Monday, November 20, 2017

Nico: The Racetrack Rescue

Marika was blessed with the the literal gift of a horse by her dear friend and mentor, Gill Grafton. Gill and Marika have shared a love of horses and riding since they met at least 15 years ago at Huntington Ridge in Holly, MI. At the time, Gill was the most respected rider at the facility and owned two large stallions. Those two horses were feared and respected by many and Gill was careful to let only certain capable riders work them. Marika became one of those trusted riders.

Fast forward, Gill went to medical school and became an advanced cardiologist. Marika, similarly mentored by Gill's encouragement, went to medical school and has chosen her own medical specialty.

Marika now lives in Chicago with her boyfriend and Gill remains in Ann Arbor with her husband and young son, Graham. Gill and Marika have kept in touch and visit one another whenever Marika is in Ann Arbor. Marika has missed having a horse and dreamed of the day she could own one again.

Enter Gill and her generous spirit. Together, Gill and Marika looked at many videos of horses coming off the racetrack and available for sale. They found Nico at a Pennsylvania racetrack, liked the way he moved in the video, paid the asking price and shipped him to a barn in Chicago near Marika.

Nico will be a "project" horse for Marika and Gill. Together they will support his needs and Marika will begin the slow process of training him to be a hunter/jumper for competitions.

This photo captures the joy Marika feels when she is near a horse and in the tack room of a barn. I don't think Nico can even begin to imagine how much he is wanted, needed and going to be loved at this time in his young life.

Thursday, October 19, 2017

At Terry Lee's Wedding

Oh! What a wonderful weekend in Albuquerque. It was Terry Lee and Andrew's wedding date on Sunday, October 15, 2017 at the Season's event space. It was also the last weekend of the nine-day Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta. 

We had breakfast on Saturday morning with Elsie, our friend and the nanny to our kids when they were growing up. We had lunch at Terry's for the out of town guests who had arrived. 

We had dinner at Shelley and Herb Koffler's out in Placitas and met up with many friends from past days.

The whole week was made better by having Marika with us. She flew in on Friday night and left soon after the wedding. We walked around Old Town and stopped in The Albuquerque Museum.

Then it was time to get Marika to the airport.

Gil had taken photographs during the wedding. He edited and posted them to Dropbox; then shared them with Terry and others by email invitation.

We tried to go to the last day of the balloon mass ascension but it was cold (35 degrees) and too windy to allow the ascension go on. At least we were able to figure out the logistics of getting there -- buy tickets beforehand and take the bus to the balloon launch grounds.

Saturday, September 30, 2017

New Baby arrives on Labor Day!

We have a new baby in the family! Ellery Jane born on Labor Day. Marika was the first of us to go visit and introduce herself to the baby. Gil and I followed the next weekend. She is precious. And she was such a good baby while we were there although she was only 10 days old at the time.

We stayed at a house down the street on Knoll Street in a VRBO which suited us just fine. 

While we were in Boston, we went to an Open House to see a house that Adam and Laura had previewed earlier that week. They ended up buying the house. It was such an adventure.

They're going to love living in it. It's their first house. Their priorities were a goo school district and a reasonable commute for Adam. They have three bedrooms and a guest room downstairs. A lovely patio and yard. Nice street. A park just down the way for kids.

Their move in date is in January. I will hope to go and help them get the job done.

Wednesday, September 6, 2017

Sunday Brunch with Arun's Family

Marika made New Mexico-style burritos and Aarti brought makings for mimosas for our Sunday morning brunch in Chicago. After brunch, we walked to the Lincoln Park zoo and all around the area until we wore ourselves out and came back home to allow Marika to rest before her scheduled night shift that night.

Arun and I left Gil at home and went out to dinner at Davanti Enoteca near North Side on Hubbard with his family and their friends. Aarti did all the ordering for our group.

I got in 13,000 steps by the end of the day. It was sunny and in the 80's for most of the day.

Gil and I drove home the next day -- Labor Day. Stopped in at the Green Well for lunch as we did on our way TO Chicago two days before.

All in all, a wonderful weekend trip!

