Thursday, April 30, 2015

Daffodil Woods

Lots of daffodils

biplane mailbox near Shanna's house

This finch still doesn't have his full summer colors though the other males do

competition for this small space is fierce though I have an untouched finch feeder on the other side of the house. Filling feeders, my new daily job

lots of varieties of dafs though no close-ups as it was private property and I am dealing here with an iPhone. Facebook friend had posted up close-ups as she must be a friend of the owner
The music of betrayal: I am on the Ann Arbor Beltline yesterday morning (not a true one as one can't make a complete circle without exiting and entering) yet again and the third movement of Beethoven's 7th comes on. So many memories come flooding in. 41 years ago, my former fiancĂ© are at one of the worst movies ever, some confusing, boring, dystopic  science fiction fantasy Zardoz and this is the theme song. The ff loves the music (though not much of a classical music fan in general) and wishes he had it. Well he was in luck because, not only did I know it, I had it. Dear Reader, he borrows it and uses it to seduce a housemate during the next week. I had just happened to walk in on the aftermath. This completely turned my world upside down. Much, much drama. The break-up should have begun and ended that moment but dragged on for nearly a year until he ran off and married her. The stupid thing was is that I know our relationship didn't work for so many reasons yet I clung tenaciously to it. Stupid Sue! I spoke to him only once since he snuck out of town, maybe 20 years ago. At that point, he was still married to the housemate and had 4 kids, the oldest being a year or two older than Shanna. He also said he flew an ultralight aircraft which has been useful to stalk him (he has an extremely common name)as the plane has to be registered at whatever hangar it's in. It moves all over the place. I also noticed it has a new co-owner: a much younger woman that could be his  new wife.

The IEP: The room is twice as crowded as usual because there are doubles of everyone. It is a transition meeting as Maya is leaving the preschool and entering the elementary school's system so 2 classroom teachers, 2 head special ed heads, 2 occupational therapists, 2 speech pathologists. We are waiting on Don'tae and Maya who are running late. The bottom line is that although Maya has made a lot of progress, she is still behind and not ready for the rigors of kindergarten. This still is a foreign concept to me how you have to be a finished product to go to kindergarten but things have changed. Also. she needs to continue speech therapy over the summer, which they had not recommended last year. This will make life difficult as I thought we were through with these cross town travels.
Some favorite moments: Knowing shapes. Maya knows 7 out of the 8 common shapes, which she has for the past 2 years. They won't give her credit for rectangle because she calls it a rectriangle. She can point to a rectangle if asked where it is. I say that this seems to be a pronunciation issue, not a knowledge issue but rules are rules: only responses on the day of testing count. Never mind you know from previous experiences that the child knows a given fact. Maya's mispronunciations of common words: nasney instead of nasty for instance. I have corrected her so many times for that one without success. Is she being stubborn? Can she hear the difference? At one point the speech therapist (whose 6 year old self was in my Brownie troop) says something about not being sure if it is a problem of apraxia or phonology. Seriously dudes, are Naomi and Don'tae supposed to know what that means? They are quiet because maybe they are supposed to. I ask for an explanation but I can't hear it as Maya is pounding on the table. I look it up later and conclude: neither. On the other hand, Maya is able to pronounce things that my very gifted otherwise and older grandsons can't: the number 3 for instance and many more things that 4 year old Josh could not. On to more short-comings: writes her name in too big of letters (still her writing is better than that of 4 year old Josh's), sentence structure too uncomplex, no clear understanding of numbers. I bring up another issue: her flitting from one activity to the next. Does she do this more than her peers? I would think so but I have less experience with preschoolers (just my own, my friends' kids and now grandchildren) than older kids ( I had my Brownies, coached lots of youth soccer teams, helped with other sports' teams, classroom helper, lectured to kids, was a high school teacher). I guess they don't consider ADD at this early age because it is hard to suss out from immaturity issues. Maya's strong points? Simply adorable. Loving, makes friends easily though her cousin in her class, a little tyrant, pushes her around too much. She is one of the most popular kids in the class. Knows good manners. The new crew at the end try to introduce themselves to her. She cringes as they close in on her but she makes friends with the classroom teacher.

