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

Friday, September 29, 2017

ArtPrize 9

not sure how they recycle them but better than on the street
a work in progress
in the middle of Grand River A protest against the Dakota oil pipeline
Silly me DeVos Learning Center behind me De Vos is now the Secretary of Education whose main focus is to divert public funding to private religious schools
cool quilt
not sure of the message
This owl is all embroidery Couldn't get rid of the glare thus those 2 white lines
Philip screw head sculpture
our royal family

chicken wire lady
See how my new (to me) artistic top matches the backdrop? This top, my new favorite, still had the original $118 price tag. My price $4.20

Yesterday we made our annual pilgrimage to Grand Rapids to enjoy their 3 week outdoor art fair, ArtPrize. Last week, they had a six day streak of 95 and above. Traverse City, which is much further north, was the hot spot for the entire country on one of those days at 96. But yesterday was partly cloudy and 68, perfect for walking all over the place. My usual companion still was on vacation so another of the Moms came with me. I first went to see this 7 years ago in which they had at least twice as many entries. 3 weeks is a long time to stand next to your work trying to convince the crowd to vote for you. The families of the co-founders of Amway pump a lot of money into this event. Amway is a huge pyramid scheme with so-called Christian values. I don't run into many of its adherents anymore, I think they now are mainly overseas, but I don't approve of where they get their money but still I do like ArtPrize and Grand Rapids, our second city even though they decided to double the cost of parking.

How many unusual materials can be used to make art? Barbed wire, chicken wire, pennies, computer keys, nails, painted circus peanuts, legos, computer screen  lines, trash of all sorts were just some of the media we saw. We sat on carefully balanced rocks fashioned into rocking chairs which were surprisingly comfortable. We ate at old fashioned Ladies's Club that was still decorated as if it were the 30s though they decided to add various surprise costs to our bill, probably as we were not members. We found a much better and less expensive bar for dinner and drinks. My one legged Lesbian kick-boxer cocktail set me back only $2. Lots of anti_trump stuff even though we were in the heart of Trumpland (only southeast Michigan is not, which is where I live). A Trump voodoo doll with big pins for participants to stick through him was a favorite. Above is only a bit of what I photographed and it would be impossible to see everything in a day.

Tonight, our Mom's group. I am making a vegan cheesecake. How can cheese be animal free? Because I am using a mix of coconut, raw cashews and avocado flavored with lime, dates and cacao nibs. Took forever to amass the ingredients and they cost way more than the cream cheese normally used. Better taste good. And it is officially 'raw' food as nothing is baked.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Wasps in my walls

The cleomes, pink,white and purple reseed themselves each year.They smell like skunks but are so pretty
Shanna's family at aEMU football game with their live mascot
I have snapdragons of all colors
despite all my pulling out the seedlings, I still have morning glories of various colors
mums' the word
Bryce canyon taken by my niece

My brother-in-law complained of an animal making noises somewhere under his bed while he was staying here a couple of weeks ago. I chalked it up to all the various systems and fans we have running continuously but then Steve while changing the bedding thought he heard a cat purring under the bed. I didn't hear anything but agreed to do my reading while staying in the room. Soon I heard a crinkling sound high in the walls and then noticed a wet spot in the corner of the ceiling??? I went outside to investigate. The roof seemed fine (plus when has it rained here....weeks!) but under the eaves I saw numerous wasps (or bees, too high up for me to see but I suppose I now can look at their corpses) going in and out. These are tough little suckers as they still seem to be living despite being sprayed numerous times. I am guessing there is an enormous nest of them in the attic (which we have no access to!) and that their combined breathing is causing moisture to accumulate. There are fans and vents in the attic but this area is far from the vents. He has made a dent in their population as I don't hear them scratching around and the wet spot is drying up. Arghhh!

The week of extreme heat is almost over. Hotter than it was in the summer. By tomorrow, a cold front should come in and then maybe I can run comfortably again. I've been doing a lot of biking instead.

And according to the doctor, I am now hyperthyroid (although not much as I don't have any symptoms of it). I guess it would make sense as I am taking the same dose as I did when I weighed more than 50% (!!!@#!) than I do now. How does one determine the dosage? For thyroid medication, the rule of thumb is ones weight times micrograms. By that I am taking slightly too much but wasn't taking enough at my former weight. But a good deal of the weight was non-metabolizing fat. I have not much fat left and I think I gained some muscle. So I now need to be monitored. All I heard about my other numbers was that they were 'good' I was hoping to see if my cholesterol dropped. Theoretically I could pull up my results on two different patient portals but I can't find anything yet.

