Friday, July 31, 2015


In Italy : Gagliano

Girasole: Italian for turns to the sun.  I ran by fields of them the summer I was in Gagliano Abruzzo.

I have quite a few sunflowers here but this is the biggest one

lots of black eyed susans too

Thursday, July 30, 2015


alpaca on my ride this morning

hopefully my friend with leukemia can handle this succulent garden
yep this wall needed a metal iris
finally got my Belgian watercolor hung up
and my mirror
sunflower still not open


I recently read that insomnia isn't as common as people report. As it turns out, people grossly underestimate the sleep they get. They will undergo a sleep study saying that they tossed and turned all night but the monitor shows otherwise.
Podcasts lull me to sleep. I took this one to California a few months back of an interview with Candace Bergen. I think I had to listen to it 10 times to get the whole thing as I would drop of after 5 minutes. As I wake up not tired, maybe I am getting enough sleep. Still I long for the good old days in which I close my eyes not to open them until the next morning.
A busy day. Today is the only day I don't immediately start exercising so I can get a few things done around the house. Cleaned out the feeders, rearranged my indoor flowers, hung things up, cleaned things up. Once the traffic died down, out biking. A new route though with the strong sun, I had to play the annoying game of shadow or pothole. Went by an alpaca farm and stopped at Shanna's briefly.
Then on to my friend's who just got a transfusion so was feeling a bit better. She has moved down to the main level of her house as stairs now are huge obstacles when her blood counts drop. She is doing chemo to keep her leukemia at bay while the insurance company takes its sweet time approving the bone marrow transplant. Then the search for a donor. She is on a chemo vacation for 2 weeks. If things don't go as planned, she will have to undergo another cycle when I get back. I will be taking her to some of her infusions. One aspect of the transplant I didn't appreciate is that she will have to get a whole set of new immunizations. She will no longer  have her hay fever unless her donor happens to have it too. Their allergies will become her allergies. So strange.

 Her place is very nicely decorated. She has a wall of mirrors: about 20 small mirrors of various kinds. Looked nice. We sat in her pretty shaded garden until pollen of some sort irritated her.
It was a bit cooler (85) but as it was dry, it didn't feel so oppressively hot. And I found a local source of my Blood Orange Beer near my friend's house.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015


wall of orange cosmos

this gerber used to grow at the other house
squash blossom. I doin't see any baby squashes but I do see peppers and tomatoes in my garden along with mature chard and kale
took this early this morning. I see a lot more yellow 5 hours later
I have lots of coreopsis
moss rose
Indian feather that I transplanted from old house

I dug this up today from the old house (also in the past, got some of the red yarrow) This is called a leopard or blackberry lily. It has leaves like an iris, flowers like an Asiatic lily which last for only a day like a day lily. So what is it really? According to its DNA, it's an iris. Its seeds look like blackberry seeds, thus the name. It is allegedly invasive. Maybe it is because I never bought this plant. It just appeared 2 summers ago and has multiplied somewhat. Looks all droopy in its new place but maybe it will survive. If not, the seed pods last for ever and I can grow it that way
Finally it rained for the first time in  11 days though only for about 15 minutes. Still hot and humid. After my run, I went to the Farmer's Market hoping to replace a basket of sick petunias. No reasonable baskets! I am making one with my over stuffed planters instead though transplanting things in the heat is not a good idea. I have the transplanted stuff in the shade until it recovers. I bought some cut glads to pretty the inside of my house and some juicy peaches. Also a delphinium which I accidentally broke the flower stalk of. Maybe it will grow a new one
Three weeks ago, a lady in my cooking class gave me about 8 mature hibiscuses. Until now, they have looked like ugly dead things sticking in the dirt but I see new growth on some of the sticks so maybe I will have 4 plants survive. I don't think I will get flowers until next year. I wish she had gave me baby plants instead of the old plants. I am trimming off everything that for sure is dead.

