Monday, April 30, 2007

A Thought

“At every crossroads on the path that leads to the future, tradition has placed ten thousand men to guard the past.”

-- Count Maurice Polydore Marie Bernard Maeterlinck (1862 - 1949)

This quote rings true to me. True not only for big social issues, but in our everyday lives as well. That constant struggle to keep what’s working smoothly, weighed against trusting our instincts and trying something new. Balance and risk...

Sunday, April 29, 2007

Other Than That He’s a Great Guy

My niece Carrie’s boyfriend is a great guy. Al’s been a brick through Carrie’s recent medical situation. My Mom has an expression: “Just pull the shade!” It means try to block out something which is upsetting or unpleasant. For the first few years that Carrie and Al were together, I raised pulling the shade to an art form. You see Al is a New York Yankee’s fan. Maybe because he is such a nice fellow and has such excellent taste in women, I just couldn’t believe that he could be a fan of Major League Baseball’s Evil Empire! So for the longest time I simply blocked it out and spoke to him about baseball as if he were part of Red Sox Nation!

Well, I’ve finally come to accept it. Partly because Al comes by his New York loyalty by way of his late father, who was a total Yankee’s fan. I have to respect a father son thing like that. But Al also just won us over by being a prince to Carrie. And if Carrie can sit beside him and watch the Boston Red Sox play against the New York Yankees and still love the guy, well, so be it.

Today, when I called to see how Carrie was, I even went so far as to congratulate Al on the Yankees success against Boston last night. It’s O.K. Nobody is going to pull my Red Sox Nation Card. We’ve won four out of the five times we’ve played them this season and what the heck, the Yankees are in last place. Besides, Al really is a great guy!

Carrie is feeling better and stronger every single day. She will even be going back to work this week. But her colleagues have sworn to keep an eye on her and her workload, so she doesn’t overdo it. We remain so thankful that she has no residual impairment from the neurological incident and that her heart has been behaving normally! Thank you all for your caring, cheering and support. Carrie, Al and all of Team Carrie rock!

:: Go Red Sox!

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Eeny, Meeny, Miney...

I am completely distracted. O.K. that’s only partly true. I am also completely obsessed. Scrap Girls, the digital scrapbooking website, is having a very good sale. They are calling it “Mischief Week” and it is definitely causing mischief around here! Nearly everything in their store is 21.9% off. They also have a Coupon Code which will get you an additional 5% off! The sale ends at Midnight, April 30, 2007 (MST)!

As you may remember, I’m still working on learning Adobe Photoshop Elements and digital scrapbooking in general. But don’tcha think having a few really gorgeous paper and embellishment sets would be inspiring and um, motivating? Yeah, me too!

Friday, April 27, 2007

White & Yellow

Today was a low and slow kind of day. It was drizzly, cool and raw. Seemed like a perfect night to make a fish chowder for dinner. Luckily all the important ingredients were in the house so I was able to go from cutting board to pot to table in short order. Here in southern New England, “chowder” generally means some sort of fish or seafood in a milk or cream base. But it can also be tomato based or a clear broth. The milk/cream chowders can also be thick or thin. I won’t go into the regional names - that just leads to unnecessary arguments - but the three styles are sometimes shorthanded as white, red or clear. Tonight we had a white chowder made with Cod, kind of on the thick side. It was scrumptious - if I do say so myself!

I took this daffodil photo earlier this week. I thought a bit of yellow might help brighten up the day.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

An Apple & A Teacher

We’ve had our Apple notebook computer for over two years now and we absolutely love it. We like the rock solid reliability and incredibly intuitive ease of use. When we first bought it, we just wanted a computer to do all the humdrum things one does with a computer. It didn’t take long before we found ourselves actually having fun with the computer and using it for increasingly interesting things!

Today we made our first trip to one of the Apple in-store “Genius Bars”. We were running into a little glitch whenever we tried to download the last track of a very long CD. We booked an appointment online using the Apple Concierge Service. All went smoothly as we have come to expect whenever we’ve had occasion to call their tech support. Charlie, the genius who helped us, was an excellent, low key teacher who was a wizard with the keys and peripherals, yet never left us in the dust. He was able to break everything down into small enough bites for us to digest. Nor did he seem the least bit dismayed that we owned the computer equivalent of a Ferrari and hardly ever got it out of second gear or looked under the hood! Who knows, maybe one of these days we’ll get it all the way into third!

