Tuesday, May 30, 2017

Double rainbow

my peonies are finally in bloom

Beautiful orchid that Steve's cousin gave us
patriotic rice krispie treats Shanna made
Hannah smiles with momma but not with me
Naomi and Hannah
Daniel was thrilled to hold his cousin. Hannah, not so much
Josh and his baby
Maya and Allie
red coyote. It was dark and he was moving
The double rainbow after rain shortened our BBQ
a good year for dogwood even though our tree is mostly dead
painted daisies
the pond that I spent so much time cleaning last week. Will look better as the planters fill in

I was on the road by 5:50 am just as the sun was coming up to get my long bike ride in early before I had to babysit Maya and prepare for the BBQ later that day. For Mother's Day and maybe a few birthdays, I was given an Apple watch, which has a too steep learning curve for me but I am finally getting the hang of it. It has a built in GPS. According to it, I went 32.00 miles versus the 32.4 on my odometer. Which is more accurate? Does the watch account for me swerving around potholes? It keeps track of my heartbeat. Average while biking:120 bpm. Average while running:160. Average on the torture device (elliptical trainer: 165) Average lying down at the end of the day: 54 bpm. I am getting faster on the bike too but yesterday I had almost ideal conditions (except the sun still was low to the east  blinding me. There is a 4 mile section that I go due east which is mostly dirt (and muddy from the rain the night before).

I had just been thinking that it had been a while since I've seen a fox and then one runs in front of me. This wasn't long after I saw an indigo bunting (sadly dead) and heard peacocks. It was a great ride. The watch keeps track of how much I climb too, not much compared to what I will be doing in 6 weeks.  My iphones of course have GPS tracking systems on them too but they are a major drain on the phone's battery. The power on my watch only went down 9% after tracking me for almost 3 hours so that's good.

Maya came shortly after I returned. She likes to help: put food in the bird feeders, drag out cushions for the patio chairs. We are now keeping the hummingbird feeders on flimsy branches (won't support Rocky's weight) I don't get to hear them any more but can still see them flitting about.

I am trying not to be doing too much food prep when I rather visit with guests so I tried to get everything done before they come (two days in a row). Much less work yesterday as the kids brought salad and dessert as did Julie's father who joins us for family dinners. So our house is chock full of desserts from 2 days worth. His cousin had brought homemade biscotti. Maybe I will freeze it. And we bought pre-made Bellinis which actually tasted good. We did get all the fixings for Moscow Mules. No Tessa yesterday as she had a 24 hour bug. Her dad stayed home to watch. We thought we'd keep the labor down by using paper plates (used antique Wedgewood for his cousins) but then a strong wind picked up which made keeping them earthbound a chore. And our beautiful sunny day quickly turned to an unforecasted rain so they all decided it was time to go.

But it was fun having the cousins interact. Maya would ask every 10 minutes when Tessa was coming and then she didn't come. she had Allie who is much easier to boss around.

Today is my day of rest. I still ran and did all my basement exercises but I didn't have to do too much more. A lazy day.

Sunday, May 28, 2017

I know why the cat bird sings

note new necklace
Our cat bird after eating the orange we leave out for the oriole
peachy irises. Now 2 days later, all are in bloom. Look nice at sunrise with the light shining through them
I saved all my dahlia tubers from last year and planted them a month ago. Nothing to show for them Maybe our garage was too cold? I bought more dahlias
California poppies have reseeded
We had brunch today for Steve's cousin and her husband. Tried to make our breakfast nook look nice.
To the left are my homemade roasted rhubarb scones. We had bellinis for the champagne flutes. I made frittatas
with roasted peppers and kale (kale from garden) and farro with pesto along with the strawberry, chevre
and spinach salad with caramelized pecans

Steve and his cousin. I'd kill for her upper arms

I often hear cat birds as I run beside thickets but I rarely see them (though I did today as 2 landed on the road in front of me).. I do hear them mewing like a cat. When one was pecking away at the oriole's orange, for a moment I couldn't figure out what it was. Female cowbird?(the male is not a bullbird).

No thanks to Rocky Raccoon, we have to bring the hummingbird feeders inside when the sun sets. Annoying but less annoying to have to fill and clean them up every day plus have Rocky on our ledge making a racket. Raccoons are omnivores though they leave the bird seed alone. He left a half eaten chipmunk under the chair on our porch unless the hawk was crawling around under there (doubtful).

