Thursday, November 30, 2017

Our day in Court

We put up our seizure inducing flashing snowflakes

Christmas cactus all abloom

my lone blooming orchid

Cooper's hawks surveying my feeders. They saw him coming

Yesterday was the worst day so far this year. Ugh! And as I knew it was coming, it sort of spoiled the week before in anticipation. Naomi filed a motion to change her joint custody arrangement to sole custody. She wanted both physical and legal. She also filed several other motions full of cross outs. For instance, since she was making the complaints, one would think she would be the plaintiff but in the original divorce trial, she was the defendant so going forward, anything to do with custodial arrangements, she has to be the defendant. Due to incompetence of the many involved, the only motion the judge saw was that for parenting time. He said that was for the Friend of the Court to decide, contact them and see him only if there can't be an agreement. Naomi said she was there really to change the custody arrangement as Don'tae moved 150 miles away and is out of state much of the time and she wants the child support to reflect that. She then said she wanted sole legal custody, which I warned her about. The judge asked, on what grounds? Naomi didn't have an answer. Possible answers: not agreeing about the AHDH medication; not helping with homework. Don'tae then (we were really hoping he'd be out of state again) made this impassioned speech about what a good father he is and how he is there every weekend (not true!!!!) and how Naomi doesn't agree to share in the driving. And then the judge went on some speech how kids need their dad and at least Naomi could drive half way. This I didn't expect. Don'tae is the one who decided to move, why should Naomi be punished but Naomi was too shy or dumbfounded to counteract that. So nothing was settled. They have to file all sorts of stuff with the Friend of the Court and meet with them.

So Naomi was left in a toxic mood screaming at me. I couldn't wait to get her out of the car. And as soon as I do that, her ex husband is on the phone screaming at me. Said I wouldn't talk until he lowers his voice. He said he is willing to compromise but that turned out to be false. And he got married just the day before just in case Naomi mentioned  in court that he was living with an unmarried woman. He considers his 3 step kids to be Maya's siblings. Naomi most definitely does not. He thinks Maya should be up north even when he isn't there to bound with this new family. I said her school and social life are here. Classmate birthdays are on weekends. This is an important part of a little girl's life. He was asked to drive her last year to one of these parties and he conveniently forgot, which he blamed on Naomi for not reminding him more than once.

It seems to be a no win situation. It made my head hurt. Since I didn't get to run more than a few miles in the morning since we were due in court, I went off on a bike ride to clear my mind to return to Naomi feeling hopeless about the bad choices she's made and little way out of her dead end life. This is what usually happens to teenage moms even with ones with a big safety net such as herself. This is why I was in such despair when I learned she was pregnant. She seemed so sad and hopeless I invited her over. Fortunately she was in a better mood by then.

Once my lab results were in, my new physician decided 2 months ago I was hyperthyroid, which made some sense as I continued to take the same dose of synthroid as I did when I weighed 60% more. I really had no clinical signs though of being hyper. She recommended that I skip one dose a week and be retested. This week I was reading whether I could drink coffee before the blood test or not (yes I can; I could eat a pound cake if I wanted) and noticed that taking aspirin can lower TSH results leading to false diagnoses of hyperthyroidism. Wish I knew that before! I take baby aspirin daily as it presumably cuts down on breast cancer recurrences and colon cancer occurrences along with reducing heart attacks and maybe strokes. So my lab results were in this morning. TSH is on the low side of normal but more importantly, my thyroid hormone levels themselves are smack in the middle of normal. So I guess she was lucky guessing the dose.

I now have gold sparkly nails for our Moms Christmas party this weekend. Extra bonus, I got the best nail person at the place where I go. And it has been warm so I can run without ice and bike somewhat comfortably. November is almost over. And for each winter month, I have an escape planned. A week from today, we will be in sunny Espana. Yay!

Monday, November 27, 2017

The birds and the trees

two minutes previous the sky was all red. Snooze you lose.

