Friday, February 27, 2015

More whimisical stuff

Another one room school house

This life sized lady just stands by the side of the road

This is the side yard of a yoga studio

Life sized tiger

Pretty mailbox for a massive estate

ceramic tiled mailbox
This time I headed east on my run where the houses are even bigger. I thought there would be fewer sights to photograph than  on the western route but at my snail's pace, I can see things that I miss as I whizz by at 55 mph in the car. No lakes though (hard to see them under all this snow) and the terrain is a bit hillier though I am still trying to figure out why it seemed uphill in both directions.

By the time I went out to run, it was a toasty ten degrees. Note the average high for this date is Forty degrees!!! Minus 16 in Ann Arbor this morning but the old house survived in part because of the new plumbing is now not close to the outside as it was before.

We had Maya here this morning. She likes to practice on the balance bike in the basement though it will be more effective when she can go outside

Thursday, February 26, 2015


I've been repurposing my 1970s and 1980s ceramics. Purchased at the art fair many years ago. Looked good in my harvest gold-rust country kitchen. Put away when 1996 kitchen was all white and gray along with the hardwood cutting boards

orange glass collection. The goldfish usually is on my patio catching the fading western sun. The piece with the green diamond I made in a class. Too bad I was poor at making hangars. The two big pieces were in my orange and blue living room

new orchid. I made the stained glass piece in the window. again my hanging hooks fell off

pug vase with fading valentine's blooms

I've been putting my ruby glass collection all over the place in the kitchen where it looks good. Didn't fit in any where in the old house
As I furiously was trying to park my car into a spot x + 2 inches ( x=length of my car)for my last trip to the Y until next year, Dvorak's scherzo from his 6th symphony (to listen )was playing. Sometimes I think this piece is the background music of my life. The piece is called La Furiant which I assume is the fury, not in the anger sense but in the things are happening too fast sense. From my Italian 110 class, I learned that scherzo is both a noun and a verb (first person singular) meaning a joke and just kidding respectively. In music, it usually means the 3rd movement played in double time in a light hearted manner though this particular piece is not light hearted at all.

So I ran around in circles for an hour and used weights for another 40 minutes. I could sign up for another 2 months but I am hoping we only have a couple weeks of winter left and soon I will be riding my bike. It of course is a much longer drive than when I actually lived within the city limits.

The old house is on the way back. It is so depressing there with so much yet to do. And still so much stuff. Today I reclaimed my old stained glass projects, kitchen things and some liquor bottles. The last thing to leave will be lamps as many rooms don't have overhead lighting (as opposed to this place with multiple lights and windows, the only dark room is the den with a very tiny window blocked by a bush which when it has foliage will make the room even darker).

Steve was out buying yet more furniture for an entertainment system. No place yet for all the receivers, dvd players,etc. I rather have concentrated on the den though now we can retire the cardboard box covered with a blanket we'd been using as a coffee table there.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Orange has come back!

We had Tess with us this morning.

Our overcrowded fireplace mantle. As soon as I figure out how to hang the metal prints, they will be moved. Got a 12x12 stone photo of Maya (on mantle) today. The black spot is a statue of a black pug in memory of Zoe
Note Big Dig cobblestones which still are being sold. The Big Dig project was the most expensive construction project ever in the US rerouting a major freeway under downtown Boston. These cobblestones are from the surface streets that had to be dug up
I guess if you wait long enough, things come back in fashion. When we bought our first house in 1977, it had been freshly decorated in orange thus the many orange things I have. When it came time to replace the orange shower curtain we had, none could be found. I even looked through dusty bins in NYC's garment district hoping to find an old one. Our second house, bought in 1983, came with almost every room covered in orange shag carpet which we kept for 14 years. Fortunately hiding beneath were nice oak floors. We had orange and blue wallpaper. Maybe I should keep it? It is in very good shape.

I've been getting all sorts of decorating and furniture catalogs. Guess what color is featured? Can I find burgundy placemats for my breakfast table? No...but I can find orange.

The pump guy finally showed. Turns out the whole problem was a defective gauge...the pump was fine. It must have been wrecked by the icy conditions. We had 2 extra gauges but didn't know how to turn the system off to install them. New houses are built so air-tight that the building code requires an opening for fresh air which is inconveniently right next to where the water comes in. There is a grid to keep animals out but it's not fine enough to keep out insects. We are plugging this hole. Tomorrow night, we will have another really cold (minus 9) night. The average temp for this time of year here is supposed to be 36-37. We haven't been close.
Still is was pretty and sunny, even though it didn't hit 20 degrees so I could run.