The other night, Steve volunteered to take them in but soon was running back in for the camera. Big red coyote is back! However he went galloping away when he saw Steve so all there is in the photo is an orange dot. Neighbors said his den was on the vacant lot but since a house was put up on it recently, he has been MIA. The dog next door, Odie, a border collie, is usually quite calm but will bark when the coyote comes barreling by. Anyway, the coyote seems to have made quite a dent in the squirrel and rabbit population. Maybe he will develop a taste for raccoons.

I wanted to have nice nails so Steve's cousin wouldn't think I was poorly groomed. I have been gardening quite a bit all week (and still am not done despite all the hours) so I put the manicure off until late yesterday when my usual place was really busy. I was told to  come back later but I am not going to make another trip there so I went to another place that actually is closer to my house, run by Chinese versus Vietnamese. This place was empty but cheaper. The nail person would not talk or even smile, She told me that my nails would be dry in 5 minutes (versus the 15 minutes I am usually told). When she saw me there past the 5 minutes, she told me to Go! You're done!. Hmm, maybe this is why their place isn't crawling with customers. Futzing around with seatbelts is a sure way to wreck semi-wet nails so I went walking and came across some really nice plants on sale so I guess it was good she was rude.

Down to 22.9 BMI. I am shooting for 21. I couldn't do my big ride today as I was preparing for Steve's relatives but tomorrow I will be on the road bright and early. The kids and all their kids won't come until the afternoon for our BBQ. Steve's father and her father were brothers. Out of 8 kids, her father was the last one left until he passed last year at 94. Strangely, their older brother changed his name to be the same as his, which was very confusing. I was told he changed it for his business so that it wouldn't sound so Jewish. This did not make sense as the name he picked is rare among non-Jews and even so, there are plenty of other names out there to use. Like how about Christopher? Or John? But as it turns out, he disapproved of something his younger brother did (the one whose daughter was here) and this is how he showed his disapproval. Very strange. I am mad at you so I am going to take your name?

But it was fun listening to all the stories. She now lives a few hours away in the Midwest instead of the coasts.

Friday, May 26, 2017

Breakfast with the Beatles

Northern flickers are so pretty  Unfortunately she kept moving around. They are woodpeckers but like to feed on the ground. They ignore my feeders though the closely related golden flicker was at the feeder where we stayed in Tucson
at least she is in focus
begonia basket decorating my porch
bought a yellow hibiscus the other day. These are not hardy so I have to bring them in this winter. I do have one hardy hibiscus but it won't flower until August

one of my chestnut or buckeye trees. Haven't figured out if these are edible though the squirrels get to the nuts before I can

Yesterday I made a three hour round trip to Ohio to attend one of the Moms mom's funeral. To keep me company, I had the Sirius radio new Beatle's station on (until the announcer kept blathering then back to Pearl Jam). Hey Sirius, how about a Rolling Stone station? You could rid of the Jimmy Buffet station....

Years ago, I trained for the marathon by running between Ann Arbor and Dexter on Huron River Drive because all the miles are marked. Most of the route is shady and early in the morning, not much traffic. I'd pin a dollar to my top so I could buy a Gatoraid at the ten mile mark. If desperate, I could pump up the iron infested water at the 2 metro parks along the way. I used to run with a radio. Early Sunday mornings they had Breakfast with the Beatles on which would make the miles go a bit faster. I'd lose the station though as I descended into the Delhi Valley but would get it back later.

One of my father's many whines was that as a 13 year old, he was forced to march from Dexter to Ann Arbor as a Boy Scout and what an ordeal that was. His mom felt sorry for him and allowed him to quit the Scouts because of that. Every time we drove on Huron River Driver (adjacent to Barton Hills where my grandparents lived) he would go on and on about it. Well I would run it both ways and at a good clip, so there.

After the funeral and burial, there was a church luncheon. A woman at my table didn't want to stand in line so was asking me about the food..did they have funeral potatoes? I don't eat anything potato (except latkes) so I couldn't tell her but apparently funeral potatoes are a shredded potato and cheese concoction, which they did have. They did have rhubarb crisp, which I can't resist (other standard Midwest Lutheran funeral food does not tempt me in the least). Tomorrow I will make some rhubarb scones for Steve's cousin who is coming the next day. She has now moved to the Midwest.

What I wasn't able to find was cheap buckeye gas. One advantage of Ohio is that the gas usually is a lot cheaper than Michigan's but not yesterday.

My favorite time of day. When I have finished my workouts and can drink my coffee in peace. Today's workout: elliptical trainer and bicycling, the latter being Impossible earlier in the week due to incessant rain though now that I am not doing The Really Big Bike Ride this year, I can ease up a bit.