Back to the Money Pit: Bring in the 4 bins and do a bit of yard work. Rescue more items from the house, many not worth keeping but will sort that out later. Watered things. Due to rain, Steve is there now to supervise painters that could not do an outside job but will work on our inside ones today.

My Bike Ride: A Facebook friend from my cooking class had posted photos from a daffodil party. She included an address, which was very bikeable from here (at least the distance). Despite being closer to a major population center than I was in Ann Arbor, there are surprisingly few paved roads nearby. The conditions of the unpaved roads vary widely: the road just west of Daffodil Heaven, was scary dangerous.  A steep, washed out, very washboarded gully. Had I not rode the brakes the whole way down, I would have fallen for sure. And then I had to go up the steep hill without momentum. I switched to the lower chain ring (usually don't need to in Southern Michigan) to climb up it. The road was paved just east of the acres of daffodils so in the future, that will be my approach. One of the few paved north, south roads connecting 2 freeways so thus is very busy usually, had a section closed down making my ride on it safer than usual. But needing to brake so often, winding around potholes, stopping for photos meant I couldn't cover the distance I wanted in the little time I had allotted.

The weather: In less than 3 hours, it went from frost on the ground to 60. Very dry. It is in the mid 60s and sunny when I began my bike ride but looking like it was going to rain by the time I finished. I had invited a friend over thinking, with such a low chance of rain, it would be a perfect day to enjoy Happy Hour outside. The cloud cover made it feel quite chilly but we were able to be outside.  It poured all night. I am waiting for the roads to dry out a bit lest I slip and slide. Many things I should be doing.....

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Rescue bunny: rescue daughter; rescue tulips; rescue me

chickadee enjoying one of the bird baths. It has been so dry here, it dries up fast

somehow this little guy found its way into Shanna's basement. New houses are built so air tight that they need big cold air returns to equalize pressure. My guess is that it lacks a screen

some of my daffodils in the morning light

weird flower that appeared yesterday

one of my new pots that reminds me of Parc Guell in Barcelona. One of my retirement projects was to construct these myself but that didn't happen

These tulips don't open until the afternoon but still look pretty
Yesterday was a very busy day as today will be. It cracks me up when people say they wouldn't know what to do with themselves if they retired as I haven't even begun to do anything I had previously planned.

This was yesterday:

9-10: run

10-11: bike

11-12: go out to lunch. In the middle of that, Naomi calls all panicky because she is locked out of the house. Maya's backpack is inside the house with her bus pass. She needs it ASAP. Please come with a key. Fortunately we are 2 miles away. Eat my food while Steve's food goes cold as he rescues her.

12-2: Go to old house. Very depressing. Yard is overgrown; flower beds full of weeds. Do yard work for 2 hours while Steve fixes a few things inside. Note my tulips are mostly eaten by rabbits so I dig up the bulbs and their chewed up leaves to transplant in my relatively rabbit free environment here. Also rescue a peony. Only make a small dent in what needs to be done. Leave because I am overdressed, hot and tired

2-4: transplant tulips and peony. Note weeds in paradise and deal with them. Note everything is bone dry. Turn on water; nothing happens. Send Steve down to deal with shut off valves. We are not the kind of people who should have bought a house full of these complicated systems. The outside water has about 4 different valves. I had hoped he would have asked questions of the inspector and the sellers and take notes but he didn't feel he needed the hearing aids and now is clueless. The outside water comes directly from the well and is not treated. Inside water goes through a rust abatement system and a softener system. Drinking water goes through a reverse osmosis system. Well water seems really rusty. The hose only reaches half of my plants. Didn't we just buy a brand new hose for the new house and not use it there? Was it moved? Did that f***ing painter take it? I will check again at the old house today as the garbage, compost and recycle bins (4 total) need to be taken in. I fill up a 2 gallon pitcher repeatedly from the tap on the other side of the house. A blast of air in the pipes make me scrap my knuckle against the bricks and I bleed profusely for the next hour.

4-5: finally take a shower and then chill on my comfy front porch while sipping wine. Can't even think about getting up to make dinner so Steve does it.

