Wednesday, June 30, 2010


This is a degenerative disease of the hip joint which can be caused by a genetic disease fairly common among terriers or initiated by an injury. The cure is replacement of the hip socket followed by physical therapy. The cost: who knows? but probably in the thousands.

I could go on and on but she just called to say she thinks her water broke-a slow trinkle not the Niagara Falls I had experienced with her. She is talking to the mid-wife service. They probably will have her come in. Did she pack ahead of time? Is the carseat installed? Of course not.

Update: Well it's been an hour since she first called the midwife. Her favorite is occupied at the moment but will call back as soon as there is a break in the action. Meanwhile the baby is active, she's strep B negative, so no hurry.The policy is that they usually have them come in to triage to test if it's really amniotic fluid. If so, they watch the contractions and heartbeat for 20 minutes to make sure all is right and then send them home until labor really starts. Most of the time it does in 24 hours. If it doesn't start, they will induce within 24 hours. (the policy when I had her was 72 hours: after dripping for 2 days straight, I asked to be induced-labor did not start on its own).

Further update: Her midwife didn't call but another one did very surprised that she isn't in labor dilated as much. We are going into triage (holding area in which they decide whether to keep you) and they will test the fluid.

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Any day?

Still no baby. You'd think that at least her waters would burst with that big opening but she continues to gestate.

So cool, dry air moved in and I ran comfortably without a break for 7.5 miles. Yesterday I ran by a medium size snapping turtle. They look so primitive. I missed turtle day in May when all the female snappers come out of the water to lay their eggs. They can have 3 feet long shells sometimes. I used to go to the nearby pond with Naomi to feed the ducks and would cringe because about 6 feet out, I could see the noses of the snappers laying in wait in case the ducklings ventured into their territory.

Did more gardening today as the weather was so nice though I have alot left to do. I quit when I accidentally pulled on a probable very small poison ivy plant. Hopefully I washed off the oil in time but in the past this has been enough to turn me into a mass of welts.

Found a long, lost friend on Facebook so that's a plus.

Josh and his 2 buddies want to go on a road trip this weekend. They get a car and gas. Their target? Paris, which looks around 220 miles away going through most of Belgium. Too bad he didn't take my Michelin, page by page, French map book. But my phrase book covers French along with German and Italian so that might be useful. He wants to know where to stay ( my advice-don't drive into the city) and see. What to see is the easy part. Oh I wish I was there!!! Just a few days ago, he had no idea that he would find himself in Germany drinking Kolsch by the pint. Who knows what the future holds?

Monday, June 28, 2010


This morning was very hot and humid making running a chore. I tried to go early as I had plans but not early enough. On such days, if I take a shower right after I run, I continue to sweat for a good hour. I ended up showing up to my lunch date with wet hair. Lunch was nice sitting in shade outside with a breeze and catching up with an old work friend.

As for heat, Ms. Dakota is in it. The spaying Thursday will be none too soon. Fortunately she isn't making a big mess like the female pug we once had.

Got some bargain plants and planted some of them in a container. They do look nice if I say so myself. The bedding plants for my neglected front yard will have to wait for coolness. But my patio is now completely surrounded by flowers.

We had a 'birth options' class tonight at UM in which we met all the midwives and listened to their philospophy which jives with mine. Her favorite midwife was on duty birthing babies. Naomi wants so much to go into labor tonight so she can have her favorite but that doesn't look like it's happening. The head mid-wife was telling us how she never tries to predict when labor starts. She said she told a woman who was 4 cm dilated that she would go into labor in a few days but a week later, the lady was still with child. Naomi listened with interest and went up to her and said she was at 4 cm 4 days ago. Tomorrow morning she gets another visit from the public health nurse. I had hoped she'd have the car seat installed by then for the nurse's approval but Naomi said the tornado warning stopped them from putting it in yesterday. I don't recall having so many tornado warnings in such a short time. Yesterday's tornado ripped off the roofs of a few houses near the airport but no one was injured.

Josh e-mailed me from work. So far he is having a good experience in Germany. The town partied hard after the World Cup victory. He was impressed with the Dom, the enormous Gothic cathedral there which is a half-mile from his hotel.

Sunday, June 27, 2010

More storms and no baby

The tornado sirens were blaring again but the storm was brief. The  dogs were agitated though. I was hoping that the tornado wouldn't hit my daughter-in-law coming back from Chicago but she still was there when I called. As difficult as Dakota is to have around at night, an antsy German Shepherd is even worse. At 6 am, I got a cold nose in my face. She wanted out. It is fun walking the two of them together. Sunny weighs 80 lbs: Dakota 7.5.

I got a broken-up phone call from Germany (in which I could hear only every other word). Josh is alive though missing his luggage. He watched the Germany vs England World Cup Game in downtown Cologne with the locals so I guess he'll get a feel for the place. Hopefully he'll learn a few phrases every day.

Naomi claims to be in constant pain from pressure very low. The baby must have completely dropped. She is as pregnant now as I was when I had her. Still it doesn't sound like she is having regular contractions.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Scattered to the winds...

The little guys waiting for their cousin -maybe when they come here next week, she'll be ex utero

Just 2 weeks ago, almost all of us were together in New York at one table but now..

Nephew Joe is in Japan
His parents are in Mexico
Josh is on his way to Cologne, Germany
Julia is in Chicago
Shanna and her family are in Boston

And we are here in Michigan with the dogs. Sunny  needs air-conditioning but Dakota gets cold so she is wearing a doggy Snugli. I'd take a picture but my favorite camera is en route to Germany.

It's getting warm again and so far, no baby today..just back pain.

I went to the monthly cancer survivor lunch but didn't have time to go to the support groups. I think I have out-grown them anyway. Cancer is way down on my radar screen right now but I wanted to see some of the people I have become friendly with. A mom of a boy a year younger than Naomi who lives in our neighborhood was there. The boy was dealing with a rare type of leukemia at the same time I was in Cancerland and got alot of press. He seems to be out of danger from cancer but has really long lasting side effects.

Josh was over for alot of the afternoon. I was trying to teach him German phrases. He was very resistant but I told him how annoyed the locals get when you speak English without asking if they indeed speak it. I don't want him to be an Ugly American -albeit a very cute one. I made him take a phrase book. He took French in high school. He did very badly and has sworn off learning any language. He was just transferred to a new group at work and it seems they travel: Germany, England and China so he better become more flexible.