Daylight is disappearing. I start my Sunday ride 20 minutes before official sunrise covered with flashing lights. I was also trying to beat the heat and traffic. I saw lots of turkeys. Today I saw a dead weasel. Not sure if I ever saw a live one though I've seen mink.

Saturday, September 23, 2017


By the end of the day, these tomatillos will be converted to salsa for my vet made tamales
tiny spaghetti squash and big butternut

As I sit here sipping my iced coffee fortified with crème d'erable, it is 92 f***ing degrees outside and the day is young. And the heat will continue into Tuesday. Fortunately, it was less humid early this morning than it had been so I wasn't so miserable running and biking. And no fog for a change so I wasn't covered with flashing lights.

Steve's grotesque pustules have morphed into scabs but he is still experiencing a lot of pain although it is on the inside now. He will feel like a knife is stabbing him. Many cases of shingles morph into 'post herpatic neuropathy' It has been more than 3 weeks since this mess has started and can continue for months. He is taking gabapentin for the neuropathic pain though it isn't 100% effective. He is happier during the day but does a lot of tossing and groaning at night.

Could this be true? A friend needed police assistance in a city neighborhood. Before the police could get there, the dispatcher asked her if she was wearing such and such. How did they know? They presumably could get a satellite photo of her in real time by plugging the address in of the yard she was standing in. Sounds rather Orwellian to me. Must investigate.

I went to the local Farmer's Market yesterday. Hot, hot , hot as this one is on late Friday afternoons. A man was selling Mexican food to benefit a certain veteran's association. I tasted some of his salsas, tasty, and decided to buy some tamales, which I will serve tonight with my yet to be made salsa. His hands were covered with grit and oil. I hope they were cleaner when he made my food. But from his apparent age, he probably was a Viet Nam vet. Had he been watching Ken Burn's series on the war? No, he knew all he needed to know already. His brother was sent over during the Tet offensive (next to shown in the series). He eventually returned from the war with a severe case of PTSD and poisoning from Agent Orange. When he applied to the government for assistance, he was given only 25% disability as they figured he was in the 'field' only 25% of the time. The rest of the time he was at a supply depot full of leaking tanks of the stuff in weather that would make our current conditions feel like an arctic blast. He appealed over and over. Finally during the Obama administration, he was allowed complete disability but died within a month of receiving it. When he returned from the war, he was greeted with throngs shouting 'baby killer' at him. The VFW, full of WW2 and Korean War vets,, did not allow Viet Nam vets at that time. 

So no, he wasn't going to watch it. He just wants to know why we got involved in the first place. I said the first 2 episodes do explain it. the reasons were not 'good' but it was explained. So he will watch those episodes. He did not talk about his own experience so it was not clear if he was a vet or just supported them.

I continue to plug away at my Spanish lessons though my competency level keeps dropping as I need to keep taking more and more refresher lessons. I guess I really don't need to use all those tenses: present tense and conditional should do.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Ostrich Effect

dahlias Still have many that haven't bloomed Time is running out
shade loving toad lilies. 

How often do we want to hide from reality and avoid bad news? I hate opening up Facebook now because it is full of Trump crap..I'm tired of it. A company provides free mammograms on site. Women of a certain age (always changing) should get one. Are they more likely to take advantage of this after a colleague is diagnosed with breast cancer? Yes and no. They will get one if the colleague has it caught early and is fine. If the colleague is found to have advanced breast cancer, they will avoid the mammogram like the plague. An irrational part of me felt if only I didn't go and get that bad mammogram, I would have been fine. I was happy before it and now I was miserable. Of course, with the tumor so aggressive, I would be dead by now. Ironically, I had delayed the mammogram for 6 months because I didn't want anything derailing my summer in Italy. Would they have seen the tumor then? Probably not as it was growing so fast, it must have popped up while I was in Italy.  I guess I was 'lucky' that this all worked out but it is scary that these tumors can pop up between mammograms. And no, I didn't feel the tumor despite knowing where it was and that it was close to skin. Where my tumor was feels like it was filled in with plaster, a hard lump. I warned my new doctor of this yesterday. Yep you sure have a lot of scar tissue there.

