Wednesday, March 30, 2016


My vase needed a stand. The cherubs are a bit too white. Maybe I can stain them?

pottery and brass handmade lamp replaces quick sale 15 year old IKEA lamp
stained glass clock looks good in the family room

Recently there was an article about marriages with people of opposite political persuasions in the WSJ that hit close to home. Unlike the author, Steve and I were at least on the same page when we married  but as the years went by, he moved further and further to the right. And by right, I mean he is totally wrong. He at least does not support Trump. That would be a deal breaker.
How can this possibly work? Well sometimes it doesn't. Steve's views are a very big part of his life, too big of a part IMHO as he spends hours reading and writing about his views, and he does not tolerate dissent. We keep the peace, as the author suggests, by never discussing politics. The few times we do, I end up getting the silent treatment up to a week. I stupidly engaged him in a discussion while we were on vacation 2 months ago. What a mistake!! Here I was miles from home, sick with a cold and festering wounds due to some hot tub infection, with his family...not fun. Fortunately my punishment for disagreeing with him lasted only a day.
I've been asked, Can't I make him see the error of his ways?  He is so, so wrong. But it is futile to even try as it just pisses him off. I live in the hope that he will gradually see the error of his ways himself or at least get tired reading the same old stuff over and over. And he is isolated as he is surrounded by people who believe similarly to myself.
I finally got to see the red bellied woodpecker I run by all the time. They have very distinctive calls but usually I just see its back when I stop to view him (or her..both have a red strip along their nape, It is wider in the male).

Monday, March 28, 2016

All our Easter eggs in one basket

The eggs before they were hidden in our back yard. Josh didn't think Steve did a good enough job so he rehid them but the girls had a hard enough time finding them in plain view. Since they enjoyed the hunt so much, we had another one after dinner with small foil eggs in the living room

Mixing of two cultures: Easter decorated chocolate babka. Steve and Josh are the rare chocolate haters.
Easter tree?
hugging after the hunt. Weather was very co-operative with temps near 70. Shanna's kids were in Florida

They actually fought over the right to sweep Grandma's sidewalk. Solution: two brooms
in our garage
Playing cars in front of their parents' cars
investigating lady bugs

Later after a wonderful sunny afternoon in which the girls could play comfortably outside while we sat watching them, a friend and I sat on my front porch drinking wine (when will I stop?) as the sun sat watching a storm roll in with a very impressive lightning display.
A fun day starting with temps in the 30s, OK to run the longest yet after all of my medical challenges. Then as it warmed up, bicycling. As we had less scheduling obstacles, dinner later than our usual brunch time as Julie's parents were elsewhere, Shanna was gone, and Naomi had a day off. Extra bonus,: Naomi stayed off her phone for the visit.
Later while lightning flashed all around the house, a friend and I watched the Amy Winehouse documentary. So sad that such a wonderful voice is lost. Her money grubbing father kept pushing and pushing not wanting to give her a second's rest lest he passed up on an opportunity. Meanwhile he had deserted the family early on only to come back when he smelt money.

Saturday, March 26, 2016

The Price of Survival

I've been scanning a whole bunch of 8x10 prints. This is me

My grandfather's house outside of Ann Arbor. He lived there roughly from 1939 to 1968 or so

me again

My brother riding a deer. I don't remember this toy. Maybe it was shot elsewhere?

Our house in Corning, NY

me with my straight as an arrow hair considered a huge cosmetic defect in those days. It cracks me up that kids straighten their hair now

My mom in my grandfather's house

Lately one of those sleazy ambulance chaser lawyers has been advertising on TV:
Permanent hair loss  due to Taxotere ? You may be entitled to compensation. Call us NOW!!!! 
Taxotere is a form of Taxol given to breast , ovarian, and prostate cancer patients. Of the 3 drugs I was given: Cytoxan, Adriamycin, and Taxol, it was probably the most effective of the three. It had a different side effect profile than the other two. It did not cause red blood cell depletion, nausea and digestive tract ulcers like Adriamycin. Some people's hair actually grows back on Taxol after losing it on Adriamycin. The most annoying side effect was nerve pain. My upper legs and hips felt like I had broken every bone and sprained every muscle within. I could not be comfortable. In some people, it can cause permanent neuropathy: numbness of fingers and toes, shooting pains. I do have occasional shooting pains in my right rib cage but that damage probably was due to radiation as I did not have it before.