Had a nice evening drinking wine spritzers watching humming birds and a possible rose breasted grosbeck.

I awoke to Dakota gnawing on my toes.

Friday, June 25, 2010

Baby update

Still inside of Naomi but today she was 4 cm dilated, still 70% effaced. The baby dropped a bit more though not engaged, is at -1 station. Naomi has mild contractions but then they stop and go away for hours. So strange how dilated she is! I spent hours trying to get to 3 cm (and then everything happened quickly). Clearly Naomi is not following my path.

Sprechen Sie Deutsch?

Why the German? Josh was told today to go to Cologne, Germany for 2 weeks for work. Usually the auto business is centered around Stuttgart so I am puzzled what he will be doing. So I am giving him a guide book and a phrase book. He doesn't know any German other than Danke. Cologne or Koln is a really interesting city. When exploring where to go in Western Germany, I had decided to go there if we were going by train. But by car, taking the wine road through Alsace and the Black Forest made more sense. And Julia already is on route to Chicago with her sister to celebrate the sister's 21st birthday thus Sunny needs a temporary home.

So the weather has been beautiful for the past 2 days. Last night was spent with Julia and Sunny watching Josh play soccer. A very nice night. Unfortunately, he is injured so he can only play goal but hopefully he'll mend in Germany.

No European trips for me until I was almost 50! Shanna spent 3 weeks in France in high school and later in Israel.

Went for an easy run this morning and then spent several hours planting yesterday's purchases. My calla and tiger lilies are now in bloom.

Naomi is on our patio trying to get a tan, hard for a redhead. She's probably just laying down skin mutations leading to skin cancer. She has been warned but chooses not to believe. Later today, a mid-wife visit. Naomi thinks she'll be more dilated today. We'll see.
I wake up each morning thinking this is the day I meet the baby but the contractions seemed to have stopped.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Averting disasters-natural and otherwise

Dakota at 5 months

A rat-cha from the web
Another rat-cha (actually 2 but one looks more like Dakota)

Earthquakes! Tornados! Derechos! No health insurance!

A busy day and night here in ex-Tumorville. Didn't feel the earthquake, the tornados went south of us as did the derecho. Lots of alarms and lightning strikes for the first part of the night. Had more damage here last Friday with our tree branch (huge) falling down and the house down the street bursting into flames when hit with lightning. The health insurance issue seems to be straightened out though it was frustrating that the case worker never returned our calls. Steve went down there in person saying that Naomi could go into labor at anytime and it would be nice to know that she's covered. The woman there looked at Naomi and said that to her, Naomi is too small to go into labor anytime soon but she did give us the right plan that covers UM.
The other day I got a denial of coverage from the dental plan for my recent visit but it turns out the dentist entered it as if it was my plan and it's Steve's plan.

Dakota went to the vet for maintenance shots and a pre-spaying physical. 7.5 lbs. The vet was asked to guess her heritage and came up with half chihuahua: the other half a mix of rat terrier and possibly dachshund to give her coloring and longish back. Rat terriers themselves are a mix of many breeds including the whippet. Teddy Roosevelt invented the rat terrier. Recently a house full of 40 malnourished whippets was investigated and now the humane society is full of them. Their faces look really similiar to Dakota's but they don't have upright ears as she does. I still think she has pug in her. For $60, her doggie DNA could be identified but I remember reading an article about an obvious pit bull/weinmanimer (however it's spelled)mix and the test came up with bichon and boston terrier-not even close.

Today the humidity finally dropped and it is pleasant out. Did an early morning run, bought a few more plants at a big plant sale, and then went to a southern Indian place. Most Indian restaurants I've gone to are the Pakistani type-with meat, curries, tikkas, masalas. This place had completely different foods-all vegetarian. They sold dosas 3 feet across. They also make homemade ice cream. I had anjeer which I think is a type of fig. Other flavors-kesar pista and chikoo and the favorite mango. We sat near an Indian family who was interested in educating us on all the strange food there.

We then went to the Botanical Gardens which are especially nice now. They've openned up a new section for kids that I think Oliver will like with all its activities. They will be here in less than 2 weeks. Hopefully Maya will be out to see them by then.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010


A derecho is a severe straight line storm that is as damaging as a hurricane. We don't get them often but we had a spectacular one in July 1980 in the morning lasting all of 15 minutes but the effects lasted much longer. Working in a mostly glass laboratory, we had a good view of it. No sirens so we didn't have to huddle in the dank, feed room. The sky turned dark green and winds up to 90 mph came through uprooting trees, power poles. I could see Shanna's daycare go dark in the first minute. We were looking out of a south window but the winds were due west. The glass was buckling but we stood there mesmerized. End result: no power for a week, the loss of a birch tree that was mostly dead anyway and the neighbor's cottonwood due west of us had to be taken down. Good as that nasty tree covered our lawn and lungs with its cotton balls regularly but its many branches littered our lawn in its death throes.
We are scheduled to get another derecho soon but it seems to be losing power as it heads our way.

Not a good day today! Apparently there are several forms of Medicaid: not all forms cover the same institutions. She was supposed to choose the right plan after 45 days, which is not up yet, but apparently Medicaid chose for her the plan that does NOT cover UM and told her to pick a new doctor oblivious to the fact she already had to switch and is already dilated, etc. UM called her up to tell her this this morning saying it often happens. Hopefully this is fixable. She had an appointment with the public health nurse this morning who knows the ropes and will hopefully get this straightened out ASAP. I am awaiting a phone call to tell me this or I know the rest of the day will be spent dealing with this mess.

I did make some money yesterday..maybe. In Boston, I noticed an ad in the free newspaper for a study on breast cancer patients that had chemo. I called them up a few weeks ago to enroll to fill out 2 surveys that net me $60. They said they'll take 45 minutes each to fill out but I did the both of them in 30 minutes. Bizarre choices: You have 2 treatment plans: Treatment A: 100% chance of survival but 100% chance of temporary hairloss with 40 % painful mouth sores versus
Treatment B: 90% chance of survival but no hair loss or mouth sores. They kept adding and taking away side effects, different ones tweaking the percentages over and over. In general I went for the ones giving the highest chance of survival but sometimes they added permanent side effects like never being able to walk again. You could also answer no preference or slight preference. Seems like that old game: would you rather be blind or deaf or would you rather die from being burn alive or slowly squished to death.