She said 'they' were recommending screening for hepatitis C now for people in my age group. I see ads for this all the time from the drug company that makes the cure for it. When was I possibly exposed? I got a blood transfusion while giving birth to Shanna. They didn't screen for hepatitis or AIDS then and I worried more about the latter as it was then, a death sentence. But 38 years later, I appear healthy and haven't seemed to have transmitted those dreaded diseases to Steve or my kids so I doubt I have either. I think I was asked to take an AIDS test when I was pregnant with Naomi but I thought the possibility of a false positive was higher than a real positive. Nothing could be gained and plus I would have to pay for it. So no, no tests. She asked if I exercised? I wanted to say, Isn't it obvious? Where do you find muscles like this on a woman my age? But I just told her I ran. She said I shouldn't do that. Why? Bad for my joints. I said I have been running for years with no joint problems so I will continue until a problem arises. But I did like her besides that.

One thing I won't be doing in the near future is use our elliptical trainer. A bolt sheared in the middle of my workout yesterday. We didn't have it 9 months.

So does an ostrich bury its head in the sand to avoid bad news and thus getting depressed? It does bury its head in the sand but to check on its eggs also buried in the sand. I do blame the ostrich effect for my obesity. I didn't want to see those numbers on the scale as they would depress me. I still fight that and force myself to face the music and make adjustments if need be.

After my lunch with my ex-colleague, I had a bit of time before the doctor so I stopped by the better for clothes resale. Two women were pawing  through the designer rack with me. One happened upon a cute jacket and then saw the size 6 tag. Argh! Who wears
a size 6? Then she saw me. You do, don't you! Yes I do.   I didn't tell her that less than a year ago, I was oozing out of size 14s. I did pick out a chartreuse must be dry cleaned only designer jacket that said it was size 0, which turned out to be meaningless as it fits and looks good.

By the calendar, it is now fall but the forecast calls for high 80s for the next few days. Argh. As soon as the traffic clears, I will be biking as I can tolerate higher temps with that. At nights, I've been watching the Viet Nam War on TV. OMG, how depressing! One of the ladies I lunched with yesterday had just returned from there and talked how gracious and friendly the people were to her. If I were them, I would hate Americans.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017


The lake I go by on my favorite loop which I know can do again as the bridge is finally open It took an hour for the fog to clear

hairy donkey at the strange animal farm
lots of toad lilies now
Daniel's facial impression

My doctor has retired so I needed a new one. I carefully selected one that was close by and sounded like she might be good. I went to my appointment today to be told that they decided to make it with another doctor instead without consulting me. I knew nothing about this new doctor and demanded an appointment with whom they had said I had an appointment with originally. I would have to come back then. Fortunately they had an opening tomorrow.

So in the last ten days or so we've had lots of family gatherings as Steve's brother and for a while his wife were here. The grandkids were here much of the time and for the most part, played well together. Unfortunately there was an incident this weekend which although it should be addressed, was totally innocent and some have over reacted becoming very judgmental threatening future family gatherings. It is so sad and depressing. Hopefully upon reflection, there will be peace but for now, it just makes me sad.

Indian summer. Yesterday was so hot and muggy even before the sun came up. I could not run at my usual pace, which still is much slower than I would like. According to my watch, my pulse was over 200 bpm. It was a bit cooler today but we will have heat for the next 4 days. Maybe more biking?

Having people over means cooking and having lots of food around. Not good for my health plan which rests on not being around temptation but fortunately I only gained a pound so I am getting used to 'the new normal'. Tomorrow, my ex-co-worker is taking out all who helped her during a health crisis to a buffet.  So I get to practice self control again, much easier when I am by myself.

Still working on my Spanish. I was up to 40% but unless I review the old lessons, points disappear and now I am back down to 38%.

Saturday, September 16, 2017


pink petunias spilling out all over
a winery we visited yesterday and its mascot A sandhill crane sanctuary is nearby which used to be the only place one could see them. We went there and didn't find them as they come there only in the evening. These birds are no longer rare. I hear them on my runs most of the time

Maya outside of her school for picture day. The hand off between her parents went smoothly as far as I can tell

It is a warm late summer evening. The sun is setting lighting up the sky with pinks and oranges. I have Maya yet again. As the drugs wear off for her ADHD, she becomes more and more restless. Riding the bike sucks off some of her considerable energy. I am out watching for cars. The bats are out circling for bugs flying much more erratically than the swallows who are now gone to parts south. There has been a huge decline in the brown bat population due to some virus but perhaps we have an isolated colony. One of the best features of our 'new' house is the sky. Before we were hemmed in by trees and other houses. Yes I loved the huge stand of sugar maples but we could never see sunsets or sunrises.

