Saturday, September 23, 2017

Tomatillos

By the end of the day, these tomatillos will be converted to salsa for my vet made tamales
tiny spaghetti squash and big butternut

As I sit here sipping my iced coffee fortified with crème d'erable, it is 92 f***ing degrees outside and the day is young. And the heat will continue into Tuesday. Fortunately, it was less humid early this morning than it had been so I wasn't so miserable running and biking. And no fog for a change so I wasn't covered with flashing lights.

Steve's grotesque pustules have morphed into scabs but he is still experiencing a lot of pain although it is on the inside now. He will feel like a knife is stabbing him. Many cases of shingles morph into 'post herpatic neuropathy' It has been more than 3 weeks since this mess has started and can continue for months. He is taking gabapentin for the neuropathic pain though it isn't 100% effective. He is happier during the day but does a lot of tossing and groaning at night.

Could this be true? A friend needed police assistance in a city neighborhood. Before the police could get there, the dispatcher asked her if she was wearing such and such. How did they know? They presumably could get a satellite photo of her in real time by plugging the address in of the yard she was standing in. Sounds rather Orwellian to me. Must investigate.

I went to the local Farmer's Market yesterday. Hot, hot , hot as this one is on late Friday afternoons. A man was selling Mexican food to benefit a certain veteran's association. I tasted some of his salsas, tasty, and decided to buy some tamales, which I will serve tonight with my yet to be made salsa. His hands were covered with grit and oil. I hope they were cleaner when he made my food. But from his apparent age, he probably was a Viet Nam vet. Had he been watching Ken Burn's series on the war? No, he knew all he needed to know already. His brother was sent over during the Tet offensive (next to shown in the series). He eventually returned from the war with a severe case of PTSD and poisoning from Agent Orange. When he applied to the government for assistance, he was given only 25% disability as they figured he was in the 'field' only 25% of the time. The rest of the time he was at a supply depot full of leaking tanks of the stuff in weather that would make our current conditions feel like an arctic blast. He appealed over and over. Finally during the Obama administration, he was allowed complete disability but died within a month of receiving it. When he returned from the war, he was greeted with throngs shouting 'baby killer' at him. The VFW, full of WW2 and Korean War vets,, did not allow Viet Nam vets at that time. 

So no, he wasn't going to watch it. He just wants to know why we got involved in the first place. I said the first 2 episodes do explain it. the reasons were not 'good' but it was explained. So he will watch those episodes. He did not talk about his own experience so it was not clear if he was a vet or just supported them.

I continue to plug away at my Spanish lessons though my competency level keeps dropping as I need to keep taking more and more refresher lessons. I guess I really don't need to use all those tenses: present tense and conditional should do.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

The Ostrich Effect

dahlias Still have many that haven't bloomed Time is running out
shade loving toad lilies. 

How often do we want to hide from reality and avoid bad news? I hate opening up Facebook now because it is full of Trump crap..I'm tired of it. A company provides free mammograms on site. Women of a certain age (always changing) should get one. Are they more likely to take advantage of this after a colleague is diagnosed with breast cancer? Yes and no. They will get one if the colleague has it caught early and is fine. If the colleague is found to have advanced breast cancer, they will avoid the mammogram like the plague. An irrational part of me felt if only I didn't go and get that bad mammogram, I would have been fine. I was happy before it and now I was miserable. Of course, with the tumor so aggressive, I would be dead by now. Ironically, I had delayed the mammogram for 6 months because I didn't want anything derailing my summer in Italy. Would they have seen the tumor then? Probably not as it was growing so fast, it must have popped up while I was in Italy.  I guess I was 'lucky' that this all worked out but it is scary that these tumors can pop up between mammograms. And no, I didn't feel the tumor despite knowing where it was and that it was close to skin. Where my tumor was feels like it was filled in with plaster, a hard lump. I warned my new doctor of this yesterday. Yep you sure have a lot of scar tissue there.