I went to the old house for the first time in 3 weeks. The place depresses me. Fortunately the lack of rain has cut down on the weed growth though I found plenty to pull up. I also watered everything guaranteeing that it will rain later. And I dug up some of the many cleomes and some leopard lily to replant here

Why does renting a car in Seattle cost twice as much as it does in LA or even San Francisco? Maybe we should have just taken a cab to Steve's sister's.... Or flown to a different airport.


Tuesday, July 28, 2015



rearranging stuff in the flower room

these candlesticks match the table perfectly

At least it is  semi-tolerable in the morning for running and biking. Today I finally left the house by car for the first time in 5 days to get my nails done. Not too sparkly this time but still orange. Loved the avocado massage of my legs.
Good news, I will have a visit from my California friend next week. Can't wait.

Monday, July 27, 2015

kissy face

This isn't as severe as some of the lips I see on Naomi and other under 30s. A pretty girl but I can't stand it when she contorts her lips
It is just too hot here now to enjoy outside. I was perfectly fine with our colder than normal summer. It is 90 and will be tomorrow and the next day and the next day...on and on until we leave and THEN it cools down. We will be in the Pacific Northwest where I hope it will be cool but they have had record highs.

As the humidity is low (sprinklers working overtime; fortunately water is free though the electricity to pump it up isn't) it wasn't too bad for a long run really early this morning. I go on shady, hilly roads that often I don't see much more than one car even during rush hour. But the miasma of various decaying animals  and the cloud of biting bugs make it less pleasant. No sweet grass aroma today.

I am doing little chores around the house putting photos in frames, hanging lighter things up. I bought this big, beautiful but heavy mirror the other day. Steve does not want to put the anchors needed to put it on the wall. He was looking at easels that cost way more than the mirror. Also my Belgian garden print is fairly heavy too. He was gone most of the day enjoying a rare lunch out with his ex-coworkers.

Shanna and the kids came over. Soon it was too hot for them to be outside. Our basement is quite cool but all the fun toys are now outside. They did go outside for ice cream.

What to buy for ones neutropenic friend? I bought this beautiful succulent arrangement (low maintenance: can be outside for now) but then I read no flowers for those with low white counts though these are so dry. She is Italian and loves food from the Italian market but her appetite due to chemo is dicey. She has leukemia due to being treated with Adriamycin. This happens 1.5% of the time, double the rate since the dose dense protocol was followed. She is awaiting a bone marrow transplant but before they begin the process, the insurance company insists on all sorts of screens to see if she will survive it. In the meantime, she gets chemo to keep the leukemia from progressing. She gets a chemo holiday for 2 weeks and a transfusion as her blood counts are very low. Once they find a match (they aren't even looking yet or even testing her brother), she is hospitalized for a chemo blast that in 3 days destroys all her bone marrow. Although transferring the new marrow takes only a short period of time, it takes 3 weeks for it to find itself into her bone marrow and reproduce. She will be especially vulnerable to infections then followed by a period in which her body may reject the marrow. She will take powerful, very expensive drugs to help prevent that. A very arduous, expensive, time consuming process.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Clouds with no rain

Last night

chicken mailbox on my bike ride this morning
A visit from Allie later
giant (my height) sunflower still not opened
Must have been raining somewhere

We have had a very wet spring and early summer but now the rain has stopped for more than a week with maybe some coming Wednesday. It doesn't take long for everything to dry out. The rain promised yesterday did not come though it was very foggy this morning delaying my bike ride a tad. It almost felt cool this morning. Back to my 20 mile loop which has a 4 mile climb after a 5 mile flat ride. At least it feels easier now. Somehow I never seem to feel the downhill on the way back.
My bike carrier fell apart as Josh was giving Allie a ride this morning. 4 years of bike rides for the kids so I guess it was worth the $15. All is missing is a wing nut to affix the wheel to the axle. At some point, I will go over Josh's path to find it. Allie ate her first peach wanting more, more , more. The peaches purchased for the pie are finally ripe.
At one point I looked up and saw a flock of 20 swallows hovering over my driveway. Eat those mosquitos please! On my porch, the mom is still sitting on the eggs. The dad swoops in regularly to feed her. Not sure these babies will be ready in time for the big migration south. Not many bird visitors these days though the female oriole paid a visit this morning. I've given up hanging oranges and jelly for her.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Blue peach pie