Steve is feeling better. The drug specific for neuropathic pain helps though he is restless  at night. When he drives, one hand is pulling the shoulder belt away from his body as any pressure causes immense pain. Yes I have offered to drive so he could sit beltless in back and we wouldn't have to deal with his forgetfulness caused by the drug. Missing wallet? Yep though found after a frantic search at 3 places. Credit card left at the counter..etc But I was the only one who drank at the winery. We sat on a shaded porch overlooking rows and rows of grapes. Very quiet there. They also have good food. A woman that I worked with now deals with the little  tests associated with wine making: sugar titers, alcohol titers. She has a doctorate in chemistry and now does work a good student in high school chemistry can handle. Afterwards we drove through state lands that I used to bicycle through. Very pretty. Some of the trees have changed colors. We avoided the freeway on the way back as the one heading north is all backed up due to construction and Friday traffic heading north.

I am back to my usual exercise routine. New tact: running for a specific distance versus a specific time tends to make Lazy Sue a bit faster. Lifting weights is becoming easier.

Steve's brother is here until Monday. He gets up late so I am all done with exercising by then. We have gone out quite a bit (or us) this week. I did go to my cooking class the other day whose theme was including as many colors as possible in salads and main dishes. 3 kinds of kale: yeck. I cooked up my huge spaghetti squash serving half of it with pesto. Good and easy to make.

Again Maya's insurance was cancelled. This time: no proof of citizenship even though her birth certificate had been sent several times. It was sent again. She did get a scholarship for childcare so Naomi can now work the hours her new boss specified. He was not going to use the school's schedule as they had permitted in the past.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Triplet fawns

This is as painful as it looks. Now on Gabapentin for the neuropathic pain Must be working as he is finally asleep, though it is the middle of the day
Scare Bros?

Aside with encountering the great horned owl, the other day I came across triplet fawns on my run. They only look a few weeks old. Hopefully for their sake, winter will start late. Not sure how rare they are. I see twins quite often.

Last week I finally weighed less than my husband but with guests, that might not be true now. Plus this weekend, my workouts were limited as we had Maya the entire time and Steve was too sick to take care of her. She is gone now so I can be gone for longer periods of time. Just Steve's brother is here now and he does not get up until almost noon. I can't plug my music into the speakers but he couldn't hear my phone so I can workout with music downstairs and not bother him. We had a good visit with his wife who is now back in NYC teaching. Maya especially liked her.

I got yet another resale bike for her which she spent hours on this weekend. As long as she is moving, she is happy. Bonus, her health insurance has been reinstated, much faster than I would have guessed.

We had the whole family over Saturday to visit the New Yorkers, a full house. People wonder why we upsized versus downsized. Precisely for occasions like this. We couldn't fit everyone in our old house.

I am getting faster running finally. Yay! Easier when it is only 45 degrees.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Irma and the owl and shingles!

toad lily
my spaghetti squash. Still didn't cook it
my aunt and her view from her summer home
She is my mom's youngest sister. Of the 7 kids, only the oldest, age 96 and the youngest, age 86 are left. As she is closer in age to my mom, I thought I could learn more from her
Cool floor from our lunch place in Metamora Michigan. The younger aunt said the older would be so jealous we went there. The building was built in 1850, old by Michigan standards
Maya and her Great Uncle bonding and dancing with their hats
On my bucket list: to see a live owl in the wild. While biking this morning, I saw the ear tufts and first thought: bobcat! But head was very large. Alas, it was injured. It could fly a bit but it hopped on one leg. I returned about 20 minutes later and it was gone. I am hoping for the best
Maya milking the fake cow
Hannah and pumpkins
Allie. She is a pretty girl
Steve, me, the brother and his wife Like my new pink suede jacket? Will I learn to comb my hair?
The bro and his wife
Josh's family  This farm is on my usual Sunday bike loop though today I didn't go by it. It is extremely popular

It has been a very busy last few days. Where to begin?

Hurricane Irma. Where and when will it hit? My aunt lives most of the time right on the gulf south of Sarasota. She comes to Michigan only in the summer and stays with her son on a beautiful lake about 1.5 hours away from me. She and her daughter, my cousin, are fairly reclusive and it was like pulling teeth to see them. Somehow she didn't find the time to see my other aunt, who lives across state and felt a bit hurt that she was ignored. Could I broker a reunion? It was hard enough to see her and now she is going back early obsessed that everything is destroyed. She wants to reclaim a few things before everything is bulldozed. Initially she just worried about her son on the northeast coast of Florida as initial projections had Irma going up the East Coast. She sent him money to flee to northern Georgia. My age and still needs Mom to bail him out. He is the only cousin I haven't seen since childhood. But projections have changed. His abode will probably be safe but my aunt's is probably destroyed as of a few hours ago.