:: Team Carrie Update:

Carrie’s CAT Scan was clear!
Carrie’s MRI was clear!
While she did have what her neurologist called “an incident” as a result of the heart procedure, there appear to be no long lasting problems! So it has come down to plenty of rest, tincture of time and lots of TLC! Hurray!
Thank you all, for all the good wishes!
Team Carrie Rocks!

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Smile For The Camera!

We had a plan for today. But it went out the window very early! So we regrouped and just went with the flow. (Not that we really had a choice!) We arrived home after dark to find this little Spotted Salamander (Yup - that’s the official name) perched in front of our barn door. The temperature was a nippy 41 degrees (5 C) and this guy (gal?) was moving very slowly. Which may explain how willing he/she/it was to be photographed!

:: Team Carrie Update:

Carrie has had a bit of a medical hiccup. She has been experiencing some unexpected side effects from her heart procedure last week. Her doctors have put her through a battery of tests, including an MRI tonight. We are hoping the symptoms will yield to medical expertise, “tincture of time” and more rest. She is the salt of the earth and is grateful for all of your caring and good wishes! Please hold her in your thoughts as her docs try to sort this all out.
I'll keep you posted.

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


I am so grateful to the Democratically controlled United States Congress for shining a bright, unflinching light on President George W. Bush’s administration and policies. Today, Private Jessica Lynch and relatives of the late Corporal Pat Tillman testified before Congress. They all spoke plainly, eloquently and with passion. I hope the administration heard their words and that somewhere deep inside their collective heart, they began to understand the damage they have done to our nation, the citizens of Iraq, our people and the world.

This is a painful time for our country as we struggle to begin to right the wrongs surrounding the war in Iraq. We also must continue to undo the assault on our Constitution which the misguided policies of the war against terror have brought about. We must also face our shame so that we can learn from it and never allow our nation to be dragged this low again. All the while, we must never fail to support the men and women of our armed services.

It was Supreme Court Justice Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941) who wrote: “Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” Here’s to much more sunlight.

Monday, April 23, 2007

Quick Change

Today was sunny with not a cloud in the sky - just the moon. The temperature rose to an unseasonable 85 F (29 C - I think!). It felt as if we had leap-frogged over spring directly into summer. But the lack of green leaves on the trees belied the truth. Only the lilac bushes were showing a few tiny new leaves. I’m almost ready to say winter is really over!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Multiple Savings

For the last several years Chuck & I have made a concerted (and successful) effort to limit the number of shopping trips we make and combine as many errands as possible into a single expedition. It has saved time, money, gasoline, wear and tear on the car and pollution. This strategy, coupled with purchasing multiples of items at the best price, has been working well for us.

A few shopping trips ago we had trouble locating an item. We found ourselves adding stops along the way in an effort to obtain it. Granted, the stops were all along the same general route, but it got us thinking about what made good sense - especially when we came up empty handed!

We’ve also shopped online for a number of years. But after that wild goose chase we thought it might be a good idea to check the internet for some of the items we use on a regular basis. So far we have found two products we needed (which have been hard to find in stores), at very good prices and bought multiple units online. In both instances we got free shipping and handling.

On the second purchase we were able to save even more by using an online resource. First we did all of our comparison shopping online (and saved items to Kaboodle). Once we found our best price, we typed “online coupons” into the Google search box. Up popped over a million results! We browsed around a couple of different sites, typing the name of our online retailer into their search boxes. On our second try we found a coupon worth $5.00 off our already lowest total! All we had to do was click on the link and we saved the five bucks. If I felt one of these online coupon sites was hands down better than all the rest, I would include a link. But I can’t yet see a clear winner. BTW, these sites aren’t just limited to US retailers. And you can also print out coupons from these sites to use in person at brick and mortar stores. I hope “online coupons” work for you!

