Sunday, November 29, 2015

The transitivity of football

Red tail hawk in our front yard this morning

the red tail that my friend and I keep going by on our bikes. It has a very piercing scream. She went back with a camera
who knew it could swivel its head 180 degrees
from Thanksgiving. Allie imitating Daniel

So if Team A is beating B (except for the last 10 seconds ..yeah those ten seconds unfortunately counted) and B beats C handily, A should beat C, right? Nope, C creams A, not even close. Receivers running for touchdown after touchdown with a defender uselessly attached to their backs.  We did watch this debacle at Shanna's house at a football party yesterday. Then Team B went onto win against another team I dislike but Oh How I Hate Ohio State. But at least MSU (where Shanna graduated) beat OSU and took them out of the running. As for Team A, the University of Michigan, it is their first year with the second coming coach and they did so much better than the past six years, so high hopes for next year.

My friend and I have been trying to ID this hawk we keep running into. It screams as it hunts, which I would think would be counter-productive. When I first encountered it, another hawk was screaming nearby so I assumed it was a territory thing but it screams when it is alone too. My friend went back with a camera to get the second and third photo above. Clearly a red tail hawk also known as a chicken hawk though they rarely touch poultry or even birds. They prefer rodents and boy do we have some meals for them. So I was thrilled to find one perched near my window this morning. My birds are mostly in back; this was in the front so I am hoping he was out for chipmunks. Fortunately we haven't seen further signs of Chip 'n Dale. No scat and no bait stealing. And the mouse population drops by one each day.

The war is over now. I am being spoken to again which is convenient as we were going on a short vacation before my surgery later this week.

The surgeon will suck out fat from my abdomen to inject into my breast that is missing half of its original tissue. This will cause me to have swelling in the abdomen and I am to wear a girdle for 2 weeks to prevent it. Well I put the torture device on this morning. All I can say, it will be a long 2 weeks.

Please warm up! My last chance to bicycle before  I am sliced and diced is today. Very pretty but so, so cold.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Doing battle with rodents

The cute faces of the enemy from a card sent by a friend who knows my battle
What I need is a real cat, preferably a very blood thirsty one

A pensive Maya
The much anticipated sleepover with the cousins. I specifically avoided pink stuff with my daughters but both of them went all out with pink for their daughters. Go figure
They are winning, those effing rodents. The inside enemies are the chipmunks and mice: the outside a squirrel. I have yet to see the chipmunk itself but from my friend's Book of Scats (I kid you not), it is probably what we have. So far, it has alluded death but it is very handy at stealing the bait, scot-free, from the traps. Also a few of the traps themselves are missing. And as I was showing my ex-neighbor our basement, we came across the obvious, embarrassing handiwork of mice. We have caught a few of those. I don't want to look or hear about it. Rodent patrol is not my job. My next step is to build a live trap that I successfully used as a child capturing my missing pet hamsters: a staircase of books leading up to a slippery walled wastebasket containing a treat. But then again, hamsters can't leap up vertically.

I haven't seen the chipmunks since the summer merrily scampering around picking up what the birds knocked down. I did lose one to the pond (Is that a chipmunk statue in the bottom of your pond?). I assumed they had burrowed deep in the ground for the winter but no, they migrated to the basement.

As for the squirrel, he travels across several yards to raid the feeders. Yesterday he ran off with my woodpecker cake. How does he climb a 6 foot pole? My friend recently bought some slippery plastic covering to protect her birds' food. We will see if that works. She is surrounded by mature, squirrel friendly trees. I saw 5 pug sized squirrels feasting there the other day. Our yard has trees but not big enough ones for  squirrel nests, a big plus in my book. Also hardly any leaves to rake up. But at least he keeps to the outside though I swear I hear scampering above my room.

I have been busy. One day I spent at least 12 hours decorating BY MYSELF. The next day, Thanksgiving, I got up at 5:30 to prepare stuff BY MYSELF. Though eventually I had Naomi to help move tables around so we could fit all 13 of us in one room (I had borrowed a table). And then the clean-up which took me well into the night BY MYSELF. We are currently engaged in our silent war. I had just been thinking that this hadn't happened for more than a year if not 2 years (last time I 'let' airport security take his Swiss Army knife rather than have him stand in 2 lines again while the plane was boarding already). This is very destructive to say the least and brings out the worse. All I get are sighs and disgusted looks. And we are supposed to go away for a couple of days. How will that work? And then there's the upcoming surgery in which I will be dependent on someone who views me just with obvious contempt. This too shall pass. It always has but then I say if it ever happens again, that's it. And what started WW#? He threw my harvested Brussels sprouts stalks into the compost bin which clearly (to me and 99% of the world) still had sprouts on them. He is very suspicious of my vegetables as they did not come from food factories that had no birds around to poop on them. Poop is very easy to spot and wash off( there was no poop on this stuff). Not so easy is all the chemicals sprayed on said factory produce that he finds 'safe'. Also harvested, sage for the dressing. I think he did eat that out of ignorance. I had 4 Brussels sprouts plant which I had planted way too close together.  I harvested the plant that got the most light a month ago. It had enough sprouts on it for 2 meals. I let the other 3 grow now that they had more light (tomatoes had died in the frost) but the cold and snow inhibited further development. Thus it took all three stalks to feed us the other day and more than an hour's work sawing off the sprouts and I work fast.

