Thursday, June 30, 2016

Tempus fugitive

waterfall with mist maker complete with color changing LED lights. Green stones retrieved from the Mediterranean outside of Bonassola
bee balm
reddish blonde curls in her hair. I guess redhair genes lie closely below the dominant African-American ones
she likes to sweep

and dead head flowers with scissors
artwork just for me
shrimp plant. I am irritated because I bought several more plants that the woman was packaging up for me. I paid for them all but some were missing once I got home

Don't you love autocorrect? I type in Tempus fugit and Tempura fugitive comes out. I kept the fugitive. Time is running by, the end of June already. I mourn the flowers bloomed and gone while await new blossoms. Lilies, cosmos, bee balm, cleome all opening up. I've been harvesting Swiss chard though I think a deer got its head under the mesh to take a few bites too.

Still very dry here. It sprinkled one day. We had two days of wonderful cool air now morphing into a blast furnace this summer has been. Still way better than dead, cold winter.

What have I been up to? Lots of bicycling, running and gardening. I made a few more planters from end of season flowers and rescued my sensitive hibiscus from being rootbound until it outgrows its new pot. I added a bit to my 'family tree' but as I have some children predating their parents, I need to untangle some of the mess. I figured out how to quickly read the results of my gene tests with bargraphs highlighting the bad stuff, which there is plenty. Also there is plenty not tested for so some perspective is needed. The whole thing is somewhat like a pseudoscience horoscope and should be taken with a grain of salt. Still I am waiting for Maya's results.

She turns 6 tomorrow. Tempus fugit indeed. What can I do for her? What do I have patience for? More than Steve who can't seem to stop irritation from creeping into his voice. She is eager to please as most little girls her age but is so impulsive and hyperactive. Stop that please! Now! I mean it! I catch myself repeating that over and over. What is she hearing? She does best with a task at hand. Coloring, sweeping, and now using scissors to cut off the spent blossoms of coreopsis. She craves attention. She is making some progress though woefully short of the stringent standards required to go to first grade these days. She will go to kindergarten in the fall. She is not involved in any summer program. Last year, she had speech therapy. She has a different disability than what I am well familiar with that my mother retained her entire life (inability to remember certain sounds), I still have a small bit of, Josh had a severe case but outgrew(with therapy) and the grandboys have to a certain degree       9though it skipped Shanna who was articulate at an early age  as are Tessa and Allie)

The other day, Daniel was having a mini-meltdown and stated I hate my wife.
His brother quickly jumped on that even though he has only recently somewhat mastered 'l's , said Oh, I didn't know you were married (which came out marweed). Steve laughed when Daniel repeated he didn't hate his wife but hated his WIFE which provoked Daniel into a greater fury. I am sure in a few years, both boys will speak perfectly. They are both highly intelligent. Oliver is entering the gifted program this fall  in their school system. But speech really isn't an indicator of intelligence (I keep telling myself that)

Maya doesn't take time to properly enunciate things. Backpack becomes packpack. If I make her slow down, she says things correctly. I spend lots of time coaching.

How I despaired when I first heard of her existence (at 4 months!!!). Her mom was just a teenager and a very immature one at that. How could she handle a child?  She is a very special, loving child. She is stunningly beautiful but life is and will be hard for her. How to make it easier?

Six years ago found us in the hospital trying to ascertain if Naomi's water had broke. It hadn't but to the staff, she seemed to be in active labor excepting that Naomi was much too cheerful during her contractions. They released her if I promised to keep a close eye on her. I lived 3 miles from the hospital so she quickly could be returned. I have read that redheads have different pain sensitivities; what some interpret as minor irritations are major to them and visa versa. My first roommate  (a redhead)in the hospital found labor to be no big deal (it was a very big deal to me) yet whimpered all night because the milk rushing into her breasts hurt. Interestingly, my redhaired genes that I do have (but had been overruled by stronger genes) showed up as red (code for 'bad' genes). I assume it is considered 'bad' as they increase the risk for sunburn and skin cancer not due to the personality commonly ascribed to redheads. Her first daycare provider shook her head when she saw her saying something about a redhead personality. I should have fired her right then instead of 6 weeks later.

