Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Movie night

the restored Michigan Theater

A better effect would be the sign saying 'this is a decorative fountain only' to be placed elsewhere
our backyard this morning. I am skipping running. I did run yesterday on an inch of new snow but 4 inches is a bit much to plow through
3-D bizarre alligator bookmark I put up on the wall of strange creatures including a model of Gaudi's 'El drac' from Parc Guell in Barcelona to amuse kids

For the past 3 Mondays, we've been going to the movies. Last night's pick: Manchester-by-the-Sea at the restored Michigan Theater though this movie was in one of its tiny annexes (anneces?)about the size of my living room. The main theater was reserved for La La Land. Still the lobby is gloriously restored. Their senior rates are a bit higher than the big commercial palace and you have to park in a crowded area. Also the big snow decided to hit during the last hour of the movie leading to a scary slippery ride home. For some reason, Steve removed the snow brush so I had to wait for it to melt. My friends wanted dinner afterwards but it was well after nine and the snow was getting worse and worse. Too many meals out lately to no good effect.

I like the movie even though it was very sad. How to get past grief and guilt. It did not have the storybook perfect ending where all is better. Only a few moments could be had. Everyone has been saying how great Casey Affleck was but I think the teenage nephew did a far better job. Have I been to Manchester-by-the -Sea? Maybe. I know we drove all over Cape Ann where the village is during our month stay in Massachusetts. We went to places north and west of Boston such that we could get to Cambridge in an hour or so . My dad liked to go to Rockport and Gloucester (and Cape Cod, we always by-passed Boston) which were in the movie too. The scenery looked very familiar so that was fun to watch.

Steve is out with the snow blower which is getting far more use than last year. Maybe 5-6 weeks more of this crap? I did a bit more on the elliptical. I am no longer listening to soporific Ira Glass; old Rolling Stones is more motivating. There are so many piddling things that need to be done inside that are so easy to put off.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Birthdays and anniversaries

Steve and his birthday crème brulee
Hand painted pillow brightens up the den. I bought it for our orange and blue living room but it looks better here
orange and blue glass
Allie and Hannah
At 18 days Finally more alert. Looks more like baby Josh
Oliver, here at 2 months, turned 9 on Steve's birthday

Do I want to take this trip through he Alleghenies again? A friend asked but we would be self supported and go all the way to Washington DC from Pittsburgh, 335 miles almost all unpaved. The first half, the Great Allegheny Passage goes on coal train abandoned lines; the second half goes on the towpath of the C&O canal. Flat but rutted. If I could figure out the logistics..

one of the many bridges along the way. There are also several tunnels, one completely unlit

the basking knoll of female timber rattlers I came across on the trail not long after crossing the Mason-Dixon line. As it was too dangerous to put my foot as a scale, you have to trust that these are huge snakes. Although they aren't aggressive, they cause most of the death by snakes as they are located where fundamentalists use them in their services. Stupid is as stupid does. Western rattlers are losing their rattles as the noisy snakes get shot. Natural selection in progress. The quieter rattlers are just as poisonous.

Ten years ago, my colleagues and I all had to head to various auditoriums, some of them off site, to be told that our company at some point, unspecified, would pull out of Ann Arbor. A huge shock. Bonus, our company was the biggest tax payer in Ann Arbor so the town would feel our pain too. Lots of anxiety and tears. Steve, though, thought Yay! as the company who took over the company we worked for in a hostile takeover 7 years before made our working life quite unpleasant. Still I wasn't even 54 yet. Very young to retire. I thought I would hang around until I was at least 60. They were offering a few of us positions at their other sites, most of which have been shuttered too with much less generous severance packages. Naomi was still in high school. We didn't think it was wise to move even if we would have been hired elsewhere.

I continued to work for another 9 months, Steve a year. They did give a generous severance package so we are able to make ends meet. I don't know if I am yet used to waking up without having to go to work. I manage to keep busy.

It is also the 2 year anniversary of us having this house. How time flies! No it was not fun moving, packing, cleaning up and repairing our former house and then keeping it up while we tried to sell it. Glad that nightmare is over. I am also glad we moved. Ann Arbor was getting much too crowded. I still haven't organized all the stuff I should have. As there are no time limits, it is hard to get motivated. I seem to be fixated decorating the house with resale treasures.

