Friday, March 31, 2017

Can't escape snow

It's Naomi's birthday we celebrated Monday before we left
Sedona in the rain
We ate lunch at a fancy resprt overlooking the red rock formations. Too bad it was so hazy

On to Flagstaff. Couldn't see Oak Canyon as it was snowing so hard. Then there was freezing rain on top of the snow so we didn't leave to go have dinner as the roads were so treacherous. That very morning, I ran in shorts in Scottsdale. Things change fast especially at 7500 feet


Tuesday, March 28, 2017


Soon after we landed in Phoenix, we ate outside in a Mexican restaurant in Tempe. Food was..meh but to be surrounded by fountains and bougainvillea and colorful birds made up for it
Until I get back, editing will have to wait. we have seen a lot of beauty. Steve has taken even better photos of wildlife that I will share when I return. For now, we are staying in the desert outside of Tucson in a beautiful inn run by a woman from Bali and her American husband. Lots of Balinese batiks and wood carvings and gardens. I am editing this now a week later. It was my favorite place we stayed despite the rutted sandy road we needed to take to get to it.

Here is a fun fact: Arizona is the only lower 48 state that does not observe daylight savings time so it is 3 hours different than Michigan's. I switched my watch several times. First when I thought there was a 2 hour difference but was wondering why we were going to be an hour late and there was no reason given. A flight attendant gave us the correct time. Switch again but then they announced the wrong time. Switch again. Then back to the right time. But not all of Arizona goes by this: the Navaho Nation which is the upper sixth of the state and includes pieces of 2 other states. We crossed it later in the week. Not only can you not drink alcohol here but you can not transport it (wine bottle rolling around in back)
I made Steve stop at the first stand of flowering ocotillo. I haven't seen it in bloom before. Usually it looks like dead brown thorny spikes. Lots of ocotillo. Some lady even have me eat the blossoms. Sweet tasting and a favorite of hummingbirds
Strawberry hedgehog cactus
our bed
3 teenage javelinas came regularly to the patio for hand outs. Presumably related to hippos; not pigs

some wood carvings for sale
Steve's cousin and her husband made the trip to our place in the wilderness. We hadn't seen them in almost 39 years. She was the daughter of Steve's favorite aunt. The aunt did a lot for Steve when he was younger

Saturday, March 25, 2017

Warm at last

the flag irises seemed to recover from the heavy frosts of the past week Croci (crocuses?)look damaged though
What are the chances of a boy who loves to read and look at screens and has 2 parents with glasses escape this fate himself? Nil but at least glasses are much cuter than in my day. I had these incredibly ugly wingtips with cameos in the corners
Did I need a rose purse (and I now have nails to match it) when I have a perfectly functioning leather Costco purse?
decorating the dog head I have hanging in our bedroom

We were able to sit comfortably well past dark on our porch drinking wine (more than my one glass per week allotment..this is why I will have to extend my big plan beyond the 6 months I had promised myself). Cloud to cloud lightning flashed every few minutes in the distance but never seemed to come any closer; peepers were singing their love songs in the nearby wetlands. A beautiful night. At about 11, a cold wind suddenly blew in from the west. The day of warmth (74 degrees) was over.

My bike isn't ready yet though it was a bit windy to enjoy a ride. This weekend will be cooler and non-stop rain. I ran a bit in the cold drizzle this morning. But then on to warm Arizona (though it will be below freezing once we go up to Flagstaff and the Grand Canyon in the mornings).

So the ACA is safe for now, thanks to the Freedom Caucus (whose name is a perfect antonym of its purpose). Steve and my health insurance would not be affected much but Naomi and Maya would lose theirs along that of many non-thinking Orange One's supporters. Next crisis: removal of most environmental controls. Back to polluted water and skies.

In the 60s, I stayed with a penpal who lived in a southern suburb of Pittsburgh. It was there I learned I had an accent. Midwesterners especially have shortened short 'o's . Conveniently both her and her boyfriend's name (now husband) contained a short o so they would have me say their name over and over laughing. And 2 of my good buddies from the Pittsburgh area (Soulmate and RastaMan) have real names with the same short 'o'. On that trip, I decided I didn't have much in common with a homecoming queen to be who already had a boyfriend at 13. We are now Facebook friends after I was reminded of her going through her former town on the GAP which I will repeat this August. The steel mills were still going strong in Homewood. Lights needed to be on in the middle of the day. On the trail, is an acid waterfall from all the unregulated coal mining south of there. By the time I finished college and was visiting Soulmate in Pittsburgh, the steel mills were shut down and the city was sandblasting off the thick layers of black soot that covered most of the buildings.

At the nail salon, they always have Fox News on. All of the salon workers are immigrants and seem oblivious to the anti-immigrant rhetoric. When my worker uncovered one of my big toenails, she gasped at the purple quadrant. What's that? she demanded. I pulled out the cancer card and said how Taxol destroyed my nails. They had turned black and some of them fell off. My fingernails had brown ridges on them (Mees' lines) and were threatening to fall off too. I guess this made my toes susceptible to toenail fungus which has gone away except for the corner of that one toe. I must have bruised it too (when I was running marathons, bruised toes were common). But I can't believe this was the first case of toenail fungus she came across. She also remarked about how abnormally long my calves were as the towel barely covered them. The workers talk amongst themselves in Vietnamese probably making fun of my big feet. But at least they are now pretty as I will be wearing sandals.