So is permanent hair loss a reasonable price to pay for survival? I would think so. One can always get a 'scalp prosthesis i.e. wig.'  And of all the possible lasting side effects, hair loss seems the most tolerable. My friend got leukemia from Adriamycin. I am sure she'd wish she just had hair loss. I don't think she is suing anyone. More common from Adriamycin? Heart failure. Both the acute and chronic kind.

My only paying job once I retired was to fill out a questionnaire for a research study I found in the want-ads in one of those tabloids Ramy picked up on the T in Boston. They would list combinations of percent risks versus percent benefits in order to suss out just what would a cancer patient tolerate.

Would one tolerate 10% chance of blindness in return for a 90% chance of survival? On and on.

As the nurse practitioner pointed out to me, chemotherapy had the greatness benefit to me versus most patients. Based on the size of my tumor, the cancer had a 50% chance of having spread. Chemo would cut the chances down to 25% meaning instead of a 50% chance of dying, it would be 25% or 30% if they included other factors. Still very scary to me. I would go through 16 weeks of different kinds of hell: hair loss, nausea, fatigue, mouth sores, bloody noses, black nails, risk of uncontrollable infections, possible heart failure, possible secondary cancers but it seemed worth it. I imagine if chemo only increased your survival a small bit, the decision would be much more difficult.

Spring has been put on hold with very cold mornings. I can tolerate cold while running as long as it isn't icy but it has made biking less pleasant.

Out to dinner tonight with the hubby. Tomorrow, Easter.

Friday, March 25, 2016

Fixing Sue

Tess was a bit nervous about her first airplane flight to Orlando but she seems to be OK with it here

A trip  to my hairdresser today out in the country. I came back with a haircut, no gray roots and fresh eggs. She loves wild colored hair but mine is much more subtly colored
This will be hung up in our living room
hall way art
I finally took down the Xmas wreathe replacing it with this

My favorite find: hand thrown pot that matches our bedroom perfectly
I did lots of driving this week between medical appointments, appointments to fix up various parts of me, shopping trips and social occasions all made more difficult by part of the freeway closed. Today found me detouring through a westside neighborhood through the intersection Gott-Hiscock. I would have taken a photo if I wasn't running late. Ha! Who said Ann Arbor city planners didn't have a sense of humor though they didn't plan for Nixon-Bluett, oft stolen sign in the 70s.

So at the end of this week, I  have 2 new teeth though they are temporary and not made for biting anything hard. The porcelain ones come in 3 weeks. Peachy iridescent finger and toe nails and shorter hair that doesn't have the nasty white, black roots.

Zalabieh or Syrian crepes. Right before I was to drive Shanna's family to the airport , Shanna was about to throw away a pile of 20 crepes that Ramy's mother had just prepared the day before. I will take them. They looked like French crepes but seemed much more sturdy and tasted somewhat yeasty. I assumed they contained eggs but the recipes I found have none. I will have to ask Ramy's mother. Ramy said he filled his with cinnamon sugar. Recipes on line featured ricotta lemon fillings. As they are not sweet, savory fillings can be used. Some of them I filled with a cream cheese honey mix, some with the lavender caramel sauce I bought last week, some with a chocolate candy spread from IKEA and then some with fig butter. I rolled them up, cut them in half and took to the Mom's last night celebrating one of our birthdays, which was fun.

The kids were understandably quite excited about their trip to Disneyworld. The boys had been on planes before but only Oliver could remember the trip. He wasn't yet 3. Do you remember anything before the age of 3? I have some vague memories of being three, strong memories of being 4. Tessa just turned 4 so she will remember this trip.

