Saturday, October 21, 2017

Learning to read

Autumn leaves placemats

folk angel way on top of my cupboards. Wooden flowers net to her were purchased years ago at a street fair in the Loire Valley

giant marigolds finally blooming from my cheap seed collection

The blossoms were pale yellow when I bought this hibiscus last spring. Now they are orange. Have to bring in all, the orchids and hibiscus in this weekend as it might freeze while we are gone

Maya is to read every night for at least 15 minutes. She is a first grader though one of the oldest in the class at 7 as she spent two years in kindergarten. She is very behind. Recently her ADHD drug was increased. Apparently the lower dose was enough to stop her excess activity but not enough to have her focus on a task. She does know the alphabet and can identify all the letters. She knows what most sound like. What she can't do is remember from one moment to the next what a given word is even though she had sounded it out (painfully slowly) just the line before. The shape of the words aren't entering her short term memory much less her long term memory. 
I worked with her some the other night. Very frustrating and scary that she may never get it. Finally we went on a bike ride together, which is how I got her to try to read in the first place. We went two miles and would have gone further if it wasn't getting dark.

Indian summer continues with beautiful sunrises and sunsets but next week, it will be rainy. Josh is in Florida at a wedding. Two of his good friends are getting married on the same day but in different places. He would have preferred to go to the Brooklyn wedding but is closer to the friend in Florida. We will be in Brooklyn in a few days ourselves. Hopefully it won't rain the whole time.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

Four egg omelet

An assortment of eggs my friend's chickens provided for me. I used 4 of the bantam eggs, tiny, for an omelet

new watercolor for my flower room

my hair dresser's chickens Alas only the big black hen is old enough to produce eggs. My friend's Labrador saved her from a fox who was carrying her away. My friend sewed up her wounds and she is fine now

She hangs in our doorway for now but will go out on the porch. any motion near her sets off a hideous scream

New hand blown glass bowl. Orange and blue.

On a bright sunny day, I drove through fall colors and two alpaca farms out in the country to finally get my hair cut and colored. In the past, I have been provided with fresh eggs from my hair dresser's chickens but fox , eagles and hawk decimated her old flock. She bought another dozen chicks last spring. soon they will be laying eggs though she thinks one might be a rooster.

There was a gap of time between my hair appointment and my cooking class. Do I drive all the way home  and then half way back for the class? nope. I went out to eat by myself, a rarity. I hadn't had sushi in a while. Then on to a few resale shops. I am getting much more selective these days. I toyed with getting a beautiful wool rug covered with orange calla lilies that would look better in my living room than the Art Van special I have. But the other color in the rug was green, not blue. I did get the glass, a folk angel hanging in my kitchen and some jeans marketed by a clothing pyramid scheme for $110 new but in the resale shop, $5.

Since my TSH (thyroid stimulating hormone) tested low recently indicating that I was taking too much replacement hormone, which makes sense since I continued taking the same dose after losing more than a third of my body weight, I was asked to skip one dose a week. Maybe now it is too low as my heart beat is only 50bpm and I am feeling cold when normally I would not. My fingers are cold just hanging out in the house. I have to give it a few weeks before I am retested. I don't like this dose readjusting.

Cooking with herbs was the subject of our class. If you provide lots of flavor with herbs, perhaps you won't be tempted to add the dreaded salt I don't worry about salt myself as I assume I lose lots of it with all my exercise. Our instructor is a bit too accommodating to all the modifications demanded by some of my classmates. I understand that some have genuine allergies or that chemo causes their digestive system to be sensitive to spiciness but others are just big, whiny babies. 

I see more and more deer on my runs. And now I come across a turkey flock near my house.

Monday, October 16, 2017

In between the deluges

My handsome 4th grader looking so old

dahlia dahling

mums the word. Have yellow, rust and purple also

heart shaped fairy lights over my Xmas cactus

dinosaur helmet with teeth. Hard to fit over her big wads of hair

Well one chore I haven't done in a while was water things. It rained for 6 days straight, hard to find a window of time to do my running and biking while staying dry and free of lightning strikes. Yesterday I looked at the hourly weather report. It gave me an hour to bike (I like to go at least 30 miles on Sunday morning) before a thunderstorm  and gale force winds happened. I would have to leave in the dark covered with flashers. Fortunately they were wrong about the timing though I felt I couldn't ride much more than 3 miles from home. I got 25 miles in before the winds were getting too strong to fight against.