Replacement floor in the old house for water damage due to power failure

I let this one morning glory vine live. They take over the world given half a chance
Cleome: love their airiness; hate their smell
Back to garage sales to further decorate my rooms. This water color is by a Belgian artist Piet Bekaert entitled Garden for Marcel Proust At first I thought it was an original given its age (1988) but alas, just a print albeit a nicely matted and framed one. If it were an original, I'd be rich, rich, rich. Anyway, it matches my sage and purple room nicely

I had hoped to wake up early Wednesday to go to the Farmer's Market to score some ripe peaches for a peach melba crisp. Didn't happen. Instead, I went to a farm market which hasn't opened yet. So all I had was hard as nails supermarket peaches. Also I forgot to buy raspberries though I have nice Michigan blueberries. And somehow, some of my staples such as oatmeal must have been thrown out rather than be moved here. I did have the ingredients for pie though. I put vodka in the crust so that when it evaporates, the crust is especially flaky. I was momentarily blind to my vodka bottle so I used white rum instead.
So my peach blueberry (bleach? peachberry?) pie wasn't as juicy as I hoped (crust was tasty though) but with vanilla ice cream, it disappeared quickly.
A nice night for sitting outside drinking sangria, eating bbq'ed salmon and various salads. Topics of discussion included how hard it is to get quality care for ageing parents and wild and crazy things some of us did when we were young. One told of hitchhiking in Jamaica as a teenager being rescued at various points. A charmed life.I was a bit more cautious than most of the other Moms. I did hitchhike in New York, the only way to get to Alfred University, where a good friend was going to school, was to hitch the ten mile road from Hornell. I was lucky. I guess technically I hitched a ride when my borrowed bike got a flat out in the desert in San Diego County. A couple picked me up to go to a bike store. Before they did, they insisted on showing me trees that had falling leaves in the fall. As it was November, I was well aware of the concept of falling leaves as our yard was full of maples but I humored them as they were my benefactors.
As I drove home late at night, my brights in several areas outlined deer ready to dart in front of me. The Beatle's White Album was playing. Back in high school, to improve morale, they played Bungolow Bill from the same album. So 7 times a day over the loudspeaker:
Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?
Hey, Bungalow Bill
What did you kill, Bungalow Bill?
 When the music stopped, we better be in class. And then one day:
Kick out the jams, motherfuckers!!!
 The MC5, a local group, Back to bells after that.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Splash pad

Oliver and water cannon

Maya and Daniel: both are 5 for the next 3 weeks

matching skorts
Shanna's old top Shanna wearing it below though I think she is 6 in the photo below

A perfect day for cooling down in water jets.
To the Mom's group tonight. I had meant to make some sort of fruit cobbler but at the last minute, I noticed  I had no oatmeal nor time to get some for the crumbly top. Instead I made the more time consuming pie. Hope it cools down soon so I can take it there.

Thursday, July 23, 2015

The color orange

Tiger lilies Would have a lot more if they weren't so tasty to deer

tiny spider webs all over this zinnia

Why is a robin called robin red breast when it has an orange breast? Why are red heads called red heads when their hair is usually closer to orange? Presumably the name 'orange' is relatively recent in English.
I like orange. In the fall, I wear an orange coat even though I look like a giant pumpkin. I have orange sparkly nails.
I now smell sweet grass down here. The other day, a truck cut down the vegetation close to the road. Cut sweet grass smells stronger than uncut so I was able to smell it. I was a tad nervous being near the truck as some of the vegetation is poison ivy. Don't need the oil from that on me.
And back on the bike. So much different riding through Plymouth suburbs than the countryside last week