So they won't be here for Easter. The egghunt will go on with just Allie and Maya.

The other day I heard a sad clunk. With so many feeders and so many large windows, bird collisions are very common. Fortunately only 2 sparrows died so far. I debated to see if there was a body. Nothing right under the window but nearby, there was a falcon like bird dusting itself off. Blueish-gray back, orange fluffy thigh feathers. I rushed to get the camera but it recovered and flew off before I got the shot. I ran to the bird book trying to remember as many details but I forget so fast. It was larger than a kestrel. The closest thing I could find was a merlin. It even appeared at what they called the Merlin Hour, 4 pm. Obviously it was trying to feed off my birds. The red tail hawk shows up in my yard everyone once in a while but looks quite different. It is known as the default hawk as it is so common.

I had such a vivid dream that a red bellied woodpecker came to my feeder. I even figured out it was a female. Finally I see one instead of just hearing them and just seeing their backs. But it was only a dream.

I have to stop going to resale stores. Too much stuff though the pot I got above is beautiful. The artist comes from the middle of sugar beet  country in Michigan, not known for artists. Can't find out much about her other than she is dead.

Meanwhile, these serigraphs I got a few years back for about $5 a piece. I found similar ones by the same artist for $500 a piece.

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My two front teeth

I assume I am around 6 months here with my two teeth

Finally I have something resembling a full mouth of teeth after 7 weeks of missing 2 front teeth. Someone wanted me to post a photo of myself with my new fancy jewelry but I nixed that after looking at my hideous, toothless smile. These temporary teeth look OK but aren't fully functional. I am not to bite into anything crunchy so Steve's fancy English toffee I purchased at one of those fairs last week is safe from me. It sounds like it will be a month before the crowns are ready as my dentist is taking a vacation. And I have to make a 40 mi round trip to the lab making them to match my colors, which sadly isn't pearly white. I offered to go yesterday as I was half-way there but I was told I would have to wait at least 2 hours as the recent dental work would make the teeth dehydrated and artificially lighter than they really are. Who knew...
My dentist is quite the chatterbox. We had broken our arms around the same time in the same place though his was repaired through surgery (can't be a one-arm dentist but the surgery option was not offered to me despite me needing 2 arms to be a chemist) and both suffered through PT with seemingly sadistic therapists. They would bend back our arms to the point that we screamed and then keep it there He said that he could never do a job like that causing so much pain. Hello? You're a dentist. Or maybe he was just kidding. The two hour plus ordeal of grinding my teeth to ugly pegs to affix the temporaries wasn't painful just tedious. When I was a child, I was taken to a very incompetent dentist who never seemed to be able to find the right nerve to inject the lidocaine. I would complain but all my whinings were dismissed saying that if I really felt it, I would be 'grabbing the chandelier'. There is presumably forgettable pain, childbirth, and unforgettable pain such as dental pain. Fifty plus years later I remember it clearly. Fortunately I had better dentists after him.
I was to get my hair fixed today cutting short my run so I would have time to drive to the opposite end of the county. I come back to find a message about perhaps me coming later so she can have a long run. Wish I was told that before. And then, right while I was leaving, a call saying please don't come at all as she fell after the run and is too dizzy to deal with me.%^#$
Oh well, I have plenty that needs to be done and I can suffer bad hair a little longer.
And I need a rest from going out every night or entertaining here with too much drinking. I am a social eater. If I am by myself, I don't bother to get extra food out. Last night I went out with my ex-co-workers. It was fun but having part of the beltline that sort of circles Ann Arbor broken really makes going anywhere near Ann Arbor difficult. And I see they are approving yet another housing development that will send even more cars in the backyard of my old house. Glad I am out.
Today is the 40th anniversary of my first day at work as a medicinal chemist. So, so, long ago.
Below is my cute grandson missing his front tooth:

