I went against the wind for a good bit of time.

Julie is gone for the next 5 days or so. Josh needs a bit of help with Allie. She is standing and crawling now, so cute. Once Steve arrived, we took a walk to the park so she could go on the swings, then lunch out. I am so blessed to have my grandchildren so close. Maya was waiting for us when we returned home (by car this time for me).

The heartbreak of soccer or it isn't over until it's over.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Wonderful evening; evening primrose

So I did go the evening primrose in pink and yellow forms along with some other pretties. A good day to plant in the non-stop drizzle

detail of one of my baskets

Me and two of the Moms at the Speakeasy

Eclectic art in an old ice cellar

lots of interesting wire sculptures

The headliner: Annie Capps. She was fantastic

Finally no rain today. Perfect for running and biking. As I slowly lumbered through the neighborhood this morning, I noticed 3 different police cars slowly trolling the streets. Maybe once every few months, I will see one car come through. When I returned to the neighborhood, the police were still there. One was parked on our street so I stopped curious if there was some suspect loose and perhaps I should start locking doors. No, an elderly woman was missing. Her distraught husband was on the sidewalk asking whether I saw her. A few years ago, they had become separated and I found her for him but that took less than 5 minutes. Two hours later, she is still missing (I see the cruisers go by my house). I went searching for her on my bike but no luck. Some neighbors promised to go through the nature trails, which we have quite a few of and some are heavily wooded.

My beautiful manicure is looking pretty ragged as I've done a lot of gardening this week. I forgot early on to buy hollyhock seeds (still looking for California poppy seeds as my poppies failed to reseed last year) so I bought a half grown rose colored holly hock. Pictures when it grows. I couldn't find a yellow primrose in bloom but hopefully the plant I have will bloom soon. The pink one is in bloom. I love pink evening primroses. We were going to have a BBQ at my friend's house and hopefully see her Baltimore oriole that loves to feed on the hummingbird feeders. She bought it a special oriole feeder but no, it prefers the hummingbird feeders. But pouring rain yet again. We feasted on tasty shrimp kebabs and corn and salad and then off to the Speakeasy for the show. This time I actually heard of the musician, as has everyone else so we were lucky to get seats. It was a fantastic show. I did enjoy the show last month as the singers were very entertaining but these people were especially gifted musicians. One brings ones own drinks and snacks. Wine it was, a bit too much for me. Good times.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Kotex Classic

Some lilies we came across yesterday. Mine won't be in bloom until next week
Again rain. I don't mind running in the rain but I draw the line at thunderstorms. Just the other day, a man Josh's age was killed in the park near our old house, where I used to X-country ski, from lightning. The newspaper to this story  added his recent  drug conviction apropos of...nothing. If he had died of a drug overdose, then that would have been germane to the story but all it added was more grief to the family. Now adding the detail that the woman recently killed in a house fire was a hoarder was pertinent; her house packed to the ceiling with junk prevented the firemen from saving her.

So as for my somewhat tasteless title: it is a title of a Saturday Night Live fake ad starring Tina Fey. Part of my middle of the night reading was her book Bossy Pants. In it, she told of the difficulty of getting her male colleagues to agree to make this. They had no idea why it might be funny as they had zip experience wrestling with old style feminine protection. Actually I think Tina was a bit young to experience these things too. The ad played with the concept of the good old days showing classic cars, classic this and that. How about the days before high absorbency materials and sticky stuff to adhere the pads to the underwear? The ad showed women with those belts sticking out of their low slung pants with pads the size of bread loaves bulging out through their clingy clothing. For my younger readers, the belts held the pad in place with a metal teethed fastener. If you weren't careful, one end of the belt might come undone and that would be bad. Also the metal fastener must have contained nickel, which I am allergic to and it caused a rash and once, a bad secondary infection. Good times.

Menopause does have a few advantages.

How about classic diapers? I showed a box of the new ones to a woman who hadn't bought diapers since the early 80s and asked her to guess how many it contained. She thought 30. Real answer: 180. Or back to the original cloth diapers, not the ones cut to size but the single layer ones meant for use from newborn to age 2 (no baby was not potty trained by then unlike today). My first experience  with them was as a 11 year old trying to diaper a 5 lb newborn with the added instruction that the diaper MUST NOT touch the cord. I hadn't even seen a cord before though my brother must have had one. I must have had 10 layers of cloth to try to pin through.