Another sucky thing about growing old: no tears. I chopped and fried up 2 enormous onions for the dressing and no tears. My eyes now are dry and itchy. I will have to deal with that in the future.

I had lost track of time for the big dinner. Julie's father came early (I thought a whole hour early but it more like 15 minutes) and I hadn't even dressed and had another hour of prep scheduled. Again no help from a certain someone though he did cut the turkey making negative comments about its prep (it was fine). I did enlist Naomi with some prodding to set the table. He remained glued to the TV.

Dinner was fine. People brought their assigned dishes making things a bit  easier. The grandkids seem to enjoy all the lights and trees I had set up. I did have Maya that night but fortunately she was very tired and willing to sleep ALL BY HERSELF so at least I didn't have a teeth gnashing, whirling, snoring dervish with me. And I entertained her the next day before she went to Shanna's (she must have asked a hundred times when this was going to happen). I made a huge pot of matzoh ball soup from the broth made the night before. A good friend canme for dinner and then an evening of junk TV.

I will run and then off to see THE BIG GAME at Shanna's and to reclaim Maya.

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

X-mas decorating

the big tree. Still need to put more ornaments on it

pretty sunset tonight
from our porch
even decorated the hibiscus a little
white tree in the flower room
with lights
let's put a bird on the orchid
wire tree in the family room

I have been busy since I got up except while I was out bicycling. Yep bicycling. It was sunny and warm enough to be comfortable though the bike lane still had snow in the shady parts. It felt like spring. Still have lots to do before people come tomorrow,

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Snowflake lights

Playing in the X-mas tree box
Mrs Cardinal
sharing with a tufted titmouse

enjoying the minitrampoline

Porch at sunset

Lights have all these strange patterns. Can change it if we want to get the big ladder out again
Even without the constant trips to the old house, we find plenty to keep us busy. A replacement tree stand was bought, the tree set up, outdoor lights put up, card table and chairs borrowed from a friend so that we can seat more people on Thanksgiving and one of my stalks of Brussels sprouts cut down. The snow didn't seem to hurt them. Rarest request from a child?
Don't skimp on the Brussels sprouts this year.
Of course they have bacon in them. I could harvest my kale too though I don't think anyone likes it.
The snow is melting though I had to wait until this afternoon for an ice free path to run. I might be able to bike tomorrow. In the snow, I see deer tracks between our house and the young couple's. Also lots of dog-like prints. Coyote?
I have divided up the labor so all I am making is turkey, dressing, gravy and Brussels sprouts. But the biggest job will be clean-up.

Monday, November 23, 2015

Shark hat

Maya's shark hat

I had my ex-neighbor over for lunch. Used my green plates
Broccoli, chicken, cheese braid served with an apple harvest salad
This snow is not melting fast enough. Even the shoulders of the busy road are icy. I assume my usual route is too icy. So back and forth in my neighborhood.
I've been keeping busy hanging stuff up and entertaining. My dream of putting up my X-mas tree was thwarted with the base of the tree missing in action. Why couldn't Steve put everything together.
My guest today had similar surgery to what I am having next week. She was fine after a month. My surgery won't be as extensive as hers so I am hoping for a speedier recovery.

Sunday, November 22, 2015


more 'art' above my jacuzzi

lights in our bedroom
glass plate  for a cardinal fan. Might have to get one for myself
Isn't he pretty? At one point, we had 3 males and 2 females taking turns at the feed cake
We couldn't get all three in the frame but there is one of our many juncos

Bella dumped about 8 inches here yesterday, even more in some areas. A rude awakening.
 Just last week I was merrily riding my bike in the sunshine. Fortunately, the first few
inches didn't stick to the road and I was able to run. And today, I waited for the plow
 and then the sun to melt the crumbs before venturing out.
The snow does look pretty but I fretted about all the accidents it caused. They recently
 strengthened the snow laws in Ann Arbor. If more than an inch falls by 6 am, it better
 be off your sidewalk by noon. So glad we (Steve!) doesn't need to run over there and
clean the walks. The snowblower works so yay for that as our driveway is huge.
We just hunkered down, watched the birds and I hung up stuff. No grandbabies this
weekend though Maya will be here briefly as a transfer point between parents.