:: Red Sox Notes UPDATE:

The Red Sox swept the Yankees in all three games at Fenway!

Boston Red Sox 7, New York Yankees 6

And tonight, for the first time in Red Sox history, the Sox scored four consecutive Home Runs off the same pitcher! Manny Ramirez, J.D. Drew, Mike Lowell and Jason Varitek hit four in a row off Yankees pitcher Chase Wright!

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Mrs. Farley

When I was a little kid, I was extremely shy. I would hide my face in the fabric of my grandmother’s coat, rather than talk to the folks she was trying to introduce me to. I was so afraid to speak up in first grade, that I was assigned to a lower reading group. At some point I realized that I didn’t belong with the “Bluebirds” and found the courage to begin reading aloud the way I actually could. Soon I was transferred up to the “Robins”. But I was still a timid little girl.

Until I entered third grade. That’s when I was assigned to Mrs. Farley’s class. She was an older woman, tall, with graying, strawberry blonde hair. She had a deep, gravelly voice and a stern, gruff manner. It sounds like a match made in hell, but she was a Godsend to me. She must have seen something in the quiet little girl behind the cat’s eye glasses. She took me aside one day and explained that she was giving me greater latitude, independence and responsibility than the other kids. Mind you, I was about eight at the time. For instance if I needed to get a drink of water or use the lavatory, I could just quietly step out of the room. She said she knew I wouldn’t abuse the privilege. I never did. It seems an odd thing, but in those 180 school days, Mrs. Farley transformed me. I blossomed into a sort of extroverted introvert. In time, I wasn’t afraid to speak up in classes, stand up to people in authority, look out for the underdog, get on stage, serve as a lector and teach. I still felt those shadows of shyness, but they stayed in abeyance as my sense of confidence and competence grew.

The story doesn’t end there. The story only began there. But for tonight, I’ll leave it with a thank you to my third grade teacher. Thank you Mrs. Farley, for drawing me out of my shell. Thank you for helping me claim and grow into the life I was meant to have.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

With Flying Colors!

Carrie is FINE!!! She came through the procedure on her heart with courage and grace! Overall, it did not take as many hours as they had predicted. It was however, far more harrowing than any of us had anticipated. Even the doctor acknowledged that he had some challenging, adrenaline filled moments. But the doctors and nurses were finally able to cause the heart to behave exactly the way they needed it to and then remove the offending tissue. Carrie went through a medical, physical and emotional roller coaster, all while having to remain completely still, yet wide awake. Courage and grace...

There were seven of us in the waiting room. We called ourselves “Team Carrie”. Chuck and I had purchased some lanyards and then printed out mailing labels with the moniker in red caps lock. We stuck the labels onto 3x5 index cards, added a red heart sticker, punched a hole and assembled. We wore them all day, everywhere we went. The staff referred to us as “Team Carrie” and even shepherded all seven of us into Recovery to escort Carrie up to her room!

In one of his books, Dr. Bernie Siegel, MD pointed out that it is important not to be a “patient patient”, but to speak up for oneself. It is also vital for a patient to have a friend or family member available to serve as a patient advocate. Carrie represented herself beautifully and we were a team of advocates at the ready. We also all had cell phones and kept retreating to the designated cell phone area to keep the rest of the family in the loop, especially Carrie’s Mom, Gail.

Thank you all for your good wishes, your prayers and holding Carrie in your heart. Carrie, Gail and the rest of “Team Carrie” were touched and grateful to think so many of you were sending positive energy from all around the world.

:: I keep hearing Louis Armstrong singing:
“...and I think to myself, What a Wonderful World..."

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


Dear Readers,

I’m writing today to ask you for something. Tomorrow, my 30 year old niece and Goddaughter, Carrie, will be having a procedure done on her heart. According to her doctors, it has a 95% success rate, for which we are deeply grateful. But still, the thought of two different healing tools working inside her heart, leaves us understandably a little anxious. The procedure is expected to take between three and six hours and Carrie needs to remain awake throughout. They expect her to be able to return home on Friday.