Keeping my diet very bland for now though I've been drinking coffee.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Putting together the pieces

note green sculpture on wall.  Might be too high up. The dresser after it was put together Still to find: attractive table lamps

just some of the many pieces of the dresser. The bed came in a pile of boards too
Today Steve had scheduled two things at the same time: the window people were to come to the old house and fix a window they mis-installed and the pump people to see why the pressure tank is so high. Lots of calls for well pumps these days due to the bad weather and the guy ended up promising to come tomorrow instead. Steve will take careful notes on how to deal with this system.

It was a good day for the Y as the wind was very strong and it was very cold.  This is my last week at the Y as I am hoping March and April will be tolerable. I felt fine exercising but eating still is hard on my stomach.

The house is gradually coming together. Our library is a mess and I don't know how to make it look nicer. Until we come up with a plan, the books will remain on the floor.

Monday, February 23, 2015

One Room School Houses

cemetery near our house

The Geer House built in 1878 We use this as a marker to find our subdivision

Frains Lake school house used as recently s 1982. Originally built 1825 and rebuilt in 1872
Naomi blew up the left window and insists a ghost is staring out of it

sunset last night
In the brief drive between our two houses (three if you include Naomi's), we go by 3 one room school houses: four if you were to drive just a bit further.  Yesterday when I wasn't sleeping or throwing up, I read a bit about the history of these.

In our current township, there are two unincorporated communities: Dixboro and Frains Lake, the latter being quite close to us. Dixboro, established 1825, once more developed than Ann Arbor. The church that Naomi was married in is older than anything in Ann Arbor. (Josh and Julie were married in an old Dixboro farmhouse). However a railroad built included Ann Arbor but not Dixboro caused one city to thrive and the other to stop growth all together. Frains Lake just consists of a sign, a school and an intersection: no businesses. The school was used as recently as 1982. Although kids initially went to a one room school house in Dixboro, a much larger school, Freeman was built. Ann Arbor annexed it promising never to shut it down. They closed it in 1986, liars that they are though they still own the building.

There were ten one room school houses in Superior Township, most are still standing. The original name of the township was Panama though that included parts of Salem township. Although the population is quite dense in its far southeast corner, despite its proximity to Detroit and Ann Arbor, most of the township is sparsely populated.

So I have stopped shivering, a plus. I am drinking coffee though I am still not hungry. I was able to sip chicken soup last night. I fell asleep during the early part of the Oscars last night despite sleeping most of the day. Being sick is such a waste. I had Steve wipe down everything I had touched during the day so hopefully he won't get sick though we were together the night before I came down with this crud.

It is pretty out but below zero. Yesterday would have been a good day to run as temps were in the 20s. Not sure if I am strong enough yet to brave the cold.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Whimsical mailboxes, etc

This golf cart mailbox is less than a mile down the road

Lots of gated estates nearby. This one seems to have two sets of gates to get through. They really want to be left alone

And this is just a few blocks down the road
These were my plans for today: early morning, go for a run; early afternoon have Josh's family come over; early evening and beyond, have the Moms come over to watch the Oscars. In between, continue to hang things up on the walls. My particular target was the MOMA art sculpture that as it turns out, will look great in the master bedroom.

This is how my day has gone so far: I threw up everything I ate more than 18 hours ago. I am wearing more clothes than I would wear skiing at below zero and I huddle under 3 comforters. Still I am cold. I cancelled seeing anyone today. I am considering wearing gloves now. It was 16 degrees when I ran for more than an hour yesterday  and I took the gloves off after a mile as my hands were uncomfortably sweaty. I did drink coffee for the caffeine: bad idea as it was like battery acid coming up. I do have Snapple to drink. I tried to sleep most of the morning as this probably is a 24 hour virus and sleeping would be a good to way to pass the time but a bout of nausea made me run to the toilet. I feel a bit better.