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Rocky Raccoon has a sweet tooth

flamingo willow
azalea and holly
dahlia, dahling
the first of many sweet Williams. Planted seeds last year. Lots of blossoms forming

Lots of gardening accomplished this week along with 2 more trips to nurseries and the farmer's market. I planted seeds in pots a month ago. Hopefully I can fill out some beds with those. And I scrubbed out my pond, a disgusting job but now it is clean though I can't get the waterfall feature to work, at least I have a pond aerator.

I have 3 hummingbird feeders and one oriole feeder (my lone oriole is still visiting) For the past two weeks, I've found them on the ground most of the time the next morning. At first I thought maybe the wind though the bird feeders were always OK. One of the hummingbird feeder is right next to my bedroom window so I can see them while lounging around. Last night at one am, I heard the feeder clanging against my window. I quickly opened the blind. There was Rocky Raccoon on the ledge. Did he jump off? not until Steve pounded on the window. My hostas have been trampled so I knew it was something big. I suppose I should take the feeders in at night to fix his wagon but the hummingbirds are early and late feeders. We now have lights on in back. Hopefully that will scare him off.

I spent more time with my friendly dentist yesterday. I thought I would get a 6 month break from him but no such luck. A piece of a bicuspid broke off as I was eating my granola last week. And extra bonus, I used up too much of my insurance already this year to have much of a crown covered. So I have a temporary on that will hopefully last until January. Steve has a much worst tooth that will cost mega bucks as he probably needs an implant. He had crowns put on most of his teeth in his early twenties, the result of his parents thinking soda was a suitable beverage for kids. Evil stuff. I didn't get much soda as a kid mainly because my father thought it too expensive.
Now I see that pediatricians are recommending severely limiting juice consumption for young children.

And my big bike ride from Pittsburgh to DC has been postponed a year. A woman who was going to go with us has an injury. We were depending on her husband to use his van as a support vehicle. So I was given a choice the other night, do it without support or wait a year. I will try to have some fun doing something else I still have the ride in Northern Michigan in 2 months.

Maya's pediatrician had recommended behavioral therapy along with drugs for her ADHD. There is a long waiting list for the former. MY friend Soulmate, a child psychiatrist, was angry that we didn't try behavioral therapy first (again waiting list)  though I have my doubts. How can one talk out a chemical imbalance? Tonight we had the initial interview with a social worker to assess Maya. Still have to wait for a therapist. By that time, Maya's insurance may be canceled.

6 pounds to go though some think I should be done. BMI is now 23. Capris I had bought for my Arizona trip are ridiculously  large now.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Hyperthyroid cats

We went to an art fair down the street . One of the artists makes large animal mosaics. In front of his studio is a life size mosaic tiger that I go by frequently. His wife, who I knew in another life, makes ceramics and soaps

My niece with new glasses. I would never have guessed that these frames would be popular for women
the youngest grandchildren who will come here later today
Josh and Allie at the nearby park this morning
riding her new bike

Recently there was an article in the NYT about the spate of hyperthyroid cats, a not seen condition prior to the 70s. What is to blame?  Possibly PBBs, which are flame retardants. Symptoms of hyperthyroidism; weight loss despite insatiable appetite and thirst; irritability. Best treatment: radioactive iodine followed by life time replacement hormones. However, this is extremely expensive and the cats might not take the follow up pills. One can surgically remove the thyroid but again, expensive and you need the pills. One of the moms has one of those cats. She tried to give daily antithyroid pills but her cat, otherwise quite meek, will fight to the death rather than swallow a pill. She is instead feeding the cat very expensive food that contains absolutely no iodine.

So if it is doing this to cats, what is happening to us? Has the prevalence of thyroid disorders gone up during the same time? I don't know but I do know that I know many more women over forty who have a thyroid disorder than not, most of them having Hashimoto's thyroiditis which causes the thyroid to die. I had the somewhat rarer condition Graves Disease whose principal symptom is hyperthyroidism. Radioactive iodine destroyed my thyroid and I need replacement hormone daily.

It is raining on my preferred bicycling day. Fortunately I had a small break between storms to ride 25 miles. I didn't do my big loop as I would be far from home if the weather maps were incorrect plus it includes dirt roads which really are a pain when wet. I instead biked past huge mountains of trash. The nearby township seems to handle most of the trash in SE Michigan. The road near the ginormous landfill was recently paved. I thought I wouldn't have to worry about the many garbage trucks going to and fro. Early, there were none but on my way back, a whole convoy of them. They don't rest for Sunday I guess. And that smooth road won't last long under their huge loads.

