Friday, April 29, 2016

Bird land

Male red bellied woodpecker

I love his feathers
A visit from Mr. Rose Breasted grosbeak. Haven't seen him in a year. His ugly mate hasn't been seen yet
Among the service berry blossoms
Later I bought this lamp and two tables

Mrs Red-bellied showed up even later

A good day for new birds though I have heard the red bellied woodpeckers before on our roof, I just never saw them. I do see them on my runs and took distant photos of them a few weeks ago but now, both the male and female came to my feeders today. Early in the morning, the male rose breasted grosbeak came in all his glory. I do have my oriole feeder baited as they came the same time as the grosbeaks last year.
A good friend and I spent a very wonderful afternoon in Northville today. A tasty lunch followed by shopping. In a resale shop, I found these end tables and a walnut pseudo-Frank Lloyd Wright lamp.

Thursday, April 28, 2016

Our living room

Still a work in progress  Need new couch, new rug, new side table..

So Steve hung my fancy monoprints up high. I thought it would be big but here it looks so tiny
More 70s pottery These little pots are all stuck together
I had a project that needed to be done but 6 hours of labor later, all done. Take that inter-nag.. Not that outside was all that inviting: a cold rain most of the day. And I will be busy with friends for the next 3 days especially Sunday when the Moms all come over. What to make.....

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Tuesday's night guest

My luxury item for the living room by Kathryn Henneman. Steve is not impressed as it is mostly empty space. If these monoprints are original, I got a good deal (they look real). If they are reproductions, not so much

Maya looks so somber here

she likes the clown that I have as a decoration in the room she sleeps in
cheapie but I like it.

To give Naomi a break, I've been picking Maya up at soccer practice and bringing her to our home. She did participate in the practice instead of shutting down as she did in the game. Naomi is coming over to practice with her. You could fit several soccer fields on our property.
Earlier in the day, Tessa was with us. It was too cold for her to go outside.
Last week I was good and only bought a picture stand (never pass those up) but today I went sort of wild. The series of monoprints was the most expensive thing I ever bought in a resale shop. After researching it, I went back to get it though I still think it is overpriced.
I waited until the afternoon for my long ride as it was so cold this morning. Unfortunately, the wind picked up but it felt good to be moving.

Monday, April 25, 2016

The church of inane signs

This is the church's message board I go by often. What I fail to see are worshippers

Other inanities: Christmas without Christ is plagiarism and Thank God we put a man on the moon
I do like this mailbox
Everyone needs a solar chicken, a gift from a dear friend
I took down the Easter eggs and redecorated the wreath with cardinals
I also took off the eggs from my tree. Extra bonus: we took down our snowflake lights replacing them with chains I can hang flower pots and bird feeders. The rodents will have to walk upside down on the porch ceiling to access them Good luck with that.
I biked more than 25 miles yesterday so I am getting stronger. Very pretty though as I had to delay my ride, traffic was heavier than I would have liked. Today I just went for a short ride tucking my head down as I was going into the wind. At the last second, I looked up to see a tractor hauling a spreader just a few feet from me spewing out a cloud of toxic herbicides. I tried to hold my breath. It was such a foul, choking gas cloud. If I had been looking up I could have at least gone to the other side of the road.
A good day. It never became too hot so I was able to get some yard work done. I had a nice, long phone conversation with an old friend who I hadn't spoken to for a while. Bonus, we may be travelling together soon. Note very small may. Don't want to get my hopes too high.

My swallows came back yesterday, 2-3 weeks later than last year. They swooped around me as I was on the porch. May 3 is when I saw my first hummingbird. I should get stuff out for them.
Then a friend came over. We sat on the porch as the sun went down yakking it up, drinking wine.
Off to have lunch with the hubby.

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Lockdown drill

Finally, finally got an indigo bunting to visit the feeders

isn't he pretty?
Daniel and his sister were our guests Friday morning. He isn't feeling well
Last year I took a similar photo to several nurseries to ID it. No luck but someone in my class knew it was a Pasque flower, named as it blooms around Easter. Well it's about a month late this year but it is blooming.
Birthday dinner last night with Josh's family in Brighton, which has a nice playground right on the water downtown. A nice night. Had a Moscow Mule, the latest trendy drink, one of Josh's favorites. He didn't think ours was gingery enough

It is a beautiful Sunday morning: sunny, windless..what am I doing in front of a computer when I should be out  my long ride that I got up especially early for? Waiting for it to warm up. Later it is to be 67 but just as I was going out the door, I noticed it was 31. Frost on the grass should have been a clue.