What's up today? Soon I will be heading across town to Maya's school for an IEP meeting. She gets special services and each year that needs to be reassessed. Meetings are so full of jargon and BS that Naomi needs a translation. I need a translation but I have had lots of experience and I question everything. Then a stop at the old house to deal with all those bins and look for a hose. I should water stuff back there as it was very dry. It will be warm and windless today, perfect for a bike ride so I will do that. Meanwhile Steve will be shopping as we have little food in the house. I made a list this morning.  If I have time, maybe I will set up my waterfall for my patio. This involves setting up a pump, yet another system.

Later a good friend comes over. I plan to sit outside with her and chill.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Russian Spam

Coney Island photos taken last March a few blocks from where Steve grew up

I loved that scene in Annie Hall where they show the Woody Allen character growing up underneath the Cyclone. That was outside Steve's window. Lots of noise competing with the 3 lines of elevated trains, car alarms, and trash containers being plopped down from 6 feet

On the Boardwalk
Every morning I open my Blogger Spam comments  files to find 10-20 contributions from Russia and the Ukraine with broken English false praise and then a request to visit their virus filled website. My favorite today is a request for how to get rid of spam comments. I never respond and hit the delete all. So far Blogger has been good about putting the spam in the spam files and the good ones in the awaiting moderation files. As the language is so similar in many of requests, I am assuming that just a few individuals are responsible. Blogger should completely block them.

Photos above I took when we visited Steve's old neighborhood last year. Now the signs on the street are in Cyrillic. His neighborhood is now called Little Odessa. I am always interested in trying new cuisines. A while back we went to one of the many Russian restaurants that have popped up and were served fetid chicken backs. Gone were the many Jewish delis.

Not sure why spam is called spam. I was served Spam often as a child. My mom would plop the can, opened with a key, on to a plate, the pink contents glistening in gelatin that looked like mucus and she would slice it up and fry it. It had a very funky taste and texture.

My lunch was cancelled due to probable norovirus, fortunately not on my part. It was cold and windy making entertaining Maya last night less fun because I couldn't keep her outside that long.

I should go to the old house today and do work. How this hangs over my head.

Monday, April 27, 2015

Mighty white

magnolias on campus. I have two trees on my property but they have not bloomed yet. I was told because they are young trees

art work that Josh gave me for my birthday to replace my huge needlepoint sampler

pretty butterfly garden stake a friend gave me along with lots of other goodies

Allie taking a turn in the Fred Flintstone car

deer in the middle of the day

shrimp with cheesy grits and kale; Josh's birthday brunch for me

recently remodeled restaurant we ate at on campus

Maya Lin's Wave field with Josh and Allie

beautiful sunset Saturday night

Allie's first ride in the bike trailer. She loved it

Tulips are starting to bloom here
We were watching old Big Bang Theory episodes the other day when one of the characters used the title expression. The joke was that she had no idea that this was a racist utterance. These words often came from my father's mouth, one of his tamer epithets but surprisingly, Steve had never heard these words. Is saying That was mighty white of you a Michigan expression? I doubt the show's writers were from Michigan though. As most idioms, it is a strange choice of words. Using mighty as an adverb seems so archaic. The best use of the expression is when a person tosses a half eaten apple to a homeless person and expects all sorts of gratitude for his largesse. This is  apparently something white people do.

More racism. Steve, Josh, Julie, Allie and I were driving through North Campus yesterday and I suggested we stop at Maya Lin's Wave Field.  This was installed 20 years ago and despite it being about 2 miles from our house, he never saw it. Not that they have any signs; it is quite hidden. Lin, as a 21 year old student, won a blind competition for the design of the Viet Nam Memorial in DC. When it was discovered that the winner was an Chinese American, all sorts of racist outrage ensued with the logic: these men were killed by Asians and now an Asian gets to design the Memorial? Ross Perot described her as An Eggroll. Charming. Josh said he wasn't getting out of the car to look at clumps of grass. Fine, but I am taking Allie out. I played the birthday card. Allie did enjoy trying to run over the hills. UM needs to cut the grass (and who am I to say which grass needs cutting? a battle is brewing what should be done at the old house). From the photos, you can see Josh did get out of the car.