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Osage oranges

osage orange tower Tropical hibiscus in background

new ceramic vase on mantle with pine lights
stool next to front door so guests can more easily take off and put on footwear
carnival glass vase that almost matches my glass pumpkin that a dear friend sent me
still considering this end table. I like it but will the cool aluminum match the warm woods and gold walls

Osage oranges are not oranges but are related to mulberries. They do give off a citrusy aroma that supposedly repels insects and spiders. I had left some in my car overnight and instead of the mildew smell, everything smelled orangy. The wood packs more BTUs than any other wood and is very strong. It is used to make bows and axe handles. The tree is also known as hedge apple because the branches are very dense and thorny keeping cattle contained.
Although the tree is fairly common in the Plains states or wherever the Osage Indians lived and is considered a pest tree, I rarely see them around here and I am out and about a lot. I did come across this mammoth tree last Sunday on my bike ride with just piles of osage oranges rolling over into the road across from an apple orchard that looks like they only got around to picking a fraction of the apples (very good year for apples here). While I was researching this, I noticed someone was selling them 3 for $5. At that rate, I could make hundreds of dollars. Although I won't go into business, I did pick some of them up yesterday, probably not wise in such strong winds as the tree still was laden with them. They are the size and hardness of a softball. They are not really edible though deer will eat them in a pinch. Unlikely as right next to them are much tastier apples.
My last experience with them was years ago before we were married. There was a tree on Broadway hallway between our apartment and the North Campus gym right in front of a residential treatment center for disturbed male teenagers. The kids were out and started pelting me with them. They looked too big to be black walnuts. They hurt. I called the head of the place to request that he keep his patients contained. The boys were forced to apologize. Not much later the place was shut down due to all sorts of scandals.
All yesterday, there were warnings of the big snow that would leave up to 8 inches by daybreak. Our sub put the snow sticks to line the roads and many people, including Steve lined their driveways. I worried that Naomi would get stuck as she has to drive far late at night but by this morning, the roads were merely wet and the grass had a dusting of snow though it is still snowing and starting to accumulate. Aside from my run this morning, I will be hunkered down inside today. Plenty to do here.
Yesterday though I was out for a day of shopping and lunch with my good friend. We explored Brighton, a very cute town. And I did pick up some fun stuff.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Baby got a new house

What I'll miss the most from the old house are my gardens

The scheffelera I dragged home through a storm yesterday is in the far right. Now it is reaching a window in my basement.
Steve sighed mightily as he helped me take it down the stairs
Done and gone. The closing went well though it took a few hours for our check from the bank to clear. First to show up was an older lady confusing me as I thought our buyer was a young woman. Nope, she was the mom. It was her daughter's first house and of course she had to be there. Soon the father of the buyer showed up separately. He too, didn't want to miss this moment. Eventually the buyer and her husband showed, a sweet couple though the negotiations had me hating them in advance. Maybe the pushy parents were behind the constant demands. The mom took photos throughout the proceedings.

Did I go to my kids' closings? I certainly was not invited. I was around in Boston for Shanna's first closing and the move mainly as they needed childcare and muscle. I did not have my parents come to mine even though I think I was younger than my buyer.

Soulmate had called me the day before telling me how at his closing, more demands were made to the  tune of 10K. I fretted about that. It was very windy and rainy during the night. I fretted that the power would go out and the new floor we put in would be wrecked. I checked the DTE website several times to see if there was power outages there. I thought they were having a walk through this morning but it turns out, last weekend was before I did my last clean and junk removal.

Then off to a celebratory lunch and a few last errands associated with the house and now that very long chapter is behind us.

And I did no exercise whatsoever today aside from carrying things to and fro.

Wednesday, November 18, 2015

You don't have to do this....

clematis from the old house
The blue room after Naomi left. A place for the grandkids

My mom with Shanna and Josh. This room was painted red, white, and blue later when Naomi was born and later bright blue when she was a teenager
The other day, Steve was looking closely at me

You don't have to do this...don't think you are doing this for me.

He was referring to my Picasso know one up and one down. My surgery date is coming close and I won't be able to do much for a while. But can I live with this? . I went to my pre-surgical check-up today and was given lots of instructions for caring for myself afterwards. I will have a drain that I have to collect the contains of 3x a day measuring the output. I can't have a shower or bath for 2 weeks nor can I drive. Lifting anything over 5 pounds is out and so is my usual exercise for a month. And lots can go wrong though the chances are small..infections, numbness, not waking up from anesthesia . They will biopsy the tissue they take out though the cancer was on the side that they are adding fat too. I am also worried about delaying the mammogram.

Worry, worry, worry.

In 16 hours, the albatross will be gone unless things go terribly wrong, which I guess they could. I will be relieved when it is done but until then, I am in knots.