My real life situation:
Treatment A: 75% chance of survival with 100% chance of temporary hairloss, 80% chance of fatigue 20% chance of permanent neuropathy 90% nausea. Varying percentages of finger nail loss, muscle pain, neutropenia, diarrhea,constant nose bleeds, severe anemia, infections causing hospitalization, 5% of fatal heart problems, 5% of leukemia down the road, lots of money and time spent
Treatment B: 50% chance of survival but no side effects, no money or time spent

What would you choose?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Hospital visit

Naomi and I went on a hospital tour this evening at the ginormous UM complex where I had Naomi as they were the only place that had midwives. Parking is a big problem made worse with all the construction. I actually preferred the other hospital in Wayne County more. I keep thinking any minute with Naomi. I see Maya thrashing about through her thin skin.
Again it is hot and humid. Only strong winds made my run tolerable today and tomorrow will be toastier.

Thunderstorms came through in the middle of the night driving Dakota crazy. I am sleeping ( or more correctly: staying awake with her) as Steve is sick though he was gone for 2 hours running today. He is mad at me now because, believe or not, I allegedly left the orange juice top on loose causing it to spill when he shook it. Can we spell PETTY? All sorts of sighing...

Monday, June 21, 2010


Garage sale freebies-Muffy Vander Bears
I am not one for collecting things though it's true I don't throw or give away things fast enough. We have art books and pictures but I am not into figurines or collector toys. The other day at the garage sale when I bought the high chair for $20 (very good condition-cover never had been used), they asked if I wanted 3 stuffed bears for free. Now we still have stuffed animals left over from the kids and I am trying to keep clutter to a minimum but my friend insisted I take these. While I was seeing what the high chair cost new ($60), I decided to type in the tag of the 'snowflake' bear (still has its tags, never used). This thing cost $175 back in 1993 and now sells for $50. The eskimo bear, no tags, once cost $100 and still sells on ebay for quite a bit. The third bear was a collectable'Boyd' bear but was used.
So now the days become shorter and Maya will definitely be a summer baby still safety inside Naomi who believes this baby is too big to stay inside much longer. She is complaining more.
The longest day we've experienced was going to York, England on June 21 2007-it was the fartherest north we've been on the longest day. I don't think we stayed up long enough to see the sun set. Steve had a 3 week assignment in Kent, England and I went there after he was finished to travel. Another solstice day, we flew to Seattle getting up at sunrise here (before 6 am local time but 3 am PDT). It was still light in Seattle when we got there. When I flew to England (from Minneapolis!!!This is what happens when you get tickets at the last minute-nothing out of Detroit left) in June 2007, I assumed since we left at 9 pm, CDT, it would soon get dark but I opened my window to find bright sunshine. As we were travelling above the arctic circle, the sun never set so I guess that was my longest day especially because I was too excited to sleep even though for once in my life, except for short flights, I was in first class and could stretch out with the back and leg massagers on sipping good wine instead of economy class rotgut.
Since Thursday, Steve has been feeling bad and has been barely eating. He believes he has hepatitis though he is not jaundiced and I don't know where he would have gotten it. He thinks he ate some undercooked shrimp at a restaurant a few weeks ago. In general, I only get about a fourth of the crud that comes his way. I would brag about my superior immune system but we all know it let me down big time letting those cancer cells grow. But until he is completely mended (he is much better), I am staying away. I don't want any excuse to keep me out of the hospital for Maya. I do have a headache (what he started with)-an all over one that I sometimes get while tired or dehydrated ( the headaches that involve only one area and are more painful would scare the daylights out of me at this point) but I could run and eat without muscle pain (which he has).

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Happy Father's Day

Dancing at the wedding a week ago with Steve

Well finally the humidity has dropped but I am too lazy to do much. I spent some time with a friend yesterday going to garage sales so now Maya has even more pink things-some really good deals. Stuff a bag with whatever you could for $5. Some of the clothes hadn't been worn and still had the tags. She now has a high chair too.

With my Michigan strawberries, much smaller than the commercial kind so they takes longer to prepare, I made crepes filled with yogurt cheese for our Mom's BBQ last night. Since chemo, I have become a mosquito magnet. They really never bothered me before but it was nice sipping mojitos with my friends lying in a lounge chair out in the country until they came out to attack.

No baby yet though she has intermittant mild contractions. Steve is out getting a digital recorder. We had a Father's and Mother's Day lunch (as I was out of town) today with Josh and Julia. Dakota is back to staying with us along with my friend whose water for some reason has been cut off.

We will see what the upcoming week will bring.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Hot and humid

Naomi's belly that she took. She can't sit still
My flax. By noon, the sun kills the blossoms but new ones appear overnight

Still is wearing bikinis. She is currently at the local pool trying to cool off having very mild contractions. She has this fanatasy of dilating 1 cm a day and then just having the baby pop out later this week. She's definitely carrying this baby low. My babies were stuck under my ribs so I hardly stuck out-I just looked like a fat person.
Seventy mph winds came racing through last night and we lost a tree that now blocks the running path. Not sure if the tree is on our easement so it would be the city's problem or if it is 'our' tree and thus our problem. Broken branches were scattered all over my path today in the oppressive humidity. Still I met my quota but it was not fun. Until the humidity goes away, my guest has returned.
Steve has flu like symptoms and won't eat so I am keeping away from him so I'll be allowed in the hospital. While I was returning from Happy Hour last night, he called requesting chicken soup (which he had less than half of). At the soup store, I ran into the mom of one of Naomi's former best friends so it was fun catching up. They had done travel basketball together and would go to the Y challenging high school boys for pick-up games. They were very good. After a while though, the boys were more interested in Naomi's body than her game so I had to put a stop to that.
Mom's group tonight! I will go to the Farmer's Market to see if any of the Michigan strawberries are left (much, much tastier than those bland engineered CA big things) as part of the dessert I will make. But it is so hot and sticky, I don't want to use the oven.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Escape from Naomi: Maya's progress

All week Naomi has been having cramps becoming stronger and stronger with each day. At her midwife appointment today, she was checked to see what was going on. She is 3 cm dilated and 70% effaced. The head is at -2 station so it's not completely engaged but can be felt through the cervix. As for the size of the baby, all she would say is that it is very long, especially its torso. But now it is almost impossible for the baby to turn around and become breech. As for when she will appear, could be tonight or could be 2 weeks. All I know was by the time I got to 3 cm, a very slow painful experience in which no drugs were offered as it was 'too early', I went from 3 cm to 10 cm in about 3 hours.The baby is now considered full term. We had the 'nice' midwife today and made 2 more weeks of appointments with her as she seems to fill up fast. Maybe we won't use those appointments at this rate.