I’m asking you to send your good wishes Carrie’s way; to hold her in your thoughts, in your heart tomorrow. If you pray, I ask you to say a prayer for her.

Carrie is my sister Gail’s eldest daughter. With Gail having just moved to Georgia, this is her first time mothering at such a great distance - not an easy thing to do. So please send a good thought Gail’s way as well.

Chuck and I will be down at the hospital in Rhode Island tomorrow, in order to be with Carrie and the rest of her cheering section/entourage of family and friends. I probably won’t be able to give an update here until Friday. Please assume that no news is good news!

I have “met” kind, warm, funny, intelligent and compassionate people throughout the blogosphere, from all around the world. That’s why I feel comfortable reaching out to you in this way.

On behalf of Carrie, thank you. And I thank you, too.

- Lee

Tuesday, April 17, 2007


We’ve lived here, in a fairly rural part of central Massachusetts, for thirteen years. Once, in the heart of summer, our land thick and lush with green, I was working outside and heard a rustling, snapping sound off in the distance, near our stone wall. It was late afternoon, the sun golden. In a slight opening in the foliage, in full sun, I saw the head, shoulders and antlers of a deer. He was magnificent. By the time I registered his presence and sucked in my breath, he leapt over the stone wall and disappeared into the woods. That was the only time I have actually seen a deer on our property.

Late this afternoon, Chuck glanced out our bedroom window and spoke in a stage whisper: “Lee! Deer!” (When I saw his face and caught his sight-line out the window, I knew he hadn’t said: “Lee, dear!”) Sure enough there was a female White Tail Deer in our driveway, in front of the lilac bushes. Chuck’s eyes resolved more slight movement before mine did, as he spotted four more does! He quickly got the camera and I snapped as many pictures as I could. Nature and natural selection have made these creatures nearly invisible in this landscape. These unretouched photos were taken through our old multi-paned windows (with white mullions and muntins), through the storm window, which was covered in raindrops!
That said, enjoy!

P.S. If you like, you can put your cursor over a photo here in Blogger, click and have it open in a larger format.

Monday, April 16, 2007

According To Webster’s

The Pioneer Valley in Massachusetts runs along the Connecticut River. It is home to many colleges including Amherst and Smith and it is known for its open minded, liberal and green attitudes. The folks who will take any job, for almost any pay, just to keep living there, call themselves Valley Rats. They love the essence of the place. We do too.

The last time Chuck and I were out in the Valley, we saw (as we usually do) automobile bumpers covered with a patchwork of stickers. When we got home we looked up a few of them. Our favorites were the ones that spell out “Peace” and “Coexist” using a variety of symbols. But I can’t figure out to type them here! So my "type-able" top pick of the day is this one:

liberal: (lib’er-al), n. One who is generous; one who favors greater freedom in political or religious matters; one free from prejudice or narrow thinking
Ant.- stingy, mean, bigoted or conservative
---- Webster’s International Dictionary

You can find it, and other interesting things, at the PeaceMonger website.

:: Red Sox Notes:

My niece Kate and her husband Phil braved the nor’easter today and went to Fenway Park. They were lucky, in that the rain stopped. They also brought the Red Sox luck!

Final Score for Marathon Monday:
Boston Red Sox 7, LA Angels 2

Sunday, April 15, 2007

Mr. Robinson & My Dad

The early history of the game of baseball in the United States, is made complex by the wide variety of amateur and professional teams, clubs and leagues that existed. At various points during the 1800s, there were instances of black and white men playing on the same team or competing against one another. But in the 1870s, players were segregated when black men were prohibited from playing Professional Baseball. This change gave rise to Professional Negro Leagues which grew out of a variety of amateur black teams. Professional Baseball in the U.S remained segregated until 1947 when Jackie Robinson was hired to play for the Brooklyn Dodgers. That was 60 years ago today.

In 1950, Mr. Robinson made a movie called The Jackie Robinson Story, where he played himself. Many years later in the 1960s, my Dad went in the hospital for surgery. I was too young to be allowed to visit him, so I wrote him a letter. That same day I had watched “The Jackie Robinson Story” on television. I sat down and wrote to my Dad what turned into something like a book report or a movie review. I told my Dad all about Mr. Robinson, what a great baseball player he was and how he was the first black man allowed to play in the major leagues. I also told Dad how mean and unfair people had been to Mr. Robinson. My Dad loved that letter. I loved my Dad. In my mind, Dad and Jackie Robinson are inextricably linked.