Last week was birthday week. I think it is over. A good friend took me to a very nice dinner Saturday night and gave me lots of thoughtful presents. On my birthday, Josh sent me a whole variety of potential art pieces to replace my homemade stuff (which he thinks is awful) and I was to choose. The result is pictured somewhere above. After our brunch, we gave Allie her first bike ride in my garage sale trailer. She kept pounding her knuckles together (sign language for more).

Carpentry work is finally finished at the Money Pit. Biggest job this weekend was the dismantling of the shed. Painters come soon. Lawn stuff needs to be done. Some plumbing issue needs to be addressed and then clean-up. Then maybe we can put it n the market and hopefully be done with it.

The weekend was sunny but cool. I could bicycle in relative comfort. More flowers are blooming and I see I have the beginnings of a purple azalea. The first of hundreds of tulips finally opened up. It is fun seeing what I have.

Today I meet a friend at her son's restaurant. Last night we watched the final episodes of House of sympathetic characters at all.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

This is for the birds

female goldfinch

boy and girl

What I don't like feeding: a chipping sparrow though this one is sort of cute
This morning the feeder was surrounded by 5 screeching blue jays. They are good at scaring away the birds I don't care for even though they are just pretty, blue crows themselves. No crows yet though the purple grackles (yuck), cowbirds and 2 types of sparrows have found the feeder. For the first week, I just had the 'good' birds: finches, titmice, cardinals and wood hatches but now the 'junk' birds are coming. I have to fill the feeder twice a day to keep up with the demand. The finch feeder is used only by the tiny birds such as the finches and chickadees.

One of the podcasts I listened to was about the effort to save Michigan's bird: the Kirtland Warbler found along the Au Sable River in Northern Michigan and no where else though there are many types of warblers else where. The biggest factor in its decline was considered the cowbird. The cowbird tosses out the eggs of the warbler and lays its own. Mama warbler feeds the ever hungry cowbird. Mean while, no baby warblers survive. Cowbird traps were set (I bet I could catch a whole flock of them here if I tried) and the caught cowbirds were killed by 'thoracic compression'. Soon no cowbirds were left (all came down here to eat at MY feeder) but still no new warblers. WTF? It turns out that the birds only like to nest in one type of tree, the jack pine.  There were acres of jack pine so what was the problem. They will only nest in NEW jack pines, not old ones. Also one can't just plant jack pines: the pine cones need to be activated by being burnt in a forest fire, which are rarer these days due to all the fire prevention measures though if there ever is a fire, it is most likely to be out of control. So prescribed burns were initiated (we have them in Ann Arbor to restore, I kid you not, our prairie). One did get out of control destroying 20,000 acres, 44 houses and one person enraging the locals. What should be done to preserve a species? Cowbirds keep returning and need to be destroyed; new jack pines need to have fires to start.

Today we were to get rid of all our paint cans and used motor oil at the toxic dump off that I received a flyer for in the mail. However it turned out that it was only for Plymouth township residents and they assumed I lived in city of Plymouth (which I don't) Washtenaw county has a waste drop off next week but I bet it will be busier and more time consuming plus that day I have a funeral to go to. Meanwhile at the Money Pit, our shed has been dismantled plus a few other miscellaneous things done. More painting, some yard clean-up and then the final clean-up and we are done. It will be a relief when this is sold.

It warmed up enough yesterday to go biking and extra bonus, very little wind. Before the rain is to hit here this afternoon, I did get a run and short bike ride in. Later dinner with a good friend.
Stopped by to see the grandbabies the other day

another one room school house on my route

glass cutting board I had made a few weeks ago. Looks good in my kitchen

Made its mate later. I am using green accents in my family room

Friday, April 24, 2015

The Emperor of All Maladies and me

Naomi reflection with Ann Arbor skyline
I looked forward to seeing the title series on PBS but alas, I fell asleep during each of the 3 nights. Not to worry, it should be On Demand but alas, it was not. Shoulda, woulda dvr'ed it.