Today we finally have sun. So pretty with the bright red sunrise and the changing leaves. But I ran into a section of road in which I was suddenly blinded by the sun in the east. Stopped my tracker and carefully walked to where I could  run south. Unfortunately I would run into the big state highway before my 3 mile turning point came up.

I've been seeing lots of sharp shinned hawks, most recently a few minutes ago while I was eating lunch in our nook surrounded by three sides of windows. I hear a huge thud behind me. Hating to look to see what broke its neck, I see the hawk fly off. And while I was biking yesterday, one was perched on a limb over the road.

There have been a few moments of sun and fun. I've been keeping entertained. There was our night at the museum following an afternoon of shopping. Big find: orange lace bra for $5. At a regular store, not resale. Mostly I needed new running shoes. And the next evening spent with a good friend on probably the last warm night. She still had humming birds. I haven't seen them here for 2 weeks. I finally took all the feeders down. If they come, I have plenty of flowers. Next night, a dinner with Josh's family. Hannah still looks at me with much trepidation. I think I will win her over with food. she does like her yums. I think I had been able to hold my other grandbabies much more and 3 of them lived 750 miles away. And last night, a friend came over though it was way too cold to sit outside. We are planning a Costa Rica trip.


Friday, October 13, 2017

A night at the museum

Not sure why they had Ghostbusters there but I am front and center

A Bugati Every car had a price and how long it would take to earn the price at the average income for that year. This would have taken a lifetime.

This is a 1963 Buick Riviera. My friend had this same model in white only it was in 1971. It died while we were at a drive-in. we hauled it home the next day with a VW bus up and down those hills in Bloomfield Hills. I don't think there has been a heavier car than this

A low rider with only a few inches of clearance. Not practical for our bumpy Michigan roads

I remember those signs

And this: Howard Johnsons

The actual Alabama bus that Rosa Park was arrested on for refusing to go back of the bus

Jim Crow exhibit

They also had a decorative glass exhibit which I especially loved. Closed for the night was their Pixar exhibit where you could make your own cartoon

Our financial advisor company invited some of their clients to a free night at The Henry Ford Museum for dinner, drinks, a lecture and time to peruse the museum. Extra bonus: one of the moms came along too with her husband so we had someone to sit with at dinner. The meal was not good for my program as I believe I ate a year's worth of desserts in one sitting along with filet mignon so adjustments will probably have to be made lest I return to obesity. Usually I am good at resisting desserts but not the traveling appetizer trays though at least they were tiny.

The Museum is adjacent to Greenfield Village, target of many school and scout field trips. I took Shanna's troop to spend the night in the museum when they were in 5th grade. Americana of all sorts is the theme with a heavy emphasis on cars. They had a few special exhibits: art glass, Pixar films, civil rights and Abraham Lincoln. One of the highlights of the Greenfield Village trips as a child was to see the chair Lincoln was sitting in at the Ford theater when he was shot with his blood still staining the chair. They have moved that chair into the exhibit now. It is a rocking chair. Factoid learned last night was that rocking chairs were invented in the US.

What I was supposed to be learning was how to invest with the market ever changing and what tools they use to forecast the US market at least. Ugh. I rather look at the history of cars than listen to emerging markets versus developing markets but as this is how we earn money these days, I should pay attention. I drank my wine and nibbled slowly on macaroons. I didn't realize the macaroons were appetizers for a huge dessert table set up after the talk. Maple bread pudding was my downfall.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Nuts for us

One of my desert dahlias is finally opening up
This has been a bumper crop for nut trees around here. It is probably why the squirrels have stopped raiding visiting us. Running and biking is now like going over marbles with all the black walnuts and hickory nuts on the shoulders and in the middle of the road. A friend from Michigan's west coast staying with me was thrilled to take a walk with me through our hickory forests picking up some of the nuts that the squirrels hadn't gotten to yet. She is trying to grow filberts which would probably not grow in our somewhat harsher climate 150 miles away. Anyway she hammered some of them open. I was surprised how good they tasted, like already toasted pecans. Pecans are in the same family but do not grow up here. We have two varieties: shag barked which have bigger  and tastier nuts and the pignut: smaller but not so tasty. I will amass more when the weather clears.