She said 'they' were recommending screening for hepatitis C now for people in my age group. I see ads for this all the time from the drug company that makes the cure for it. When was I possibly exposed? I got a blood transfusion while giving birth to Shanna. They didn't screen for hepatitis or AIDS then and I worried more about the latter as it was then, a death sentence. But 38 years later, I appear healthy and haven't seemed to have transmitted those dreaded diseases to Steve or my kids so I doubt I have either. I think I was asked to take an AIDS test when I was pregnant with Naomi but I thought the possibility of a false positive was higher than a real positive. Nothing could be gained and plus I would have to pay for it. So no, no tests. She asked if I exercised? I wanted to say, Isn't it obvious? Where do you find muscles like this on a woman my age? But I just told her I ran. She said I shouldn't do that. Why? Bad for my joints. I said I have been running for years with no joint problems so I will continue until a problem arises. But I did like her besides that.

One thing I won't be doing in the near future is use our elliptical trainer. A bolt sheared in the middle of my workout yesterday. We didn't have it 9 months.

So does an ostrich bury its head in the sand to avoid bad news and thus getting depressed? It does bury its head in the sand but to check on its eggs also buried in the sand. I do blame the ostrich effect for my obesity. I didn't want to see those numbers on the scale as they would depress me. I still fight that and force myself to face the music and make adjustments if need be.

After my lunch with my ex-colleague, I had a bit of time before the doctor so I stopped by the better for clothes resale. Two women were pawing  through the designer rack with me. One happened upon a cute jacket and then saw the size 6 tag. Argh! Who wears
a size 6? Then she saw me. You do, don't you! Yes I do.   I didn't tell her that less than a year ago, I was oozing out of size 14s. I did pick out a chartreuse must be dry cleaned only designer jacket that said it was size 0, which turned out to be meaningless as it fits and looks good.

By the calendar, it is now fall but the forecast calls for high 80s for the next few days. Argh. As soon as the traffic clears, I will be biking as I can tolerate higher temps with that. At nights, I've been watching the Viet Nam War on TV. OMG, how depressing! One of the ladies I lunched with yesterday had just returned from there and talked how gracious and friendly the people were to her. If I were them, I would hate Americans.

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Annoyances

The lake I go by on my favorite loop which I know can do again as the bridge is finally open It took an hour for the fog to clear

hairy donkey at the strange animal farm
lots of toad lilies now
Daniel's facial impression

My doctor has retired so I needed a new one. I carefully selected one that was close by and sounded like she might be good. I went to my appointment today to be told that they decided to make it with another doctor instead without consulting me. I knew nothing about this new doctor and demanded an appointment with whom they had said I had an appointment with originally. I would have to come back then. Fortunately they had an opening tomorrow.

So in the last ten days or so we've had lots of family gatherings as Steve's brother and for a while his wife were here. The grandkids were here much of the time and for the most part, played well together. Unfortunately there was an incident this weekend which although it should be addressed, was totally innocent and some have over reacted becoming very judgmental threatening future family gatherings. It is so sad and depressing. Hopefully upon reflection, there will be peace but for now, it just makes me sad.

Indian summer. Yesterday was so hot and muggy even before the sun came up. I could not run at my usual pace, which still is much slower than I would like. According to my watch, my pulse was over 200 bpm. It was a bit cooler today but we will have heat for the next 4 days. Maybe more biking?

Having people over means cooking and having lots of food around. Not good for my health plan which rests on not being around temptation but fortunately I only gained a pound so I am getting used to 'the new normal'. Tomorrow, my ex-co-worker is taking out all who helped her during a health crisis to a buffet.  So I get to practice self control again, much easier when I am by myself.

Still working on my Spanish. I was up to 40% but unless I review the old lessons, points disappear and now I am back down to 38%.