Saturday, September 2, 2017

Chicago Art Institute and Terzo Piano

Having lunch with Gil and Marika on a gorgeous 70 degree afternoon in Chicago. We saw the Gauguin show at the Art Institute followed by lunch up on the Terzo Piano terrace.

The whole day was a delight. We went to Hamilton at 2 pm and then met Marika and Arun for dinner at the Willow Room. Walked there from their house but it poured down rain when we were planning to come home so we called an Uber.

An episode of Game of Thrones later, I retired to our guest room and slept the night away listening to Hamilton tunes playing over and over in my head!

Wednesday, August 30, 2017

Fall comes to Kentucky.

While visiting with my mom and brother in Kentucky, we set up this happy little container for fall with a watchful owl and a container pot brimming with gourds and pumpkins.

We set up my return visit later in September when my mom will have a redo of her cataract surgery. I will drive down to be with her and take my turn at applying the myriad of eye drops required post surgery.

We also ordered a replacement patio door for her home which is coming in 6-8 weeks. Just in time for the cool fall weather, the screen door will be in working condition.

Visited with my brother and spent quality time with him including getting a ride in his new 2017 Camaro.

All in all, got lots of things done on our to-do list -- which my mom continues to add to in between my visits!

Thursday, August 24, 2017

Solar Eclipse 2017

The day of the total solar eclipse arrived -- August 21, 2017 -- and we were prepared. I had ordered our glasses the week before and the promised delivery date was Sunday, August 20. I had to cross my fingers that the delivery would occur on time.

It was spectacular. It was fabulous! I kept saying over and over again: "This is amazing!"

Genie, Gil and I sat out on the front porch for two hours glancing up at the sky as the daylight dimmed and the shadows remained strong. The shadows appeared as little half-moon shapes wherever a shadow showed up.

Michigan was not on the path of totality (100%) but we were expected to see the eclipse at 80% from our location. And we did.

It was the chance of a lifetime! I will never forget it.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Milford Memories 2017

Milford Memories did not disappoint this year. I had the pleasure of Genie's company today (Saturday) as we wandered among the vendors and their wares.

I bought a homemade oil for your hands (jojoba, aloe and olive) at the first booth we came to. The vendor was a dear older man who asked if I was a nurse? 

(I was taken aback. Of course, I am a nurse.) 

"How did you know?" I asked.

"If you ask enough people, you eventually get a 'yes'," he said with a twinkle in his eye!

I bought a blue and white plaid tea towel with a fox embroidered on it to send to Marika. (She loves fox motifs.)

The weather was perfect for strolling andI loved spending the day together with Genie.

Monday, August 7, 2017

Sunday Visit with Two of my Favorites

Loved having Arun and Marika come to visit us yesterday for lunch and spending the afternoon and dinner. They had been to a campground-themed wedding at ...well, yes .... at a campground! They added a quick side-trip up to Milford to visit us and our pups!

Weather was a perfect 75 degrees. We ate both meals outside on the patio. Marika and I went to downtown Milford for coffee at The Proving Grounds (the newest coffee house in Milford) while Arun and Gil took the dogs for a walk.

Said goodbye after dinner. They had a four and a half hour drive back home after a long, long weekend and we appreciated their visit. Marika will be back the end of August for another visit.

Can't wait!

Friday, August 4, 2017

Grocery Stores vs. Home Delivery Meals

I thought when I started ordering the home meal deliveries that I had hit on the best way to make dinners for the two of us. I think I've used one of the various meal services on and off the past two years -- ever since Evan told me that two of his professional friends in LA were getting their dinners delivered so that when they got home from work, tired and exhausted, they could put on their aprons and make dinner together.

I started with Home Chef, then Blue Apron, then Plated, then Sunbasket. We were traveling so much that it became hard to keep up with the scheduling and the meals started becoming repetitious.

I've tried prepared meals at our local markets -- Colasanti's and Simply Market Fresh -- but it's not always successful in the final taste or presentation because they are pre-cooked so all you do is heat them up.

I've just hit upon a new possibility. I went to the Grand Opening at Busch's Market on Grand River yesterday and brought home pre-marinated chicken thighs (garlic and lemon-pepper). 

