Thursday, April 27, 2017

Ninety six

My aunt on her 96th birthday the other day. Still enjoys a drink or two. Shows no sign of slowing down
Usually I am not a fan of baskets but this woven mix of beads, reeds, hawk feathers and papier mache appealed to me. Have it hanging in my bedroom with the basket filled with seed bead flowers
Along with several traditional red bleeding hearts, I have this white bleeding heart
cool glass sculpture from a friend
Maya is such a little beauty


The four days of rain just began. I was able to get out between rains to run and to do some long neglected gardening. I am still behind on my bicycling program but perhaps I don't need to train so hard because I will be hauling 56 pounds (and hopefully 66 pounds) less up those steep hills of Northern Michigan in just 11 weeks. Yep I am still losing weight though more slowly. Of the five in our immediate family, only Shanna is shorter than me. So naturally, only Shanna should weigh less, which she does. Naomi and I weigh the same but she is taller and has a larger frame. Josh of course weighs a lot more even though he doesn't have an extra ounce of fat on him. Who do I weigh more  than? Steve. For some reason, he is losing weight so he is quite a bit lighter than Josh who is only an inch taller. I will be lucky to weigh as little as Steve who weighs only slightly more than Shanna.

I went out with most of my Chosen Sisters aka the Moms for my belated birthday Tuesday. Fun. I had some bizarre concoction, a Cajun Margarita chock full of tabasco sauce, along with a vegetarian muffelata. I had taken Naomi to the same Cajun café a month ago. She and a girlfriend will go to New Orleans in 2 months so she was able to try some of the food in advance. She doesn't get to go on many vacations so this will be special for her. She and Maya came over last night. The special ed teacher thinks that Maya may be autistic, which I don't think she is at all. And she has been screened twice before; the physician and the early intervention specialist and showed no signs of it. She is very social and interested in peers. Her teacher reports that she is one of the more popular girls. When Naomi expressed surprise, she was told it was different than in boys though did not provide any examples. I will see this woman in a month during the IEP and question her myself. Meanwhile Naomi was to fill out a very unclear questionnaire to determine autistic tendencies. Sample: does your child display stereotypic behavior? What do they mean by that? Back when I was on an antipsychotic project, one of the side effects of antipsychotics was 'stereotypy' which involved drooling and lip smacking. Are they assuming that parents are well versed in neurobiology? Or are they referring to gender stereotypes. Yep Maya loves playing mommy with dolls (and friends) and playing hairdresser. Is that a negative. From the scoring, I assumed they were referring to stereotypical autistic behavior (undefined) and said, no she doesn't. Still she is behind on many other things and will need services. Her problems with speech are completely different from the ones shared by me, Josh and Shanna's two boys (though not by Shanna herself).

96. I think that is the oldest that any of my relatives have been (and I've been doing lots of genealogy though not lately). So of my grandmas 7 kids, only the first born and the last born are alive. The second born died this summer. The first 5 kids were born in 6 years. There are 10 years between my two aunts, both are doing quite well. I made arrangements yesterday to see the younger one who was closer in age to my mom so might know more about her. She hates Michigan winters so escapes to Florida every year but lives on a nice lake in the summer. I saw my oldest aunt twice last summer. Very active and alert. Most would guess that she is much younger. I was quite taken back when I saw her as she looks so much like my mom who has been dead almost 10 years and whose mind had left 4 years before that.

What to look forward to? Josh is supposed to take me out soon as he was away on my birthday weekend. A dinner at one of the Mom's farm Saturday. A minivaction in 10 days to Mackinac Island with Steve. My bike rides. A yet unplanned anniversary trip to Europe in the Fall. To not being fat.

Monday, April 24, 2017

The best trip of your life

Pasque flowers finally bloomed, a month late
one of the two service berry trees. Lots of blossoms all over the place
a seed bead flower
birthday flowers from a good friend
fascinating story
kisses from big sister Allie

My friend came over the other night armed with maps and a guidebook to 'the best trip of our lives' as one of the maps was entitled. We worked well into the night to space out our stops which are surprisingly fewer as we get closer to Washington DC. One night we will have to ferry across the Potomac to stay in Leesburg, VA.. We will hit 5 states: PA,MD,WV, VA and DC on our 340 mile trip, most of it unpaved though I found a paved railtrail, the Western Maryland Bikeway that will give us 22 miles of paved relief running parallel to the C&O canal towpath. We will take the 8 hour train back to Pittsburgh which allows bikes depositing us in Downtown Pittsburgh at midnight.. We will go by lots of Civil war battle fields and will stay in Harper's Ferry one night where John Brown did his thing. This area of Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia will be new territory for me.