While Shanna was volunteering at the school, they had a lockdown drill which involves hiding in a small room being as quiet as possible not to alert the crazed gunman. Well guess who will be the first one shot? Oliver just can not stay still or quiet. He lost his privilege of making a clay bird in art. I am not sure how they explained the drill to the kids. Make a sound and you might be killed? In my day, we had fire drills and tornado drills. In NYC, the tornado drills were replaced by civil defense drills in which the kids hid under desks in case of  a nuclear attack. Even a small child would grasp the futility of that. At least fire and tornados can be defended against.

Bad soccer grandma: Maya had he first game yesterday or rather her team did. She outright refused to participate. On the field, she sucked her thumb as the ball rolled by. No amount of cajoling would spring her into action. This is something she should be good at. Her 'step-sister' was a one girl team. Later she got ice cream while Maya had none. I did not know what to say constructively to her. Destructive probably is what I was. Not used to this. Her mom was a whirlwind on the field. Even Shanna would at least look like she was trying. Later Maya called us wanting to apologize for wasting our time. She said she will definitely play in the future. She seemed in a good mood by then and sincere. We will see.

I've been weeding. I have replaced the Easter wreathe with one full of cardinals. Yep I know cardinals aren't spring like. Maybe today the Xmas lights can come down when I get ambitious enough to saw my long chain into 4 small chains to hang pots and feeders from our 15 foot high porch. I only want Steve up that high once.

Cold be damned. It is getting late increasing my chances of becoming road kill. Already I have altered my route.

Friday, April 22, 2016

Happy bertday to me

me missing the same teeth that were knocked out in my recent accident. Hair is distressingly similar. My companions were a year ahead of me and constantly lorded that over me. Despite my father being a photographer, there aren't many photos of me past this as I ceased to be photogenic once I was 5. I guess he had a point.
Birthday flowers. An Applewatch will be coming once the new model is out and the current one is cheaper.

Naomi playing with Instagram filters again

I received two singing messages yesterday morning. One from Ms. Maya who has trouble with 'th's and one from my friend battling host versus graft disease. On FB, Rastaman, my sometimes bicycle companion (he wears fleece dreadlocks over his helmet) was first of 30 something to wish me Happy Birthday on FB. Some texts. A card in the mail.Some phone calls. Was Josh's prompted? He wouldn't tell. He is terrible with dates. Best: a lunch date with my oldest child though it was cut short by a call from the school Please pick up your child ASAP. Later, dinner with Steve at a new place of my choosing. I chose badly as it turned out at a place with unbelievably bad service. And we battled snarled Ann Arbor traffic to get there. In 2 weeks, the students leave so maybe the town will be more accessible. There were a few that I didn't hear from so my inner child is pouting as my adult self is saying Stop your whining; count your blessings!.
In Cancerland, each new year should be viewed as a victory. Ha I survived despite you. The pessimist sees one step closer to death. How wrinkly I am? How slow I've become? But the truth is I don't believe the calendar. I feel younger. I have to prove my 'seniorhood' constantly as my hair throws those who don't look too carefully, off. I am fairly healthy (current battle is the aftermath of taking Clindamycin 2 months ago). I can still run ever so slowly and bicycle for hours.
My baby girl will turn 37 this year. A son -in-law is in his 40s. Even Naomi, who I had as an 'elderly' mother, is 25. I must be old.
As usual, it rained on my birthday though it at least stopped while we were taking the long walk from our remote parking spot to the restaurant and back. I did find a time in the morning when it was only drizzling to run protected from the wet with my oldest article of clothing, my arctic wool hat. I did weed as the ground is now soft. Shall I plant stuff today? As we were late in contacting the guy in charge of dewinterizing our pipes (we are too stupid to do this ourselves), I am glad for rain until he comes in 3!!!!weeks. Note to self: must start nagging earlier.
I've been battling grackles. They arrive in large flocks of all males picking the feeders clean in minutes making their rusty hinge noises.  Hate them. They are worse than squirrels. They do leave the finch feeder alone and the feeders in front as they haven't discovered them.
Every time I look on Zillow, the value of our house jumps another thousand. If only we were earning a thousand a day! So now it is more than a $100K over; even over what those greedy grackle band of assessors pegged it at (they backed off on half of their outrageous value but we still need to take our case to the state by the end of May).