I grilled them along with corn and made an arugula salad. Couldn't have been easier and tastier.

I saw salmon kabobs and other pre-marinated dry-rub offerings and I am eager to keep trying them as the summer weeks go on. I don't love coming up with ideas for meals and so just seeing them already prepared at the market made me feel like I have (maybe) found a solution for now.

Sunday, July 30, 2017

First morning back in Michigan

First morning of being back home in Michigan after two weeks away. Started out with going over to the Apple Store to replace Gil's lost-on-the-flight iPhone.

Then opening lots of mail and emptying suitcases and filling up the laundry basket.

Whenever I get home from a trip, I always like to empty my suitcase and make a pile of things I never wore or things I never used from my makeup bag or jewelry I took but never wore.

It inspires me to pack less next time!

I have a pile of mail to go through, a garden of weeds to rid, a plant full of ripe cherry tomatoes, taking care of my birds and their bird bath water, a lot of thank you notes to write (for kindnesses extended to me during our trip) and restaurants to review.

Yes. I'm one of those type who reviews the restaurant each time I visit so that when you go to Yelp! or Tripadviser you'll get my best review -- complete with photos of the dishes I ordered!

Monday morning offers a chance to get back to my routine. I think I'll do some yoga!

Thursday, July 27, 2017

Wellfleet Oysters at C-shore Restaurant

Adam and Gil shared a dozen oysters on our final night of vacation in Cape Cod. I had my first lobster by ordering lobster risotto, Gil had the c-shore bake and Adam had the ahi tuna salad. Asher, of course, had the Mac 'n Cheese, as usual! 

After dinner we went to Arnold's for ice cream and I rediscovered how much I love vanilla malted milkshakes. Adam remembered that I used to make them for all three kids at the Albuquerque house using Ovaltine malted powder. Oh my! It all tasted heavenly! We had it two nights in a row.

The other nights we went to Nauset Ice Cream and indulged.

Gil and I drove Laura's car back to Boston on Saturday, stopping for lunch at Legal Seafood. I went to Drybar to wash the salt, sand, starfish, clams and seashells out of my hair and have it styled before we ended at Adam's house to return Laura's car.

Called an Uber from their house and we were off to the airport. Another quick bite at Legal Test Kitchen in the Delta terminal and we boarded our one hour and 20 minute flight back to Michigan.

This story might have had a happy ending except that Gil left his phone on the plane and when he went back to retrieve it, it had vanished. We still don't know where it is.

He needs it for work tomorrow morning because his pages go through his phone, so off we went to the Apple Store this morning when they opened to purchase him a new iPhone.

He's spent the afternoon transferring all his data onto the phone and going to our local swimming pool to swim laps. I've gone to the grocery to restock the kitchen. I've been away from the house for two weeks. It's the longest I've been away from my home since I lived with Gil at Karmanos many years ago.

Nice to be home. Missed our puppies. Loving our home, yard and garden.

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

The House at 35 Wilson in Eastham

This is the cottage that Adam and Laura rented from AirBnB last year and they liked it so much they rented it again this year. Their first week was spent with us as their guests and this next week they will be alone as a family along with Bodhi, their 11-year old Labrador.

We really loved the space (900 square feet) and tried imagining it as a retirement space that we could envision downsizing into some day. I think both Gi and I agreed we could manage it as long as there were outside spaces to roam to and patios to sit on.

35 Wilson Avenue in Eastham, Massachusetts.

I've been with Asher for two weeks. I know his schedule (a nap after lunch when available), I know what he likes for breakfast (bagel with cream cheese), and I know what he likes for dinner (mac 'n cheese). Bedtime is sometimes a struggle but most often a warm and affectionate end to an active day.

I love some of his favorite phrases: "Me thinking (deliberate and thoughtful pause) I want to play with my farm." "What about (deliberate and thoughtful pause) we 

I think we will try to make it back there next year and spend time with them and, hopefully, some of our other kids.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Provincetown did not disappoint!