One year I had norovirus 4 times. Sometimes it is diarrhea; sometimes it is vomiting. Don't know which is more unpleasant but now the nausea isn't fun along with the chills and body aches. Naomi had this a few days ago. Whens she dropped Maya off, she  needed my phone. I forgot to wipe it down with bleach wipes. As I haven't had this for more than 18 months, I thought I developed immunity. No such luck. Steve meanwhile is overseeing things at the old house. The area under the sink needed to be taken out, along with the dishwasher and 2 cabinets. Very scary looking. But the good news is that the joists were fine and they didn't need to take the counter tops off. Now it looks like it did before they ripped things apart but the insides are clean and mold free. New floorboards, new insulation, new plumbing though I thought we already paid for new plumbing. A new sink goes in today.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Keeping out of the cold

Steve and I went to the Italian market to pick up some treats

The following photos all are from one of the Moms. She works adjacent to the woods. The courtyard next to her office is sheltered from the wind and probably warmed up from escaping heat. Turkeys and deer come for shelter

This girl is trying to get some heat from the building with her face against the glass

What a face! Yet their feathers are so beautiful. I think these all hens. Single sexes flock together until mating season. The males have beards sprouting from their chests

turkeys and deer together

time for grooming
Please March be warm! This winter I have not escaped due to the move. Although last winter was long and hard, it wasn't this cold  and we were in California during the worst of it. Minus 40 in the town we started and ended the Michigander. Ann Arbor, according to their paper, was unofficially  at minus 30. And presumably we are in for 2 more cold snaps though today it will be close to freezing (for a 60 degree temp change).

After Ms. Maya left with her recovering mom, off to the Italian store for lunch and to buy stuff for the Mom's group later that day. Then back to IKEA for some cheap picture frames. I had the bright idea of framing my many flower photos to put on the walls of the flowered bedroom. Two blow up canvases should be ready this weekend. But I was going to have a bunch of small photos. First problem, no 5x5 inch frames at IKEA. Second: I made some 5x7 enlargements and bought some inexpensive nice frames. But the matting cuts off the photo. So either I can take the matting out or redo the photos as 4x6s (which at 13 cents a piece might be the best option). Went to a craft store for the right sized frames but they were very expensive. What I might do is find 5x5 mats and put them in a larger frame. Steve just groans. With everything I hang up, he sees holes. The walls would be bare if it were up to him.
On to the moms: nice and toasty. Great food and company as usual. And it really didn't take that much longer to get there as I just hop on the freeway.  Two of the Moms escape this week to the tropics. Lucky them!

Friday, February 20, 2015

Frozen Part Deux

View from bedroom window through dead hydrangeas Doesn't look so cold

Our thermometer reads -19.9 deg. Colder in Ann Arbor  Hope the old house survives

Maya eating dinner last night. Too bad she is sticking out her tongue. She is a pretty girl

temp map for Eastern US
We are the epicenter of frozenness
Note to map makers: Key is confusing

Maya is singing Let it Go! off key on top of her lungs from her umpteenth viewing of Frozen. Her mom is quite ill so we have her for I don't know how long. She came without back-up clothes and the ones I had for her seem to be misplaced during the move though I found a bunch of socks. As she is unused to sleeping by herself, I had her in my bed last night with her waking up several times confused to where she was exactly but she is in a good mood right now.

Steve bought a small ceramic heater for the area near the cold air return and the water intake pipe co-exist in an area of poor planning to prevent the frozen pipes of last Monday. It worked even though it was colder today. Pipes and heating vents made all sorts of noises all night. Between Maya insisting on constant contact and weird noises, not much sleep.
As I was babysitting yesterday, much of my to-do list is unfinished. Hopefully I can get stuff done today and later, Mom's group. I think I will go out or a long run tomorrow (projected temp 31 deg...a good 50 degrees warmer than this morning) instead of braving the elements today.

Thursday, February 19, 2015


Shanna's kids enjoying a snack at the island. Behind them is our family room where later I
 the furniture to be more balanced. I will start hanging things up today

When the kids were growing up, Steve was the nice, fun one and I was the one who nagged at them to do this
 or that so I was low on their popularity list (except for Josh's maybe) Found this gem today sorting through papers
 from Naomi