In grade school, we had to make a report on a Civil War battle. I was given Antietam which I mispronounced throughout my presentation. I had never heard it said. In our former neighborhood, the streets were named after a mixture of Revolutionary and Civil War battles including Antietam so at least the kids in our neighborhood would not mispronounce it.

Meanwhile I am way behind my bike riding as compared to last year no thanks to March being winter, bike repairs and our vacation. I tried to make up for it this weekend getting a very late start yesterday due to my house guest. By noon, it was sunny and warm and surprisingly calm but my usually deserted roads were crawling with cars. Not relaxing so I turned off to the dirt roads which fortunately, despite all the rains, weren't too bad. Plus I better get used to them. Saw lots of hawks.

It is finally pretty out with all the flowering trees. The developer of our neighborhood favored lots of Brantford pears on every lot though the one we had was blown down before we bought the house. We did drive by our old house the other day. The quince hedge was bright red and the forsythias were out. They haven't added anything new.

Friday, April 21, 2017

Another year...

lots of pretty tulips downtown. I guess they don't have hungry rabbits like I do
Where we had a birthday lunch. Although I had a sensible salad, for dessert (don't have much of that these days) I had a chocolate, hazelnut flourless torte. Yummy!
An elephant doll for my folk art wall
birthday solar peacock

How old do you feel? I feel that I am somewhere in my forties but the calendar says otherwise. And I am not fooling anyone such as the bus driver at the Grand Canyon who shooed the young dudes out of the senior seats so we could sit down there even though we already had a seat. Maybe he saw Steve's white beard...
Sometimes people ask me why I am not working when they run into me mid day and I say I am retired and then they say, but you're too young..

It has been ten years since we were told that our place would be shut down by the end of the year. We still had a child in high school.

A very cold and cloudy birthday. I got lots of nice messages and phone calls today plus some lunches this week and next.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Scananxiety redux

early sun filtering through service berry blossom buds
mystery object purchased recently at an antique store. Small bird bath? Elaborate salad bowl?
Maya

I have 5 varieties of daffodils in bloom. Here are some of them aside from the plain yellow ones. These are quite tiny


Well it is over, the dreaded mammogram. The technician had to keep repeating it on my bad breast because the seroma looking very much like a tumor, is very close to my chest wall and she had to keep stretching my skin. Ouch. And then I had to wait and wait while others who came after me got to go home with smiles on their faces while my heart beat faster and faster waiting. The seroma is about the size of an egg and is hard as one. It gives me the creep to touch it. The plastic surgeon cut into it and said it was like a geode, full of calcifications but no sign of life. If he were to add fat to it as planned, there would be no blood supply. A dead zone but then again, cancer couldn't survive in it either. But it looked the same as last year so yay! I won't have another until next May


I've been getting little things done, a lot of seeds planted in pots to be transferred to beds once they are big enough. Plus I organized my closet a bit. I had this giant cardboard box full of my athletic clothes. Things would get lost in that box. I moved up a book case and now organized the shelves with biking, running and winter clothes. My dresser is full and all that can be hung up is hung up. Steve still has several big boxes of stuff he never unpacked in our closet. We have lived here more than 2 years. And he never changes sizes unlike me though I did give away lots of my smaller clothes (that would fit me now!!)before moving.

The week of birthday lunches. I went out with a former colleague, my birthday buddy, the other day on a nice warm day. We sat outside within 30 feet of the railroad track. A nearby couple did not notice the tracks (cut into the street) and jumped a foot when the train came roaring by so close. then today, to a new Indian restaurant with my lovely older daughter.

The weather has been good for running and bicycling but now I hear thunder...

Sunday, April 16, 2017

Easter 2017

Naomi and Hannah
all the girls had to gather around for the fascinating diaper change

It is becoming harder and harder to have them look in the same direction
I have at least 4 types of daffodils. These are my favorite

Fortunately the forecasted thunderstorms did not appear so I was able to run a long way, in shorts!!, this morning coming across different varieties of peepers. Bonus, we were able to have the egg hunt outside and the ground was dry. I spent some time last night stuffing plastic eggs with jelly bellies and peeps. I had some chocolate foil eggs too. I put the easy to find eggs in front where I sent the girls out and harder to find eggs in back where I sent the boys. They seemed to have fun running around finding them.