This weekend was spent putting up lights and Xmas decorations. One of the 3 trees

Josh's family including his mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Hannah lets the other grandma hold her. Sigh

The main tree. Needed a ladder to put up some of the ornaments. Finally got the angel topper to work by replacing a bulb. Not easy to do as the whole thing needed to be taken apart. Hopefully it is good for another 10 years

I've been collecting ornaments for 40 years thus I have enough to cover 3 trees and then some. Unless the ornament completely breaks, I don't throw things away so stained ornaments from pine sap still make their way on the tree though in the back. I have toddler projects, really cheap ornaments when I couldn't afford better, thrift store specials, gifts from friends and a few expensive hand blown specials. I also have strings of various lights no thanks to Costco having a special on timed fairy lights that can be programed for different flashing patterns. These are all over the place in our house. Sometimes I have grandkids help me decorate the tree. One year, right after my dire diagnosis, I was afraid it would be my last Christmas. I was on chemo and could barely move much less decorate a tree so my friends came over and did it for me. That was so special. But decorating trees is my job though Steve hauled the tree out of the basement and helped get the angel on. Being Jewish, he did not grow up with Christmas trees.

A new bird to be found its way into our yard. It was so tiny and fluffy, I thought it was a pre-fledging though what bird would have babies now? Its main feature, besides being smaller than a wren, was a yellow stripe on its head. Turns out it is a gold crowned kinglet, a type of warbler. As it is a strict insect eater, it will not come to feeders. Back in the summer, I went for a meadow bird walk in a preserve just a few miles from here and saw all kinds of birds I never noticed before as they are not seed eaters such as several types of warblers and flycatchers. Out on my runs, I hear woodpeckers. They are making a different noise than they do in the spring. As now there are few leaves, I can see them. Still waiting to see pileated and red headed woodpeckers though I have seen them else where. The downies have returned to my feeder and once a female red bellied woodpecker came along with the nut hatches. I will get more when (I hope never) it snows. I also hear the red tailed hawk screeching these days. They occasionally find their way to my feeders along with the Cooper's and sharp shinned hawks. They are not there for the suet and seeds though. I am waiting for kestrels to come. The juncos also known as snowbirds, have returned. This is the south for them. I have a huge flock of goldfinch but as they have their ugly winter colors, I could barely tell them apart from sparrows except they fly better and eat thistle.

I could almost run in shorts the other day. I ran on dirt roads into new territory for me for more than 7 miles non-stop. I am gradually getting faster but I am so much slower than I used to be. I just have to tell myself I am lucky I can run especially when I think back to that Christmas 9 years ago when I thought I might be living my last.

Friday, November 24, 2017

We are all 70th cousins

Another attempt at reflections She was in a bad mood and refused to smile

My bridge wall

Thanksgiving Chicken wars  Lucky we have high ceilings

5 out of 6 grandbabies Maya was with her father

Hannah finally let me hold her but one can see that  she is less than thrilled

I am tired
I am weary
I could sleep for a thousand years
Lou Reed, Venus in Furs

By 6 am yesterday you could find me slicing and dicing onions and celery for the stuffing. I needed sage  but forgot to pick it when it was light. Fortunately even in the dark it is easy to identify by its smell. I conscripted Maya the day before to tear the bread into cubes but she got bored even before she finished one loaf. Not much of my garden went into this meal, just herbs. My Brussel sprouts didn't grow large enough (yet) to be picked. Worse Steve got me frozen sprouts which do not roast to the proper consistency. While the stuffing cooled down so that I could use it to stuff the turkey, off for a run. How many Thanksgiving dinners have I prepared? I've lost count. Even as a child, I had a major hand in preparation although initially it consisted of running fresh cranberries and oranges through a hand cranked meat grinder. I remember the sound of cranberries popping. No one eats cranberry sauce here. We put out some craisins in bowls but I don't know if anyone touched them.
I didn't make everything. Rolls, candied yams, salad and desserts were supplied by the kids.  Besides the turkey, I made Brussels sprouts, green bean casserole, gravy and rosemary potatoes. What takes time is the clean up afterwards and dealing with the leftovers.
I can fit 7 adults around my dining table and borrowed a small table for the 4 kids that are big enough. It was nice having everyone there although we missed Maya. Not that I didn't have her a lot in the preceding days.
I took her to the doctor's for a well child exam. Is 50 inches tall and weighs 50 pounds. Tall and skinny.As she gained a bit despite being on a higher dose of AHDH drugs.