I now know that my letter must have meant something more to my Dad, at a deeper level. My parents were born in the 1920s, here in the U.S., into white working class families. It was an era when all kinds of prejudice were not only the social norm, but supported by law. When Dad and Mom married, they made a conscious decision not to allow prejudice to flow down to their children. It would be decades before I learned about that decision. But when I wrote that letter to my Dad about Mr. Robinson, my parents must have been gratified at a level a little kid couldn’t grasp. Especially a little kid who had been raised to believe that everyone was created equal.

Saturday, April 14, 2007


Late this afternoon, Chuck and I headed over to the high school track for a walk. Because we have seen dozens of robins there before, this time I remembered to bring the camera. It was cool, calm and the leading edge of a cloud deck from a major nor’easter was already overhead. Sure enough the robins didn’t disappoint. They did however manage to keep a safe, and therefore not very camera-friendly, distance from us at all times!

In addition to the dozens of robins on the playing field, there was a marvelous chorus of robins singing in the trees. Because our Canon PowerShot S2 IS has a little video feature, I gave it a whirl.
Hmmm... Let’s just say I need to give it another whirl!

This is the first time I’ve ever tried uploading my own video to YouTube and embedding it in Pink Granite. I can’t figure out why the big YouTube Logo appears some of the time and at other times a still from the clip appears. Any advice?

Be warned, the sound is better than the video. Perhaps you should close your eyes and treat it as an MP3! I’ve also provided a few still photos in case you keep your eyes open!


On Wednesday, I mentioned I made cod for dinner and topped it with “Panko”. I was asked to elaborate on what Panko is. Panko is known as Japanese Bread Crumbs or Japanese Style Bread Crumbs. Here in Southern New England, we can buy it in bulk or pre-packaged at Whole Foods Stores or pre-packaged at Trader Joe's Stores. It is also available on-line from a number of Asian food purveyors worldwide.

The run of the mill "store bought" bread crumbs tend to be the consistency of corn meal. Panko crumbs are larger, coarser and look like crisp bits of bread. But they are not big cubes like croutons. You can use Panko in almost any preparation that you would use regular bread crumbs. My favorite way to use them is as a final topping for vegetable or seafood casseroles. For example, the other night I took two individual au gratin dishes and laid in the cod filets. In a small sauce pan, I put some crushed garlic along with a small amount of butter and olive oil. I added a bit of sherry, some white wine and a pinch of salt. When it had reduced some, I spooned it over the cod. Next I grated on some Asiago cheese. Then I shook on some Panko bread crumbs. I used a refillable pump mister and spritzed some olive oil over the crumbs. I put the dishes into our counter top convection oven, at about 400 degrees. The crumbs get toasty, crispy and golden brown, while the cod cooks up flakey and still moist.
Yum indeed!

P.S. Thanks for the question, Roo!

Friday, April 13, 2007

Welcome Home!

My Mom is back home, safe and sound, after her big adventure with her middle daughter Gail. Three weeks ago Mom, my sister Gail, along with Gail’s cat Chloe, drove from Rhode Island to Georgia. (Actually, Chloe didn’t drive much!) The trip was prompted by Gail’s relocation to Georgia for her job. Mom felt some understandable trepidation before the more than 1,000 mile trip. But once they arrived in Greater Atlanta, the anxiety melted away. Seeing her middle “chick” settled and happy in her new “nest” brought Mom great satisfaction. So with Gail unpacked and back to her work routine, Mom continued the adventure by flying home through a big storm yesterday. Our indefatigable, octogenarian Mother arrived a couple of hours late, but she made it!