Yesterday she took a breast feeding class. Young moms have a very bad track record of actually doing it but she seems committed to it. Unfortunately the hospital staff generally isn't too helpful. Shanna's pediatrician (who she later got rid of) was trying to get Shanna to introduce formula via bottle to stem Oliver's weight loss during the period Shanna's milk was coming in. Shanna refused saying she wanted to establish the breast feeding. She was then told that this wasn't about her but the baby, which got her mad as she was trying to do what was best for the baby. Few young girls have the balls to stand up for what they think is right. The public health nurse who visited us Wednesday (the State gives us 10 visits) said that if they insist on formula, have them introduce it by dropper so the baby won't get used to bottles. Nurse Ann seems to be a good fit for Naomi and will be especially useful when the baby actually comes. She could have social worker visits too but at this point, it was decided that the nurse would be most useful.

One of the joys of motherhood is watching your child play on various athletic teams. At one point, Naomi was playing soccer, softball, volleyball and on the swim team. At other times, she did travel basketball and cross country. Josh usually was playing basketball and baseball until he was in high school and concentrated on soccer. He went to a small technical school which had no varsity sports though he cleaned up in the inter fraternity leagues. In the summers, he played soccer on an adult league and later at work softball far away from here. After Naomi graduated, no more teams for her. But now Josh and his buddy have joined a half-field soccer team. His friend played on a select team with him since they were 8. Both guys, although really superb athletes in high school, haven't kept up. Last night, his friend's mom and I went to see the boys. We were the only moms of course (don't these other players have moms?). I missed the first game as I was in transit but the friend's mom provided cookies embarrassing her son. This mom also is an ice skater mom with her other son being on the ice dancing Olympic team. She's invited me to to watch them practice. At the same rink are the other members of the Olympic ice dancing team and the Canadian champions so lots of talent in our little corner of the universe.
As for Josh, he became winded very easily and with no subs and lots of humidity, was not a hap py camper. Until he gets his act together, he no longer is the star of the team (his usual position in about any sport). But I enjoyed my return to soccer mom.

I had taken 4 days off from running. Sometimes I wonder what good is it as I am so clearly overweight. How can I run so far and still be fat? What kind of a cosmic joke is being played on me? I guess I can eat faster than I can run. But if you were to see my legs, I have no visible veins or lumps of fat. They are are as smooth as a teenager's. I have good muscle tone and am not easily winded. My resting heart rate is between 55 and 65. But I have running quotas, silly as that may be, and I get annoyed when I don't reach them. I've been cramming in a weeks worth of running into 4 days-not fun in this humidity. I had to get up extra early today to be finished before Naomi's appointment.

More gardening needs to be done. My coreopsis seemed to survive its trip from NJ. It has the unfortunate name of 'tickweed'. Coreopsis meaning bedbug's view in Greek. My lilies are now starting to bloom and my new container of pale lavender petunias are especially fragrant.

And for those who are interested, I finally finished yesterday's blog about our weekend after I finished this one. Who said I have to do things in order?

Thursday, June 17, 2010

There are no coney islands on Coney Island

My nephew Joe holding Oliver
Coffee house in 'downtown' Plainsboro. Most of the buildings are made from limestone

Art along the boardwalk outside of the aquarium

My brother's house

Oliver and his cream cheese art creation. On his legs are the socks handed out to everyone so they can wear these instead of heels while dancing