Another second cousin has contacted me fishing for info about the great grand father we have in common. I don't know this cousin. My grandmother seemed to keep in contact with 2 of her sisters and I've met the second cousins I have from one of the sisters. The other sister has grandchildren that have contacted me along with one from one of the brother. This man who recently contacted me is from yet another of the 4 brothers. As I have access to European records, I could share a bit of what I found.

I've been getting requests from 4 or 5th cousins that are adopted. How are we related? I have no idea though if they are Germanic or Polish I assume they are from my mom's side; the British father's.

Mathematicians have figured out that we are at least everyone's 70th cousin. Not sure how they came up with that.

52 degrees and sunny! Also windy but one can't have everything. Will today be my last bike ride of 2017?

Monday, November 20, 2017


I was trying to get infinite reflections of Maya's head without having me in the photo. I think I need he mirrors to be at right angles

Lost another tooth under my watch. She must have swallowed it. Hope the tooth fairy comes up with a solution

staircase to a temple in Taiwan from my niece

Does having a stress-free, happy childhood lead to a successful adult? Apparently the opposite. A  study of 400 successful people such as Madame Curie, Louis Armstrong and Eleanor Roosevelt showed that 75% of them had horrific childhoods and another 10% had a mixed childhood. Only 15% reported perfectly supportive parents and no poverty or other negative issues. Whatever doesn't kill you, makes you stronger apparently.

Do we do too much for our kids? I was thinking about this as we watched Shanna's kids a couple weeks ago following her detailed instructions. She does a lot more for them than I did for her. In turn I did infinitely more for her than my parents did for me. Help with homework? No way. My Barbie doll needs clothes...make them yourself. I need clothes...make them yourself. And I suspect even less was done for my mother when she was a child. She left home at 16 because she thought she could take care of herself better away from home. My father, a spoiled rich kid, had everything done for him to absolutely no good effect. He never learned resilience; every little setback was the end of the world.

How I miss the warm summer mornings sitting in my cabana on my patio surrounded by flowers and my water features drinking my coffee after I have exercised. Cold, drab and windy these days. Today was the warmest day this week for bicycling but I got tired of waiting for it to be over freezing so out I went. Unfortunately one of the neighborhoods had large water puddles that had turned to ice on my path making my ride treacherous.

We had Maya this weekend. She needs so much help. She needs to be able to read a short list of words on sight. I went through these words one by one having her circle a given word in a short story. Hopefully something will stick. But she does clean up after herself and delights in making beds.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Pro se

A Jamaican themed Zulu beaded necklace I got for my friend 

living room art

my only orchid in bloom

me trying to take a selfie with my new scarf. Need not to look so dour

new Italian wool scarf. My favorite

Broken tile reminds me of Gaudi works in Barcelona Once I print it, I'll put a Hannah photo (below) in it as pink will look better

Granny Christmas

I make some attempt to match the photo with the frame. Perfect for the frame above

They don't make do-it-yourself  lawyering easy. We showed up at the courthouse yesterday with a stack of forms. My main job was to help Naomi translate some of these legal terms. New words for her: pro se, plaintiff, defendant, moving party (that would be her even though her ex was the one who physically moved)motion. But the forms were so unclear on what they were asking, we had to go to a special office that provided translations. That lady was helpful. The many other offices we had to retrieve info from, not so much. Extra fun: Naomi stores all her info on her phone , which are forbidden in the courthouse, so she had to run to the car a few times to extract info from it and be rescreened through security. Then everything needed to notarized. Do they have a notary in the building. Of course not. We drove 6 miles round trip to her bank. Hopefully all is in order. She has a court date, which her ex probably can't make as he is working out of state, but he knew this was coming and said he would contest it though he is in a very weak position to do so. Then she was to serve papers on him. Fortunately mailing is enough.