Monday, June 27, 2016

There's a gene for that

I keep several orchids around my bathtub, which is surrounded by windows on 3 sides. I did have them around my pond last year but insects attacked the leaves
Allie and Josh came over for dinner yesterday. Half of the ice cream cone made it into her mouth. Her sibling now is the size of a lime
sunrise in my backyard yesterday just as I was taking off for my 33 mile ride. Heat index 97 degree later but I had finished well before that
red yarrow
2 colors of delphiniums

My favorite disease: kabuki make-up syndrome. I am not sure if it means that one is born looking like one has kabuki make-up on or an intense desire to put it on. At anyrate, I don't have that gene. I do have genes for cluster headaches (which I had for a 3 year period), gout, social anxiety and various proclivities towards cancer. I really don't feel that I have social anxiety. I have no fears about speaking publicly or interacting with people. I do realize that I am sometimes awkward but I trudge through regardless.

I am not a taster of the bitter drug PTU, which was confirmed in my biology class as a 13 year old when we were learning about genetics. In today's biology classes, they no longer test kids as embarrassing paternity issues could arise. They didn't care about such stuff in my day.

One of my second cousins identified by gene testing has contacted me wondering what relative we have in common (read the chart!). A sixth cousin was identified meaning we have a great to the fifth power grandfather in common. Ancestry identified the person as a 4th cousin but as our ancestors came from a small county in Scotland where there was lots of commingling, we have more genes in common than just the one great (5x) father

In the city, the lindens have bloomed. Towards the end of my bike ride yesterday, I rode through the edge of Ann Arbor and could smell the intense orange-blossom aroma. Near my house, I smell sweet grass. In the past 8 days, I put on 104 miles on the bike. We had a 3 day hot spell with heat indices  near 100. The thunderstorm drizzled rain for only a few minutes. Other cells fizzled out as soon as they came near. We need rain!!!! Tomorrow it will be cool enough for a long run. Yay.

Friday, June 24, 2016

A cascade of teeth

Since we moved, we go to this town often as it is the third closest to us but as we never approached it from the east until today, we missed this dental office spewing out fake teeth from its windows
Having coffee overlooking the town square
Early morning light filtering through one of the orchids surrounding my bathtub
Stained glass butterfly bowl. Haven't figured out where and how to display it
hollyhocks and bee. Lots of pollen
seed heads of my love-in-the-mist
scented geranium  (citronella) flowers

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Gene genie

I couldn't resist this fountain even though I just bought a little fountain for the front porch
My friend's shade gardens
Zingermans seems to be expanding
I was thinking about buying this clock. Full price! Spoon is a pendulum.
Maya and Tessa walking together in Shanna's neighborhood
baby patty pan squash only an inch across. Three days later, it is three inches across

This has been the week of genes. Steve and I uploaded our raw DNA into a medical genetic database (only $5) and out spewed pages and pages of data linking our genes to various medical conditions. Another DNA testing service was ordered by the FDA recently to stop providing medical interpretations to laymen in fear that seeing so many bad genes might lead one to kill oneself or at least get sterilized. It is only a matter of time before this service is shut down too but I believe people have the right to know what's in their genes. It will take me forever to go through the whole thing and I've been very busy.

For my appearance, I am probably tall, fair skinned, sunburn easily (not really), have blue eyes, straight hair. I have genes for scoliosis (don't have it) cleft palate (I don't have it but a cousin had it), various autoimmune diseases, some bad cancer genes, peanut allergies (don't have them but grandkids do), am lactose tolerant,  have strong bones (yep)high HDL (that's true) tendency towards diabetes and gout (have neither). I have no gene for male pattern baldness but Steve does. Oh and I have the fat gene.

There are genes coding for the cytochromes in the liver responsible for metabolizing drugs. Most of mine are normal. Back when I was working for a drug company, it was developing an antinflammatory drug that was supposed to more effective and safer than aspirin and the other NSAIDs. It was for the most part. But there existed a very small subset of the population who lacked a cytochrome to deal with it and this info wasn't stamped on their forehead. For them, it led to dangerous toxicity. They had to abandon the drug.

It said I probably lack empathy. Hmm..well I think I feel others ' pain. I allegedly have a large hippocampus, better to remember things. The list goes on and on.