The siblings including the groom

Daniel at lunch

Naomi and Don'tae in front of Nathan's

Josh, Ramy, and David are in the last 2 cars on the infamous Cyclone

French toast tower that my niece Thea ordered at the diner

Here in Michigan, we have numerous small restaurants called coney islands usually run by Greeks that serve hotdogs covered with chili. They don't serve those at all on Coney Island, Steve's neighborhood growing up (his apartment was on the border of Coney Island and Brighton Beach). Sunday morning we headed into Brooklyn to rescue Josh, who was left in Maddy's friend's house. We then took a walk along the boardwalk along Coney Island near where Steve grew up. In Annie Hall, the main character grew up in a house under the Cyclone. Well Steve grew up right on top of it. A very noisy place with several train lines coming together. The noise when the F train rounded a steep curve was incredible with lots of sparks flying. Conversation in their apartment had to stop until the trains passed. Some of the rides have loud music and sirens. Then there are the constant car alarms going off too and the the garbage trucks that come at 6 am slamming metal containers down. Steve's mom finally moved out of there in 2004 but we were there several times a year.
Naomi walked around a mile. I was nervous that excessive exercise might start labor. Fortunately it was cool. We went out on the pier where people were fishing for crabs and fluke.
That day they had a Puerto Rican Pride parade in Manhattan that day attracting 2 million people. Plenty were on Coney Island with their flags and t-shirts and later on in Sunset Park where they live along side the Chinese (where our hotel was).While Steve, Dontae and Naomi ate at Nathan's, Josh and I walked along the tawdry but interesting Surf Avenue to fetch the car going by the Freak show. Still the area has been cleaned up alot since I used to go down there.
We then went to check-in at our hotel where we met up with Shanna and her family. It was decided that Steve should spend time with his brother, the groom, only noone told the groom that. We battled unbelievable traffic to get down there only to stand on the porch a half hour in the rain. Josh and I ate cherry cheese knishes as we waited as we had passed on Nathan's. Phone calls were ignored. The groom was getting ready and couldn't hear anything or chose to ignore it. Finally he did come to the door, puzzled that we were there. Oh well. By the time we got back, it was almost time for the wedding.
The wedding was in a very old synagogue. Male guests were given mini yarmulkes left over from a bar mitzvah the day before. These were very hard to keep on. Most of the guests were Jewish (excepting Dontae, me, Ramy and Maddy's husband and step-son). So the vows were in Hebrew and English. The glass was successfully broken on the first try. A string duo played soulful music and there were few dry eyes. So they are finally, finally married! Mazel tov!!!!
The reception was held in the basement, conveniently. Steve and I were asked to accompany the bride and groom on the dance floor. Now Naomi asked in advance that I NOT dance as I must had made a spectacle of myself at Shanna's wedding (Shanna said that I reminded her of that one Seinfeld episode of Elaine thinking she could dance). She didn't want Don'tae to see me. She has since made another request that I probably won't honor when they move in but that's neither here or there. She's still stuck in that middle school mode in which everything your parent does is intensely embarrassing. So aside from that very first, very awkward dance (Steve was still angry at me for something and wasn't in the mood to hold me much less speak to me), I didn't dance. They did the circles dance hoisting the bride and groom high above them in their chairs. Josh was in a quiet, reflective mood and I sat with him most of the night. He felt bad that Julia wasn't with him. Naomi didn't feel like dancing either. Looking at the dance floor, Don'tae must have been thinking-yep it's true, white people really can't dance. Who was having the most fun dancing? Oliver. We took movies of him trying to imitate everyone. Also a low point, Steve refused to give a toast to his brother. He really, really hates to speak in public but still he should have overcome that. Everyone nagging him did not help. Again, he certainly didn't want any advice from me as he was still angry. Now he since has come up with plenty of things to say but too late!!! Shanna ended up giving a toast instead representing 'our side' as everyone in Diane's family was able to come up with something. A fellow teacher composed a song in their name and had people sing it. But it was fun since all of us were together and when will that happen again?
Josh's plane was to leave early in the morning. We dropped him off at the airport close to midnight where he spent a restless night on the floor learning what it's like to be homeless. He flew through Atlanta again. Good thing he didn't use the usual cheapie airline whose pilots had walked off that day. He would have had to sit in our crowded back seat but the trip would not have been much longer.
In the morning, we walked around our strange neighborhood to see the sights. Brooklyn is so much a foreign country in spots. In other spots, it is a time warp with stores from the 40s and 50s unchanged. Our hotel was run by the Chinese. Signs on the wall were in Chinese. They seemed to put the English speaking guests on one floor, Chinese on another and Puerto Ricans on yet another. We were provided with disposable slippers to pad around our 10 foot square room in. Walking inside a house with barefeet is a big no-no in most Asian cultures. A neighbor of mine was complaining about some nasty tenants of hers recently. Among their many crimes was walking around the house barefoot. To her this seemed on par as using the carpet as a bathroom. I kept quiet about my habit of being barefoot as much as possible especially when I am in my own house. Once I showed up at my sister-in-laws friend's house clad in sandals (it was warm outside!!!). I didn't know the rules. I was provided with some 'indoor' sandals that ended up exactly in the middle of my in-step. Even the husband's indoor sandals barely reached my heel. Apparently I would have been euthanized for my big feet or at least not allowed to reproduce. My nephew will go on a class trip to Japan soon which includes a homestay. They were drilled about not letting the bare feet show. There are even separate sandals for the bathroom.
But we found a bun shop and ate 80 cent yeasty, fresh pork and coconut buns and I drank mango bubble tea-a good breakfast. Then on to brunch with the newly-weds and most of the families that were left where presents were opened including our "lovopoly".
Don'tae most wanted to see Manhattan. A boatride around it would have been nice but lengthy (and expensive). Steve dropped us off in Times Square for them to take in all the lights and moving billboards. We went into several touristy shops. Fortunately the weather was pleasant or it would have been impossible for Naomi to walk around. It would have been nice to walk in Central Park too but time was running out so we drove through it. Over the weekend, Don'tae had plenty of exposure to various ethnic groups. He wondered how to tell the difference between the Hasidim and the Amish (well first of all, not very many Amish ever come to NYC-maybe Philly where they have a huge market in the old Reading Railroad). Depending on where we were signs were in Chinese, Arabic, Hebrew, Spanish or Russian (that would be in Brighton Beach-Little Odessa). Out of the Lincoln tunnel, back on to the NJ Turnpike where our E-Z pass made things much easier (and considerably cheaper) Coming into the city, we'd have to wait in a huge toll line otherwise and pay $11 vs $6. We went back to my brother's eating in one of NJ and NY's cultural institutions-the Diner, though we do have our coney islands with their limited menus. Diners out East have huge menus. The one we went to was an upscale one-a fancy diner. The food was actually good. My brother made crepes for us in the morning and off we went on our mind-numbing ride home. we now know which shortcuts NOT to take.
So all in all, an excellent weekend. A few bumps (and our car took the majority of them) but we were all together.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Scenes of NY and NJ

Coney Island from the Pier. Steve's apartment is at the same level here as the top of the cyclone. All the guests (except me, Steve, Naomi and Don'tae) had come here Saturday to ride the cyclone.
We walked around Times Square Monday. More impressive at night

Me and the groom

Entrance to Coney Island

Time's square again

Josh under the famous Nathan's sign where everyone (except me) had lunch

Naomi with Charlotte the Jack Russell at my brother's

Naomi, Shanna, and Maddy with a sleeping Daniel

Naomi and Dontae on the Boardwalk. I've run up and down this thing hundreds of times

In the synagogue

During the wedding. Poor lighting for pictures

Inside my brother's house

The synagogue was very old as was the Rabbi. He had a very good sense of humor and was very welcoming

After the wedding reception during the clean-up. Who's doing the clean-up? Mainly the bride! Shame on us!!!!Pictured is Josh, me, David(Maddy's step-son), Shanna, Maddy (Steve's sister)and Harold (the groom, Steve's brother)

Freak show. Coney Island is a classy place. Josh said the barker was especially trying to lure people in to see Jackie Tripod, the three legged lady. They passed

This place sells 'stuff'. We stayed in a Chinese neighborhood in a Chinese hotel which actually was nice. In the morning, we found a bun shop with really tasty, yeasty buns for 80 cents a piece. There were also dumpling shops with similar prices but didn't have room in my belly for those.

Monday morning Diane invited about twenty of us to her house for brunch. Not enough for her to plan the wedding, decorate, clean-up-she hosted us too.

My brother's bathroom larger than our bedroom. Naomi and Dontae enjoyed the jacuzzi with the color changing lights

The boardwalk was very crowded the day we went. In the background is the Parachute Jump. They would hoist you up and let you free fall with a parachute on. It hasn't been operational in 50 years. Steve's mom went on it as a teenager. I am surprised that a storm hasn't taken it down yet. The boardwalk was fixed up considerably since I used to run up and down it-safety was questionable on its western end. New flowers, new art work, a children's playground, clean bathrooms, a new ball stadium (The Cyclones).