She needs more child support and full custody. They have 'shared' custody currently but now he hardly can see her. He thought it would be OK to have his girlfriend (not wife) come get her driving 600 miles in one weekend with her 3 kids just so Maya could share a bed with the girl her age. No to that. So that experience was fun. Naomi has to change her work schedule yet again to accommodate these changes so lots of Maya for a while here. 

Then out to have a bit of fun with my friend, lunch and shopping.

I finally can fit into my wedding dress even though I weigh a pound more than I do when I last tried it on. But I have been doing so much toning stuff so I think I am a bit smaller. As long as there is no ice on the dirt roads, I can run. Bicycling in the cold is tough though. Can't wait until spring.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Those in gingerbread houses shouldn't throw scones

This is a Mary Frances bag usually selling for quite a bit but not second hand. Usually I just carry around a boring, practical Costco purse but I might make an exception for this

I now have at least 8 strings of various fairy lights strung around the house  Makes my glass sparkle

I got this lamp in a gallery years ago in Saugatuck It makes our bedroom pretty at night

I wish the title quote was original but no, Trevor Noah said it. One of Trump's favorite insults of the North Korean dictator targets Kim's obesity. Yet their BMIs are almost identical. Maybe Trump is just thinking about his body when he was the Dictator's age. Maybe he hasn't looked in a mirror lately.

Not that I should be throwing scones around either. How did I get so big?  Yes I have rehashed the reasons excuses many times here. My dental hygienist, a sweet woman my height and who weighs close to what I did, wanted yesterday to know how I got rid of almost 80 pounds. Not easily. It is still off despite various get togethers and vacations but exercising so much will be more difficult in winter though Steve is finally getting our elliptical fixed. Today is the only suitable day for bicycling: not rainy or windy. It will be the warmest day in the near future. I am impatiently waiting for it to go above 40.

I've been out shopping: more lights and decorations for the house, smaller pants for me, gifts for various people as we will be gone during the prime shopping weeks. And fun times ahead, we will have to take Naomi's ex to court to get full custody(for Naomi). It turns out he isn't out of state 3/4 weekends a month just to train; that's where his job will be. And he lives 2.5 hours away when he is home. No heads up for this either so again we will have Maya as Naomi works. He said he will contest this but he doesn't really have a leg to stand on nor will there ever be a day he can come to court. Also no child support has found its way into Naomi's account though he insists they have been taking it out. As he has switched jobs three times in as many months, I am assuming the Friend of the Court has trouble collecting. A big mess.

We will also have to take the executor of my step-mother's estate to court as he continues to ignore texts, phone calls, e-mails. In the past we got lots of promises how all will be resolved 'soon' but now he is impossible to reach. All of this is mess is in Canada and all will have to be done in Quebecois French so that might be part of my 2018 travels. I am well familiar with the estate laws of the US as I've handles my parent's estates but this will be troublesome.

Sunday, November 12, 2017

Manana, iguana

The cenote that Shanna and Ramy swam in Mexico 150 feet down. They look like ants
The playground I took the kids to was interesting. Either you could propel this as Maya is doing or stand up on the pads and push off the blue ring. I got some exercise myself that way

A wheelchair friendly rocker

Shanna in a cenote

This was to celebrate their 10th. The resort covered their door with ribbons and provided champagne

Shanna looking happy

These come in all colors. When I visit Costa Rica in a few months, I hope to see these and so much more

It's almost the middle of November, my least favorite month. The hard frost of last week killed everything including the mums. I do have my tropical hibiscuses blooming inside along with one , lone orchid. Soon the Christmas cactus will be in bloom as all of a sudden, buds appeared. I've been stringing fairy lights on everything to at least have some brightness in these drab cold times. I ran the other day in the 17 degree dawn. As long as the wind is minimal, I'm OK. 

