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!

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Baby Boy turns 35

On his high school soccer team
5 with his dad
3 years old running his first race
15 months held by his mom with the bad perm. Note all my muscles though. I am five years younger than he is now
2 years old. His straight blonde hair gradually became darker and curlier with age. Here he looks so much like Allie when she smiles
6 years old on the first soccer team I coached
14 with Spud the puppy. He looks so serious here and very much like his father but generally he was happy go lucky.
With newborn Hannah
The day Josh came home. Isn't Steve cute?
this is now with snow falling at an alarming rate. Although it will all melt later in the day, too slippery for me to run now. I want winter gone!!!! Now!!!!



Time flies. It seems like yesterday I was looking at my bruised and puffy baby boy thinking he wasn't much to look at but at least he was healthy . He was 'a sunny-side up' baby meaning his head was turned the wrong way as he was coming out. The posterior position generally is associated with back labor but I didn't feel it. Still the whole ordeal took forever. And he was so big, over 10 pounds. The chop shop that Julie chose to give birth in decided to do a C-section because Allie was facing the same way and was 'big' though almost 2 pounds lighter than Josh but maybe Julie, though bigger boned than me, doesn't have the 12 cm versus the 10 cm others have. By the time he was about a month old, the bruising and swelling disappeared and instead of narrow slits for eyes, he had beautiful big blue eyes framed with long dark lashes. A pretty boy though he never seemed girly. Despite his constant need to be active, he was my easiest child by far. He has turned out to be a wonderful man and father.

Stupid winter. I thought that once it was March, it would be Ollie, Ollie we be free. But no. For most of the past week, I've run on top of snow, ice, with wind chills near zero (though yesterday was fine) but I draw the line on freezing rain. It is the warmest morning this week so far but not warm enough. I spent more time on the torture device elliptical trainer instead. What I want to be doing is riding my bike. Maybe next week. I then will take it to the shop to be tuned up while I am in Arizona.

But in general, I've been enjoying myself though as usual postponing the many details I should be doing. At least I don't need to spend hours on the phone battling the insurance company any more. I did see the dentist yesterday for a routine check-up. It was good not to feel guilty about his office not being paid. On his ceiling, he had several nice prints of Arizona to look at. His favorite place: Canyon de Chelly which is maybe 200 miles from the Grand Canyon. Oh well, I guess we will have plenty to see where we are going. Do we visit people? Steve has cousins in Tucson, who so far have ignored Facebook requests. He can call them. And there is a lady who used to be in our Mother's group for 4 years before moving to Tucson. And the desert should be in bloom! In the Desert Museum, they have several species of hummingbirds one can get very close to. I am looking forward to that. And a barn owl rests in the porch ceiling during the day of the place we will be staying so maybe I will get to see a live owl not in a zoo for a change. I saw a dead owl while running a month ago. And a year ago, Shanna took a picture of a great horned owl on a subdivision house near her in the middle of the day.








Wednesday, March 15, 2017

The Ides of March

Occasionally houses for sale will scroll through what ever website I have open. Hmmm, this one looked familiar. My grandfather had it built in 1939 and sold it some time in the late 70s. 5000 square feet  was too much for 2 people. No pool in those days

It sits on top a steep hill. The terraces my grandfather handmade are now gone

Fancy staircase. All was carpeted when I was a kid. Most of the rooms have been updated excepting my father's old room
What it looked like in the 40s.
super senior day purchase. Who doesn't need an oil copy of Birth of Venus. Apparently whoever painted it couldn't do facial features or perhaps was going for an abstract look. Fine for my bathroom

Five years ago, it was a record breaking 76 degrees here. Then a cold front came through causing all sorts of disturbances including a tornado where my son lived, an F-3 which is strong as they get in Michigan. He saw the tornado bearing down towards his house and opted to try to out run it in a car but the storm caught up to him. It didn't hit his house but hit the house he was considering just a quarter mile away, which was leveled. It leveled quite a few houses in that neighborhood. Many people were home as it happened about 5:30 at night but no one was injured. Hiding in their basements worked. His trees were covered in pink insulation looking very much like cotton candy. He had called me right when the tornado was there.