Part of a game we got for the bride and groom-a custom made Monopoly game. The places have been replaced with places meaningful to the couple

So we are back from our 4 day adventure with 2 of the days devoted to driving. Naomi did not go into labor as I feared. She is now 37 weeks and has occasional contractions. I took a vacation from e-mail and running too, no time for either. I will try to make up these things today. Between Naomi, Steve, and I, we took lots of pictures. There was an official wedding photographer there too who I hope with her superior equipment, will have better pictures of the bride and groom.
The wedding was very emotional. They have faced so many medical challenges which are not over as treatment regimes still are in place. But despite fatigue from the treatment, they wanted to enjoy their wedding day and danced together. There was much joy!!
No fun driving through numerous construction sites on I-80. Naomi spent most of the driving time asleep in the back seat but I tried to have her walk every few hours to prevent blood clots. She kept her legs elevated. We stayed the first night at my brother's and Sui-Jean's house outside of Princeton NJ. Naomi and Dontae found some energy for basketball and a long walk around Bruce's neighborhood full of McMansions. She wants a house just like that! Well..not on the road she's currently taking but I try not to lecture her much on the consequences of life choices as she does not listen. Sui-Jean has a degree in botany and loves to garden. She had plenty of beds full of perennials and various vegetables. I brought back a few coreopsis back, hopefully some will survive. Their dog Charlotte kept us amused with her tricks: rolling over for food and jumping up-very good catcher. There are plenty of perches for her to guard her house against rabbits and butterflies, which sets her off into a doggie rage. The Jack Russell book says that they don't die of old age; their propensity to chase anything that moves eventually does them in as they don't correctly assess the size of their opponents.
In the morning, we went off to the village for some coffee while the lovebirds slept in. All evening we'd fielded various calls of disasters: no key for Julia to get into our house to rescue Spud-both her and Josh's keys were missing in action and the back-up key I had hidden didn't work. Also Steve had cut the power to our garage door so no sneaking in that way. My friend had a key but she was 30 miles away and really didn't feel like coming back to Ann Arbor that second. Meanwhile it was especially hot in AA and I imagined all my flowers dying of thirst as the promised rain didn't come (all seem to be still living). My friend ended up moving in to deal with Spud and the flowers. For the time being, she has no AC and we do so that was a lure. Also Josh was lost in NYC. Harold had dropped him off somewhere in Brooklyn so he could stay in with Maddy's friend. Do we know where he should go? Well we don't know where her friend lives now. Eventually Maddy found him wandering the streets so he was rescued. Somehow the kids inherited Steve's sense of direction (absolutely none!!!) and are continually getting lost. I've bought Josh all sorts of maps and he has a GPS but still I get these phone calls. Josh had flown into LaGuardia very late Friday night. He went for cheapness so his flight went to Atlanta (where it was delayed). There was about 9 hours between when he left for the airport and when he finally arrived at his neighborhood buddy's studio on the Upper East side-just slightly shorter than driving. His friend ( I used to take him on our cross state bike rides) and brother share this tiny studio with 3 large dogs and have no time for house cleaning. Since it is in a good neighborhood, it cost and arm and a leg. They had fun visiting the local bars. The next morning, Josh made his way to Brooklyn on the subway which was packed to the gills and stopped and went dark with no air conditioning. He was afraid of some terrorist attack as he couldn't understand the announcement over a crackly loudspeaker saying what the delay was. They all met in Coney Island. Shanna and her family came in from Boston staying at the same Chinese hotel as we did only for 2 nights instead of the one night. Josh had made no plans and ended up staying with Maddy and her friend who has a deluxe 3 story house in Brooklyn with a hot tub on the roof.
After breakfast on Sunday, we went into Brooklyn crossing the Verrazano Bridge, all of this was a new experience for Dontae who hasn't travelled much in his life aside from a class trip to DC.
To be continued...

Friday, June 11, 2010


Currently there is a big oncology meeting in Chicago. Information slowly trickles out from there but not a whole lot on breast cancer. Interesting stuff on lung cancer though, the number one killer of women cancer patients. Think you are safe because you don't smoke? For some reason, lung cancer is increasing among female non-smokers. Only 1 in 12 of male lung cancer patients never smoked (including my friend with jaw mets: they are replacing the jaw with a leg bone in a few days) but the number is much higher in women. Estrogen might have something to do with it but presumably we have the same amount of estrogen as we always had or do we?
There is a genetic variant of lung cancer, about 10% patients have it, that is effectively treated by a new drug developed by my former employer.
As for brain cancer, particularly glioblastomas, researchers have developed a device that sends electrical currents to the brain stopping all cellular growth.Now the only cells in the brain that are reproducing would be tumor cells so this is a selective method of treatment. Of course, it doesn't kill the cells, just stops them from growing.

We too can become guinea pigs. Naomi was contacted today about a study that investigates tearing during delivery in young moms. They will provide a doula who will film her privates during labor. She says she doesn't want to see her vajayjay on TV, which I don't think it will be, but she will be paid. She is thinking this over.
And me, I can earn $60 by just answering questions about the side effects of chemo on the internet with no filming of the vajayjay.

I need to pack and deal with my hair today. I will go to a Happy Hour with whatever chemists are left here. I might not be blogging on our trip out east but I will be back.

Thursday, June 10, 2010


I didn't think the female hummingbird made it through the storms as I haven't seen her though the male still comes back but she has discovered the roses behind my house instead.

I am still sweating the small stuff too much to even begin to write a blog not full of whining so I won't. Just to say: you'd think that a GPS device would be able to tell you what distance a route would be-not just as the crow flies. Avoid G****n N*vis like the plague!

Also: the rental office was broken into and some of the rent checks were stolen and cashed, a check made out specifically to the apartment complex. Who pays ? They want a new check.
Now the bank shouldn't have cashed it and they presumably will make good on it at some point but until then, no money for Naomi and Don'tae unless...

Wednesday, June 9, 2010


36 weeks

Turns out that noone has been paying rent on that crappy apartment for 2 months, can I please do it? He'll pay you back....

Don'tae works fulltime at a job paying barely over minimum wage. His biggest expense is paying usurious interest on a non-functional car. We usually pay cash for cars but the one time we financed a $25K car(albeit at 0% interest), our payment was less.

And the rental car sent Naomi a threatening latter still not attaching a dollar amount to the 'damage'. She turned the car in and noone said anything about any damage. Later they called saying they saw a scratch. and they will bill her debit card (which was inactive-good luck with that). We don't trust this franchise at all. I f there was damage, which noone saw when we dropped it off, why now do they claim it is?Steve called the national office of this particular rental place. They said they see paint that was used to disguise the scratch. News to us. They will launch some sort of investigation. It is annoying.