Nor have I read the book despite many recommendations.

For those who live under a rock, the Emperor is cancer. The series dealt with  the history of its treatment starting with childhood leukemia, a previously 100% fatal disease. Sidney Farber in Boston decided to give these doomed children aminopterin (ah, the Merck Index clogging up my bookcase finally came in handy in spelling this correctly. It also adds helpfully, that this is a rodenticide) which led to remissions. What the series did not say is what made Farber choose that particular chemical and how it worked, a weakness with this series. They no longer use aminopterin but instead its less toxic derivative, methotrexate which is still used in many cancers today (along with rheumatoid arthritis and psoriasis). What is the difference between a cancer cell and a normal cell? Sadly, what is needed to kill the former will kill the later but there are subtle differences. Cancer cells are much more dependent on growth factors, the first identified was folic acid. If one could block the production of folic acid by destroying a key enzyme dihydrofolate reductase, maybe one could slow or better yet, kill the cancer cell. This strategy had been used in the past to kill the malaria protozoa once it has invaded. Unlike bacteria, protozoa are eukaryotes just like our cells. Even though we don't seem to have much in common with a single cell organism, our chemistry does. What kills them will harm us. Thus there was a considerable overlap with antimalarials and early cancer drugs.

They did discuss the use of 'mustards' in chemotherapy. Soldiers in WW1 exposed to mustard gas had decreased white blood counts. A light bulb went off. Patients with leukemia have too many white blood cells. Maybe exposures to mustard gas will make things right? But mustard gas has many toxicities so 'kinder' mustard derivatives were made and used with some success. By the mid 1970s, leukemia was no longer 100% fatal along with a few other fast growing childhood tumors: a bit of success. Maybe if we throw more money at it, we will cure cancer. Thus The War on Cancer as proclaimed by Nixon and later on by a few other Presidents.

This is how I got a job in 1976, though by that time, Nixon was gone but the War on Cancer was still on. The National Cancer Institute provided all sorts of grants to universities and drug companies to develop new agents. I was employed on one of these contracts making kinder mustards, less toxic methotrexates, less toxic Red Devil derivatives. I developed a fairly complete idea where chemotherapy stood in those days, which in comparison to today, was really the stone age. We developed new agents that disrupted DNA replication in a whole variety of ways. Eventually the company decided that cancer was too difficult of a target and cut its workforce considerably. I was reassigned to a new area in 1986.

Thirty years later, when I found myself plopped dead center in Cancerland, I was treated with many of these primitive agents that killed the 'good' along with the bad though Taxol was discovered later. I can not keep track of al the new approaches out there these days. Lots of success with monoclonal antibodies that target specific cells: Herceptin for breast cancer (20% overexpress a certain oncogene which used to make this cancer particularly deadly but now curable) and Rituxan for B cell lymphoma. But yet again, this week I was reminded on far we have to go. I read the obit of another classmate from my cooking class. Dead from Stage 4 breast cancer. She had 12 years of symptom free existence before it returned 2.5 years ago (no one can ever say that they are completely cancer-free; at best one shows No Evidence of Disease but who am I to be a buzz kill). She had been on a clinical trial with a very promising drug from my former company, which amazingly is a traditional small molecule (versus a biologic such as Herceptin). What is more amazing, is that it was discovered quite some time ago, but was not developed until recently but better late than ever. There is such a need for effective agents that extending a life on the average of 3 months is considered a success. This one increases ones life span a whopping 21 months, which is a huge number. In her case, it had been 18 months or so. She seemed fine back in December when she last came to class. She seemed more concerned that a daughter was diagnosed with cancer than with her own travails.

Surgery had been the first line treatment of cancer long before chemotherapy. They went into detail about the Halstead procedure which was basically to remove not only the breast but the underlying chest muscles at the first sign of breast cancer, no matter what grade the tumor cells were. This was done thinking that breast cancer spread into what was physically closest completely ignoring where breast cancer usually spread (bones far away, liver also far away, brain far away) If breast cancer cells travelled through the lymph system or the blood system, the chest muscle removal would not help. Women soon stood up to their doctors refusing mastectomies opting for lumpectomies  instead. Change was slow; critical thinking seemed absent in the medical field. Thank you previous patients for refusing to be needlessly mutilated.