So many things to get used to. Different night noises for instance. There are no train tracks near here so  I don't hear them anymore. I do hear the hum of the semis from the freeway that sadly isn't too far from here and I can see the flicker of lights through the trees from my breakfast nook though I don't think we are any closer to the freeway than we were at the old place. We don't have a noisy road frequently with sirens blaring or a bus stop with a loud automatic announcer or a talking crosswalk repeatedly announcing Traffic may not stop! Proceed with caution!in our backyard so that is a definite plus. The heating vents make all sorts of knocking noises and when the water softener cycles through every 3 days at midnight, it sounds like a waterfall.
There is just so much space. On our lot alone, one could fit 16 houses and their lots from our old neighborhood (standard city lot). Maybe twice as many of Shanna's houses and lots (her neighborhood emphasizes less private space and more public spaces). With all these bathrooms, you'd think I would have a shorter walk in the middle of the night but the master bedroom and the master bathroom are both long so my walk is further than any 2 points in the upstairs of the old house (about a 6 foot walk from my bed to the toilet in the adjacent bathroom). And I can't hear Steve at all if he is on the other side of the house.
We are still fine tuning the decorating here moving furniture around in both the den and the family room. All our books are on the floor until I decide how I want the den to look.
Shanna and her kids came for a visit yesterday. I try to keep the kids in the basement where I have plenty of toys.
It is brutally cold yet again and tomorrow will be worse. Fortunately today is a Y day.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Black Ice

king sized bed now set up in master bedroom Still to be set up: entertainment center and dresser

Would this look OK above my master bed? Steve probably will have a fit. Here it is against a coral wall and the master has chocolate walls. It would look ok in my 'floral' room. It might be too green for the other room in which I have sage accents (versus lime green)
Winter just won't quit. As cold as it was Monday morning causing the water intake pipe to freeze, it will be just as cold if not colder Thursday night. We will take steps to make sure that won't happen again. In the meantime, the pump's pressure gauge is dangerously high. The owners think the gauge might be broken but sources say, if they are wrong, we could blow the pump. We have another gauge but how to switch it out. We are too stupid. Calls are in progress to the pump people for guidance.

I went running early this morning along the busy road not far from us. It has a very wide bike lane, which is snow covered but there is an area that the plow scraped along the dirt that provided good traction. I could see that the road was covered with black ice and felt it the two times I had to cross it. Only a small amount of pavement was bare. It is so cold that the snow on top of the ice is rubbery thus not slippery. Helpful is that the stretch I ran along is flat and low with small lakes lining the road. It is quite pretty and when it is warmer and I could stop without getting frostbite, I will take photos. It was 10 degrees and sunny when I went out. It almost felt warm compared to Sunday morning when it was 20 degrees colder and my nostrils froze together as I shoveled snow.. Once it is spring, I will have much more interesting paths to take. The black ice was worrisome around the curves. I was hoping that nearby drivers didn't lose control.

After exercising in the Y, I went back to the old house (as it is on the way) to retrieve even more stuff. The old house looks so sad. Still stuff needs to be removed though Steve is in favor of trashing it all (his stuff is gone). Some of the stuff (1970s pottery) I am washing and using it to decorate the kitchen. Meanwhile my plants back there are mostly dead due to the cold on window replacement day.. I saved my succulent turtle currently living along my Jacuzzi and a cactus.

Ugh...I think I have carpal tunnel syndrome. My wrist hurts unless I rest it just the right way as I try to sleep. My health issue of last week, a bright red eyeball is now unnoticeable. I think I stabbed myself with my nail as I slept. I had no oozing indicative of pinkeye. And I had developed painful raw skin around my lips looking like I misapplied lipstick to a half inch around my actual lips. Looked awful but after a week of extensive creams on it, the skin is now normal.

It snowed a few inches yesterday. Steve is back at the old house shoveling it as we are legally required to keep the sidewalks clean. I just wish spring were here now.

Monday, February 16, 2015


And this wasn't even the coldest it got.

What to do with all this peach colored glass?
The burgundy glass will be used to accent the kitchen. Cranberry did not work in the other house
As cold as it was yesterday, it was tropical compared to today. I had just looked at the highs and ignored the lows. Although the high will be higher than yesterday, the low was much lower. Meanwhile Steve does not like to turn on the heat: he calls it burning money. I am used to it but Shanna's family was uncomfortably cold yesterday as was Josh's who had come earlier. And now it has backfired as we have no water whatsoever. The pump doesn't work. The sellers say this does happen if it gets cold and perhaps it will work again when it warms up and gave us hints to prevent this in the future (and it will get just as cold in a few days..hate winter)

At least the pipes didn't freeze at the old house. The ones in the sink have in the past during much warmer times due to the leak causing the cabinet to rot away exposing the pipes to the outside. It will be fixed this week but in the meantime, we used lots of Styrofoam. to cover them and at least that works.