Today would have been my father's 90th birthday. If he had taken care of himself, he might have made it. His father had lived that long. For most of  my adult life, we did not get along. He disowned me.

Thursday was Steve's and Oliver's birthdays. Oliver and his siblings came over the night before for dinner and a garishly decorated cupcake. They had fun playing in the basement, which has more kid stuff now and my various lights upstairs. Seems like yesterday I was driving across Canada and New York State trying not to miss his birth listening to my Italian language tapes to keep awake. We could see the Boston Pops shooting off fireworks in downtown Boston as Shanna mulled whether she was in labor enough to justify the hospital trip. Just as I was going to sleep, she said it was time. Nine years ago.

I have been going out to eat much too much in the last couple of days. My strategy is to eat half of what I ordered and then take the rest home. As of yesterday, I was down a bit over 36 pounds. Still I won't be done with this until early April.

Too snowy for a bike ride. Should I do the 335 trail ride which will involve much planning? The first 135 miles as largely uphill. At least I won't have so much body to haul up but now I might need to haul up supplies instead. Then there is a 15 mile steep downhill into Cumberland Maryland. It would be flat along the canal to DC but the path is in worst shape. Still there would be mountains around us for the first half in Eastern Maryland

Friends may come over tonight for the SAG awards. Fun to look at the dresses.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

Color during a drab day

lots of pretty bromeliads at the UM botanical garden

back to thrift store shopping. I need a few more chairs The blender on the table makes all kinds of noise

I shouldn't complain because it is way too warm to snow. There was some list saying that Michiganders have the 2nd worse winters in the country (Minnesota is ahead of us). Hmmm...Michigan is not all the same. The Western portions and the Upper peninsula get way more snow than we do. Up north also is colder though due west is warmer. In the SE, we probably get more sun than the rest of the state. Still it is quite drab outside and very little sun.

First stop, got a mani-pedi. Although I still have been getting manicures, I have neglected my feet as who sees them now? But I might  resume yoga and have agreed to go to a water aerobics class. Taxol messed up my nails, especially my toe nails. One of the toes still has a thick nail though the affected portion is getting smaller, it is ugly. I was the only customer for most of the time I was there and I seemed to get the deluxe treatment. While massaging my calves, he asked if I worked out everyday because he could feel all my muscles.
There is a Seinfeld episode in which Elaine swears her Korean manicurist is talking and laughing about her to the co-workers but she doesn't know for sure as she doesn't know Korean. So she brings George's father along who happens to know Korean. The workers at my place chat and laugh together in Vietnamese. Yeah I think they are laughing about how big my feet are and probably how hairy I am though I make a special effort not to have any excess hair. Now all my nails are Mainely (sic) Lobster so at least they are colorful. I had gold then silver glittery nails for the holidays.

Then to the Botanical garden with a friend. Lots of orchids and bromeliads in bloom plus the greenhouses are quite warm. It was a nice outing.

Today was super senior day at the Salvation Army. I swear I will take a break. As I was trying a beaded silk Bob Mackie jacket over my shirt ($2..probably was more than a hundred originally), a nearby woman remarked that it was too short for me (it wasn't) and asked whether I would ever even wear it and would I be willing to throw something out in my closet to make room for it. This woman was wearing a shirt covered with food stains and was quite unkempt but still thought she could be a critic. I said for $2, if I only wore it once, it would be worth it.

I have since tried to find the jacket online unsuccessfully. Turns out that this was probably bought on the Home shopping network in which you can buy other jackets in 5 easy payments. I think if you can't pay for it in one payment, then you shouldn't be buying it.

A better deal was the table and chair set for the grandgirls though it was hard to put the table in the car.

What's on the tonight's program? I was supposed to go to a co-worker's birthday party but it has been postponed as the birthday girl is ill. I am to go to a follow up visit with the pediatrician to discuss Maya's progress on her ADHD drug. She can sit still to put together fairly large puzzles. She also worked on decorating the gingerbread house last week for more than a half hour. Previously, she would do something for a minute or two then move on so we are seeing some progress. We will see if she is still losing weight.