They did discuss a case of triple negative breast cancer that I fell asleep during: A young, Black breast surgeon who fought considerable odds to become a doctor, presented with it (more common among young African-Americans; I am not the usual patient). They rattled through the hopelessness of this diagnosis (always heart warming to hear) but damn, I didn't find out what happened to this woman. Readers, particularly my TNBC friends, help me out.

Back in the land where spring had lasted only 3 days and then it was back to winter, everything was covered in frost this morning. My hummingbird feeder frozen. Yep I put one out there ever hopeful. One of the many maps online (and not consistent with each other) showed sightings of the hummers this far north. I had planned a lunch on a patio with a friend yesterday only to have 30 mph winds and temps to match smash that dream. Lunch was fun enough looking out the window. But the winds have stopped, I put the bird bath out, the hummingbird feeder is thawing and it will be warm enough again to ride my bike this afternoon.

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

Preventing myopia

I had said I wanted a birdbath so Steve went out to get me one for my birthday. This one, very pretty, will not stand up to the gale force winds that buffet the front of our house. Need to put it in back in a protected corner though when we get our waterfall operational, the birds will have plenty of cleaning options

The one I wanted and got for myself. Hopeful heavy enough for all the wind we've been having (and wrecking my bicycling plans)

New daffodils popping up yesterday Back at the old house, daffodils are all over the place. They must not taste good as the squirrels, rabbits and deer leave them alone (tulips are especially tasty to rabbits)

Daniel going for a ride while Shanna and I went out for Italian for my birthday

Oliver after the first grade concert

135 first graders singing and dancing to the joys of healthy living. Signs held up here say Floss (half upside down)

Blurry detail of self portraits of Oliver and his classmates. Interesting to me how kids see themselves. Curly item in the upper right corner is Lucy the guinea pig. She will spend the weekend with Oliver. Shanna is allergic to guinea pigs so she will be in for a weekend of sneezing and watery eyes.
Another birthday has come and gone. Such a big number!!! I honestly do not feel that old. Although I got plenty of phone calls, texts, e-mails and Facebook wishes, I stewed because someone had forgotten me. Today I got the call; all was a calendar mistake.

How does one celebrate becoming that much closer to the end of the line? Monday, Shanna and I went to downtown Plymouth, a closer downtown than Ann Arbor now. And a bonus, easy, free parking. Plymouth is full of nice restaurants catering to young professionals but they do not have the college crowd that makes up a good share of Ann Arbor. We went to an Italian place I had wanted to try but at night, it has been too busy. We had a nice lunch. Last night, Steve and I had a nice dinner in Ann Arbor with me getting my favorite: scallops.

Yesterday afternoon, I went to a concert at Oliver's school. He had had a kindergarten concert there a year before but due to limited parking, only parents, no sibs or grandparents, were allowed to come. But as interest in kids dwindles as they get older, there was an open invitation this year. It was very cute. The school is fairly new, full of lights and skylights. Maybe this will help the kids not get near sighted.

Yesterday there was an article on the growing epidemic of myopia particularly among Chinese teenagers. The usual reason for it was given; too much focusing at an early age on books and now screens. But a new, to me, explanation was given: not enough exposure to natural light. Apparently the retina needs this to mature properly. Parents were encouraged to give their children more outside time. Not going to happen!!!They must study!!! So it was decided that the kids would be exposed to more light indoors. Special classrooms made from walls that let transmit natural light were built. Also the kids were given atropine drops for their eyes which dilates the pupils letting more light in (if they are going to be inside all the time). So far, these measures have helped.

Myopia is on the rise here too and it's not because kids are spending so much time reading. Yep those pesky, time sucking screens. More reason to send those kids outside.

