Friday, April 30, 2010

Out in Nature

We took our daily two mile walk along the Nature Preserve trail in Kensington this afternoon. The pictured Tufted Titmouse seemed very tame and curious and followed us for awhile. He (or she) seemed to be "smiling" for the photo.

Gil had his biweekly Karmanos appointment this morning. All went well. He is nearly off his low dose of steroids. His immunosuppressants have again been reduced. And he is symptom-free. He still has chronic GVH in his mouth but it's nothing more than a discomfort and does not require treatment beyond the immunosuppression he is already taking.

We are getting ready to fly to Washington, DC for a conference where Gil is speaking on radiation dose reduction. It's a quick trip but we always look forward to getting away and it's at the Ritz Carlton which always knows how to make you feel like a pampered guest.

It seems that all the nurseries and gardening stores are having big openings tomorrow on May 1st and if the weather cooperates, I'll be there surveying the offerings. It's a bit tricky to get plants this early. We could have another freeze. Yet if you wait for safer planting times, the selections are picked over. Dilemma!

Adam says he handed his PhD thesis out to his committee today -- it was 135 pages! Evan was reviewing flashcards for his upcoming Boards -- on a Friday afternoon! Marika was trying to remember the last place and time she saw her cell phone -- lost at one or another of the watering holes she visited last night.

Am spending time organizing and de-cluttering. Advice from a magazine on what to keep out and what to store off the countertops which I will pass along: "If you use it everyday, it may stay. Otherwise, put it away." (I have lots to put away.)

The Kentucky Derby is tomorrow so mix up a mint julep and enjoy. I always try to be somewhere I can watch it on TV and I always stand with hand over heart while they play My Old Kentucky Home. I'm a Kentuckian -- born and raised.

Checking my garden
Each morning when I get up
New blooms to see?

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Chicago in the Spring

We're enjoying a long, warm, relaxing weekend in Chicago.

The first photo above shows the view outside the Sheraton lobby atrium's window where we park ourselves for reading and people watching during sunny parts of the day.

The second photo shows me at lunch on the top floor of the Art Institute's Renzo Piano Cafe which is light infused, serves Italian lunches (I had a pomegranate sage Italian soda) and has fabulous views of the city.

The third photo shows Gil reading a light Janet Evanovich detective novel yesterday before we headed out for our daily adventures in the downtown area.

Drove in to Chicago on Friday morning and spent the afternoon at the Art Institute of Chicago at the Matisse show. (We became Art Institute members on our last visit so admission fees are a thing of the past for the coming year.) We ate an amazing fixed price fish dinner at Catch 35 in downtown Chicago that night.

Yesterday we spent the morning at The Shedd Aquarium watching moray eels and seahorses and Beluga whales. By the time we left, the lines waiting for admission wrapped around the building and we were glad we were on our way "out!"

In the afternoon, we attended Stanford's Leading Matters "traveling lecture series for alumni" here at the hotel. It was an alumni event designed to capture the hearts (and philanthropic dollars) of Stanford alumni. We heard from the university's best professors in stimulating talks, followed by dinner and a not-to-be-missed media presentation that made me wish I was 35 years younger and smart enough to be considered for admission as a Stanford student.

We were seated at a table with other Stanford parents and we all gushed and gloated over our Stanford-graduated students -- each of whom has gone on seeking higher education degrees.

Today we are heading back to Michigan but not before we head up to the Chicago Botanic Garden for their 10th annual Antiques and Garden Fair which will feature currently blooming tulips and all sorts of other flowering plants. I know it will be be very crowded and I'm only hoping that once we get to the parking lot, we won't decide to abandon the plan.

We stayed here at the Sheraton which is convenient walking to practically everything downtown. Headed downstairs to breakfast now to get our day started.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Blooming Bradford Pear Trees

Finally we can walk out our front door and feel that winter is over.

I've been cleaning up our gardens and pulling up the winter debris that I left at the end of last season from the beds making room for the new fragile green shoots to come up. I love gardening. But there's always a lot to do in the spring.

I've gotten interested lately in learning more about the foods that are good for you and what I should be eating. I started out reading Food Rules by Michael Pollan. Then I consulted the writings of a nutritionist online to learn more about the glycemic index of various foods. Then I threw away my Splenda and CoffeeMate Creamer. Then I started reading food labels with a new intensity. And now I'm trying to replace the unhealthy foods in my pantry and refrigerator with healthy foods.

Many of my friends and our family members are already into very healthy eating so I am really just catching up to them at this point. I'm enjoying learning about it. I'm learning that soy is not so good for you but I don't know why. I'm going to Google that tonight. I'm becoming a rather annoying evangelist, I'm afraid!

Tomorrow night I'm going to our Milford Garden Club's monthly meeting and our speaker is going to be talking about Healing the Body and Spirit: Use of Plants, Trees and Stone Therapies. Sound interesting? I'm thinking that the stone therapy must be referring to massage with stones but, what the heck, it may be some kind of healthy stone soup!?

The past few days have been rainy so Gil and I have not been out walking. I keep up with Pilates and my personal trainer at the YMCA but Gil doesn't have any other outlets for his exercise when the weather outside doesn't allow walking. We found a great trail through the woods at the end of our street which I think will become a favorite because it takes about an hour to get all the way around it and back to the starting place. But we mix it up a lot so we don't get bored.

We're fans of watching The Masters golf tournament so will be well-engrossed the end of the week and into the weekend in "all things Tiger Woods." Neither of us play golf but we both love watching the tournaments when Tiger is playing.

Watched Inglourious Basterds on DVD and have waiting for us tonight Julie and Julia or Coco Before Chanel from Netflix.

It's been a wonderful, quiet, thoughtful week. Finished The Hidden Life of Deer and moving on to the new book about Dorothea Lange.

Food that's good for you
Chemical free and earthly
Makes a body smile.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

The Pie Brigade

This was the happy reunion last night with our Karmanos friends. We met at The Grand Traverse Pie Company in Lansing for our monthly dinner together. Gil, Mark and Bonnie continue their recoveries without complication and are nearing their six month post-stem cell transplant anniversary.

As you might remember from previous blog entries, we are pie lovers and so we all started our dinner with pie first. We then "progressed" to sandwiches, and finished off with soup and salad. (Hey, we do what we want!)

The spouses (me, Kim and Steve) happily support Gil, Mark and Bonnie's efforts at getting stronger each day, taking fewer naps (!) and getting more involved in the world at large. (As long as it's germ-free!)

Germs are the terrifying big topic these days. Gardening is absolutely forbidden -- too much bacteria in the soil and leaf mold is everywhere. And crowded places still need to be respected.

Gil heads into Karmanos tomorrow for an appointment and he's doing well. He's hoping for a reduction in his steroids again and that within two to four weeks, he might actually be able to discontinue them all together.

I've got a lot of books checked out from the library and reading as much and as fast as I can:
Dorothea Lange by Linda Gordon, The Collected Stories of Lydia Davis by Lydia Davis, The Hidden Life of Deer by Elizabeth Marshall Thomas, Food Rules by Michael Thomas and The Joy Diet by Martha Beck. (I love having a book in every room in the house that I can browse or pick up and take with me to an appointment.)

A warm sunny day
Is winter really over?
Or is this a tease?