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Bats

pink petunias spilling out all over
a winery we visited yesterday and its mascot A sandhill crane sanctuary is nearby which used to be the only place one could see them. We went there and didn't find them as they come there only in the evening. These birds are no longer rare. I hear them on my runs most of the time


Maya outside of her school for picture day. The hand off between her parents went smoothly as far as I can tell

It is a warm late summer evening. The sun is setting lighting up the sky with pinks and oranges. I have Maya yet again. As the drugs wear off for her ADHD, she becomes more and more restless. Riding the bike sucks off some of her considerable energy. I am out watching for cars. The bats are out circling for bugs flying much more erratically than the swallows who are now gone to parts south. There has been a huge decline in the brown bat population due to some virus but perhaps we have an isolated colony. One of the best features of our 'new' house is the sky. Before we were hemmed in by trees and other houses. Yes I loved the huge stand of sugar maples but we could never see sunsets or sunrises.

Steve is feeling better. The drug specific for neuropathic pain helps though he is restless  at night. When he drives, one hand is pulling the shoulder belt away from his body as any pressure causes immense pain. Yes I have offered to drive so he could sit beltless in back and we wouldn't have to deal with his forgetfulness caused by the drug. Missing wallet? Yep though found after a frantic search at 3 places. Credit card left at the counter..etc But I was the only one who drank at the winery. We sat on a shaded porch overlooking rows and rows of grapes. Very quiet there. They also have good food. A woman that I worked with now deals with the little  tests associated with wine making: sugar titers, alcohol titers. She has a doctorate in chemistry and now does work a good student in high school chemistry can handle. Afterwards we drove through state lands that I used to bicycle through. Very pretty. Some of the trees have changed colors. We avoided the freeway on the way back as the one heading north is all backed up due to construction and Friday traffic heading north.

I am back to my usual exercise routine. New tact: running for a specific distance versus a specific time tends to make Lazy Sue a bit faster. Lifting weights is becoming easier.

Steve's brother is here until Monday. He gets up late so I am all done with exercising by then. We have gone out quite a bit (or us) this week. I did go to my cooking class the other day whose theme was including as many colors as possible in salads and main dishes. 3 kinds of kale: yeck. I cooked up my huge spaghetti squash serving half of it with pesto. Good and easy to make.

Again Maya's insurance was cancelled. This time: no proof of citizenship even though her birth certificate had been sent several times. It was sent again. She did get a scholarship for childcare so Naomi can now work the hours her new boss specified. He was not going to use the school's schedule as they had permitted in the past.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Triplet fawns

This is as painful as it looks. Now on Gabapentin for the neuropathic pain Must be working as he is finally asleep, though it is the middle of the day
Scare Bros?

Aside with encountering the great horned owl, the other day I came across triplet fawns on my run. They only look a few weeks old. Hopefully for their sake, winter will start late. Not sure how rare they are. I see twins quite often.

Last week I finally weighed less than my husband but with guests, that might not be true now. Plus this weekend, my workouts were limited as we had Maya the entire time and Steve was too sick to take care of her. She is gone now so I can be gone for longer periods of time. Just Steve's brother is here now and he does not get up until almost noon. I can't plug my music into the speakers but he couldn't hear my phone so I can workout with music downstairs and not bother him. We had a good visit with his wife who is now back in NYC teaching. Maya especially liked her.

I got yet another resale bike for her which she spent hours on this weekend. As long as she is moving, she is happy. Bonus, her health insurance has been reinstated, much faster than I would have guessed.

We had the whole family over Saturday to visit the New Yorkers, a full house. People wonder why we upsized versus downsized. Precisely for occasions like this. We couldn't fit everyone in our old house.