I am fairly nearsighted though each year, I become a little less so. With my current eye problem, if all goes according to plan, I might not be nearsighted, at least in that eye. (and what have I done towards that end? not much as the next month will be very busy). I did read a lot when I was young in poor light. I also sat too close to the TV (as I was nearsighted!). My father thought my behavior somehow caused my nearsightedness and thus some how, I should suffer the consequences, not him paying for the glasses (which cost disproportionately more in those days). I finally got the long, needed glasses for my birthday one year with much griping about their cost and a few more reminders that somehow I did this to myself. They were powder blue with cameos in the points making me even more homely.

Of my kids, Shanna read the most when she was young and is the most nearsighted. Josh didn't read a book until his senior year in high school (I had to summarize everything for him) and doesn't need glasses at all. Naomi is very mildly nearsighted but computers were starting to become more important during her childhood so focusing on them might have contributed. Both she and Josh were heavily involved in sports, most were played outside.

It is April 22 and it is snowing!!!!


Monday, April 20, 2015

I lost another friend....

bloodroot...all in bloom in the wetlands along the running road
I met Jeanette and her husband Bob during my stay in Italy 7 years ago. Her husband, a retired professor at the university which had this program, was there to learn a bit of Italian before he met up with relatives. Hopefully they knew English as he was having trouble learning the language. Jeanette was a physicist when she met Bob, a rarity among women. They married, moved to Michigan and raised 6 children, one of whom came on the trip with them. She started a editing business mainly working with graduate students at Wayne State. I don't think she ever gave up the editing. She would give me advice for free sending me e-mails if she noted especially egregious errors in my blog. Her personal bane: dangling modifiers.

We watched the deer cavort while sipping margaritas.

Yep, I heard about that one. We met up in person a few times, most recently when I was bicycling along the upper east coast of Michigan, she and Bob picked me up where I was camping in Alpena and took me out to dinner. They had a cottage about 20 miles north of there.

She was diagnosed with multiple myeloma about 5 years ago. She would go through periods of remission and occasionally get to live drug free but then the hideous cancer cells would come back. E-mails were coming less frequently, the latest back in January. Last night I received the sad news from her daughter that she had died  back in February. Her youngest son, a previously confirmed bachelor, rearranged his marriage having it in a hospice room so she could witness it just days before she died. She was 82.

She had many, many interests, many intersecting with mine. She was a vibrant, very intelligent person. We had many interesting conversations during our summer in Italy and continuing them on-line upon our return. I will miss her.

This is the week of rain and cold. It is my birthday week. To start it off, Shanna is taking me to lunch today. I look very much forward to this.


Sunday, April 19, 2015

Anatine visitors

Ringed neck duck: although I was treated to about 30 of them last night, taking their photo was impossible. This is from wiki ("Aythya-collaris-001". Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

Our resident blue jays came to the feeder this morning

Go Blue Jays! (our high school mascot)

My friend's lake which was full of the ring neck ducks. My friends barely visible, are on the other side.
The variety of ducks we have in southern Michigan is very limited: 99% of them would be mallards with my favorite, the wood duck, occasionally spotted. However in Northern Michigan and Canada, many varieties can be seen. Last night, a flock of ringed neck ducks settled into my friend's pond (ringed beak would be more accurate). I went to the pond's edge to see them better. They swam to the other side. I walked over to that side; back they went. I had a Pharaoh hound with me that made them nervous. We had binoculars. They breed somewhere up in Canada so they were just taking a break in their migration.

Last March we were in Central Park in NYC, a favorite stopping place for migratory birds (a patch of green in miles and miles of cement). On the main lake (as it still was mainly ice) were northern shovelers, buffalo heads, and wood ducks along with the usual mallards. All except the mallards, were migrants. My friend had her hummingbird feeder filled as there is a website that tracks the cloud of hummingbirds slowly making there way from Central America back to Michigan. They are presumably close. My little hummers will be so disappointed back at the old house. My friend has also taken up bee keeping though there is nothing for the bees to eat so she has to feed them sugar water until things bloom.

It was fun as always being with the Mom's. I made a key lime pie (easy) and meringues with the left over egg whites.

I got out very early this morning to finish my bike ride before Josh came. He has to accommodate Allie's rigid nap schedule. But the earlier it is, the less traffic. Plus the wind really picked up as time went on. I am getting faster though.


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