Steve's results seemed a lot more positive. He has none of the negative genes associated with being Jewish. He has long living genes and a low chance of getting Alzheimer's (unlike me who is at risk for Parkinson's Disease to boot).

And we got the genetic results of our  sixth grand child. No chromosomal abnormalities. Yay. Yep they did find out the sex but that will be a secret to the blogging world for now.

We decided it would be interesting to figure out Maya's genetic background, which for now is mainly based on hearsay. So all she needed to do is spit about a half teaspoon into a vial. Easy-peasy, right? What an ordeal! It took almost an hour of trying to get her to spit.

She finally got to sleep over at her cousin's. An event she has been begging for  months for. Every 5 minutes Can we go to Shanna's now?  How about now?It seemed to go well.

I went treasure hunting today at a resale shop with my friend who is finally feeling much better and more energetic from her stem cell transplant. And then on to a tasty lunch at Kerrytown. She was able to digest lobster bisque; me bi bim bop from providers across from each other. Later to her house to admire all her gardens that she isn't to touch due to her compromised immune system but she can point and order from behind her mask. And she had enough energy to bake an excellent coconut mango cheesecake. Later I visited yet another friend.

The weather has been beautiful but the rain keeps missing us. Soon it will be hot and dry again. Please let it rain.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

My blue genes

Allie's preschool made cards for the dads. See how long her hair is now
No eye color gene predictor tool will be needed
 to guess her sibling's eye color. It will be blue.

Both Steve's and my DNA have been loaded to gedMATCH, an organization that compiles the DNA obtained from the various DNA testing services, Ancestry and 23 and me  being the  2 largest. Not everyone who has their DNA tested uploads it. I see  that my 3 second cousins that Ancestry identified have not done it but the first cousin that Steve has did and from her user name, we figured out who she was. As her mother was one of the older children, perhaps she can shed some light on some missing links.

So what I have I done with all this DNA data. There are at least 12 alleles involved with eye color. From my DNA, they predicted I would have pale blue eyes. True color: bluish-gray. From Steve's, they predicted blue eyes with a green center: actual :  green.

Do we have genes in common? Absolutely none. I ran my DNA versus my friend's. On paper, we have similar  ethnic backgrounds. No commonality by DNA. But then I ran my DNA against her ex-husband who was born in Poland to two Polish parents. He is a probable 4th cousin. Go figure.

They also had a test to see if your parents were related. As my parents came from completely different backgrounds (in so many ways), no surprise that they were different.

Steve's parents came from a much smaller group (Ashkenazi Jews). There were rumors that certain people were cousins from both sides. Yet his parents were not related (at least through 5 generations) according to Steve's DNA.

This is what one does when it is much too hot to be outside though there was a bit of cloud cover very early in the morning enabling me to run without suffering too much. We have the sprinkler system going all the time. Thankfully we live on a large aquifer.

I have been diligently adding to the family tree stymied by death certificates in which the informant is asked for the names of the deceased parents and supplies only first names. Also in documents in which the birthplace is described in various documents in different countries. Information provided by the same individual.

I did make some inroads on a branch of my mother's tree. I had thought her father's mother was from Germany (as that was the info she provided). Nope, said her sister a few weeks ago. She was from Utica (city outside Detroit). I followed this up and learned all sorts of stuff about her parents who came from Baden-Wurttemberg in 1845 where they do keep records. In German but still, records that are in typeface, not in illegible handwriting like the Michigan records. So I didn't know I had relatives from southern  Germany. My mother's father's parents came from Prussia, the North. My aunt will provide me with the name of the city.

Even my mother's official info is not correct. According to the Social Security Administration, she lived where I did at the time of death. Well her checks were sent to me as I was her conservator (and guardian) but except for a few horrendous weeks, she did not live with me. She was in another county, whose probate office would remind me that I am lucky to deal with them versus the office in my own county.

What surprises did we learn from our DNA? That I am more Scandinavian than Irish. I did have a great-grandfather who immigrated from Ireland but he had a French mom, which cuts my Irishness in half right there. Half of my alleged Scandinavian heritage is Finnish, which consists of a unique set of genes. Despite the geography, Finns are different than the Swedes, Norwegians, and Danes.