Thursday, April 12, 2007

A Simple Step, A Clear Message

“Step It Up 2007” is coordinating events across the U.S. this Saturday, April 14th, to call for action on climate change. The succinct message: “Step It Up Congress! Cut Carbon 80% by 2050.” Gatherings to fight global warming and support clean energy are taking place all over the country. To learn more, go to the Step It Up website. Be sure to click on the button which says: “Find/Join An Action” to locate where you can go and be heard.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007


Today brought sun, warmer temperatures, softer breezes and this delicate, determined beauty.

The omelette I made this morning with the asparagus and mushrooms leftover from Easter dinner was just right. The cod I prepared this evening in the sherry and wine sauce with panko crumbs made us both smile.

Today, I am not simply feeling grateful, I am overwhelmed with gratitude.

I wish you the same...

Tuesday, April 10, 2007


The last bits of snow are clinging in the shady pockets. Temperatures have been in the twenties at night, windy and still unseasonably cool during the day. The ice is nearly out on all the ponds, but a few mica-thin sheets remain. The landscape is still wearing its winter weary grays and browns.

Into all of that lingering winter, the crocuses rose up, managing to surprise us as they so often do. Can they know how much reassurance, hope and promise they stir in us?

:: Red Sox Notes:

Fenway Park Home Opener:
Boston Red Sox 14, Seattle Mariners 3

“So Good! So Good! So Good!”

Monday, April 9, 2007

Ladies and Gentleman, Boys and Girls...

Tomorrow is Opening Day for the Boston Red Sox at Fenway Park! They will face off against the Seattle Mariners at 2:05 p.m. Opening Day has always been a big deal around these parts. But it has become even more so since the “New Owners” took over in 2002. These guys (John Henry, Tom Werner, Larry Lucchino, et al) possess not only a love of baseball, the sport, but an instinctive understanding of the role a team like the Red Sox plays in the heart of a community. By community, I refer to all those who love the Red Sox and consider themselves, these days, a part of Red Sox Nation. This new administration (including Theo Epstein as General Manager) has done everything they and their financial resources can do to bring the best talent on board. They also have respected the temple that is Fenway Park and have managed to make dramatic changes to the park without damaging the spiritual, historic and sentimental meaning of it. They also seem to be able to rile up the fans throughout the season and during the hot stove months, without completely angering and alienating them!

Tomorrow, just before two in the afternoon, there will no doubt be a moving ceremony at Fenway Park. One important component will be honoring the 1967 American League Championship Red Sox Team, including Hall of Famer Carl Yastrzemski. It will stir our emotions and our memories, while simultaneously psyching us up for a winning 2007 season. In that moment when Johnny Pesky concludes the ceremonies and says: “Play ball!”, we will all feel excitement and relief. Why relief? Once upon a time, way, way back, before 2004, after the first loss of any season, fans would turn to one another, sigh, and say: “Just wait ‘til next year...” Now, we believe.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Making Progress...

After I posted about my frustration with Photoshop Elements (PSE) 4.0, Chuck and I continued to try to find some useful information. We were looking for a key which would bring about one of those magical “Aha!” moments. I’m sorry to report that we didn’t find a magic key, but we did find some free Video Podcasts on Apple iTunes which proved very helpful:
- “Adobe Photoshop Elements Killer Tips” by Corey Barker
- “Learn Photoshop Elements 4.0” by Nancy Spoolman
The Corey Barker videos are professional, fast paced and (for the moment) a little bit advanced for us. But they definitely whet your appetite to learn as much as you can, as fast as you can. The Nancy Spoolman videos are far less polished, slower paced and perfect, in that she does not edit out her own errors! We found her hesitation, backtracking and undoing very reassuring!

It also helped a lot to receive comments from readers of this blog about their frustration with PSE and to read similar tales of woe in book reviews for PSE manuals and in Digital Scrapbooking Forums! So, hoping for the best, but prepared for the worst, Chuck and I parked ourselves in front of the computer to tackle PSE once again. This time, we made a little progress! It’s far from a masterpiece, and if we hadn’t merged/flattened/squashed/locked - whatevered it, we would still be editing it. But we’re tickled that it exists at all!

The photographs are all ours, taken last spring around our yard.
Note: the background image is the same as the bottom center photo!
The orange “Happy Spring Tag” (CFR_DHA_HappySpringTag.png) was designed by Darlene Haughin and downloaded for free from Scrap Girls.

