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The first “thrill” of MS is that it's not my fault and I couldn't have prevented it. The next thrill will be when they can fix it.


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Sunday, August 24, 2014

Book Review: The Camel Club by David Baldacci

Synopsis at Good Reads

Existing at the fringes of Washington D.C., the Club consists of four eccentric members. Led by a mysterious man know as "Oliver Stone," they study conspiracy theories, current events, and the machinations of government to discover the "truth" behind the country's actions. Their efforts bear little fruit --- until the group witnesses a shocking murder ... and become embroiled in an astounding, far reaching conspiracy. Now the Club must join forces with a Secret Service agent to confront one of the most chilling spectacles ever to take place on American soil --- an event that may trigger the ultimate war between two different worlds. And all that stands in the way of this apocalypse is five unexpected heroes.


My review at Good Reads

3.5 of 5 stars

Don’t think that only three and a half stars when I’ve given most of the Baldacci I’ve read five means I was displeased or disappointed with this book. I enjoyed the read but I wrestle with the believability a little. I like fiction that I think about after I finish reading and wonder what would it be like, how would I react if it happened to or around me because it’s entirely possible something similar could happen. I really dislike fiction that has gaping holes in the believability or mentions supporting “facts” that just aren’t possible. The Camel Club is neither of those. It was a gripping and exciting read but it left me unsure of how I felt about it after I was done.

The characters were well-developed and the action scenes were great. Maybe it’s just that there were a lot of characters that didn’t have huge roles, but this is the first of a series and maybe other characters will play a bigger role in subsequent books in the series. The plot was intense but I’m just not sure how believable all of the instances in the series of events are. There were too many super heroes/super villains and while they weren’t the stars of the book, for me they did introduce a difficulty to accept them or how anyone could defeat them.

In reading some other reader comments I was a little disappointed that so many interpreted that explanations of Islam in the minds of terrorists in the book were Baldacci’s support of either the religion or the terrorists. My interpretation of those instances in the book was to understand how followers of Islam can be made to believe that terrorist actions are justified. I don’t think there would be enough of any group that harmed others if the members of that group couldn’t justify it with their own beliefs. That’s true for any group and any set of beliefs not just Islam and not just extremists. That being said the understanding of the mental justifications and mental baggage of all the characters is why, in spite of some beyond believable events, the book made sense.

I will read he next book in this series.

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Last of Leo


It’s August 20 and only a few days of Leo left! Last year I expanded Nanifest to include any plans made during the festival week as a Nanifest Event. This enables me to celebrate with more of my family of relatives and friends since I can’t drive out to see them anymore.

I mentioned a while back that part of Nanifest this year is that I no longer drive, officially. On my birthday this year my last driver’s license expired and I replaced it with a State ID. It was a funny bit of irony there. When I renewed the license I had three years ago I used the walker when I went in to the BMV. At that time I was able to load the walker in and out of the backseat of the Camaro so I could use it to get to places once I drove there. I could still drive okay, but walking I couldn’t do without assistance. The clerk at the counter looked at me and the walker and asked if I could still drive. Well, I got there, didn’t I? I assured the clerk that I drove fine; I just needed the walker to walk. With a little trepidation she said okay and proceeded with the eye test. When I went in at the end of July to trade my last driver license for a state ID I got from not one clerk, but that clerk’s supervisor as well the question “Are you sure you want to give up your privilege to drive?” WAY different reaction to my identification situation than 3 years ago! I told them, from the seat of my powerchair, that TARPS got me here because I don’t drive, I can’t drive. I also added that I don’t drive FOR the other drivers. Yeesh; it was as hard to quit driving with a wheelchair as it was to keep driving with a walker. I haven’t driven in 2 years and I don’t have a car and the state of Ohio has finally let go. It’s a good thing they did the kicking and screaming about me not driving because while I scream just fine, I’m not up to the kicking part.

Naniday Breakfast
Double Chocolate Frosted Donuts!