Tomorrow is Steve's and Oliver's birthday. We will see if we can celebrate Oliver's a bit early tonight.

Monday, January 23, 2017

Spring for a day

Finally I have a photo with her eyes wide open. These are her daddy's eyes minus the long black lashes he had. Her birth hair is falling out but I see little blonde hairs coming in

We took care of her big sister while Hannah went for a weigh in. If she hadn't gained any weight, she would have been hospitalized. However I received a text saying she now weighed 18 oz more in just 36 hours of force feeding her like some French goose. Methinks the scale 36 hours previous was faulty as she had managed to out grow her onesies despite 'losing' weight. Her weight gain was like an adult gaining 25 pounds in the same amount of time.

It's been blissfully warm for the past 3 days here in ex-cancerland. Nice and toasty for the marchers Saturday. Why wasn't I out there with my friends? For one, I thought we might have to be with Allie all day (the mom-in-law was marching in Detroit). Even an ex- co-worker who I will see later in the week marched pushing a walker (needs a hip replacement real soon). I was surprised as I would have guessed she was a Trump supporter but miracles do happen.

Instead I thought I could get away with running on the dirt roads without worrying about ice. But the ground is still frozen with no where for all our recent rain to go. In the sandy sections, it was fine but some of the clay sections were impassable. My feet were mired in what felt like cement.

It was warm enough to bike in shorts the next day. But all this moisture led to a thick fog layer. I kept waiting for it to clear but went out anyway with flashing lights attached to my bike and me. Steve had passed me by car at one point and said I was barely visible. It felt good to be out there. I didn't know I had been in danger until I got home. Today I ran in constant drizzle.

We had two recent hawk visits. A squirrel was busy eating all the seeds the bird dropped. Standing on the ground 5 feet away was the Cooper hawk. I ran to get the camera but it flew away. The squirrel seemed unperturbed. Cooper's hawks prefer birds but this one looked like it was sizing up the squirrel. Then yesterday, we heard a loud bang against the window. I didn't want to look but Steve found the sharp shinned hawk with a chickadee in its talons. Sad but I guess they have to eat too. Why can't it get the sparrows?

One of the squirrels has a broken hind leg. Can it climb to its nest? I let it forage without chasing it away. Another squirrel is losing its hair. We finally have a female red bellied woodpecker here along with the 2 males and a hairy (why the name) woodpecker along with the numerous downies.

While I was in Cancerland, Steve had bought me a beautiful, expensive winter coat. Alas he didn't take into consideration the steroid bloat then my body going to hell and the coat was too small. Naomi quickly took it. I tried it on today finding lots of Naomi's stuff in the pockets including a razor, a huge bottle of foundation and these papers called travel passes. To continue to be on her basketball team, she had to have all her teachers sign off on that her work was up to date. Anyway, today it fits so yay! Especially after I emptied the pockets.

Tonight I get to flash my geezer card at the movie house. Hidden Figures. Sounds promising.

Friday, January 20, 2017

Throwing the baby out with the bathwater

We won't throw this precious one out. She is having trouble gaining weight, a big worry
the whole family Allie, age 3, has a head so much bigger than Hannah's. How fast they grow

Who doesn't need a Syrian inlaid walnut jewelry box? I paid just a few dollars for it but on line, I see they go for much, much more

It is so scary when babies don't grow. Although Maya gained weight quickly as a newborn, when she was 9 months, she stopped gaining making the pediatrician worried and we were sent to two different nutrition experts, who had conflicting advice. She was to have more solids. I looked at those 4 oz containers of pureed fruit at 90 calories each. How many would she have to eat to gain a pound? 40? At a year, she weighed less than my kids did at 6 months. Her weight is being monitored now as her medication causes a lack of appetite though the other day, she ate a lot here. She is 3 years older than Allie but weighs only a few pounds more. And she is tall for her age.

But newborns not growing is even more worrisome than a 9 month old or a 6 year old.  If she does not gain weight by Saturday, she will be hospitalized. Very stressful for all involved particularly the mom.