I will leave the many black walnuts alone. My mom was a fan of 'free food' and would set me to work extracting their meats out of their  tough, intricate shells. Hard work and not much pay off. My fingers would be stained black. The walnuts have a very strong flavor compared to the bland English walnuts found in stores. A little bit of black walnuts go a long way. The only nut trees we have on our property are two very small chestnuts, which have beautiful pink blossoms in the spring. I can't compete with the rodents for their nuts.

On our walk, we saw a Cooper's hawk perched less than 20 feet from us and several varieties of woodpeckers. Only the downy is visiting us now but once it's winter, the other species will return. It was fun having her over. She lives very close to lakes and dunes which one might argue are more scenic than around here. Before she came, the rising sun was back lighting the tunnel of changing trees as I ran back home. Should run with my camera.

I did have a camera when I saw the biking nun but I thought it would be rude to stop and try to photograph her. One photo I wished I took was back in Italy. One of my roommates and I were taking a walk in Castelvecchio by a convent. It was wash day and all the nuns' undergarments were hanging in full display. They seemed to favor lacy Victoria Secret clones. Who would have thought? No clothes dryers in Italy. With all that dry, hot air, they don't find them necessary. We were provided drying racks in the back courtyard to dry our clothes. Unlike the nuns, my roommates and I, 4 ladies over 40, were not fans of displaying our private things for all to see (and make fun of) so we kept a rack in our room. Washing itself was a chore. For all of us students, there was just one temperamental washer which was not fully automatic. You had to be around to press buttons to start the next cycle.

I am waiting impatiently for the rain to lessened somewhat so I could at least run in our subdivision. Running on the dirt roads is out as the clay parts of them will be saturated. There is plenty I should be doing such as figuring out health insurance plans. We will go on Medicare next year and the instructions are not very clear. It seems like with the Medicare gap plans, our total costs will be way more than it was before Medicare. We have called them to explain but have not found anyone knowledgeable.

Monday, October 9, 2017

The biking nun

Hat day at Maya's school

This one turned 9 months. She looks like baby Josh with a tutu

one of the ArtPrize winners. That is brown water pouring from the fountain. The governor decided that Flint, Michigan which has a large African-American population needed help with its finances. Why buy water from Detroit when you can pump it directly from your own polluted river which as an added bonus was acidic causing more lead in the ageing pipes to dissolve. Another bonus: somehow the filthy water spread Legionnaire's Disease. Lots of lawsuits and cover ups

Sigh

Fall and wonderful sunsets go together. Steve and my friend in the foreground



When I lived at the old house, a few times on my long runs I would find a nun in full habit running the opposite way on my scenic beauty road. Since Vatican 2, I rarely see nuns in habits much less running ones. There are two convents nearby. Yesterday I was biking down this same road and found a bike white billowing white cloth surrounding it. Was someone dressed as a ghost? The nun, unless she is someone else in her convent, has switched to biking. Hopefully her habit doesn't get stuck in her chain. Also it was a dirt road where it had rained upon the night before. Lots of muddy puddles to splash on her white habit, which would be harder to clean than my lycra get up.

So Indian Summer continues. I harvested my spaghetti and butternut squash, the latter being converted to soup for my friend who should arrive soon. 

Last week was a rather dull week but I have lots planned this week.

Friday, October 6, 2017

polyphemous moth

Found this giant cocoon in my impatiens. Deciding whether to bring it in. I had Dilly the swallowtail butterfly -to -be inside for 6 weeks before I kept it outside. I assume he died

View from my cabana

Steve's mom turned 93  the other day

back to collecting. Cute oil painting

another doll for my folk doll wall

And my first pepper. I think it is an ancho pepper. Butternut squash will soon be converted to soup
Downy woodpeckers are coming back (see photo behind squash)

Time marches on. Days are getting shorter and shorter. As the sun set last night, I took Ms, Maya for a bike ride. Going through all the cul-de-sacs of our neighborhood is 1.4 miles. Despite the seat being too low, she kept up a good pace. She is a strong little girl. This has been an uneventful week. I did not see any friends though I talked to a few on the phone. I continue to exercise every day. I did a thrift shop run and got the cutest suede jacket. Steve was able to meet his new doctor and get Lyrica for his neuropathic pain. The rash itself has mostly healed. I've been reading the Goldfinch during the day and listening to podcasts at night. I am up to 54% competency in my Spanish lessons. Do I need the future imperfect or subjunctive tenses? Probably not. Just hoping that the Catalonians aren't battling the Spaniards while we are there.