There are two essential components to Nanifest in addition to as many of my people as possible. Those are ice cream and baseball. There was plenty of ice cream, all within my daily or weekly Weight Watchers point allowances. There was even ice cream and baseball together. I talked about stopping at Graeter’s with Rob and K, Rob insisted it was his Nanifest treat. I bought a Blue Bunny cone from a rest area machine on actual Naniday since the ice cream and fudge place at the rest area in Indiana was closed by the time we got in there, but Naniday started with David getting me 2 especially good double chocolate frosted donuts at the Dunkin Drive through near our hotel. We’d done a long weekend in metro Chicago chasing trains and seeing a day game the day before Naniday at the Kane County Cougars. Since we’d been to the West Michigan Whitecaps earlier David has now been to all the Midwest League stadiums I have and we have only the Wisconsin teams and Bowling Green Kentucky to have been to every Midwest League stadium!

 In the 10 days from August 8-17 I saw 4 baseball games, 3 of the Major League! David and I saw the Reds and Marlins in Cincinnati on the 8th and the Mariners and Tigers in Detroit on the 17th and we joined Rob and K for the Red Sox and Reds on the 13th. The 16th, last Saturday was the Strike Out MS dinner and ballgame in Toledo and I went to that while David was working. That game was a sellout and after dinner and a little talking about the Self Help Group I lead I went down to get closer to the game. Our area of seats didn’t really have enough wheelchair spots ad I like to be closer if I can so I went solo. The saddest part of that stretch was that the team I was rooting for lost every game! I did get 2 games with fireworks after, one that made my husband and cousin happy and one that let me see “My Mariner,” Austin Jackson…sniff, sniff…and at least Austin’s team won!

My Mariner (sniff)

After the Tigers game we went to Pop’s house for the second annual Leo Birthday Banquet. Pop grills a fantastic dinner and Aunt Judy, August 18, and I share the cake! We shared a birthday dinner last year and it was very cool, so when Pop asked about birthday dinner this year I suggested that it was a great idea to do it for both of us again. I think it’s going to be a regular thing now! Three of Aunt Judy’s grands, my cousin Lisa’s kids, were there to help eat the cake and ice cream, I mean celebrate, too. I wanted a photo of the Lovely Leo Ladies for my scrapbook and asked the kids to help “make their grandmother beautiful.” Aunt Judy never likes her photo taken because she is never happy with her look in photos. I got some nice candid photos of her at Christmas a few years ago and discovered the secret. I asked the kids to stand behind Pop when he was taking the picture and just be goofy for her and make her smile. It worked! She even said she liked the picture!

Lovely Lionesses

Marble cake with fantastic fudgy frosting. My piece was 26 points and pretty much replaces the 2-scoop waffle cone for the week. (But a new week starts tomorrow!)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

A Season Sweep


It did NOT get better.

In baseball a season sweep, winning every game against an opponent for the year, is a fun and wonderful thing when it’s your team doing the sweeping.If your team is the one getting swept it’s good to think positively and remember that if you’re getting swept, well, if it was real sweeping at least you could say you don’t have to walk and scooting across the floor might be kinda fun. Another thing that makes it easier is if you go to that final nail in the season’s coffin in person and bring fans of the other team with you so someone goes home happy! That was yesterday, yet yesterday was much more fun than you’d ever imagine getting swept for the season could be.

As much as I dislike Interleague Play, and I immensely dislike it… One of my papers way back in English 102 was about Interleague Play and why it was an awful idea. I still stick to what I said 19 years ago… But I digress. As much as I dislike it, there are some good points. The Reds and Red Sox played each other this year; 2 games in Boston and 2 in Cincinnati. The Reds lost both of the Boston games. We hadn’t seen the Red Sox this year and David really wanted to go to one of the games in Cincinnati. My cousin, Rob, lives in between us and Cincinnati and is a Red Sox fan too. Rob and I have wanted to get together for a game or coffee somewhere and if he was available for the game, what a great choice for a get-together!

A few emails and a chat with the nice agent at reds.com to get accessible seats and I had tickets on the way for Rob and his daughter, K, David and me for yesterday’s game. I was excited on so many levels. David and Rob had never met and they do have the home of their baseball hearts in Red Sox Nation in common and I’d seen pictures since she was a baby but a decade later I hadn’t met K! The absolute to the excitement was that although we chat and communicate online often, I LOVE social media for that, Rob and I haven’t had a face-to-face get together in a long time. In fact the last time we spent actual time together I have a vivid snippet of memory of Rob and his sister, Rhonda, my cool cousins, going to do something and me pouting because I was too little to go too. You see, they were double-digits, practically teenagers, and I was still in single digits.