I am getting faster running finally. Yay! Easier when it is only 45 degrees.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Irma and the owl and shingles!

toad lily
my spaghetti squash. Still didn't cook it
my aunt and her view from her summer home
She is my mom's youngest sister. Of the 7 kids, only the oldest, age 96 and the youngest, age 86 are left. As she is closer in age to my mom, I thought I could learn more from her
Cool floor from our lunch place in Metamora Michigan. The younger aunt said the older would be so jealous we went there. The building was built in 1850, old by Michigan standards
Maya and her Great Uncle bonding and dancing with their hats
On my bucket list: to see a live owl in the wild. While biking this morning, I saw the ear tufts and first thought: bobcat! But head was very large. Alas, it was injured. It could fly a bit but it hopped on one leg. I returned about 20 minutes later and it was gone. I am hoping for the best
Maya milking the fake cow
Hannah and pumpkins
Allie. She is a pretty girl
Steve, me, the brother and his wife Like my new pink suede jacket? Will I learn to comb my hair?
The bro and his wife
Josh's family  This farm is on my usual Sunday bike loop though today I didn't go by it. It is extremely popular

It has been a very busy last few days. Where to begin?

Hurricane Irma. Where and when will it hit? My aunt lives most of the time right on the gulf south of Sarasota. She comes to Michigan only in the summer and stays with her son on a beautiful lake about 1.5 hours away from me. She and her daughter, my cousin, are fairly reclusive and it was like pulling teeth to see them. Somehow she didn't find the time to see my other aunt, who lives across state and felt a bit hurt that she was ignored. Could I broker a reunion? It was hard enough to see her and now she is going back early obsessed that everything is destroyed. She wants to reclaim a few things before everything is bulldozed. Initially she just worried about her son on the northeast coast of Florida as initial projections had Irma going up the East Coast. She sent him money to flee to northern Georgia. My age and still needs Mom to bail him out. He is the only cousin I haven't seen since childhood. But projections have changed. His abode will probably be safe but my aunt's is probably destroyed as of a few hours ago.

My step niece lives not far from my aunt on the west coast. At first, with the east coast projection, it looked like she and her partner would be safe. Her mom, my sister-in-law, was with us for the weekend and couldn't help worry. But Irma went up Florida's west coast? will the niece go to safety? They crossed the state and now are on the east coast, which does not sound safe to me. Ironically , lots of the East Coast people took refuge in her town. It is a mess. And with all the firestorms on the west coast with choking ash in the skies and it is not even the usual fire season, Michigan is looking pretty good right now.

I made arrangements to see my cousin and aunt before I knew the New Yorkers, Steve's brother and wife, were coming to town. His wife could only say through the weekend as she still teaches in a yeshiva.

My older aunt, who I saw last month in Holland and saw twice last year is an out going, talkative, sharp woman. But as she was so much older than my mom and out of the house before various issues arose, it was hard to get useful info from her. Ask the younger sister, I was told.

I was mired in construction traffic going there Friday. Should have consulted Julie who works fairly close to where my cousin lives. I do like this cousin quite a bit. she is 2 years younger than me and never has rejected me unlike the cousin on the west coast of Michigan who was so snotty to me when I was a kid (but since has bent over backwards to make up for it). They do not talk though are interested in news of each other as transmitted by me.  Unlike them, I am not shy. I may be socially awkward at times but I am not hesitant to deal with people.  As soon as I got to my cousin's, she offered to drive the 30 minutes north to her mom's, my aunt. Northern Oakland county has several very cute towns, which we went through. My aunt's I would go through on the way to my mom's cousin's dairy farm. Her lakefront home is beautiful. I had made a copy of a photo of her as my mom's bridesmaid that she has never seen (despite me having sent it to her son-in-law's Facebook account) She said she would treasure the photo.  My aunt wanted to go to this historical restaurant that the other aunt loved but had no idea how to get there. Both she and my cousin have no idea how to use a computer but fortunately, I do and quickly found it. It was in a town I went to Girl Scout camp years ago.