And then there are us who gain just looking at food. After an annoying plateau, the weight is slowly coming off again. Down 34.5 pounds. It might now take to the end of March to make my goal weight but each pound now makes a bigger impact. I bought some intermediate sized clothes that should last until I can fit into my normal weight clothes again.

In a few minutes, our future will darken. All that is good will be thrown out. Regulations that have kept greed in check will be gone. What a mess you rural, uneducated folks have got us into? Of all the cabinet post appointees, only the lady who will be our UN ambassador seemed reasonable. Our local lady who got her fortune via her pyramid scheme company, is one of the worst appointees. I don't want to listen to the news any more as it is so depressing.

How will this affect me? A white retiree with some resources. Personally not much even if they gut social security and medicare. But I have family members that will be severely impacted. And my friends that are self insured will not able to get insurance due to caps and pre-existing conditions.

People have such short memories. Who remembers 2008 and the circumstances that got us into that mess?

It was almost warm enough yesterday for a bike ride. I went anyway though it took a while for my feet to thaw.

Below is Maya's school photo:

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

The icerain cometh

everything coated with ice
The Asian corner of our bedroom Steve is mad that one of the pictures hangs a bit too low

today's project: decorate a ginger bread house with grandma. $20 kits now $3

The freezing rain was on and off all day yesterday. I thought there was a break in the action so I could go out and see a movie with the Moms. I can't remember the last time I saw a movie in the theater..Argo? We saw LaLa Land. Very entertaining. But I went out to a parking lot full of ice. The freeway seemed well salted but the 2 miles of main road leading to our house was an ice rink. Hard to stop and turn into our neighborhood. Fortunately, there are no hills on this stretch and no traffic that late at night. School was cancelled for Ann Arbor (meaning we got Maya while her mom worked) but Shanna's district, abutting ours, had school.

Maya enjoyed the new to her kitchen in our basement and decorating the gingerbread house. Running on glare ice was out of the question but now I have the elliptical trainer. All now is melted but by the end of the day, I have no energy.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Taking down Christmas

My new Motawi tiles. A good friend gave me a beautiful Motawi tile for Christmas. Unfortunately, I already had one identical so I went in to exchange it. They were having a close out sale so I was able to get two tiles for the price of one
Hannah and I the other night
freezing rain left sparkly jewels in the early morning sun
ice droplets lit up by the full moon
Allie and Grandpa

I find taking down Christmas decorations much more annoying than putting them up. The two small trees were quickly done; all my extra decorations boxed up. All that is left is the big tree. As I hate balancing on the top of the ladder (we have a very tall tree) I will need Steve's help.

Such strange weather we are having. As I was driving home from the cooking class the other night, suddenly a bright light flashed in my face. Thundersnow! Very impressive lightning especially for this time of year. Then we were coated with ice the next day , which fortunately quickly melted. How long until spring?

I spent a fun 2 hours in the dentist' chair the other day getting 3, yes 3, cavities filled. No cavities for I don't remember and then 3 discovered last August. My insurance was exhausted for the year so I had to wait until now. Still no word whether the dentist office put in the correct code to be reimbursed by my medical insurance.

And those bastards have dismantled the ACA without a replacement in place. For me personally, no skin off my teeth as I get insurance, poorer and poorer, from my former employer but I assume Naomi will lose hers along with many low income people. My friend who was treated for leukemia, is privately insured and went well over the former cap. And as she has a pre-existing condition, good luck finding another insurance company. Her boyfriend actually voted for Trump. I hope at least he will feel guilty contributing to her misery.

Josh enjoyed his peach melba cobbler the other night for dinner. Yes I brought him other stuff. He would not settle for the easier to make crisp.

I have yet to find a fully alert Hannah. Always sleeping when I go to see her.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

My private gym

my new elliptical trainer
kitchen for the kids. need to get fake food and dishes
new vase
tiger lily hand made paper
smile or gas?

Now I have no excuse not to exercise because of freezing rain, thigh deep snow and gale force winds (all which we have had in the last month) as we now have the elliptical trainer in the basement along with my  balance balls and weights. I have rubberized floor mats, mainly for the kids, so I can do floor exercises. The fly in the ointment is that the particular muscles I need haven't been used much so I am very slowly increasing my time on it. Further annoyance, I've been so good this week but I don't weigh any less than last week.