Without further ado, here is our first, all on our own, digitally scrapped page:

:: Happy Easter!

Saturday, April 7, 2007

The Tax Man Cometh...

On March 13th I wrote about the possibility of filing your U.S. Federal Tax Return electronically for free. We are happy to report that the friend we helped through that process received her federal and state refunds via direct deposit within a week of filing! We were all very pleased with the process and the results. However, Chuck and I hadn’t gotten around to finishing our own returns. So that was today’s project. We ran into a software glitch, but the customer service gentleman at Intuit’s Turbo Tax was able to clear things up quickly. Soon we had electronically filed both our federal and Massachusetts returns. Now we just have to wait for the confirmation process.

I truly don’t mind paying taxes. I understand and appreciate the need to fund all kinds of programs and services locally and nationally. What I absolutely detest is how incredibly complicated the process is. I’ve been using some version of Turbo Tax since the late 1980s and except for one quirky and unusual state tax situation, have never had a problem. (Knock wood, fingers crossed!) But without a reliable software program, we might not be able to file taxes on our own without professional assistance.

The other thing that drives me crazy is the feeling that taxes aren’t being calculated and paid on a level playing field. Oddly enough, the topic of “Taxes” is the only issue that Chuck and I cannot discuss calmly. We actually have declared it off limits!!! We are both O.K. about paying our fair share of taxes, so filing is no problem. But when we get into how taxes are calculated, well, let’s just say it’s not pretty! In fact, I need to stop before I inadvertently violate our house rule!

If you’ve filed, congratulations! If you haven’t, I wish you well!

Friday, April 6, 2007

Do You Kaboodle?

No, not canoodle! That’s an entirely different matter! I may be late to the party, but I just discovered “Kaboodle”. If you’re familiar with’s Wish Lists, Kaboodle is basically the same thing, but for anywhere you shop on the World Wide Web. It’s very handy for comparison shopping. Usually, we open multiple browser windows so we can flip back and forth between shops, but that can get cumbersome. We also use the Apple Stickies - little on-screen Post-It-Note style notes which can be edited and saved.

But with Kaboodle, once you register (it’s free), you download a button that you park on your bookmark bar. Then, whenever you see an item you want to remember, you simply click on that button and Kaboodle adds the item to your lists. It also allows you to add a note to the item. You define and customize your lists. You also can keep your lists private and viewable only by you. Just take a few minutes to edit all your lists to the “private” vs. “public” setting. Or keep them public and let the whole world know what you’re lusting after! It’s up to you!
:: Enjoy!

Thursday, April 5, 2007

Laziness May I Never Offend Thee!

As kids, anytime we took an obviously easy way out of an already simple problem, we would call out that self-deprecating phrase.
Well, “Laziness may I never offend thee!” Overnight we got a snowfall which looks so identical to a week ago Sunday’s snowfall. that I chose to stay warm and dry indoors. All it would have taken was for me to just pick up the camera and step out the back door. But, Nooo! Instead, I remembered I had the above snow photo sitting in iPhoto, waiting for me to upload it. So staying warm and dry and admittedly lazy, I did just that! But, having been raised Roman Catholic, I confessed it all here!

:: Red Sox Notes:

Last night:
Boston Red Sox 7, Kansas City Royals 1

I love that it was the exact opposite of Monday night’s score!
Very good “reverse the curse” kind of omen!
Doing a little happy dance!

Wednesday, April 4, 2007

Battling The Elements

I have been battling Elements - Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 - all day long! Actually I’m embarrassed to admit that I have owned PSE 4.0 for months now and have yet to make a digital scrapbook page completely from scratch! I can do a few things (a very few things) with ease, but building up and locking(?) merging(?) layers has eluded me. Today, Chuck (Wonder Hubby/Hero/BFF), saw I was about to throw the laptop and then myself out the window and rushed over on his white horse to rescue me.