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Goose egg

Naomi was requested to retrieve her daughter as she hit her head hard on the monkey bars at recess. She is to be kept awake for the next few hours to make sure she does not have a concussion

She was fine this morning at our house
What to do with all that hair
new solar light
so some tulips did survive the rabbits by hiding amongst the not so tasty daffodils

So it spring. The smells-like-sex pear trees in our neighborhood are all in bloom. We are the only ones without at least one as a windstorm uprooted the existing one two years ago. Lawn mowers are going full speed. Even Steve was out cutting the yard, which went faster with the newly sharpened blades.
I retrieved Maya from school yesterday and took her to soccer. She has such a hard time focusing on the task at hand. Even her mother could focus on sports. I watched from the sidelines with the soccer moms, most younger than Shanna. She was very excited to stay with us planning all what she was going to eat in advance.  It is amazing what that skinny little body can consume though as she is in constant motion, even while asleep, it is no surprise.She was disappointed to see that Steve's siblings had left. We are working on manners, enunciating more clearly, and  increasing her vocabulary.
It was warm enough to have my pre-birthday lunch outside with my birthday buddy from work. A nice afternoon. Two trains came by close to where we were sitting. Bonus, they still have the blood orange honey ale I like. And with my new chompers, I can eat crispy things now.
As almost always, it will rain on my birthday. The one exception was the only time my birthday fell on Easter when I was 4. My mom baked me a lamb cake covered in coconut fur. Meanwhile, in Naomi's short life, she has had 3 Easter birthdays including the day she was born. Labor pain is considered a forgettable pain. I can't recall exactly how it felt but I remember feeling jealous of those off to their Easter brunches while it felt like my insides were tearing apart.
The ground now is too hard to weed. That is my excuse and I am sticking with it.

Monday, April 18, 2016


I have daffodils of various colors all over the place Blooms won't last long in this heat. Yep it is 81 degrees. Just last week, there was snow.
Maya and the girl she lives with on the weekend. They are on the same soccer team
Josh's family. Didn't get to see him this weekend
Art next to the front door
New print in hallway with reflections from the nearby room

I should be out weeding right now but lazy, lazy lazy. I've only done a bit of today's to-do list. Before the heat hit, out for a long run and a short bike. Windless, cloudless. Some of last week's turmoil seems to be subsiding so maybe I can sleep better now.
The hawk was sitting on the nest as I ran by. I did not see its partner. What are hackles as in 'it raised my hackles'?  According to one bird book, the difference between the sharp-shinned hawk and the Cooper's hawk is that the latter has 'hackles' whereas the former has a milder mien. Mean looking eyebrows?
Turkeys ran in front of my bike yesterday. I hadn't seen them since the fall though they don't migrate. I don't see turkeys along my usual running route (lots of deer though) but I can cover more territory on a bike.
Last night I went to a memorial for a friend's father. The prayers were in Hebrew but a translation was provided. I was struck with the difference between them and those said at a Christian ceremony. In the latter, you are to be comforted by the idea hat your love one is now with their savior. None of that in the Kaddish. Instead more reminders of who provides the rains for your crops. Cross Him, and the rains will cease.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Not all woodpeckers with a red head are red headed woodpeckers

This is the tail end of a hairy woodpecker. They look like large versions of the downies that frequent my feeders. If it were a downie, it would have white bars on the black tail feathers

So I finally got a photo of the red  bellied woodpecker. I believe it is a male but not absolutely sure

Close-up of Mrs. Cooper's hawk

This nest is very close to the road I run on

As the one on the tree appears larger than the one on the nest, I assume the smaller male is warming the eggs

One difference between falcon, a peregrine below we saw in CA, is that falcons have larger feet than hawks. These birds are roughly the same size but the falcon has bigger feet. Falcons strike with the feet versus the beak. Also falcons have some weird organ in their nose so they can survive their 200 mph dives