I watched some TV this week aside from seeing Michigan lose their lead in the last 30 seconds. Two guilty pleasures: Big Little Lies and This is Us.

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Flat and fat

It was Tessa's 5th birthday the other day. I gave her a choice of a flamingo, swan in a tutu or a unicorn head. She chose the unicorn
Allie couldn't wait to try out her new bathing suit
usually at this time of year I have blooms all over the place. Due to winterlasting longer, all I have are frozen flag irises
A hand carved angel to add to my collection. Need to use magic marker on faded eyes
Bizarre classroom assignment for Daniel, Grade 1. What is gold worth to a kid?

Winter continues with lows in the teens. Coupled with a stiff north wind, yesterday's run was especially unpleasant but at least the dirt roads are now suitable to run on. On the one day it
was above freezing and not windy, I went for a bike ride. It felt good but 3.5 miles from
home, suddenly it was hard to maintain my pace. A flat! I usually warn Steve to keep
his phone close while I'm out on the bike but no, he was dead to the world on the elliptical.
No way of contacting him. I was so mad and sad that he does not have my back. I called
Shanna who  was actually closer as the crow flies (though on a very bumpy, hilly rutted
road). No answer. I assumed she was out exercising too without her phone. So it took
more than an hour to walk home (at a 4.2 mph pace, the speedometer still worked). I
was so mad. He was just finishing up when I returned. Yeah maybe he should of had
his phone downstairs, though reception is poor, but he didn't think I would have a flat.

The ground was wet which means grit and tiny glass pieces stick to the tires making flats
more likely. I was going to take the bike in anyway this week. They found all sorts of
things wrong with it though I haven't had any problems. Aside from the tire being badly
worn (Cannondale puts really cheap tires on its bikes, I had replaced the rear one which
gets more wear after a year now I needed to replace the front), my chain is stretched out
of shape and would have fallen off or broke soon and something expensive called a cassette
needed to replaced too. Ugh! But I want the bike to be in good shape for my 2 big rides
coming up. It's been less than 3 years since I got the bike but it has more than 5000
miles on it. Mechanics travel with us for the first ride but for the second, a broken
chain pretty much would be a disaster though we will have a support vehicle. Bike
shops will be far and few between; Pittsburgh, Cumberland MD, and DC.

Years ago, I set out between the coast and Julian CA, a round trip of 120 miles, less
than I have gone in relatively flat Michigan but I was travelling in the mountains in
California going up 7200 feet.  No cell phones in those days. And this area was
relatively deserted so pay phones were few also. I got a flat on the way back about
3 miles from a national monument.  Less than a minute into me pushing the bike to
the possible phone, a couple in a pick-up truck rescued me and dropped me off at a
bike store, who did not charge me as they were impressed by my solo adventure.
The other day, I am sure my neighbors passed me by but no help was offered. 

So I was in a funk: unreliable husband, uncaring neighbors, fat that didn't seem to go
away, bike shop that may be fleecing me, being left out from a certain event, on and
on...all the makings of a pity party but fortunately this has passed though listening
to the news concerning the shenanigans of the Evil One  is disheartening but not surprising.

I finally have crossed the mythical line between overweight and normal weight. I was
close last week but then, despite being good, I actually gained weight. Finally that
reversed though progress is slow the closer I come to the finish line. Also with my
3 months of stretching, I noticed that I no longer have pain when trying to extend
my right arm (the irradiated arm) behind my head.

In less than a week, I will be in sunny and warm Arizona.

Monday, March 20, 2017

La Primavera

Allie's school photo

Above is the route we are taking this summer from Pittsburgh to Washington DC, all 335 miles of it with only a bit of it paved. We climb 1700 feet from Pittsburgh to the Eastern Continental  Divide, drop 1800 over he next 24 miles (which I did through a heavy thunderstorm) then gradually drop to sea level over the next 185 miles. I worried about the logistics. My friend wants to camp meaning we'd have to carry all our stuff for a week. In what? I could drag along my toddler carrier which full of gear would be another 50 pounds to drag. Wouldn't that be the amount of fat I lost? Somehow I think it is harder to drag it than to have it packed around my gut. And we could take turns  dragging it.  Rasta man thought we could use panniers. However he called yesterday with some good news. We will be supported!!! Some of his siblings will come too and one has agreed to drive a car. Furthermore, I can tent with his sister-in-law which will be less awkward than sleeping next to someone who isn't ones husband. Packing will be less of a challenge. I will have to find campsites that let cars in. The route is full of free to trail user only campsites. So the ride is in two parts; the Great Allegheny Passage which uses old coal train lines to go through mountains, canyons and tunnels. I did that 4 years ago with a group. Then the C&O Canal towpath, which goes along the Potomac River to DC. Flat but much rougher. He has done that portion before. We will take the Amtrak back to Pittsburgh where he has yet another set of siblings.  So I feel much better about this trip though due to crappy weather, I haven't biked in 2 weeks.

It is spring today! Still cold. And when it is warm enough for me to bike this afternoon, there will be rain. The male goldfinches are getting their summer colors finally so a bit of brightness at my feeders though I have plenty of brightly colored cardinals.

We took Josh and his family out last night for a belated birthday dinner. I went for a walk in an unoccupied room with Hannah and Allie that had photos of the local sports teams in action. Allie asked about one photo showing two opposing football players trying to grab the ball from each other.

They should share! she said indignantly.

And the UM basketball team made it to he Final 16 despite many odds against it. Yay Wolverines!


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