Should I go get those evening primroses I noticed in the cheap seed perennials section at the nursery yesterday where I stopped for my waterbreak? So pretty. I had yellow ones last year that I didn't remember planting but they did not return. These ones would be pink.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Mountain Laurel, Part 3

Not mountain laurel but found in a garden on our way there

candy pink

I love how intricate the flowerets are


Only a little of this kind in bloom

almost white
There was going to be a small break in all the rain we've been having so back to the Arb to see if the mountain laurel was at its peak. Yes it is though all of the rain is starting to rot the blossoms. The big storms missed us Tuesday but yesterday, just as I had a friend over, it hit us hard. Our power went out while I was trying to heat some snacks for us. We ere planning an arb walk yesterday and then a relaxing Happy Hour on my deck but it rained on our parade. Everything is so moist here. I've pulled so many weeds.

It was also not raining this morning (though foggy) so I did get a nice ride in.
Maya has been with us a lot. Today we took a walk to the park with her singing on top of a playground structure: I'm Maya Rose and I'm at the Park! over and over. At school (now over) she is called Maya Rose to distinguish her from the other Maya.

A dinner out with my hubby and then tomorrow, an outing with The Moms.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

It's a good year for poppies and peonies....

New blooms in the rock garden. Of course I lost the label

And these

I only have two poppy plants though I am hoping they will spread but everyone else had beautiful blooms this year

This pot I kept inside for the winter though the carnations are perennials

These pinks have been living beside my deck for years. However a lot of the pinks I had in my rock garden failed to show. A bad year for pinks

My bags of impatiens are filling in and lighting up the dark fence

Black them

geraniums are slow to bloom this year. Once the Asiatic lilies bloom along with the daylilies and calla lilies, this patio will look much more festive in a couple of weeks

Each year favors different flowers. Our long cold winter and very wet spring seemed lethal to dogwood and forsythia. The trees are still there but very little blooms. Lilacs were late but pretty; ornamental pears were especially pretty this year. Lots of my pinks and edelweiss failed to return. Even my clematises haven't bloomed yet. And my roses failed to show though I do absolutely nothing for them but cut away dead branches. Roses are too much work for me.

I love walking outside in the early morning with my cup of coffee and scissors (for deadheading) to see what grew in overnight. Small pleasures.

About 5 years ago, Michigan was hit hard by the emerald ash borer beetle. Such a pretty beetle but it caused such ugliness killing every ash. Fortunately my large ash (ha!) wasn't on my property but on the extension, so not my problem (unlike my actual ass). In our city, every front extension has at least one city owned tree, ours I believe is a Norway maple (though at least 2 foresters have told me it's really a sugar maple). At least 25 % of the city trees used to be ashes and they are gone, including our neighbor's. She got special permission to put in a tree of her choosing (there's a committee for that). I looked at it the other day. It is half as tall now as my maple, which had a 40 year head start. Hers is some Japanese tree starting with A that I immediately forgot the name of as soon as I heard it.

I have planted only one tree in my life: an apricot at my former house. It was dicey whether the growing season was long enough for the apricots to ripen in any given year. Then it was plagued with a new problem, newly arrived Arab immigrants who had a hankering for green apricots. This tree was clearly on my property yet about 4 women would come and pick them off in front of me (no English!! and oblivious to my angry gestures) They also went through others gardens picking freely. I guess this is a cultural difference. Finally a neighbor, tired of the gleaners in his garden spoke to their husbands who at least knew some English and told them this was not done here.

Josh recently asked for advice on what ornamental tree to plant in his yard. I love weeping cherries, the cascades of pretty blossoms (also good this year). When I saw the fringe tree pictured last week, I researched it. There was a site entitled The Best Ornamental Tree that no one has Heard of. It went on to say about how people select boring weeping cherries or worse, smelly Branford(?) pears, which he claims, smell bad. Now the tree closest to where I usually sit is one of those pears (I believe the hummingbirds nest in it) and I never noticed a bad odor. Then he extolled the many virtues of the fringe tree. I had posted a picture on FaceBook of it. Someone asked if I noticed its scent(no) and described it:
t's scent; somewhere between a Beauty of Moscow lilac and a Korean Spice virburnum.

Pretty damn specific.


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