About a month ago, a raptor of some sort knocked itself out  on my window while pursuing my feeder birds. By the time I got my camera out, it had recovered and flew off. I tried to remember all the details: gray blue back, orange thigh feathers, much smaller than the red tail hawk that comes through. I assumed it was a falcon called a merlin which looks very similar to this. But a mile away, as the hawk flies, I found its home very close to the road and would see it about half the time I ran by. So there are two of them taking turns sitting on the eggs. There used to be a very small raptor known as a sparrow hawk. Some how using DNA, they found out it is really a falcon and renamed it a kestrel. Still not clear on the differences between a hawk and a falcon as some of them closely resemble each other but birds books don't even have them in the same chapter.
So these are Cooper hawks, not merlins. There is another bird that even experts can't tell the difference except in general it is a bit smaller known as a sharp-shinned hawk. One likes deciduous forests and the other coniferous. As our woods are mainly hickory and oak (versus the sugar maples I used to live amongst), I am calling it a Cooper's hawk aka chicken hawk. It likes birds versus rodents whereas the red tail hawk I hope is eating our rodents.
I went to the woods yesterday armed with the good camera with the 300 mm lens (maybe I should get a bigger lens)  in pursuit of the woodpeckers. There are no leaves on the trees and they are calling out to each other along with the tree tapping. They have such a distinctive call even Steve can hear and recognize it. So I focus on their calls and find them. Unfortunately, they flit from tree to tree and like to be high up. Once I had a clear shot when it was fairly low but alas, the camera wasn't completely turned on. And a second later, off to another tree. But I did get some photos along with that of a hairy woodpecker. A nuthatch was very close to me ripping off bark presumably to make a nest with it. Nuthatches are in my yard so I didn't photograph it. I did see a hawk in the nest but it flew off when I got closer.
I went back this morning with Steve thinking the birds are more active in the morning. We heard plenty of woodpeckers but didn't see them. But bonus, both hawks were next to the nest and like to perch on low limbs for a long time.
I biked 68 miles this week. Sounds like a lot but still less than my long day last summer. It was perfect this morning. Windless. The temps are to climb during the day from 38 to 78 so our humidity is very low.
It would have been a nice day for soccer yesterday but the game was cancelled. Dontae didn't know that until he was almost all the way to the field. So I saw Maya for a bit. They were off to the Toledo Zoo. Glad she is getting some enrichment activities.

Friday, April 15, 2016

If only.....

This is a mold of my teeth containing the fake teeth I've been sporting for the past month. Got my new front teeth yesterday. Now I can eat apples and caramels. Strangely I was the only one who ever asked for this souvenir

When the setting sun hits part of my glass collection, it looks pretty
new glass pumpkin glowing
cool Mexican plate

Back in the Land of Cancer seven years or so ago, one would find me up at night obsessing over my possible death. Yeah the odds were in my favor but the 30 % chance of an early, painful death kept me up. In the support group, the moderator asked if I found losing my hair the most devastating aspect of cancer. Nope...that was just the cherry on top of a sh*t sundae.
If only I didn't have this, I would be so happy kept cycling through my brain. At some point the fear of distal mets, which come sooner than later in TNBC, was replaced with non-Cancerland worries like how to deal with a teenage pregnancy of an especially immature potential mother. Back to the if only late night show.
A bit of progress has been made on that front though the greatest issues have yet to be addressed. Some problems seem unfixable.This is all I will say about it.
As for a minor if only in the general scheme of things such as the face plant I made in the middle of the PCH early February, I got the last bit of work done yesterday as my flimsy, composite fake teeth were replaced by porcelain fake teeth. The dentist's advice, next time I fall, protect the face. If only I was aware I was falling. The teeth are better than what they replaced as one of the teeth had been chipped in a previous fall. Still my lip is somewhat swollen and numb though the area seems to get smaller. And I am not sure the scars will fade to nothing. And the bills keep coming If only I had decided to see the elephant seals at Ano Nuevo that day....
Spring is here for at least a week and then some. I still needed to wear the ecologically unsound furry pants to run as the sun rose as there was frost all around but in the afternoon after a very long dental appointment, it was warm enough for bicycling shorts so off I went. Physical exercise is such a balm for me. I will do that 6 day ride with a friend in 3 month though in a less hilly section of the state than the past 4 years.  Having winter in April had really messed up my training schedule but now it looks like the snows have stopped.
There was a painting I really wanted at the resale shop but a week later, it was gone. Snooze you lose. I did buy a few things but I am really cutting back, really. Soon it will be planting season to distract me. Some varmint is eating my tulips. Rabbits? Deer?
Oliver got in to the gifted and talented program in his district. They only admit the top 5%. He is so easily bored but perhaps now he will be  challenged. Downside: her kids will be in 3 different schools next year.
Maya's first soccer game will be tomorrow on the other side of Ann Arbor. She is a very coordinated kid but does not follow instructions very well. On the weekends, she lives with 3 kids, one of whom is her age. This little girl is considerably more focused and also on the team. Hopefully it will rub off on Maya. I've had the two girls run around my yard. They both can run like the wind


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