As Poland is physically close to Scandinavia, maybe some genes are due to that. Or due to Vikings raiding Northern England and Scotland that is from my father's side.

Surprises from Steve's side. He has no Eastern European DNA at all (a bit of Western European). So much for the Cossacks raiding the shetls during their pogroms raping the women and setting things on fire for fun and the Polish locals occasionally getting into the action too leading both his mother's and father's family to leave for the US while they could. Worse for those who stayed behind. His father's side had only recently immigrated to Poland/Russia from Austria/Prussia so less of a chance of interactions with Eastern Europeans.

Steve also had traces of Northern African and Central Asian DNA.

How Jewish am I? less than 1%. Why both my mom's mom's parents had Jewish names is a mystery.

Sunday, June 19, 2016


the old church along my way
bike path- Huron Valley trail
What the M-14 overpass looks like at 6 am looking east. My solar lights were still on when I got up
underneath these enormous leaves are 6 baby squash. Just a month ago, the plants were 4/$1 seedlings
When my cooking classmate gave me some hardy hibiscuses, she said that another plant was entwined, which has a religious name that I forgot. I thought I discarded everything that wasn't a hibiscus (lots of weeds) but this survived
We had Maya on this very hot weekend. Too hot for the playground but she had no interest running through the spray zone (just packed to the gills with kids)
I harvested 3 more cups of rhubarb. Since I needed 4 cups, I supplemented with strawberries. The Moms seemed to
like it. My kids thought it would be great if I skipped the rhubarb and stuck with  just strawberries

It is deer fly season in the wet woodlands I run through. Although there are plenty of deer to feed on, some seek me out now. Moving air discourages them (never bother me while I bike) but my head is relatively immobile. They land on top and try to burrow through my hair to get to my scalp when I kill them. I had parts of six squished bugs in my hair by the time I returned yesterday. Wearing a hat would stop them but would make me feel hot. I only wore a hat when I was bald and still was tempted to take it off when people weren't around. One did land on my upper arm and took a chunk out of it. It really doesn't hurt that much but it is disgusting. And it is way too hot not to have the shelter of the trees.

Fireflies are also out., a sure sign of summer. We (the Moms) were sitting around a firepit last night. The heat of the day had finally went away. The surrounding fields glowed with their tiny lights. A nice night, drinking our Moscow mules, eating fish tacos having good conversations.

Annoying bugs: whatever is making my grandchildren sick. A week of high temps, fatigue morphing into ear infections. Maya's was short-lived but Oliver and Tessa still aren't completely well. And Allie had the croup making ungodly sounds.

Yesterday was Dontae's birthday. He chose to celebrate without kids. Naomi works  weekends so we had Maya. She is in constant motion, impulsive, does not stay on task so she is a challenge to deal with. If she does not quickly grow out of this, I think drugs will be needed. It is easier on us if we siphon off some of her considerable energy with constant activities, difficult when it is over 90 outside. I tried to exercise while she was asleep (also necessary because of the heat) so not to burden Steve so much (especially as I had left Saturday night). I did do night terror duty. She of course wants to sleep with us but even in her sleep, she is constantly moving and kicking and grinding her teeth. Usually I just lie with her until she falls asleep.

Due to my very early bike ride as the sun came up (nice and cool), I was able to return in time to help her make a combination birthday/Father's Day card for her dad. She was so proud of it and waited impatiently on the porch for her daddy to come and see it.

I had taken her hair down to put in conditioner. If you straighten it out, her hair would reach the middle of her back but it springs back into a cloud of hair that skims her shoulders. Underneath her reddish-black ringlets are straight strawberry blond hairs.  She is a beautiful child. We ordered a DNA test to uncover her father's half, a mix of African-American, Native American and as with most African-Americans, considerable European. The DNA test does not distinguish between groups of Native-Americans (must have too small of a data base as I would think that the Pacific Coast natives would be way different from the Eastern tribes). According to her paternal grandmother, they are Cherokee and Blackfoot. I was listening to a podcast about the Trail of Tears when Andrew Jackson expelled the Cherokees from the East making them walk a thousand miles to Oklahoma. A chief that had saved his life died en route. That's gratitude for you. Expel him from our twenties! Anyway, I was unaware that the Cherokees had slaves too and they came with them. Perhaps this  is how the Cherokee blood got mixed in.