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Frozen piñata

Tessa had her 4th birthday party yesterday. She loves purple and the movie Frozen.
Getting the first swing at the pinata
4 year olds  lining up for their turn

I liked the way the light glistened on the pile of jewelry
me wearing my purchase of the other day
I love my striped crocus

more irises
pesky chipmunk
fused glass lawn ornament for Josh. He better like it though Steve is very doubtful. He should be here any moment to pick it up

I've been busy. Friday after biking and running, I went with some friends to yet another Art Fair. I didn't like this one nearly as much as the other but I did find a beautiful beaded necklace, bracelet and earring set at a nearby store. Back to my house to prepare an impromptu dinner for my friends and then another viewing session of House of Cards.  The Underwoods are so sleazy and the show is not the least bit realistic but it is still fun to watch though if a certain idiot makes it to the White House, things will be much worse  in real life. We will finish it off tonight.
It has been very cold for the past several mornings. My long Sunday morning bike ride would have been painful today as it was in the 20s. Fine for running though. I would stop everytime I'd hear a red bellied woodpecker but all I can see is their backs. Yesterday I went by a herd of 20 deer. Tessa invited her whole preschool class to her birthday. Most of them have birthdays in the same 2 month period so every weekend, there is at least one party. Two parties yesterday with the same kids. Plus many brought their siblings so a whole household of kids plus all the cousins minus Maya. Half of the presents had a Frozen theme. Tess will have to wait for a present from this Grandma as I hope for her to pick out something special next week in Disneyworld.After the party, off to have a pint with a friend.
Tomorrow a long dental session in which I will get temporary teeth. The permanent ones come in a couple of weeks.

Friday, March 18, 2016

Into the wind

I love Google Earth. This is our house according to it. Looks like the walls are caving in
This is me looking very poodle like with one year old Josh. It was his birthday yesterday
Josh riding a motorcycle in Coney Island
One of my favorite photos of Josh. He is 6 here

Watercolor of a house finch created by a woman who lives just down the road
This I probably paid too much for (about 7 times as much as the watercolor above) but I love irises

I can finally relax though Monday morning, I have 2.5 hours of dental work planned and I have more battles with the assessment people. Not having to deal with the breasts for more than a year is a major bonus. And I finally got a helpful insurance person to deal with my teeth.
I did see my dentist yesterday who wanted to be sure all the teeth are still alive and thus salvageable. This involved holding a metal lead to my gum line while he cranked up the electricity. I was to pull it away as soon as I felt pain. Yep they are all alive though I was imagining pain after awhile before he even cranked up the juice. They still can die, even the one which wasn't broken. I was reading about a Facebook friend who needs $15K worth of implants resulting from an injury with her toddler's head bumping her teeth very hard. This toddler is now in his 40s so it took awhile for them to die. Then they made molds of my teeth so he can fashion some temporaries to be put on in a lengthy session Monday. Then I have to wait 2 weeks more for my crowns.
Because I just can't help myself, I stopped at 2 resale shops I  haven't been in for  months. The least promising one had my best finds especially the hand painted finch. I looked up the artist and was amazed to find she lived in the very small community Frain's Lake. This is technically where I live.
I was thinking that the red colored finches that visit often were purple finches (not sure why they are called that as they aren't the least purple) but I was studying a close up photo I have and it's really a house finch.
While driving back, I was having trouble controlling the car. Bad tires? Nope, suddenly a very stiff wind had shown up and I hadn't ridden my bike yet. It was supposed to get worse, so I immediately headed directly into the wind. It was so hard. I had to cross a major intersection quickly. Although it was flat, I was going into a 30 mph headwind. So so hard. After about 4 miles of that, I was in an area in which the winds would be mainly cross winds and I would be protected by hills and forests. Then a 4mile free ride back in which I probably didn't need to peddle. So these 15 miles (or at least the first 4-5 miles) were much harder than my 21 mile ride in still air the other day. Gusts were reported to be up to 55mph. Our mailbox was blown over twice before we kept it safe until the wind dies down that night.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016