When it rains, it pours or in our case, freezes. Steve rescued Naomi and her dead battery last night. The shop said it was just the battery and not the alternator so that was a relatively easy fix. But it was very cold out there trying to jump the car and Steve, not the least mechanically inclined, had to be talked through the process by phone with Josh. The revived car was driven to the shop and of course Naomi ran out of food money so they had to go shopping. And we switched cable companies for her so all the old stuff needed to be shipped away today.

Now it is a toasty zero degrees out. Still not warm enough for this problem to go away. We still have two flushable toilets  but I really need a shower. We used seltzer water to make coffee.

I amused myself between phone calls and reading about wells and freezing on-line figuring out what do with all this glassware I had inherited from my paternal grandma. She liked this orangish shade of pink. She even had a Chrysler Imperial that color (which we inherited). In the old house, I had about 12 built in shelves between the dining room and the living room ( a selling point according to the realtor) No built in shelves here. Although the pink and cranberry didn't really match my orange and blue d├ęcor, I put them on the shelves anyway along with some blue glassware I purchased myself. Yes I realize this sounds hideous. So far I decided that the cranberry color will be my accent color in the kitchen and the pink stuff goes into my floral bedroom.
From the internet: 1956 Chrysler Imperial in my grandmother's favorite color. Can't believe that pink was so popular. Her car had the lollipop tail lights. Car had automatic windows (cars my dad bought always were hand crank) A short in them caused them to catch one on fire  once

Couldn't find a close up of her tail lights in pink. I think this year was the only year they were used

We've bought some new pieces of furniture  and linens for the house but all the 'decorative' elements I've used so far are from the old house. Of course I have a whole shelf of 'rococo 'stuff that I used to decorate of the bathrooms. I think I will have a rococo corner in the basement.

Really hope the pump starts working soon.

Update: we had water for about 5 minutes at 1 pm just enough to flush all the toilets. Then it disappeared. A half hour later (it is now sunny and a toasty 8 degrees, 27 degrees warmer than this morning,) it came back. Steps will be taken for this not to happen again. I ran (OK as long as the wind was on my back) and I finally was able to take a shower. We even ran a load of dishes. Hopefully the crisis has ended though it will be just as cold in a few days. I am not a fan of winter.

Sunday, February 15, 2015


breakfast nook table finally put together with lots of help from Shanna and Ramy. It is surrounded by 3 sides of windows. We have a 5th chair so all the Moms can sit there Note Valentine's flowers

We bought 2 wicker chairs for the front porch. Will find some all weather cushions Until then, it lots cute in the floral room

Allie at the Coney Island today
It has been so brutally cold. Way too difficult to run but I did get exercise shoveling through the massive drifts on the driveway.

I love hot tubs and whirlpool baths. I finally got some time last night to use my own Jacuzzi. The area juts out into the backyard so I have windows all around me (I am not exposed).

We've been busy but yet so much needs to be done. The old house now just lots sad despite the new windows. And some of the window sills now need replacing. We did check to see if the house survived the minus 11 temps this morning.

We had a bunch of furniture delivered today in little boxes. It will take a while to put all of that together. The dinette set is done. We couldn't get the top in our car but fortunately it fit in Shanna's minivan.

Just when Steve was ready to relax, he had to go rescue Naomi who claims her battery died. Not at home but at a gas station. I am hoping she just flooded the engine.. He was very crabby when he left.

Saturday, February 14, 2015


Taken this morning before the winds started whipping up the snow

some of the strawberries a friend gave me with a sign another friend gave me
Although we are getting only a few inches of snow, it is blowing around so much, it looks like more. And the temps are dropping to way before zero. Must go back to the old house to try to insulate the sink. I should have run even further yesterday as it was relatively calm and slightly warmer at 8 deg. The forecast calls for thundersnow with all sorts of advisories, windchill, poor visibility, etc. Waiting impatiently for spring.

Maybe tonight would be a good time to try out my Jacuzzi. Once it clears up a bit, we'll go out to buy stuff to feather our nest a bit more.

I am still deciding on flowers to put on the flower room wall: more candidates: Try to imagine them as 16x20 blow ups. Some were taken with an iphone (poor resolution) but the ones taken with Steve's fancy camera can be blown up quite a bit.

This is the color I want but it is not a flower I can grow

To remind me of my old patio

the right color but looks sloppy

wish these were coral



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