Tuesday, October 3, 2017

A year of deprivation

Giant marigolds. I had bought some old seed packets, 10 for a dollar, and planted them in two pots. The marigolds were very slow to grow but they are now huge and finally opening up

The poppies were first to show way back in May. I collected the seed heads for next year to save but I planted a few. This is the second crop of them

giant balls of hydrangeas outside my bedroom window

A year ago I barely squeezed into a pair of jeans that not long before that were loose on my way to Allie's third birthday party. The waistband left deep grooves in my waist. I hated the feeling and the way I looked. I used to be thin. I used to do marathons and triathlons at a good clip. How much did I weigh? I didn't know because I didn't want to know. I knew the number would depress me but I couldn't be an ostrich any longer. Holy crap! when I first stepped on that scale on Oct 3 2016. That was almost 79 pounds ago. No eating white starch anymore; no desserts, drinking would be limited to a glass of wine and only if I were with friends, eat lots of salads and vegetables. If I were hungry, I'd eat an apple. And for the first month or so, I felt hungry a lot of the time. I was feeling very sorry for myself but the weight was coming off. I was shooting for 60 pounds in 6 months which would put me at a medically healthy weight, a size 10 or so. It took 9 months to get to 70 pounds off. Over the past few months, I have been exercising quite a bit and lost another 10 pounds. I am now somewhere around a size 4 or 6 and have a BMI of 20.5. Can I keep it down there? I keep thinking of this as a giant spring that I've been pulling back and back with increasing difficulty. If I were to let go for a second, it will all come back. As time goes on, I am more confident that I can control that.

I suppose more apt photos would be before and after. Most of my before photos have me semi concealed behind other people though a few people had captured full body photos of me and posted them on Facebook. Argh.  But today I will just post pretty flower pictures before the frost comes and gets them. Not today. It will be 80. My last hummingbird has left.

I had told Steve that the blood tests now show I am mildly hyperthyroid. He said it was no wonder it was so easy for me to lose all that weight.

Just because I lost it doesn't make it easy. It reminded me of long ago when I was asked to make a certain molecule but was told it would be very difficult to make. When I quickly made it, my boss then said, well I guess it wasn't all that hard to do.

And the hyperthyroidism is fairly recent and I have no symptoms of it. No increased heartbeat or palpitations. I made adjustments in the dose so I will be normal very soon.

Am I healthier now? A bit. I was able to stop taking Prilosec after a few months. My total cholesterol is the same but most of it is the 'good' kind (HDL). The triglycerides have dropped. Blood sugar is the same. I never seemed at risk for diabetes.  Blood pressure is low/normal.My blood counts are normal though my iron is on the low side. Exercising is easier. I didn't have to walk any of those hills up north. Some of them were quite steep too. I notice with the iOS 11 update, it records all my heart rate data not just an average so I can now see how high it got with some of those hills. I had looked at my wrist at the top of one of them while I was huffing and puffing, 140 bpm. Not much.

It makes me a bit sad boxing some of my big girl clothes away. Some of the clothes I spent a lot on. I've been buying stuff in resale shops as I lose weight and now stabilize. Some of the stuff I barely got to wear. I bought some capris for our Arizona trip. By the time it was warm enough in Michigan to wear them, they were much too big. Maybe after a few months, I will by some nice things in nice stores.

Steve finally got a prescription for the more effective (hopefully) Lyrica but the pharmacy is out of it until tomorrow. The doctor admitted that it will be better than gabapentin but gabapentin is so much cheaper, that's what they prescribe. One slight benefit of being a former worker at our company is that we get their drugs for free. I never seem to have medical problems that they have drugs for but Steve has been a big user.

As for the new Apple phone update. It will be easier to store all my photos for free. Downside: the Blogger app will no longer work.

Come on Google, fix the Blogger app. Please.