Wakka Wakka art from Australia

mini-irises in bloom
crocuses of many colors
glass flower to be put outside
Currently my right breast is covered with black dots (that didn't wash off) and long, pink jaggedly stickers that look like railroad tracks covering my incision scars. This whole week I've been telling myself it's only scar tissue....but then the whispers..but what if it came back....
So between my negative thoughts and a very loud thunderstorm that roared through in the middle of the night, I didn't get much sleep.
I gave myself 40 minutes to go the 8 miles to the hospital. It took 20 minutes alone just to go 1.5 miles. Yep it was rush hour made worst by part of the freeway shutting down. During my bike ride yesterday, traffic was still backed up 2 hours later. I whizzed by those cars on the shoulder with my bike. I was already frazzled  when I got there.
Going into the Cancer Center gives me bad memories. New feature: a poster on how to put on those gowns. I never can do it right. If I ever go back again, I will bring clothes pins to keep the ends together. I carefully followed the directions but noticed one of the crucial ties was missing. I tried to get another gown but they were locked up.
I had the same tech as 2 weeks ago. I said that the scar tissue from my recent surgery probably made the mammogram look different. She thought all my surgery was on the left side, which looked fine. Nope, I had work on both sides. I wrote this all over the place plus it's in my records. Before taking any scans, she went to the radiologist with this 'new' information. Why can't I talk to the radiologist directly? I thought I would be spared further scans but no such luck. Then more waiting, then even more scans at high magnification with me becoming increasingly upset. I think I had 8 scans today. But the bottom line, I was cleared. I had been so frazzled, I forgot which locker I had put my clothes in.
Nearby is my favorite resale shop. See Aboriginal art above. Then a visit to a good friend. Then a run through the blustery winds. At least it was warm which it won't be for the next few days.
So glad this is over.
Battling with insurance over my teeth still in progress. I will get the work done tomorrow regardless as the teeth hurt.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016


my little friend compared to my massive foot

he was several hundred yards from the nearest stream
croci of various colors popped up in my yard this weekend
big glass flower that will be a lawn ornament
a visitor last night

While I was running yesterday I saw what appeared to be a small lobster in the road. I assumed it was dead. How long can they live out of water though there was a heavy fog. When I circled back a few minutes later, it had moved 5 feet. Clearly it was alive. I ran back to get my camera.
There is a creek nearby .Did it overflow into a ditch nearby because of all the rain?
I never saw a live crayfish out of water or one this big in Michigan. That crummy school in the downriver area of the Detroit suburbs I went to briefly along with my friend who has leukemia (she might get out of the hospital tomorrow after 5 weeks) had a junkyard in the back of the school yard surrounded by a moat. During recess, we would find crayfish in the standing water Probably a good breeding ground for mosquitoes too. I don't think they were this big.
Later, while proving that we touched bottom of a 20 foot deep lake, we'd bring up handfuls of lake bottom sometimes containing little bitty crayfish.
Our hearing concerning the alleged market value of our house (thus now the taxable value) went poorly. They didn't think that we paid much less for it (which one would think was the market value) was all that important. They had an absurd method of figuring what a house was worth, adding up all the features then subtracting just about 10% for 15 years of wear, which in itself is ridiculous. Roofs, furnaces, fixtures age much more than that.  We were allowed to subtract minor things we did not have.  There are not many comparables in the neighborhood. Only 2 sales besides ours in the last 2 years. Both for houses  much bigger than ours though one house cost almost $100K less.
They will let s know in a few weeks. We can take our fight to the state. I feel we are being taken advantage of.
The redo of my mammograms tomorrow looms larger. Yeah it is probably nothing. Just in case, I stopped taking baby aspirin last week. The last time  needed a biopsy, it was delayed a week because of that. And that biopsy showed I had fat necrosis (ie nothing) but it took lots of out of pocket cash to find that out.


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