What did I learn? Well one of cousins died at age 55 from a 2 month battle with biliary duct cancer just a few years ago. He was a bit younger than my brother and had stayed with us once. My grandfather was a versatile musician and taught violin and piano to the kids and neighbors. My mother had zero talent and did not learn any instrument unlike all her siblings. The uncle close in age to my mom's who killed himself when he was 19 ingesting phenol was a paranoid schizophrenic who was molested as a child. My uncle, a few years back, had shown me his photo and he was exceedingly handsome. This aunt didn't think there was any  photos of him. My other aunt thought my grandmother was the worse mom ever only caring for the babies whereas this aunt thought my grandma was pretty good. Of course she was the youngest. She said my grandmother was a talented seamstress and tailor. One of my uncles was dyslexic so she would read all his work for him, which surprised me as I never thought of my grandmother as particularly educated or bright though she was always very nice to me.  Why did my mom leave home at 16? Severe emotional problems. My aunt thought anxiety but my mom never seemed particularly anxious to me. She had the same high school French teacher as my mom who approached her to say something was terribly wrong with my mom as she refused to ever speak in front of class. My aunt thought my mom left for some special school for children with emotional problems; my mom told me she lived in the Y and worked at Sanders. Who knows the truth? One of this aunt's grandchildren is autistic (with some special talents). Could my mom be autistic? Yes, definitively on the spectrum. She was not close to my mom. My theory is that my mom was the forgotten sibling though one of her brothers made an extra effort to watch out for her as did my older aunt. My younger aunt does appreciate her oldest sister..then why didn't she contact her?

We definitely had an interesting talk and my cousin was glad to her  mom's mind off of fretting over what mess will happen in Florida. I guess it will be next year before I can get them all together.

Shingles. At first Steve had a slight rash looking very much like poison ivy covering only a square inch on his ribs for about a week. But unlike poison ivy, it really hurt instead of just itching. It has since spread along his right side completely covering a rib. It looks ugly and is very painful. He can't sleep and is very grumpy. The only person at risk is Hannah as she isn't vaccinated yet against chicken pox. But pretty much, the contents of his blisters have to come in contact with her. We made sure this didn't happen.

I will continue at some point

Tuesday, September 5, 2017

Back to school

I didn't realize the school mascot had a name. The nearby pond always had 3 herons and one egret. The last time I looked, the egrets seemed to be taking over
Maya didn't want to go to school today (stranger danger!) but was thrilled to sit next to her favorite boy. What percent is her school 'white'? 40 % Lots of Asians.

Off to kindergarten, 4th, and 2nd grade for just a half day
Hannah still isn't happy with me picking her up but doesn't mind the boys
Shanna's family
Well one kid out of 6 is looking at me
8 months old yesterday

The rain held off long enough for the kids to be tired of playing outside at our Labor Day BBQ yesterday so yay for that. Lots of kids running around which is fine though I kept trying to direct them to be either outside or in the basement. The girls played dress up as I have several costumes and fancy dresses for them. Should have taken a photo.

I had Maya for a while the day before. She kept asking for her cousins to come over. Each time I would reply, tomorrow. And then tomorrow came and she was playing 'shy' again.

Most of the changes have been positive due to my weight loss except one: postural hypotension. It's not a problem most of the time except when I've sitting around too much and then try to get up. I black out briefly but I hold on to something for a few seconds and I am fine. Yesterday I got up where there was nothing to hold on to and almost crumpled to the floor.

Days are shorter. I took off early Sunday covered with my flashers. It was too dark to even read my odometer though my trusty  Apple watch tracks all plus I know all the distances from my house. It started to rain. I briefly considered going back as it was a bit chilly but it stopped. Went through two flocks of turkeys. One of the turkeys was albino.  I am seeing more deer in my travels too. Today I came across a doe and her still spotted fawn. I guess she was late to deliver. And a whole flock of deer yesterday morning.

I now have pretty coral nails due to my Saturday night mani-pedi. Lots of others had the same idea so I had a wait. Sunday night I was at a friend's drinking wine and watching birds until it was dark, which is sadly earlier and earlier.

I am up to 27% proficiency in Spanish. I will see how far I can go before our big trip.