This morning was spent cooking but I had everything ready in time for the egg hunt. We adults sipped on mimosas. The kids played well with each other for the most part. and Hannah is so cute. A good day.

Friday, April 14, 2017

Vanishing into thin air



Easter wreathe

After 3 hours of extensive and frantic searching, not including time Steve spent looking because there was an outside chance he grabbed them as they look identical to his and he put them somewhere, I finally found my keys. I thought I was going crazy. Obviously I had them when I drove home from my cooking class Wednesday night. I usually put them back in my purse or at least lay them down next to my purse but the next day, they weren't in my purse (which I emptied at least 5 times, at least it is neat now). Unless someone broke into our house (and left my wallet) or I flushed them down the toilet, they had to be in the house. Years ago, I had to replace all my keys because 2 year old Naomi put them in a cereal box, which I didn't discover for 3 months until I was throwing the box away. At least we had keys easily duplicated in those days. I had no toddlers to blame this time.

But somehow they ended up under pillows on our couch. Perhaps  I put them on the edge of the couch when I returned to go to the bathroom. How they got under the pillows is a mystery.Who knows but it is a relief that they are found as they can not be duplicated. Unfortunately, the old car's air conditioner can not be fixed for less than $1200 (coolant and seals were fine, some stupid electronic module, not so fine) so it will be a winter car unless we want to drive with the windows open (which I hate).

I hope the thunderstorms predicted for Easter morning will not appear or pass quickly so I can have the egg hunt outside. Just need to stuff all those eggs as we have 5 hunters. And biking on this cold, windy, rainy weekend will be out though I did go for a ride today.

Still losing weight, yay! I was in a boutique the other day (a cheap one) looking at tops. I selected one. The owner frowned, I don't think that will fit you. Oh, you think I need an extra large? (I said with some alarm). Nope, you need it  smaller. Well the smaller size fit perfectly.

I should be doing yard work. I will be able to harvest rhubarb soon. The flowers are almost 3-4 weeks late. I went for lunch with a good friend the other day and was surprised to find Ramy and Shanna at our lunch spot. Surprised as Ramy works then and Shanna is retrieving Tessa.

Our cooking class featured foods good for the brain. People who eat lots of blueberries, fats found in fish and nuts and avocados have better brain functioning when they are older than non fish eaters. But it could be a class thing; poorer people don't eat these things as often. This time we had a complete dinner: avocado salad with beans and tahini; poached in white wine salmon with leeks and capers (lots of whiners wouldn't eat the leeks or capers so I did) and for dessert, a mousse-like concoction of ground blueberries, ricotta cheese and whipped cream. Since it was Passover, she made haroset, supposedly representing the mortar Jewish slaves made for Egyptian building projects, made of ground almonds, fruit and apples. She forgot to buy raisins so she substituted fruit and nut granola bars. Someone pointed out the granola bars would not be kosher for Passover. There was a mother there whose one year old (roughly Shanna's age) was diagnosed years ago with leukemia but a rare strain, not the usual, curable childhood leukemia(ALL) They tried several different regimens, all experimental, and knocked him into permanent remission but there were many permanent side effects.

I visited my friend yesterday who is battling graft versus host disease which mainly affects her lungs. While I was gone, she got influenza B (along with many people, those flu shots were deficient) and had to be hospitalized because her oxygen levels dropped below 70 (I tested mine with her pulse oximeter:98). She is finally recovering. So much crap she's been through.


Tuesday, April 11, 2017

Meanwhile, back at the ranch

Allie and Hannah came over the other day
not sure about Poppa Steve
Went to an art fair with a friend: Got this clock and a very cool top for myself
And at a resale shop, an interesting folk art doll for my doll wall
And a set of hand painted champagne flutes
daffodils are blooming all over
the crocuses in the shade. The ones in the sun are past their prime


Things are finally getting back to normal after 5 days of being home. I was very nervous about weighing myself as we did have a lot of meals out. The worst, weigh-wise, was sharing a huge appetizer platter at a Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale along with a margarita. Also every night I would have a glass, if not two, of wine. It was so pleasant to sit outside in beautiful surroundings though we were not able to use the deck in Flagstaff overlooking the mountains thanks to bad weather. I ran every day excepting the first travelling day and the day we first went to the Grand Canyon though I certainly hiked a lot. I brought along my portable gym, a series of big rubber bands but did I use them? Nope. But drumroll please: I lost almost 3 pounds though maybe most of that was due to the last few days of restraint and extra exercise. It has been a long 6 months (and a week) since I started this and sadly I am not finished though I am close.  More than 52 pounds. The few size 10s I have are fitting comfortably. I haven't taken the acid blockers in 4 months so that is a success. And excepting this nasty area under my upper arms, I am quite firm. My belly is flat.