It all saps the energy right out of me.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


Steve as a ring bearer for a relative's wedding many, many years ago. Isn't he cute?

Naomi was going through old pix today and saw this picture. Are the men at the wedding this Sunday going to be wearing yarmulkes? Yes indeedy! Even Don'tae. No it doesn't matter if he's Catholic, he'll need to wear one. We'll take pictures.

A very busy day here in the Land of Excised Tumors that Hopefully will NEVER Return. First another long run striking while the weather is cool, then took Naomi to the hospital to see her friend's new baby (the new Grandmom still has no idea). While driving back home, a mysterious light appeared. Now I know to ignore the Check Engine Soon! light which has something to do with emissions but this one with its stylized hieroglyphics was a new one. I turn the car off to read the manual. One suggestion: it's the battery-isn't-charging light. It helpfully suggests never turning the car off if one sees this light as the car will never start again. Well too f***ing late for that! But hold on, the light was in a slightly different place. Could be the low coolant light. Now the radiator was damaged in Naomi's recent accident. Surely they put coolant in it!! I left the car for Steve to figure out but didn't give him the right key so that he could actually get in without alarms going off. Went to pick Naomi up and off to the dentist hitting every traffic obstacle possible. The very sweet hygienist is fascinated by Naomi. Her mom was only 17 when she had her, smoking and not eating to hide her condition as long as possible resulting in a preemie birth of a 4 lb child. She is now 5'10", none the worse for wear. Then the dentist comes in with a list of 'trouble' teeth whose fillings are still on their last legs and all should be replaced by caps, which my insurance finds as some sort of indulgence, so it pays little for them. I agreed on the one that actually shows some sign of decay (though fortunately asymptomatic) but said I won't deal with it until after the baby is born.

Naomi came with me to the dentist. The office staff is very nice to her. We go to the Resale shop and find a bassinet in good shape for $100 less than the Baby stores. It works with the heartbeat, flashing lights, vibrating mattress, mobile spinning around though it was a bitch to fit into my microcar. Off to her apartment (the first time I was permitted in since helping her move into it) for an appointment with this State program appointed nurse for those on Medicaid. She wanted me there in case she couldn't answer the questions. This woman ended up being almost an hour late (and of course I had more activities scheduled) but she seems to have lots of useful information so so far, this program is worthwhile. She did wonder how old I was when I had my first child (is she seeing if I was a teenage mom and Naomi is just repeating our trailer park ways?) I said that I was considered 'elderly" by the OBs when I had Naomi (if you are over 35, you are considered elderly) but I had my first right after I turned 26, not as a teenager.
She wondered about the lack of continuity of health care for Naomi. Our insurance has switched several times and now we had to drop Naomi. I assured her that Naomi always has been well taken care of. Naomi had to fill out yet another mental health questionnaire. (least this one didn't ask if she felt that things were getting on top of her? She interprets this literally.. Do they mean Don'tae she asks. He gets on top sometimes...). Their biggest issue? Lack of money. I said that since she was an hour late and we had other things scheduled, we'd have to continue this meeting another time. I race through construction zones and rush hour so
Steve can have a key to deal with the car in time for Naomi to pick up Don'tae from work. Then off to Happy Hour with a friend on the completely opposite side of town.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Looking to the light

Sunny and Dakota see something outside that interests them both. They seem to be friends now despite the difference in size. Dakota comes to our house after we return from NY. Picture taken by Julia, my DIL.

It's very nice today-Cool, dry and sunny. Good for a long run out in the country. Last week a box turtle was crossing the road that I take to get out there. There aren't many cars on this road but they do go fast. One of them was going to hit the turtle for sure. I cringed as a few cars narrowly missed it. As I picked it up, I noticed several leeches attached to its flesh and one to its shell. Yuck. But at least it wasn't going to be smooshed on my watch.

Naomi was over. Until she can get Section 8 housing, hard to get in these times, she asked if the 3 of them could move in when her lease expires at the awful pit she lives in now. Her friend with the same due date had her baby yesterday and he's now in a NIC unit due to his prematurity. This girl never told her mother about her situation. Naomi's belly gets bigger and bigger but the rest of her remains small. The baby needs to stay put for another month, especially when we are travelling out of state in a few days.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Tornados! Floods! OhMy!

Yesterday I debated whether to water my new plantings as rain kept being promised. Finally at night it started and didn't stop until sometime this morning. Many areas are flooded. Numerous tornado warnings and sirens keeping us up. A tornado did strike about 20 miles due south of here shearing off the top level of a hotel but everyone had been evacuated before it hit. Josh called at one in the morning saying that he was downtown surrounded by water and didn't think he could get through the 1.5 foot streams surrounding him. Cars that tried it stalled out. I could hear Julia in the car crying. Julia's car (new battery works just fine) was a few blocks away. Somehow they got to that, tried to figure out how to get home avoiding low spots and picked up the stranded car in the morning. Fortunately it is uphill to Dexter and the car was on the other side of the low areas.He said you couldn't tell that anything had happened as the water receded. We had gotten 2 phone calls in the middle of the night: Steve hung up on both of them. Not wise when a certain someone could be going into labor.

Even though it is nice and cool, I went to the gym as I've been running so much. I forgot however that the Dexter-Ann Arbor Race was in progress blocking my route from the eastside to the westside. Maybe when (ha!)I lose the weight, I will run it again. It's a half marathon going through the river valley most of the way. Very pretty! They used to give bumper stickers saying you finished it. I proudly sported that until the car died. Still everyone assumed it was Steve who had run it, not me.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

My Old Life

So much has changed since fall of 2007 when I had worked my last day. I've made a few half-hearted attempts to find work but that doesn't look like that is going to happen any time soon.
Things came up: weddings, grandchildren and CANCER.

I don't miss it much especially during the last few years when we spent so much of our time writing goals and then being measured against them and trying to spin this or that, that real work was not getting done. From what I hear, it is getting worse and I need them to get their act together as too much of my 401K is in their hands.

What did I do anyway? It seemed a mystery to even those within the company. At one point, the head of security was cross-examining me many years ago. My boss had been murdered under strange circumstances. He stupidly had tried to rehabilitate a 19 year junkie/prostitute who murdered him by her pimp's orders when the money stopped coming her way fast enough. But corporate security's ears perked up when they found out that a chemist was involved with someone using drugs. Maybe he was making drugs too on the side. I am not sure how they made that leap of logic, not their strong suit as it turned out, but they were going to question me over and over until I confessed to something. Since I knew about the prostitute, I must know more.