But all this rain is good for my gardens. I planted lots of seeds last year and had very little to show for it except some weedy looking things. I was tempted to pull them out but now they are starting to be in bloom, sweet Williams of all colors. They will need more sun to fully blossom.

We don't have the variety of birds this year as last. No grosbeaks and only the one oriole, who flew away in disgust today as all the grape jelly was washed away in the rain. Instead of having a whole flock of wax wings, a lone pair has shown up only twice. The female hummingbird finally made her way across the Gulf of Mexico to my feeders so I at least have a pair.

A pair of barn swallows are nesting on  our porch. They have not dive bombed my face as other pairs have done. I was sitting on the porch on the phone (brick walls make for bad reception) the other day and the male perched on the chair beside me staring me down just a few feet away. He was there a long time. Usually they perch high on the ceiling and chatter away when we are out there. They are quite pretty.

What have I been up to? I did buy a tile at the art fair yesterday along with s small bicycle sculpture at a yard sale. Two days ago, I went to a cake tasting party (just what I need, right?). I thought I would prefer the chocolate flourless torte as I am a chocoholic but a pineapple upside down cake make with real cherries and fresh pineapple and a very buttery cake base was surprisingly more tasty. The 'diet' choice would be an angel food cake. So homemade angel food cake is much superior to store bought but still it is just sweet fluff. I went instead of to a concert in Detroit (thank-you in-laws) because I was going to see a friend I hadn't seen in years (very nice seeing you KP, we needed more time). Shanna took my place as Steve's date. Bonus for him, she didn't whine when he insisted on eating at the Outback Steakhouse before hand.

I hear those pesky grackles making their ugly screech before greedily gobbling up my suet cake. Must go scare them away
Below is the tiger down the street

Friday, May 19, 2017

Tasty gaslines

I bought a simple black dress to put my beaded moth top over
After much debating over the past few weeks, I bought this crane print. The Taiwanese artist, Hua Yao Tung, has painted some very cool stuff. As you can see from the previous photo, I have this next to my crane screen in  my orange, blue and gold living room
Maya came over the other night but spent most of the time sleeping
Another primitive doll to add to my doll wall. Its body sort of reminds me of my own. Finally a reasonably thin body ( 8 pounds to go and I stop) but upper arms still are mysteriously outsized

Where have I been? Busy.
Yesterday I spent the entire day in a hospital. Not what I had planned on doing. What I planned to do was to finish planting my vegetables and maybe set up my pond. A friend had surgery  2 months ago. Unfortunately the wound never healed and was opening even larger exposing her to all kinds of peril. Her daughter and grandchildren live with her but her daughter was inconveniently out of the country. I had offered to keep her company while she recovered but the person who was to take her to the hospital ended up in the hospital herself. She said all I had to do is drop her off but I knew they wouldn't do surgery without a person present responsible for her afterwards.

I was told the surgery would take an hour and the recovery another hour so I had brought my running stuff to get some sort of workout instead of just hanging out in a waiting room. Already it was 80 and humid (now after the arctic blast came in, it hasn't got past 55). I found a path next to the river and run in the steamy air redolent of honeysuckle and wild phlox. There was some kind of pollen burning my eyes. The hospital gives you a patient number which shows up on a lit board telling you what phase of the surgery they are in. I had timed my run such that she'd be almost out of recovery when I returned. Nope still in surgery. An hour later, still in surgery. Recovery took much, much longer too. They wanted to admit her but she had those grandkids to take care of. Don't they have friends to stay with? Not any her daughter would approve of. Turns out her wound was very deep and they had to keep cutting and cutting. Whether she got to go home or not depended on a physical therapist finding her capable of walking a bit. This hospital doesn't have a physical therapist so we had to wait a few hours for them to find one to come over. She could walk gingerly and in pain. How much pain? 5 out of 10. Then they wouldn't release her until additional meds got the pain down to a 4. So a very long day that I got to drive in 2 separate rush hours. The grandkids are 13 and 15 so they should be capable of being helpful. Sadly they a used to grandma stepping and fetching for them, not vice versa though today's report was they did step  in for some of the work.

So who would eat a gas line? Rodents. One of the Moms recently got a new car and already the Check Engine light started flashing. She took it in to find the chewed gas line which the warranty doesn't cover. This has happened before to another car of hers. Never heard of this before. I looked it up. Happens a lot and especially to one brand, not hers, which used a soy based (yum, yum) housing.