Last night was our cooking class "Lentils for Breast Cancer Survivors'. Since Komen funds the class, she has to make some classes specific for breast cancer. How to get protein without meat and without soy? Lentils. The best dish was a pureed soup of red lentils and butternut squash flavored with smoky paprika; the worse was lentil shepherd's pie which was covered with low glycemic (or is it high; I know potatoes are metabolized too quickly) mashed potatoes. I am probably the only one in the world who hates mashed potatoes. Thee was a lentil salad too which at least was healthy.
A yoga class meets right after the cooking class. I talked to the instructor who promises not to be a drill instructor like the lady who made me quit. So I might try her for a while.

Tonight is my night to feed the adult kids. Josh wants a peach melba cobbler which I assume is not on his MIL's list of healthy things to eat. Josh has never been overweight. The rest of the dinner should be healthy though.

Did my parents come and feed me after I had babies? Ha!!!

Little Hannah is happily gaining weight.

Monday, January 9, 2017

Annual Chosen Sisters Christmas Party

ribbon aftermath
Before we opened presents. My tree topping angel, gift of one of the Moms years ago, burnt out the day before. What we forgot to do was have Steve take a photo of us for our 37, yes 37, anniversary of meeting.
unhappy Hannah
Tessa skiing at the Plymouth ice festival. Temp around 10. The Festival is over but I can go see the sculptures until they melt tomorrow
Shanna came with us to the hospital Friday and then went out to eat with us and Josh to the place that has one of the ten best burgers in the US at Josh's request. I took one bite but was content with my much smaller filet mignon sandwich, way decadent enough

Hannah came home Saturday. It has been rough trying to start a good feeding schedule. She looks so small here
We went there yesterday to deliver food. The mother-in-law emailed me to remind me what healthy food was and where I could find it if I wasn't up to preparing it myself. Feeding your children apparently is a life long commitment.  Hmmm, it's a wonder that my kids survived my incompetent parenting

We were to have our Christmas party here a month ago but the big winter storm started that morning and I cancelled. With three of the moms having out-of-state children (I used to be one), it is hard finding a good time but Saturday was it. We started meeting 37 years ago, a post partum support group provided with a facilitator from the Lamaze association. We met weekly for about 2 months then we would be free to meet on our own. There were 7 of us all with little boys except me who had Shanna. Over the years, three of the Moms dropped out though I am still friends with one of them and am in occasional contact with another. I did meet the son of the first dropout who was in tears long ago because this same son was rejecting her breast. He just happened to be at a science fair our company was sponsoring and I recognized his name. My neighbor soon joined us because I made our group sound more fun than her group, which has long since disbanded.

I certainly was not going to find support at work. I worked with men and although I made good friends with them, their eyes would glaze over if I ever talked about kids. The few women there did not have kids with one exception, the lady I had over here last spring. So these women were the ones with whom I shared trials and tribulations of being a mom. As an extra bonus, we all got to see each other's children grow up and attend most of their weddings. There are now 10 wonderful grand babies between the five of us. I have the lion's share for now. The oldest is in high school and the youngest is now 5 days old. As raising children is no longer our central focus, we changed our name to the Chosen sisters.

We have taken vacations together and see each other often outside the confines of the group (the confines being how hard it is to schedule time with busy, travelling people) Lots of sharing.

The hostess makes the main dishes. I do try to make different things. Also, all must be vegetarian though seafood is allowed. For dinner, I made crab cakes, though I might have served them before, Brussels sprouts that I had grown and prepared a month ago and then froze, farro with pesto and sweet potato gnocchi. We all bring wine, I had 2, count them 2, glasses. Two bring
appetizers, another salad and another desserts. For Xmas, we give very precious and thoughtful presents. Lots of fun opening them.

We met a bit before 6 and the last Moms went home well after midnight.

This has not been good for my weight loss. Up to the night of the party, I had been down over 32 pounds. I keep thinking of this program as a giant spring that I keep pulling back and back. As soon as I let go, poof, it all returns. And some did.

Back to being good.


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