As for that raspberry jelly skin condition surrounding 1 inch around my lips, on top it is just peeling skin. The scabs are gone. I keep rubbing creams into it. The skin under my lip is still pale purple instead of bright purple starting from bright red but is not so noticeable.

I didn't miss any good weather here while I was gone as it rained almost every day here. And for more fun, 3 inches of snow was predicted for the day we returned but that didn't happen. It finally turned into spring this weekend. I run to the constant peeping of the frogs and can hear the bizarre vocalizations of the cranes. Also I got my bike back with new parts and all tuned up. I will switch to less running and more biking as I need to be in shape for my 2 big rides. It will be fun not to have to drag an extra 60-65 pounds (being optimistic here) up those hills.  My juncos, aka snow birds, still are around but soon will leave for the Arctic. The gold finch males are now bright yellow instead of olive brown so they are quite pretty.

The Chosen Sisters  aka The Moms met last week. As usual, lots of fun. I did not bake a dessert as usual but made sundaes from various gelatos, cookie bits, almonds and chocolate. We went to an art fair in Northville where I got the clock. Perhaps I will soon model my new top along with my not so obese body.

What's in my future? Next week the dreaded mammogram. It would be nice not to be called back for a series of expensive scans. Hopefully no change from last year. Also a couple of lunches with friends. And I am having Easter for the kids and their kids though the weather predicted is not good for an outside egg hunt. My gardens need a lot of tending. The biggest weed? Grass. Steve has gotten the mowers tuned and sharpened, working on as I type getting new Freon for the old car air conditioner (this car 10 years old has never needed work before) and the sprinklers experts will be here in 2 weeks. And 2 bike rides this summer in July and August. An anniversary trip to be arranged. Spain? And in the next spring, my college friend wants to go biking in Belgium with me. She did the Michigander with me 4 years ago and also went to Italy with me when I finished my cancer treatment, which meant so, so much to me.

And tonight, Miss Maya.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

Javelinas and friends

lots of elk..yep that is snow though not 4 inches deep as it ws in Flagstaff earlier in the day

Abert squirrel. Ears were as long as a rabbits

javelinas taking a drink

big ugly lizard

fuzzy rattlesnake head

Blister beetle If cornered, it will bleed yellow blood that will blister skin and mouth

rattle snake hiding. People said that before he slithered into the hole, it had 8 rattles

ground squirrel eating a prickly pear blossom
I still haven't finished editing the blogs I posted on our vacation. A work in progress. Trying to get back to normal. Fortunately it is now warm and I got my bike back so I rode 41 miles in the last 2 days.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Birds of Arizona

Stellar blue jay Likes Ponderosa pines. Lots of them near Sunset Volcano

love his white eyebrows

Curved beak brown thrasher

Gambrel quail


Gila woodpecker: responsible for most of the holes in the saguaros


female pyrrhoxia

black chinned or Anna hummingbird

Costa hummingbird, the main year around resident of Southern Arizona


Female broadbill on nest which had 2 babies under her






male broadbill looks black sometimes


broadbill in better light

western tanager

evening grosbeak Haven't seen one since I was a kid


male pyrrhoxia

cactus wren, 4 times larger than the house wrens we have but has an awful voice sounding like a car trying to start

gilas love ocotillo
long tailed grackle, much bigger than the grackles at home and even noiser

gila outside of nesting hole


Birds we saw but could not get good pictures: ladder back woodpeckers, gilded flickers, pinyon jay, and a possible red naped sapsucker (saw this from below and saw a distinctive red splash on its neck.)  We saw plenty of mocking jays and 3 kinds of doves. Spotted a possible Scott's oriole (the camera was not around other than a poor iPhone shot). The inn has a resident owl that escaped me seeing it and no road runners.

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