To distract me, I had the Moms over last night for a 4 hour Happy Hour. It was fun. Love the ladies.

After the doctor's appointment, I went back to the old house to put the compost bins away and to collect my 45 year old scheffelera. I've had this plant forever and it is huge. Steve hates it and wants me to throw it away. He pretty much killed it by leaving it next to open windows when they were being replaced in the subzero weather but miraculously  it has come back despite being in the garage (in front of a window) and not watered for the past month. He refused to help me bring it back so in the rain and wind, I managed to squeeze it in the back of the car with most of the leaves hanging outside bungey corded so it wouldn't fall out the back. I drove on back roads no more than 30 mph. Still lots of the leaves got ripped and I will have to add soil. It will stay in the basement next to a window though for the time being, it is in our new garage. I do have a staircase from the garage to the basement so it will be a while before he knows it is here..

60 degrees this morning. I ran in shorts but now the cold is coming in and this time it will stay.


Monday, November 16, 2015

Click 'like' or you're heartless

Shanna's kids saying goodbye to the old house by going in the closet. Note paisley wallpaper

Allie playing on a kid's computer
aerial shot of our neighborhood. Our house is barely visible in the far right corner

The HOA people put their house on the market. This house is not big enough. Their new house is about a half mile away and looks twice as big

Lately photos of  babies with various deformities are making the rounds on Facebook with extortions to click 'like' if you think they are beautiful or ignore if you are heartless. I wish these babies well. I also hate these things that say agree if you think your daughter is beautiful or that there should be more cancer research or that we should support our veterans. They are just a variation of a chain letter. I only click like on babies I know. And for the record, I do think my daughters are beautiful.

By Saturday, there might be 3 inches of snow on the ground and cold enough so it won't melt. Back at the old house, the cleome are still in bloom meaning there has yet to be a frost there despite a hard frost just 6 miles away 3 weeks ago right here. The cleome here are brown stalks. So for the last two days of sunshine and relative warmth, I've been bicycling and running.

I did spend sometime cleaning the old house. There is still stuff in the garage that should be taken here but I don't need to go inside the house ever again. Bye-bye. I do remember a time when we were thrilled with the house but the thrill is gone.

Allie and Josh came over today. She was marginally ill so she didn't go to daycare.

Our yard is suddenly covered with robins. What's up with that?

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Portes ouvertes

From Steve's and my trip to France (and Germany) 2003

close-up of the downy woodpecker who spent most of the day here
The city is in chaos: streets are blocked. Bombs are going off.  Shots are being fired.  You are in the middle of this. Where to go?
You check your twitter account and give your location. Suddenly nearby safe houses appear on your screen where you can go in and wait  in a Porte Ouverte.

Friday night, Shanna's friend who lives in Paris now was in a panic. Her husband was out  celebrating a birthday with friends and the slaughter started. She couldn't reach him for a while and wasn't sure if his concert venue was not a target. He did contact her to say he was safe finally but then made the long ride home through lots of traffic and chaos not far from the terrorism while she worriedly typed stuff on Facebook. He was fine.

When we were in London in 2007, bombs were discovered in Piccadilly Circus shutting down some of the transportation making our sight-seeing difficult and scary. I worried about the Underground which had been a target in the past. sure they have cameras all around but they are so crowded, they make NYC's subways look deserted.

We missed the Madrid train bombings by less than a week in 2004.

Somehow our buyers have access to our house (there is a lockbox that their realtor must have given them the code, which is forbidden). They leave the lights on and the heat on high. We pay the utilities until the closing. I will pay one last visit sometime this week to clean up after viewers stomped through the house with dirty feet, etc. but will be so glad when this ordeal will be over and live in fear that somehow it won't.

I am still waiting for more woodpeckers though now I have two nuthatches and two downies. The rarer red breasted nuthatch has not made reappearance yet. It was calm and sunny during my early morning run. The flock of cedar wax wings was still feasting on bittersweet along The Deliverance road though I didn't see the woodpeckers in the nearby dead tree. I did find 3 crows tearing apart a hornet's nest presumably to get at larvae. It will be almost warm enough for a bike ride today. My friend who has less tolerance for cold will come with me so I will go later instead of being out there right now.

Daniel wanted to see the house one more time and insisted on saying goodbye. They discovered the clothes chute, a feature no longer in modern houses as no one wants to go downstairs to do laundry. Another by-gone feature, milk doors when milk was delivered daily. The kids then stopped by here fighting for their turn on the trampoline.

Then off to an open house for one of the Mom's kids. It is fun to see the babies all grown up. This baby is Josh's age. We toured their house and had Bloody Marys. All of the Moms where there. Then I took one of the Moms out for her birthday at a Moroccan restaurant. Very tasty.

A nice day.


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