It is Father's Day. My own father was much too immature to become a good one but I live with an excellent father and grandfather. Josh took us out for an early lunch. He too is a great father. Shanna and Daniel stopped by later. Naomi texted "Happy Father's Day" Later a friend asked Naomi if we all had gotten together for Father's Day (not unless I arranged it) and she accurately predicted how it would go down.

I took a rare nap this afternoon.  One more day of oppressive heat and then a bit of relief.

Friday, June 17, 2016

The Ann Lander's test

African sculpture
ceramic chickens that are now above cabinets
water color of Copenhagen in my nautical themed bathroom
These bloomed today
My flamingo willow. From a distance, it looks like it is covered with blossoms all summer
hummingbird guarding one of the feeders outside our bedroom window He is amazingly tiny

What is the Ann Lander's test? It is to determine whether you need to wear a bra or not. If your unsupported breast can hold a pencil under it,  you need a bra.  I'm in my 60s and through the miracle of reconstruction, I do NOT need a bra though this may be temporary as gravity eventually will take its toll. The cancer affected breast will never sag as it was fried to a rock from radiation.

I am 6 months out from my surgery. I am 4 months out from my bad fall ripping my lip open from my broken teeth. Although the lip is still somewhat numb and I can not use my new teeth as a tool for ripping open packages (they don't mesh right), I am finally fairly healthy even though I have been exposed to my grandchildren ( is child the only English word that has such a strange plural?) who all have been sick in the past week.

Aside from recovering from surgery and my accident, I had the worse cold early in the year at he same time I had a severe case of hot tub dermatitis in which a huge area of my skin peeled off and was weeping. Then I was covered with itchy hives. Just as I recovered from all that, I had Clindamycin (antibiotic given in the ER )induced digestive issues that lasted 3-4 weeks making me get up 3-4 times a night and all the time during the day. A friend around the same time needed to be hospitalized due to 24 hours of an intestinal flu leaving her with only 30% kidney function. What was going to happen after 3 weeks of this?

It went away. I have exercised at least once a day, sometimes twice without taking a day off since early April. Bicycling is becoming easier and easier.

I now have peach colored sparkly nails as I am finished with most of my gardening.

I harvested more rhubarb but this time I am adding strawberries to my creation for tomorrow's Mom's group.

I made a big pot of matzoh ball soup and later today, will make cheese blintzes.

The water guy came the other day as we heard all sorts of clanging from our water softener system. Right before he was scheduled to come, I figured out the problem was our sprinkler system that randomly turns itself on even in the middle of the night. This can temporarily be solved by pulling the plug. But we wanted him to check our reverse osmosis apparatus (how long do those membranes last?), the rust removal system and the softener. He checked both the tap water and the  reverse osmosis tap for ions by how much current they will conduct (absolutely pure water will not conduct a current)  The RO water was almost ion free; the tap water had plenty of ions, most of which would be sodium as the calcium and magnesium that make hard water are removed

Too many systems.

Finally a day of rain after ten days of drought but now we have 3 days of ninety or near ninety. Too hot. And I have Maya for 2 days starting tonight. Don'tae is taking off somewhere for his birthday and Naomi has to work.

No more school for any of the kids until fall.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

waffles and edelweiss

A lethargic Tessa. As the day progressed, she lost more and more energy and insisted on staying under the blanket even though she was hot to the touch
I made her special waffles, which she seemed enthusiastic about until she ate less than a quarter of it. Grossed out because it was multigrain? No an illness started to settle in.
finally some blooms on my edelweiss
plenty of lupine, which I have not grown successfully before. I got bold and planted 15 dahlia tubers yesterday
squash in bloom
My fairy garden. I got this clay village almost 40 years ago at an art fair
callas and zinnia sprouts
at the nearby lake the other day
weird cattle at Domino's farms from my bike ride Sunday. From a distance, I thought it was some sculpture from rusty 55 gallon drums
The road I used to run on when I lived at the Albatross. I biked on it the other day heading east into the sun. Tough when there weren't enough trees to block the sun. I now run on the same road 8 miles east of this point. And instead of me having to run north to go on it, I have to run south.