Should I exercise while nursing a cold? I've been lucky that I've been healthy since the winter of 2016 where everything went wrong while we were traveling. I was recovering from my reconstruction surgery (note: better to lose weight before the surgery rather than after as I did) when I got a really bad cold. On top of that, I got hot tub dermatitis causing the skin around my private parts to slough off while burning. We were away from home and Steve wasn't speaking to me as we had a political argument. I borrowed some cat antibiotic (Steve had our rental car keys so I couldn't even go out and buy some more suitable stuff) which I was allergic to so I was covered in hives, that itched. After a week, the cold finally went away and some of my skin healed so I felt I could run again and then I fell down in the first seconds face first in the middle of the Pacific Coast Highway breaking two teeth and slicing my lower lip open. I needed a plastic surgeon again. The antibiotic I was given screwed up my digestive tract for the next two months. Fun times.

The kids were sniffling last week when we were taking care of them. Steve caught their cold immediately exempting him from outdoor stuff. I am exposed to a lot of stuff and rarely catch anything but my number apparently is up. As we are promised rain today all day, perhaps I will take today off.

With 3 kids close in age, Shanna doesn't get too much time off. I'm glad they were able to enjoy themselves though it was a rude awakening to come back to 17 degrees versus 80s. I was in the Yucatan peninsula about 20 years ago staying on Cozumel. We did go to the mainland one day to visit ruins in Tulum and Coba. Despite my fear of heights, I decided to climb the Coba pyramid, the tallest Mayan pyramid. I was fine going up but I had to go down. Argh! Cozumel's main attraction for me are the coral reefs. I spent hours snorkeling. The whole peninsula is a coral reef so there is no soil or rivers, just sinkholes that fill with fresh water called cenotes. One can swim in them as Shanna and Ramy did. Cancun is to the north of Cozumel and closer to Chizen Itza which they visited. 

As soon as I returned home, I was hosting the Moms. I made squash red lentil soup and a pasta dish using cute little pasta shaped like pumpkins to which I added a variety of vegetables and nuts. I should have added chick peas. At the last minute, I sautéed some scallops for additional protein. The other moms brought lots of wine, appetizers, salad and dessert. Shanna had brought back some Mexican liqueur for me, a mix of cream, tequila, coffee and cinnamon. It was quite tasty.I decorated my home with my Halloween stuff along with leaves to have a fall theme.

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Fall colors

this is a long exposure of the photo I posted last time. I was trying to smooth out the waterfall. Alas I must not have had a steady hand but it looks sort of cool

The park in Shanna's neighborhood is surrounded by baby crimson maples

The hard frost caused many of the leaves to fall overnight. Oliver was fascinated with the sun catching the dew crystals on the diamonds. Alas, not evident in this photo

It has not been a good year for fall colors. An extended Indian Summer, which I was very happy to experience, must have delayed the color change. And now the cold and the winds have knocked the leaves down. It was 27 degrees this morning as I waited with Oliver for his bus. Fortunately it was more on time today versus very late on Monday. There is an app which tracks the school buses (Where in the F  is the bus???) but I don't have it. The other mother did the other day but it only said the bus was delayed without telling how delayed. My favorite was Shanna finding the missing bus once at a Starbucks. Then I run home to get the other two ready to get on their bus in the opposite direction. And then we get to return to our house for the day.

So it is an experience dealing with 3 kids, 4 yesterday. Finding missing clothes at the last minute, begging kids to get dressed with them thinking they are doing me a huge favor by complying. I brought them all over to our house yesterday as Daniel needed my computer to order photos for this big project we are going to be working on later today. We got a lot of it done yesterday. Lot of my motivation consists of dangling tablet time in front of them and taking it away for various sins such as Daniel biting his sister. When I ask Oliver to do something, he always cheerfully agrees to do it but I come back and find the task undone and him affixed to the tablet. As it was chilly yesterday, the only kid who wanted to go outside was Maya. She rode Oliver's bike while I rode Shanna's. They are putting up yet another subdivision nearby that has a lot of paved streets and no traffic, perfect for Maya.