Here we are in Provincetown sitting a bit askew on this bench since we discovered only after we sat down for this photo that it was wet from last night's rain! We spent the morning walking through P-town with fresh pour-over coffees from The Spindler and The Wired Puppy in hand smelling the salty air -- admiring the weathered cedar-shake covered shops and homes while pushing Asher in his stroller through the crowds.

Lunch was at The Canteen -- pork BBQ, oyster sandwich, tofu banh mi and white wine sangria in a pitcher! 

Later in the day we flew a newly purchased dragonfly kite back near home at First Encounter Beach on the bay side of the peninsula. And then mussels and clams and a lobster roll at Mac's Kitchen and Market here in Eastham for dinner.

Adam and Laura are out to see a drive-in movie (Super Woman) while we babysit tonight. They deserve a fun getaway! Tomorrow is supposed to be sunny (we've had two overcast days so far) and we'll head to one of the National Seashore beaches on the ocean side.

Monday, July 24, 2017

Rainy Day in Snow Library

We woke up to a rainy day in Eastham so we were off to the Snow Library where  David Snow in 1796 donated $5,000 to start the public library in this community stipulating that it be called Snow Library. The library was filled with young kids! What else can you do in a beach town on a rainy day??

Gil and I drove along the coast looking at various beaches deciding where we want to show up on the next sunny day. As we all know, Gil loves swimming in open water so he's eager to get out there! Me? Well, I'm not a beach lover but I go along to help carry all the stuff!

When it's raining out
And the kids are getting fussy
time to read a book.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Heritage Museum and Gardens

We drove Laura's standard transmission car from Roslindale to the Cape today. Neither of us had driven a standard transmission in ages. We needed to practice in a parking lot with Adam coaching us from the front passenger seat and reminding us where the gears were. "This is a real role-reversal," he said. "It wasn't that many years ago when YOU were teaching ME how to drive one of these!"

On the way to Eastham along the cape, we stopped in Sandwich, MA for a fresh seafood lunch. Then we made our way through Sandwich to the Heritage Museum and Gardens where we came across this delightful and whimsical sculpture by Alfie Glover (above) surrounding one of the gardens.

 We're here in Eastham now and made our grocery run to get coffee and staples. We went to Wiley Park and looked onto the pond which is a Kettle Pond -- a commonly-formed body of water scooped out of the rock landscape by glaciers moving through the area many years ago.

Can't wait to take Asher to the beaches all along the coastal area this week. Ate dinner at The Friendly Fisherman tonight followed by ice cream at Nauset Ice Cream. Laura got blackberry, Asher chose strawberry and Adam got peanut butter over a Reese's cup.

Ice cream in July
melting all over your hands
feels good to lick off.

Friday, July 21, 2017

Boston Duck Boat Tour

Boston's Duck Boat tour filled up my afternoon today. Asher and his other grandma (Asher refers to her as Nana) and I went to the Science Museum for a few hours until our 3:45 pm tour time on Duck #1 arrived.

Poor Asher was so tired by the time the tour of the city was over that he fell asleep before we even got to the part of the tour where the Duck Boat heads down a ramp and into the Charles River.

Nana and I had to decide whether or not to wake him up! (We did!)

It was long day. But a fun day! I loved spending time with Nana.

I'm at a favorite Air BnB tonight (The Taylor House in Jamaica Plain) since Laura came home from her company's meeting in Vancouver. I wanted the kids to have some private time tonight  and I wanted to have some downtime for myself. I've been getting up every morning around 6:30 am and not going to bed until 11 pm.

Last night I put together the "4momsmommaroo infant rocker" for their new coming baby. I had a wonderful week with Asher and Adam.

Ahhhh. Good night.

I'm going to sleep
knowing Asher's mom is home
and happy to be.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Second to Last Day

Today is my second to last day taking care of my darling little grandson here in Boston. His mom comes home tomorrow from her week-long trip and my current duties will be over. I will return to simply being his doting Grandma -- not his primary loving caretaker.

When his mom is gone, I take him to his usual daycare and pick him up in the late afternoon. We want to maintain his routine as much as possible.

His dad (my son) goes to work in the morning and comes home in the evening so I get to be with m grandson a few hours in the morning and in the late afternoon by myself. While he was at daycare today, I took care of two beauty issues.