My step niece lives not far from my aunt on the west coast. At first, with the east coast projection, it looked like she and her partner would be safe. Her mom, my sister-in-law, was with us for the weekend and couldn't help worry. But Irma went up Florida's west coast? will the niece go to safety? They crossed the state and now are on the east coast, which does not sound safe to me. Ironically , lots of the East Coast people took refuge in her town. It is a mess. And with all the firestorms on the west coast with choking ash in the skies and it is not even the usual fire season, Michigan is looking pretty good right now.

I made arrangements to see my cousin and aunt before I knew the New Yorkers, Steve's brother and wife, were coming to town. His wife could only say through the weekend as she still teaches in a yeshiva.

My older aunt, who I saw last month in Holland and saw twice last year is an out going, talkative, sharp woman. But as she was so much older than my mom and out of the house before various issues arose, it was hard to get useful info from her. Ask the younger sister, I was told.

I was mired in construction traffic going there Friday. Should have consulted Julie who works fairly close to where my cousin lives. I do like this cousin quite a bit. she is 2 years younger than me and never has rejected me unlike the cousin on the west coast of Michigan who was so snotty to me when I was a kid (but since has bent over backwards to make up for it). They do not talk though are interested in news of each other as transmitted by me.  Unlike them, I am not shy. I may be socially awkward at times but I am not hesitant to deal with people.  As soon as I got to my cousin's, she offered to drive the 30 minutes north to her mom's, my aunt. Northern Oakland county has several very cute towns, which we went through. My aunt's I would go through on the way to my mom's cousin's dairy farm. Her lakefront home is beautiful. I had made a copy of a photo of her as my mom's bridesmaid that she has never seen (despite me having sent it to her son-in-law's Facebook account) She said she would treasure the photo.  My aunt wanted to go to this historical restaurant that the other aunt loved but had no idea how to get there. Both she and my cousin have no idea how to use a computer but fortunately, I do and quickly found it. It was in a town I went to Girl Scout camp years ago.

What did I learn? Well one of cousins died at age 55 from a 2 month battle with biliary duct cancer just a few years ago. He was a bit younger than my brother and had stayed with us once. My grandfather was a versatile musician and taught violin and piano to the kids and neighbors. My mother had zero talent and did not learn any instrument unlike all her siblings. The uncle close in age to my mom's who killed himself when he was 19 ingesting phenol was a paranoid schizophrenic who was molested as a child. My uncle, a few years back, had shown me his photo and he was exceedingly handsome. This aunt didn't think there was any  photos of him. My other aunt thought my grandmother was the worse mom ever only caring for the babies whereas this aunt thought my grandma was pretty good. Of course she was the youngest. She said my grandmother was a talented seamstress and tailor. One of my uncles was dyslexic so she would read all his work for him, which surprised me as I never thought of my grandmother as particularly educated or bright though she was always very nice to me.  Why did my mom leave home at 16? Severe emotional problems. My aunt thought anxiety but my mom never seemed particularly anxious to me. She had the same high school French teacher as my mom who approached her to say something was terribly wrong with my mom as she refused to ever speak in front of class. My aunt thought my mom left for some special school for children with emotional problems; my mom told me she lived in the Y and worked at Sanders. Who knows the truth? One of this aunt's grandchildren is autistic (with some special talents). Could my mom be autistic? Yes, definitively on the spectrum. She was not close to my mom. My theory is that my mom was the forgotten sibling though one of her brothers made an extra effort to watch out for her as did my older aunt. My younger aunt does appreciate her oldest sister..then why didn't she contact her?

We definitely had an interesting talk and my cousin was glad to her  mom's mind off of fretting over what mess will happen in Florida. I guess it will be next year before I can get them all together.

Shingles. At first Steve had a slight rash looking very much like poison ivy covering only a square inch on his ribs for about a week. But unlike poison ivy, it really hurt instead of just itching. It has since spread along his right side completely covering a rib. It looks ugly and is very painful. He can't sleep and is very grumpy. The only person at risk is Hannah as she isn't vaccinated yet against chicken pox. But pretty much, the contents of his blisters have to come in contact with her. We made sure this didn't happen.

I will continue at some point


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