Yeah, I probably followed them around like an annoying little cousin because I wanted to do everything with them when we got to see each other. We just didn’t see the family in Ohio, Mom’s side of my people, as often as we did Pop’s side who were all in Michigan like us. I was probably as annoying to Rob and Rhonda when I did see them as all of my younger cousins were to me on Pop’s side. Really I hope I did as well keeping from making my younger cousins feel like pests as they did keeping that from me!

So fast forward up to yesterday.

Long lost cousins reunite!

We met just outside the stadium at noon before the 12:35 game. Introductions were made and I was suddenly the minority in my Reds jersey. K opted to go “fence” as in sitting on the fence in her Red Sox shirt and Reds hat. That’s like I usually was back in the 90’s at Reds/Braves games or like I will be someday when the Tigers and Reds play in October again.

I’m going to take a “ain’t technology great?” moment right now. Not only was our day set up with emails and online ticket chats, but iPhones and an iPad were essential to the day too! The iPhone enabled Rob and me to find each other in a crowd of people on a big plaza outside of the stadium. Imagine that even ten years ago!

Now, read carefully and bookmark this page. We had the four tickets, knew exactly where they were before we left Toledo and took them from that place when we left the car. And then they were gone. I don’t know if they were dropped somewhere in the car or in the garage, but somehow in the shuffle with the wheelchair and getting to the plaza, they were lost. David went back to frantically search the car. I wanted to go to the ticket window and Rob offered to push me.

I opened the iPad and got the receipt information from my email. I asked at the window if it was possible to get the tickets reprinted, if I had enough information. I was asked how I purchased my ticket, if it was reds.com. I said it was and the woman at the ticket counter took the iPad, opened to my confirmation email, through the window slot and walked away. A few minutes later she returned with my iPad and 4 tickets. Do you think even FIVE years ago that could happen? I called David and told him we have tickets, let’s go see the game.

When we got to our seats and got situated it was time for the razzing to begin. You see, Rob and K were there to see the Reds lose Tuesday night’s game so the Red Sox had already won the season series and given that the Red Sox have a worse record this year it was the mathematical probability that David would see his team win once when I saw mine lose twice since they lost the game Friday we were at before Summerail. Add to that Rob had been there the night before and they won. The math was not in their favor going into the game. Rob threw in a bet with his Reds fan neighbor as being a factor but that neighborly “bet” was for a series win, a sweep wasn’t necessary to decide the bet. So in my best fan bravado I pronounced that it didn’t work into the mathematical equation and the Reds were going to win.

Rob and K

 Our traditional baseball selfie. 
I should have moved my arm to uncover the Reds logo!

Don’t think there weren’t doubts behind that bravado. The Reds are a good team this year, not a great team and Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips; the biggest offensive threats are BOTH on the disabled list. That leaves a huge defensive hole at first and second too. When you have good players taking the places of great to phenomenal players, it definitely affects the team’s performance. But I’ve been listening to David telling me the World Series champions of 2013 in last place his year are much worse that the “good” I rate the Reds right now. Law of averages and probability and all says… never mind. The baseball gods weren’t practicing law yesterday.

So we got swept this season by the Red Sox. Like I told Rob the company I kept put the smile on my face that my team didn’t. Anyway I always say a bad day at the ball park is better than a good day almost anywhere else, and I stand by that!

After the game we met at Graeter’s for ice cream. More great technology; Rob found the shop on his phone and sent it to me as a message. I clicked the link in the message and a map appeared! We all had ice cream, my favorite food group, together and talked baseball, travel, books a little paper as opposed to eReaders and barns! They started collecting quilt square barns with a pamphlet with addresses to locate the quilt-barns. It’s much like David and I collect the bicentennial barns. Rob and K searched out the barns while Rob’s wife, K’s mom, Kathy was on-call. Kathy, who I haven’t met, yet, is a doctor. With his second kid, Rob is a stay at home parent. Well, okay, a stay-on-the-road parent? I know from weekends and some weeks with Tori and Rina when they were little, that nobody just stays at home with kids!

K is a sweetheart. Even if she elected to not go all Reds, I wasn’t completely alone. We have Joey Votto as a favorite Red in common too! When her dad mentioned something about it likely being the end of live baseball season for them because school started soon there was a little yelp and her eyes bugged out a bit; she’s not ready for the summer to end either!