Monday, October 2, 2017

Ten years ago

This is my mom on her wedding day She died 9-29-07
I went with friends on a 30 mile fund raiser for bike trails Dark woods
The ride included a local brew at the end of the ride. I got a coffee-cream stout
Allie's 4th birthday was on the anniversary of my mother's death. She liked the mermaid sleeping bag we gave her 
Her family at the Chuck E. Cheese birthday party. Her sister still shrieks in terror just looking at me
Tessa and Allie enjoying one of the rides at the party
The vegan 'cheese' cake I made for the moms' Avocado and soaked raw cashews substituted for the cheese. Also had dates, cacao nibs, coconut, dates and lime

Ten years ago I worked my last day. No party, no good-byes just a meeting to hand over my keys and then a guard escorted me out the door and I walked the mile and a half home. There were plenty of parties for departing colleagues earlier but I was one of the last employees in my department to leave so there was no one to celebrate with. Thirty one years though on my 30th anniversary, before we knew the place would be closed they did throw a surprise party for me. That night at home, I got a call from the nursing home to say that my mom was refusing to eat or drink. Against policy, hospice spoon fed her but didn't check to see if she was actually swallowing the food. The nursing home later had to empty her cheeks so she would not choke. She also felt cold to the touch which I had noticed a few days before when I had visited. I took her outside to wheel her chair around, which she did with much energy. I had been concerned that it was hot out and she didn't have a tan so while taking her back in, I was surprised she was cold to the touch despite the heat and exercise. I went to see her the next day despite having a broken arm. Steve was at work so he couldn't drive me. A friend who owed me lots said she had plants to water. Nevermind that I had dropped a lot of plans to take her to her dying mom a few years before.  So one armed I drove to see my mother for the last time. Her face was contorted in pain, I immediately called hospice. Why aren't you here and where are the pain medications??! I was told they had left a supply for her to have when she asked for them. I reminded them that she hadn't spoken a word in 3 years. How was she to ask for them? I demanded that they come immediately and do their job. People gush all the time how wonderful hospice is but this one certainly was not. And it is associated with the same chop shop that my last two grandbabies were born at. I cringe when I hear the name of that hospital.

So they eventually medicated her which I assume depressed her breathing. She died a day and a half later. She never got to enjoy her freedom from her abusive husband.

So long ago.

Once the sun finally came up this morning, I saw I was surrounded with oranges and reds. I've been leaving before dawn on my  runs and rides mainly to avoid traffic and last week heat. Yesterday I was going to do an organized ride which started later. It was strange to watch the sun come up while I just sat there drinking my coffee. I haven't taken a break from exercising since late March when we flew to Phoenix. 

I have been busy. I went to have lunch Friday with my friend who is suffering from host versus graft disease. She was feeling a bit stronger that day. She had to cancel us getting together earlier in the week. So unfair that she goes through so much. Then off to the Mom's aka Chosen Sisters which is always fun to drink and talk well into the night. Too cool that night to sit outside. A birthday party for Allie the next day at the very noisy Chuck E. Cheese's at her request. I noticed a sign that they have stimulation free Sundays for their autistic clients. Not sure how that would work. 

By the time we started our ride, I fretted to myself that I would have been finished by now and gone farther. We were waiting for a friend of a friend who came an hour after she said she would. This person does everything in slow motion, which drives me crazy. She didn't finish the ride until 2 hours after we did and we were going very slow. But it was a perfect day and very pretty. We went through lots of parkland. The ride loops around where Josh lives. He did the same ride with me 3 years ago to discover all the trails that are near him. I went to his house afterwards to see the grandbabies. I don't even try to pick up Hannah as I evoke terror in her though yesterday I did get her to smile at me from a distance.

Although Steve's lesions have mostly healed, he continues to be in a lot of pain. Stabbing, burning, ultra sensitivity. He drives holding the shoulder harness away from his body. He has almost exhausted my gabapentin supply. He will go to the doctor's tomorrow for something stronger. It's been almost 5 weeks now.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

More ArtPrize

Selfie using discarded keyboard keys
A huge room full of 2 miles of twisted wires

Cigar bar
made from 24,5000 pennies
from a distance, I thought these were real
dresses from recycled trash
glass mosaic
I liked this simple sculpture
My friend on a rocking chair made from boulders Surprisingly comfortable

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