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Back to the bike shop

Pot of impatiens

Early morning light
more hydrangeas in bloom ranging from very pale pink to dark pink
Bizarre creature that stopped by the restaurant where we were eating lunch (belated birthday lunch for Shanna). There was a kid's concert on the square as we ate but this furry thing was asked to leave because she was scaring too many kids
love snap dragons

They managed to fix my bike (install new Kevlar tire...hopefully will reduce flats) in the time that it took for me to visit two different friends. I asked him if he found the hole in the inner tube.
 Which one? You had 5 separate was a miracle you could ride.
So I guess I was lucky. After 2000 miles, my rear tire was worn out (front looks fine) but now I have a tougher tire so hopefully, no more flats.
I parked in front of a small rental house near my friend. A woman comes running up looking alarmed. Some people don't like cars in front of their house (it is a public street though) so I assumed she was going to tell me to move. But I soon recognized her as an especially annoying housemate of forty years ago. Apparently she needs to know who comes and goes on the street. She wanted to know what I was doing there. I told her who I was visiting (another housemate of the same era)
Is she expecting you?
Of course she is. I then asked her if she recognized me.
How could I forget your weird, unusual smile?  She then went on to ask if I were still in poor health.  (do I look like I am in poor health? I just biked 300 miles)I had seen her 6 years ago when my friend first moved in and I was doing chemo but I have managed to avoid her since then. As far as I can tell, she just sits around all day. When my friend was dealing with numerous health issues, she couldn't be bothered to help. But I am well aware of her inherent laziness and whininess. Forty years hasn't changed that. Back in the day, we lived in a co-op containing mainly early 20 year old students. She was at least ten years older than me when she moved in. She neither was working or going to school. I assume she was living off a trust fund. As it was a co-op, we were all expected to do chores around the house and guess who was the enforcer? For the most part, people were co-operative but we had two scofflaws (who of course became friends). This gave me experience in dealing with lazy teenagers though one scofflaw was my age (who I had know since I was an infant) and this old to me lady. All the older one had to do was vacuum the living room. Numerous requests were made. Finally I did it myself and charged her for my labor (permissible per the contract). All sorts of whining ensued when she got the bill. Can't I see how tired she is? (a listing of fake ailments followed) How heartless I am! What a bitch I am! She had zero responsibilities in the world and couldn't be troubled to push a vacuum cleaner. As for the other scofflaw, I dumped the trash she was supposed to empty in her bed. She moved out in the middle of the night, not to speak to me for a year and all I could feel was relief.
My friend is regularly treated to a listing of the ailments. Of course nothing as serious as what my friend has gone through.
It is funny how we regard age. Back at the co-op I thought of her as impossibly old. On the last bike ride I did with Josh, I was 42. A woman soon began riding with me who was 55. I remember thinking what an awesome rider she was despite her advanced age which now is 7 years younger than what I am now. She did another ride with me in Indiana the following year.   I have since lost touch. One fun aspect was that she travelled with tiny liquor bottles (alcohol is forbidden on school grounds) and every evening, offered me a cocktail. She was great.
So first a nice visit with my former co-op friend and then on to one of the Moms where we drank spritzers on her beautiful deck watching humming birds. It was a beautiful, sunny, dry day as was today.
Steve watched the grandbabies today as Shanna and I went for lunch at that great Italian place on the town square. A nice day to sit outside. Oliver finally lost a tooth. He was the only one in his class (and he one of the older students with his January birthdate) not to have reached this milestone. And further insult, his younger brother lost two teeth the week before.
Back in my day as a Brownie leader to 6 year olds, I gave each child a minute or two to relate something important to them in the past week. Usually they told stories of tooth loss interrupting each other with their more interesting (to them) story but no, I didn't allow interruptions. Each girl gets her moment in the sun. One girl burst into tears because she was late to lose teeth thus no stories to share.
Shanna missing her 4 central incisors:
Oliver happy to have reached this milestone:


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