Is your boss capable of making a CNS active drug?
(Duh, if he wasn't able to or even if I wasn't able to, we'd be fired for gross incompetency. That's our job. Nothing special about making a CNS active drug-chemicals are chemicals.)

Um, he was the inventor of Me-too-azapam. (an anxiolytic-he had broken the patent of a well known competitor. I knew this was probably in this CV.)

Do you think he is making Me-too-azapam at home?

No, it's hard to make outside the lab (plus if he were making illegal drugs, patent protection would not be a concern. I'm sure he'd find something more profitable and easier to make but I can't tell jerk-off this as too much knowledge is dangerous even though any organic chemist would have the same knowledge.)

He wondered if I might be a prostitute too.
No, I am happily married to a YOUNG, good looking chemist. I am also pregnant (with Shanna).

I stressed that I had this job before my boss showed up. He didn't hire me nor could you blame his boss who was stuck with him and didn't approve of his side activities. Such obnoxious questions that in today's environment, would be highly illegal.

My poor boss didn't deserve to die although he was profoundly stupid for dealing with this woman.

I ran some more and then went to the Farmer's Market to add to my garden. The rabbit eats any sprouts less than 6 inches. Hopefully it will leave the established plants alone.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Rescue me!!!

Julia's battery died. It resisted being jumped. Steve went over there, took it out, had it tested (dead...very dead) went looking for a new one, put it in. Josh meanwhile made plans to go to NYC, plans to go but didn't work out the details like where he would stay..

Haven't seen Naomi for a while but usually each week we have to rescue her somehow. I did some baby shopping without her. My target: a cradle that rocks itself.

Not a very exciting week. A lot of time spent watching the hummingbird come and go trying to take its picture but so far, that hasn't worked out.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

May Flies and it's June!

Mayfly Day
(by Jeanne Willis and Tony Ross)

Here is Mayfly,
It is her first day on earth.
It is also her last.
Mayflies only live for one day.
But is she sad?
Not at all.
She is happy to be alive!

This isn't any old day.
This is the best of days.
She lives for each moment.
She sees the world begin,
She hears the crack of dawn.
And bathes in its golden glow.
A billion buds burst open.
All for her!
She tastes her honey.

Mayfly sees eggs hatch.
Babies born.
Lambs learning to stand.
The business of ants.
The dizziness of children...
The loveliness of things.
She feels the sun's warm hug.
The kiss of summer rain.
The magic of the rainbow.

It is her wedding day.
Trees throw confetti.
There are games on the lawn.
Breezes blow,
bells chime.
Birds sing!
She dances to the music of the universe.

Mayfly lays her eggs.
It is a peaceful night.
The best of nights.
She makes one last wish:
'Little ones, may all your tomorrows be as perfect as my

Mayfly watches the moon come up and the stars go out.
And is thankful for her wonderful life.

This was a poem read at the funeral of a inflammatory breast cancer warrior at her request. She was about my age so she'd had many days. Still not long enough.

Mayflies are also known as fish flies and are found very close to the Great Lakes. I am too far away from the water to experience them in Ann Arbor. They all hatch at once and die later that day. I worked briefly in downtown Detroit on the River eating lunch on its banks inhaling the distillery fumes of the Hiram Walker plant due south in Canada and vanilla aroma, once a week, from my own employer. One day the banks were covered with dying flies. Never had heard of them before. I didn't see them again until I was camping in Mackinaw City within a half mile where Lakes Michigan and Huron touch with Naomi when she was 13. We were on the Michigander, the 6 day bike ride that features Rails-to-Trails. All night I had heard pitter patter on the tent walls puzzled as the weather report said no chance of rain. I got up as usual before Naomi and found thousands of these flies dead or almost dead on the tent. She screams just at the sight of a mosquito or bee: she is no fan of bugs. Suffice it to say, she was not amused when she finally arouse. Our breakfast companion was thrilled as he was a fly fisherman. Those fancy trout and salmon lures are all designed to look like a mayfly. He said there was a whole book, The Hatch, describing these things. It was a happy day for the fish.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Hummingbirds and eagles

Yesterday in the arb, Steve and I saw an enormous bird. It looked hawk like but much too big for a hawk. I saw brown and white but it had a brown head. I am thinking golden eagle.

So my hummingbird likes the new position of my feeder and visits regularly in the evening every 15 minutes or so. Steve thought he saw the red throat patch (male) but I didn't. They are fun to watch though only once have I seen more than one at my feeder. As I bent down to do some gardening yesterday, it snuck up behind me. I didn't see it but could hear it-sounds like a baseball card stuck in a fast moving bike wheel. I bought more flowers to entice them today. My growing things from seeds in peat pots was a bust. Everything I planted is gone. I am blaming Mr. Rabbit.

Naomi visited a new midwife today. Both of us didn't like this one. We are waiting extra days until we can get the one we had last time who has a good bedside manner. But all was fine and the baby still has its head down though not engaged. Through the rain, we went to the Farmer's Market for my plants. Since it is late in the season, the prices have dropped. We waited out the thunderstorm in the fancy kid's boutique they have there. Prices are 3-4 times as much as Babys-R-Us but the stuff was so cute.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Peonies and Mountain Laurel

These flowers are so intricate
Wild phlox

Close-up of mountain laurel blossoms

Hot pink peony

Single petalled peonies

Huge pink raspberry blossom. The raspberries are the same size as regular raspberries but have many more cells and have a velvety texture

Hot pink mountain laurel

White peony-we had this kind at home

Pink peony

Yellow centered white

peony gardens at the arb-has the most kinds in North America Smells wonderful!

Burgundy and white mountain laurel

Red laurel

Steve and I went for a walk in the arb today. Mountain Laurel isn't common in Michigan as our winters are too cold but there is a protected glen in the arb full of mountain laurels and its close relatives, the azealea and rhododendrons, which have bloomed already. In Italy its more tropical cousin, the oleander, was in bloom on every street. Too cold here! All these plants have very toxic wood and sap. In the book, White Oleander, the main character dissoved the sap in DMSO which made the toxin go directly into the blood.

We had peonies once on the side of our house. So big and fragrant but our lower level flooded and all the ground was dug up to seal the walls. Peonies do not transplant well. I have replaced them with hostas.


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