The drought continues. Lots of promises of rain and big green patches slowly coming in from the western part of the state only to disappear once they approach Ann Arbor. I am spending lots of time making sure all is watered.

One danger of having a house dependent on so many systems, is that we have no idea what to do when something breaks down. Something is not right with the water softener cycle. Weird noises and clanging keep me up a lot of the night. Oh to be blissfully deaf as my husband! The water softener expert comes in tomorrow.

And my annoying insurance company. My dentist office called to complain that nothing has been paid, no sign of receipt or even denial. No one answers the phone. Could I please intervene? Big sigh. I did seem to reach a helpful person. I am approved to have the dental work (thousands of dollars) reimbursed from the accident. The claims were not to be mailed to the office on my insurance card. Nope, they were to be sent to the local branch of my out of state insurance, who will deny them and then send them to the 'proper place'. Yep and how were we to know that? I had the insurance company call the dental office to confirm and miracle of miracles, they did! But I suspect I haven't heard the last of it.

Boy do I wish I didn't fall.

Strange animal sightings of the last few days: an enormous hawk-like bird flew through my yard while I had my co-worker over, larger than the Cooper's hawk and the red tail hawk that come through. Larger than the many vultures (who fly high) and didn't have that ugly red head. Later I consulted the bird book. No hawks around here are all brown. Then I looked up eagles. It takes 4 years for an eagle's head to turn white. I probably saw an immature eagle. And there are eagles around here. A big to-do when someone shot one a few miles away from here.

And those bizarre cattle at Domino's. They are not Texas longhorns.

And today, a mink ran in front of me.

My tiny vegetable plants are now quite large. I can harvest Swiss chard if I want to.

We had Tessa last night for her first overnight. She was quite excited. She by far, is the easiest grandchild enthusiastic about anything we suggest. She even asked to be put to bed. In the morning, she initially was her sunny self but then soon just wanted to chill on the couch instead of following me around outside or jumping on our trampoline. I felt her. She was burning up, which wasn't much of a surprise as her brothers were just getting over a fever. Shanna thought Tessa had escaped but no such luck. I am hoping this is just one of the many kid diseases that adults were long ago exposed to and thus immune.

And grandbaby six this week is the size of the prune and could finally be considered a fetus versus an embryo.

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Whimsical gardens

Fairy gardens have been vey popular around here for the past few years. Outrageously priced accessories can be had at all the garden stores plus classes. This one was designed by a 11 year old
garden totem
another one. Lots of these on sale
mutant hydrangea
lots of sculptures
this rock garden had slabs of colored glass

another garden featured Chihuly-like glass needles within
I love this planter
still peony season
favorite mailbox
lots of the gardens featured waterfalls
pretty baby bells
new to me flower
one garden had several varieties of yellow peonies
sculpture garden

One of the Moms is on the Ann Arbor Garden Walk committee and gave tickets to us other moms. Two of us were left (one Mom was watching her son's rocket launch in did go off yesterday). Although the forecasted thunderstorms did not happen (a week so far without rain), the temps were in the mid-nineties by afternoon. Very hot to be traipsing around. Fortunately most of the gardens were heavily shaded though as I have mostly full sun here in the middle of the meadow, not useful for ideas about 'sun' gardens. Lots of ferns and hostas (boring to me).

There were 7 gardens featured and a very crude map on how to find them. Some were in areas I have never been before. Each house had something  to sell: glass pretties, perennials, garden totems, fairy garden supplies, silk scarves). One house had 2 acres of very elaborate gardens. How does one find time to tend to so much? I assume they hired people.

We stopped for a nice lunch after a full morning of touring. In the afternoon, it became impossibly hot. It had been in the mid-70s when I had gotten up to run very early that morning but somehow a cold front (without rain!) came through last night so it was in the high 40s when I started my long bike ride this morning.

On Friday, a former colleague came to lunch. A lot had happened to the two of us in the long period since we worked together so we had plenty to catch up on. I harvested some of my Swiss chard to put in a quiche and mint and lemon balm to put in a salad. Every day I rip out lots of mint and lemon balm (and creeping thyme) and it reappears.

Steve went to Maya's soccer game. She finally got the idea that she was to go after the ball, not just keep the other girls company. She had a break away dribbling fairly skillfully down the field. Unfortunately in the wrong direction....


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