After a day of David and Rob talking lots of Red Sox and ribbing me in much the way my Reds bravado deserved, we did have to make our way home. It was great fun and we all agree we’ll do this again!


Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Hail To The Queen!

Well, happy birthday to the queen anyway, Kaline is 9 years old today! That photo was taken this morning. I admit, I photoshopped the eye dirt away, in the instant social media shot she’s slightly less perfect.

This is the (Not Photoshop or actual scrapbooking quality for me) collage I did with my favorite of her baby pictures. She really has grown from an adorable kitten to a beautiful and noble cat and the shy at first then adventurous kitten has well-defined cattitude now!


This is what an actual gold golden delicious apple and a real emerald brushed green pear look like! Really, I bought them at the ball game last Friday in Cincinnati and the small pieces of fruit were 2 dollars each! All of the food at Great American Ball Park is quite expensive. Add the fruit to a grilled chicken breast on a wheat roll and bottled water I had for dinner and it cost near $20! But it’s comparable to the unhealthy choices and I didn’t blow my Weight Watchers points that day! I did that Sunday with Cincinnati Chili! But I only blew the daily points. The WW weekly plus points kept me in my allowance!

A short entry to say Happy Birthday to my baby girl. Tonight is MS group meeting, so I have to get things gathered up for the bus pick-up. The group leader role sometimes makes my type-A personality and my type-MS body fight over me. The type-MS wins battles when I fall asleep in the middle of paperwork, but in the end type-A still wins the battle for my public face!

Monday, August 4, 2014

We Are Free To Drink About The City

My birthday present from Pop;
10 gallons and 4 cases of water from Michigan!

Toledo Mayor D. Michael Collins announced in a news conference this morning that our water in all parts of the city tested as safe for all normal usage. That means that immune system challenged me and all of the kids in town get to be clean too! I know for other adults with MS or any other immune-compromised conditions that’s WONDERFUL news. Some of the kids maybe notsomuch, but I’m sure it makes happy moms and dads too.

I have learned so much the past couple days. The first thing I already knew and that’s that for the most part people are innately caring and generous. I read stories about people who traveled many miles to buy bottled water and also of people who travelled many miles TO Toledo to GIVE water. It was the main topic for discussion in these parts and when our neighbors next door were leaving for a few days at their getaway place that had well water we were unpacking the water Pop got for us. They’d given the neighbors across the street, the one who always put back out garbage and recycling cans during the day since David often is home late and I can do it, some water but when we offered they mentioned that they might need some more. There were water stations where people could get fresh water for free and there was calm and no panic with people helping other people fill jugs and get them to their cars. With no reported incidents and so much great kindness, I think we handled the crisis well as a community. For an affected region of somewhere in the area of a half million people without water for the weekend we did a great job of playing the part of a small town when we needed to. I still love my home and after this weekend I’m quite proud to say I’m from Toledo.

More learning came in the form of finding out about microsystin, the toxin that got into our water. The toxin is from the algae blooms in Lake Erie, although this is not a new problem or limited only to Lake Erie. The toxin got past purification methods in the plant. Now that the levels are back to a safe amount it’s time to find out why the toxin didn’t filter out this time and how to prevent it from happening again. The thing is this toxin is not even one they have to check for even though that same toxin attributed to the deaths of 75 people in a kidney dialysis center in Brazil in 1995 according to the article I read in The Blade this morning. I’m glad we do check for it; like I said no one has to in the US and most states don’t. It’s better to err on the side of caution than wait until there are reported cases of people getting sick.

I’ve read comments from some conspiracy theorists that if there were no reports of people getting sick the whole thing was made up. I find that to be the attitude of someone who must enjoy Russian roulette too. I’ll be honest; I like to read comments after news stories and especially political stories because it makes me feel like a better and smarter person. I should probably feel bad about that, but it’s also good to reiterate that it’s harder to help some people and be prepared for that.

Most importantly I learned about timing and decision making. FI shower every other night, which for someone inside in the air conditioning and no moving a ton is not a big deal, and I showered Wednesday. Friday I was tired and decided that I could shower in the morning before David went to work. Of course by morning I couldn’t even drink the water to take my medicine. So the lesson learned there is that if it’s time to shower, no matter how tired, the water will wake me up, shower already! My flat, dirty-looing hair and itchy skin will be happy tonight!
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