Steve and I were in Massachusetts waiting for Tessa to come out. It was almost as warm there but no storms. I actually had trouble running as it was so hot.

But today, still snow and ice. Worst 12 degrees and a strong wind making half of my run miserable. A small path had melted so back and forth; back and forth. Finally some progress: I am just a half pound over the line dividing normal and overweight. I bought some smaller capris at the resale shop for our desert trip in 2 weeks.  I am not spending much money on clothes that will be just temporary (hopefully)I hope to be a size smaller by the end of this which may not be until the end of April.

We had Maya for a while the other night. She wanted to show off her printing, which is very good. I guess she no longer qualifies for 'occupational therapy' for bad small motor skills. She was writing the alphabet, which she can say and write individual letters but she does not know which letter comes next even though she can say the alphabet. Frustrating. Even more frustrating is getting her drug. Her doctor has to approve it a month at a time but didn't this month as she was ill and apparently no one covers for her. So Maya went without today being a pain. The doctor is back but is not responding.



Monday, March 13, 2017

Three kids in a tub

Lots of bubbles

This time, I was more careful about how much soap I put in
Josh and the girls came over the next day
Oliver got to hold his littlest cousin. Hannah looks dubious

It is winter here again, damn it. Two inches have fallen already with more to follow. And it won't melt any time soon. Still as it is so cold, it was not that slippery so I could run a little.

Between two years ago and last year, I had slowed down significantly. Yeah, I had gained weight between those times but now that I am so much lighter, I should be Ms. Speedy. But I am not. Yesterday, I ran fresh meaning I didn't do an hour of the elliptical trainer and weights before I went out. I tried to concentrate on my form and at least for the first half of my long run, I was able to do it faster than 2 years before though not by much. And my weight! I keep thinking of it as a giant spring that with increasing effort I am pulling slowly back. If I were to let go for a second, boing...all fat again. I was obsessed with that this weekend. I had been good all week with no weight loss to show for it and then I let go for a second (2 glasses of wine! veggies with fattening dips!!) and suddenly 2 pounds more appear. How will I maintain this?  I am back to where I was in the beginning of the week.

Finally good news. In the accident I had now more than 13 months ago, I broke 2 teeth. My medical insurance is supposed to cover this and supplied me with names of oral surgeons. But oral surgeons don't repair broken teeth with intact roots (had painful root testing in which the dentist applied electric current in various places to see if there were live nerves). It would have been easier if I had needed implants, which would be much more expensive but less hassle insurance wise. I had to wait to get an out-of-network exception, which I did. A year of phone calls due to denied claims because the dentist didn't supply the proper medical codes because there were no medical codes. I could never get the same person twice to settle this. Three weeks ago, I finally got the person who is specific to my former company who got me the out-of-network exception. She sounded so helpful and hopeful saying she dealt with cases like this all the time, no problem, She said she would call me in three days to tell me whether the dentist supplied the right paperwork. Yay!  But she never called. I was going to demand to speak to her this week at some time, couldn't wait, but the dentist called today to say all has been paid. I can throw out pages of notes each containing some 30 digit code of each conversation. One less hassle.

It was the weekend with grandbabies with all except Maya being around. We will have Maya tonight. Shanna and her kids spent the night. They wanted the Jacuzzi. I had made artichokes for them, which my kids loved. I make a buttery lemon, garlic, soy dipping sauce but they refused to try it. Allie and Maya love artichokes but they weren't there for them. More for Shanna and me. (see weight gain).

I have 3 pairs of cardinals looking for seeds in the snow. I threw some sunflower seeds right outside our patio door so they would come up. Tessa was here this morning for a closer look. Out in the wetlands during my long run yesterday, I could hear the sandhill cranes. Once rare now they are more plentiful than the herons and egrets. The vultures are back. Plenty of clean up for them.

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