Saturday, September 2, 2017

thirty-five years of running




Me 33 years ago after losing a race to a co-worker. I should have made it a 5K instead of a mile as I have endurance, not speed whereas my co-worker was the opposite. Also, I had run a marathon the week before and had not recovered as I know I could have run a 6 minute mile in those days, which still probably wasn't enough to win versus 6:30. Now I couldn't run that fast for 10 feet. Sadly this co-worker is now dead crashing on his bike on a very steep hill, which I don't forget as I plunge down hills myself

The top 3 photos were taken by my niece who has many photos from her recent trip to Taiwan. Perhaps I could go with my sister-in-law someday and take my own photos? She goes at least once a year.

Thirty-five years ago I was returning to work after having Josh. I had just given up nursing, which theoretically should have been a weight loss opportunity but as usual, I use any excuse to gain weight. Usually I swam laps to keep fit but with 2 babies, I didn't have much time. Self disgust was sinking in. We worked on top of a hill. Perhaps instead of eating lunch, I would run down the hill towards the river and then walk up.

Yeah anyone can run down a hill, this same co-worker said.

Soon I was huffing and puffing up the hill walking a bit on the steepest section. Then I started running around the track after work to measure exactly how far I was going. After 5 weeks, I had worked up to 5 miles at a time and entered my first 10K. The running team was going to do a race in the Irish Hills. Didn't like the sound of 'hills' so I opted to do the Ann Arbor -Dexter race, 6.2 miles to the cider mill in the river valley (fairly flat but slightly uphill; the reverse of the much more popular Dexter-Ann Arbor race). I figured I'd have to walk the last half mile but I pressed onward finishing in an hour. A year later, I could do it 14 minutes faster. I almost didn't do the race because I thought it was too cold, 45 degrees, which is what it was when I took off early this morning. I didn't realize how much heat I can generate running.

I thought I would run until all the excess weight was gone, which did come off fairly quickly but then I discovered I was good at running and was winning my age group often despite not having a runner's body. I did my first marathon 2 years after I started being lucky to finish under 4 hours (by 2 minutes). I got faster at that too.

So I have been running or doing some kind of motion that I told myself was running even though it was barely faster than a walk during the Decade Of Obesity since then. I had to switch to swimming for the last 2.5 months of being pregnant with Naomi, I had to take another month off due to having thyroid storm with severe Grave's Disease. I tried to run during chemo but was losing more and more red blood cells so I quit while I was taking taxol. I also could not run when I had a broken arm for 3 months or barely walk as motion was so painful.(more reasons for obesity)

I am now thin but still I am slow. Yeah I am in my sixties but I think my form is bad. I will try to improve.

The last weekend of summer. Sigh. All the kids and their kids will come here Monday and then off to school the next day. Later in the week Steve's brother and sister-in-law are visiting, which should be fun though one of the days I will be visiting my aunt who I haven't seen in 5 years. She is my mom's youngest sister versus the oldest one that I have seen more regularly.

My long time doctor has retired this month before I could have one last physical. I had to find a new doctor carefully reading their biographies. Hopefully the young woman I chose will be a good match . Bonus, the office is 4 miles away versus 15. Naomi's and Maya's insurance was mysteriously cut-off so she had to re-apply. We worried if Maya would be able to get her expensive medicine she is so dependent on. Yes, fortunately. Insurance better be re-instated before the end of this month though. She will have to skip her therapy sessions though. Not too sorry about that as I think they are fairly useless.

Who gets a mani-pedi on a Saturday night? Apparently no-one so a discount is offered. Also wine is included. Well that's where I will be.