Their parents return tomorrow night. They had not contacted us in two days until I finally texted them last night to see if they had been kidnapped or something. Usually I go to my cooking class today but it is right when the buses return and I don't think I could get Steve to do bus duty (won't be able to find the stops, too cold, getting a cold). And I will miss next month because I will be in Spain. We had bought a packaged deal for a change instead of me making lots of arrangements. But right before we left to New York, we were informed that they ran out of their allotment of train tickets so we were on our own to get from Sevilla to Barcelona. They will give us back the money they took but tough luck to us. Fortunately intracountry flights are quite cheap so that's what we will do.

Monday, November 6, 2017

Sue in Exile

Shanna's kids for Halloween


Allie, Josh, and unhappy Hannah

lit up paperweights

ranbow over Shanna's neighborhood

Pretty stream that goes through the park I've been taking the kids to


me and my charges. Do you think the feedbag way of carrying my purse will catch on?

The lake near us lit by dawn
For their tenth anniversary, Shanna and Ramy flew to Mexico so we have moved into their house to watch the kids. Since they are in school as I type this, I am home getting supplies. They live fairly close. My long run yesterday overlapped a long run path I take from my house. Her neighborhood has the advantage of being absolutely flat despite the word 'hill' in her little town. As a bonus, Maya needed to be watched on the weekend due to her father again being missing in action and on election day so we have four kids most of the time. Daniel and Tessa are excited that we are there but Oliver never misses an opportunity to complain and to tell me how the other grandma is so much better than me.

I have been trying to keep them as active as possible taking them to parks but it is very hard to pull them away from those screens, especially Oliver. Tomorrow I have some art projects lined up as it will be too cold to drag them outside.

I decorated the house for Halloween but no kids came. I will bring Shanna's kids over at some point to amuse them. Halloween was quite cold so I wasn't too sorry I wasn't asked to go out with any of the grandkids. Shanna's neighborhood is the exact opposite of ours: little personal property but a lot of communal land (parks). All houses have front porches to encourage interactions between neighbors. Also each neighbor tries to outdo the next in Halloween decorations. A kid can quickly run from house to house as they are so close. The streets are crowded with kids who come in from other neighborhoods, including Naomi and Maya though they did stop at Shanna's and went out with Tessa. Favorite decoration: a hologram of life sized dancing skeletons. Not favored especially by Maya: a man with a chainsaw chasing kids.

I was sad to see that frost had come while we were in New York. Most of my flowers are dead except, strangely enough poppies and primroses despite them being associated with spring. But we will soon get a 'hard' frost  to finish them off. I spent much time digging up bulbs and tubers and bringing some of the plants into the house or garage. What we need to do is drain the pond and all my water features before the hard frost. I guess that will be Wednesday's activity. I also spend an exciting time organizing my clothes and closet. With so much space, you'd think I would have a space for everything but no, all in a jumble. Removed all the size 10s and 8s.They aren't far away if I am forced to wear them again.

We did have 3 kids but they were spread apart so it isn't like herding cats as keeping the 4 of them happy and on task is, ages 9,8,7 and 5. Shanna printed detailed instructions on what to pack in lunches and where to take them for their many activities. I've been doing homework with Daniel getting a week's worth done but he has a big project due this week so some of tomorrow will be spent on it. I am hoping Oliver doesn't need to be nagged too much to do his tonight. Oliver takes a separate bus to a different school that comes 30 minutes before the other kids'. No problem walking them to the stop. But then Oliver's bus was almost 20 minutes late! Run back to the house to get the other kids to the stop in the opposite direction. If I had my phone, I could have called Steve to do Tessa and Daniel duty. As he seems to be coming down with something, I had agreed to do all outside stuff.


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