I stopped by the Drybar in Chestnut Hills for the pleasure of getting my hair professionally shampooed and blown dry. Then I headed to a nail salon to repair a chipped nail -- probably due to extra duties of walking the dog four times a day, grooming the dog so he doesn't keep shedding all over my vacuumed floors, keeping up with a busy little toddler, doing housekeeping and laundry, shopping for groceries and preparing the meals.

Today we made Coconut Almond Macaroons. So easy and really delicious. This is the Martha Stewart recipe in my own words:

1 cup sugar
3 large egg whites
3/4 cup slivered raw almonds 
3 cups unsweetened shredded coconut
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt

Makes 2 dozen cookies.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

Blend egg whites and sugar. Mix in the remaining ingredients.
Place 2 teaspoons of the mixture at a time into mounds on a parchment sheet-lined cookie pan. With wet hands, mold the mounds into pyramid shapes. Cook 20 minutes or until underside of cookie is browned and tops of cookies are slightly browned.

Enjoy! (As we did!)

Wednesday, July 19, 2017

The Bike Hitch

Today I helped get a hitch for a bike rack installed on Adam's new car. The shop's location was in a less-than-desireable part of town. 

When my GPS announced "You have arrived at your destination," I looked around and didn't see the shop.

I drove around the block twice. Finally I pulled over in front of a church (the safest place to pull over and stop in this area, I figured) and called the shop owner, Ike.

"I've driven down the street twice and I can't find your place," I told him.

"Where are you?" he asked.

"I'm in front of the church on Anselm."

"Oh, you just passed us. We're about 100 yards behind you."

"Is your shop the one with the 12 foot high chain link fence topped with concertina wire, and old tires hanging on the fence and a sign that says, "We straighten bent wheels?"

"Yep. That's it," he said.

He actually turned out to be a great guy. It was a 95 degree day with 92% humidity in Boston today. His waiting room (pictured above) was pleasantly air-conditioned but it appeared his shop area in the back was not.

He kept coming out from the shop area to give me updates. He was mopping sweat from his head and neck with a rag every time he appeared.

In one update, he told me he had four guys (and these are big, burly auto mechanic-types) holding the detached muffler up while some necessary part was being installed onto the car frame.

Twenty minutes and $120 later, the Mazda had a hitch! 

After it was done, I thanked him and gave him money to buy pizzas and cold drinks for everyone for lunch. 

And to think that Adam had actually considered putting the hitch on himself! The instructions said anyone could do it in an hour and a professional could do it in 30 minutes.

Directions can be so misleading!

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Happy 86th Birthday!

My oh my! I see I stopped posting to this blog site in 2012. So much has happened since then. We'll catch up as we go along but today is ... well ... just about today.

To start with, it's my mom's 86th birthday today. Hence the photo! Happy Birthday, Mom!

And secondly, I'm in Boston this week helping Adam take care of 2-1/2 year old Asher while Laura (7-month pregnant with Baby Girl Raff) is in Vancouver at her company retreat. So far, so good.

Except that I let Asher watch a video of Winnie the Pooh on my iPhone yesterday, trying to buy some time entertaining him while I prepared dinner, and when it was time to eat, Asher wasn't having any of it!

"No, Grandma," he told me with determined eyebrow-scrunching, "I am NOT going to eat dinner now. I'm watching a video." (Cue up: pouting, crying, stomping of feet, scowling face)

So I have learned my lesson. No more iPhone videos for this guy for the near future.

Yesterday I bought a "4momsmamaroo" infant swing at Buy Buy Baby that the Babocush will attach to and will "provide hours and hours of tummy-down time to help with baby gas and flat head syndrome." (At least that's the marketing gimmick they're going with.)

The infant swing connects to Bluetooth to play any music you like to come out of the embedded speakers, and its programmable motion features allow it to rock back and forth, swing side to side, or mimic the natural rhythm of a mother swaying and shifting her weight from side-to-side walking or standing in place that seems to soothe all babies.

Closing with my usual Haiku ...

A trip to Boston
comes with a special delight 
more time with Asher.