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

The deluge

Well it was no Hurricane Harvey but we did get about 4 inches of rain in a short period of time. Afterwards a rainbow as it was still raining
colorful Taiwanese temple by my niece
the view from the north bathroom window  Lots of soggy plants
Maya and her pink haired mama. Lots of annoying issues to deal with this week and the next. As I type, she is at her school's orientation. summer has almost ended. Sigh.
I bought all these dahlia roots with pretty red pictures on them. All are yellow
I have killed numerous seedlings yet some morning glories have managed to survive
tropical hibiscus was covered with numerous blossoms today


Yep I have been absent from the blogsphere. Not much to report. Summer is sadly slipping away. I continue my 2 exercise sessions a day and can lift more and more weights. Come winter, I will have to cut down on the exercise but by then, I will be finished. Yep I was finished losing weight as I reached my initial goal in the middle of June. But since then, I lost another 10 pounds so I am at that magic weight I was when I married. Still can't fit into the wedding dress as my weight has either shifted or I am not as compact as I used to be. But I never dreamed I would be this weight again. I would have been happy to be at the upper end of 'normal' 28 pounds ago.

We have been taking care of business. Going to the financial planner...he is nice but I rather bury my head in the sand than make all these decisions.

Maya's father decided to move 150 miles away, 50 miles more than the court allows without permission. Yet he wants Maya every weekend. Something has got to give. Somehow I am the negotiator.

We had a wonderful Moms meeting out on my friend's farm on a beautiful summer night last week. I roasted Japanese eggplant and squash and onions to put over my crust made of mashed cauliflower. For a sauce, I just spread pesto. and added fresh mozzarella cheese. I thought it was tasty.

Still teaching myself Spanish. I am up to 16% proficiency versus starting at 15%. Hmmmmm.

And Harvey..what hell. Houston is a place I would never want to live. Hot, humid, crowded, no scenery, full of oil smokestacks, no planning whatsoever. They covered almost every inch with cement and left tiny 'bayous' for excess water to go. I do feel for the people. I can't imagine 50 inches of rain. 4 inches was enough.

Friday, August 25, 2017

Spanish dreams

I was so excited to find this presumed red tailed hawk feather on my run today (fun to carry it back tucked into my shorts) but perhaps it is a turkey feather as it is about 2 inches too long for a hawk plus I found it in a wooded area and red tailed hawks are out in the open
one of my butternut squashes. Lots of spaghetti squash too
marigolds
roses
Me and one of the Chosen Sisters at our last Mom's dinner. We have one tonight too. Normally I bring dessert but will bring a cauliflower crust pizza

In 1992 I watched the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The marathon went through  La Rambla and Passeig  Gracia where many of Gaudi's buildings are. That's where I want to be if I ever got to Europe I thought. Ten years later, one of the Moms had a daughter going to school in Paris. 4 of us went out to visit her. I didn't want to spend the whole time in Paris so two of us took off in an overnight train to Barcelona. I went back a few years later with other friends.

But Steve has never been there and it will be our 40th anniversary in December. We made the arrangements this week to be there on our anniversary in the W hotel on a peninsula jutting into the Mediterranean , no hostals for us this time. We will also be in Madrid and Seville, places I have been but he hasn't and I didn't see everything I could while there. For my 2nd trip there, I did learn a little Spanish as I kept encountering people who didn't speak English but later while learning Italian, I found the Spanish got me confused and so I tried to forget it. I am now relearning it on an app. I am allegedly 15% fluent according to some screening test I took. The principal language in Barcelona is Catalan which looks a lot like French (night is nit versus nuit versus noches) but sounds more like Portuguese but most people know Spanish even though all the signs are in Catalan. So this trip will make me less fearful of the doom and gloom of our winter.

First step, renew passport. It won't expire until 8 months from now but it will be less than 6 months when we leave, which for some stupid reason is unacceptable. When I went to Italy for 8 weeks, I needed to get a visa, buy health insurance and prove I have money .

What is the easiest flower to grow? I would say cosmos. They tended to overwhelm everything else I planted back at the old house but here, they keep dying. I suspect a cosmos virus of some sort. Too bad as they are so pretty. I did go to two nurseries yesterday with a friend to pick up some budget perennials which I planted today. More foxglove, delphinium, hollyhocks and bluets. We went by the huge field of sunflowers I had photographed days before. But alas, the heads hung down as it was cloudy.

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