All the Moms have many plans to go on their fancy vacations so we got together the other night as we had 4/5 of us around (the fifth is on a dream vacation in Scotland and Ireland). It had been a very hot day but it was quite pleasant in early evening to sit outside next to the railroad tracks drinking our enormous Happy Hour beers ( I had been minus 60 pounds; too afraid to weight myself now). The train comes quite close to us shaking the ground. Right after the crossing gates went down meaning the train will come thundering through in the next 30 seconds, a young woman's  bike tires get stuck in the tracks and she falls down sprawled on the path of the soon to be here train. Her helmet was on the ground. She didn't seem too much in a hurry to move herself out of peril. All of us diners behind a fence were yelling in unison for her to get up. A runner who could have pushed her to safety just keeps on running by. We all thought we'd see a very gruesome death but she got up with seconds to spare...smiling. Did she stage this?

So after my bike ride today(in the cold but at least it was dry), back to gardening. All the vegetables are in. Hopefully they survived being dried out in their peat pots yesterday while I was gone. I didn't have to buy chard as little plants are popping up. They reseeded as some of the plants were out of the rabbit proof zone. Of course that nasty kale didn't die. It has roots to China. Still much work needs to be done.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Mother's Day 2017

Boy do I wish I combed my hair! Josh and his girls
Maya at a Hands-on Museum birthday party practicing pole climbing. It is in a fire station. Who has a birthday party on Mother's Day?
Daniel's portrait of Shanna. She is as special as his tablet
all my Mother's Day flowers
cool hand made tile
hand blown glass

Well I didn't get fatter on Mother's Day so I suppose that was a plus. I did get a call wondering what time I was going to make a meal for everyone. Hmmm... twenty to never!

As soon as it was light enough, off I went on my 32.5 mile loop. A Mother's Day Miracle! On a particularly bumpy stretch on my path that just last week was flanked by orange barrels, which I assumed would be there all summer, I was met with smooth as glass pavement. Yay! And another severely rutted short cut I take to avoid going through Ann Arbor was smoothed over so I could zip over that without feeling my ribs shake. Also the weak head winds early on turned into strong tail winds so I was quite speedy. As soon as I got home, Josh and his little girls were there. He gave me some extra padded bicycle shorts which will be handy as most  of mine are too big and the padding shifts to inconvenient places. Hannah still won't let me or anyone else hold her without screaming. In 2 months, she will have to adjust to 'not-the momma'.
About an hour after he left, Shanna's family came over with lots of flowers. All the kids helped Steve buy me an Applewatch, which I am trying to figure out how it works. Need to do some reading.

It was a beautiful day. Later a friend shared some wine with me on my porch.

Saturday, May 13, 2017

Sparkly butterfly

Shanna and Tessa at a Mother's Day tea
me trying to take a selfie to show my top. Arms are blocking the design. Notice all the plants still inside
Isn't this cool? Actually it looks more like a moth. The base is silk but it is covered with thousands of beads. My cost: $10.
glass bottle wind chime from up north and a begonia basket Really should take down snowflake lights

I have been busy today. As soon as I got up, fueled by one cup of coffee, I was out on the bike at dawn. Sundays are a better day to ride but if the weather is good, I will ride both days on the weekend. Need to catch up for my two long bike rides. I noticed that the nearby church had its big sale already but they were going to do deep discounts on the last day. I quickly showed up to find that top and some picture frames.

I had gone to a huge nursery yesterday with some friends. Today I spent 3 hours planting stuff. Still have much work to do in the yard. Each day I do a bit (today a whole lot). Still have to set up my pond.

And this afternoon I am processing rhubarb. Some of it I turned into jam. What did I thicken it with? Orange peel. I didn't realize until today that orange rind contains a lot of pectin. I also made 'roasted rhubarb' that can easily be added to things that one adds raisins to. One thing I might make with it is rhubarb scones, which I found on Mennonite Girls Can Cook which has many rhubarb recipes. I still have a lot that I can harvest.

Now that it isn't raining, I can keep my oriole happy with grape jelly. He has been ignoring the clementines. He has been trying to tip one of my hummingbird feeders over and lap up the spillage. Orioles are so pretty. Still no grosbeaks. I found a missing wren house hidden in some day lilies. Within a day of me hanging it, a wren began building its nest in there. Wrens are so plain looking but they sing so prettily and pick off bugs in the garden. I think I have 3 houses full of them.

Happy Mother's Day to you all! What am I doing for it? Who knows?


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