Chuck and I have very different learning styles. He opens an instruction manual and devours it as if it were a riveting novel. I like to jump right into the middle of something and figure it out as I go along. Thankfully, we own an Apple computer and darn near every bit of software is so naturally intuitive, that my learning style gets me deep into a project before I need to pull up a Help Menu - if at all.

So Chuck started at square one with Photoshop Elements. Eventually he found a nifty little tutorial on creating a collage page, which on the surface, is the most basic of scrapbook pages. He printed it out and we sat down together to follow it step by step. Within minutes, even with my brilliant, former computer software teacher husband by my side, we got exactly the same frustrating results I have been getting all along!

It isn’t at all how Chuck had planned to help me, or what I had hoped the outcome would be. But Boy Howdy, he made me feel so much better! I no longer feel like a complete idiot. And that is just one more reason why I love my husband.

As for PSE 4.0 ----- FEH!
Well, at least for tonight...

Tuesday, April 3, 2007

Charity Navigator

I’ve written here before about feeling overwhelmed and helpless by the news that flows into our home through all the various media. Sometimes we respond by making phone calls to elected officials. Sometimes we write letters to those same folks in power. Sometimes we march or carry signs or stand in the night with flickering candles. Sometimes we write a check.

Before we write a check, we want to be sure that our money is going to be doing what we want it to do. That’s where Charity Navigator comes in. You can go to the website and look up more than 5,000 charities. The site is easy to use and is both broad and deep in the information you can find there. You don’t even have to go to the site knowing the name of a specific charity. You can browse by category or type in a search word.

We all want to help. Time, resources and money are not limitless. Charity Navigator is a useful tool to make the best use of all three.

Monday, April 2, 2007

National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month. The good folks over at The Academy of American Poets will provide you with a variety of ways to jump into poetry this month and every month. Write a poem. Read a poem. Go to a poetry reading. Look up the poetry scene in your state - both historical and contemporary.

One poetry collection I’ve enjoyed is “Poetry 180” edited by Billy Collins. When Mr. Collins was the Poet Laureate of the United States he created the program: Poetry 180, A Poem A Day For American High Schools. The Poetry 180 website remains part of the Library of Congress and is regularly updated with new poems. Enjoy!

:: Red Sox Notes:

Kansas City Royals 7, Boston Red Sox 1


Sunday, April 1, 2007

Play Ball!

Yesterday, we saw at least two dozen Robins over at the high school while we were walking around the track. They looked beautiful and sounded sweet. It felt like spring. We’ve also begun to see the Phoebes flitting from wires to posts to tree branches with their distinctive tail bob. They also make us feel as if spring is here. But nothing confirms the arrival of spring in Red Sox Nation like Baseball’s Opening Day! Tomorrow, the Red Sox are opening in Kansas City against the Royals in their home opener. Friday, they will play the Texas Rangers in Arlington in their home opener. Finally, next Tuesday the 10th, the Red Sox will face off against the Seattle Mariners at Fenway Park in our own home opener! We’ll have to wait until Friday, April 20th for the last, big, unofficial kick-off to the season, when the Red Sox face their arch rivals the New York Yankees for the first time in 2007. But we do it at home, making it all the better!

Despite my grandfather, my mother’s dad, having played baseball in the early part of the last century, I didn’t grow up as an avid baseball fan. My Dad didn’t follow baseball. He enjoyed watching hockey and football. My favorite sport to play in high school was Team Handball - not exactly the world’s most popular sport! But I loved the strategy coupled with sheer strength and power needed to make a play to score a goal. At one point, during a gym class, we played “girls against the boys”. I can still remember the thrill of sending the ball so forcefully into the net, that the male goalie ducked instead of blocking! And he was a football player!

It wasn’t until Chuck and I got together that I started watching Red Sox baseball regularly. The more I learned, the more interesting it became and the more I wanted to watch. Gradually, I fell in love with the team camaraderie, the quirks of individual players, the history, the announcers play by play and color commentary, the Red Sox fans, and the grace, pace and elegance of the game itself. As I’ve said before, I don’t memorize the vast quantities of exhaustively (dare I say excruciatingly?) detailed statistics that some people relish. God bless ‘em, but that’s not where the fun lies for me. And the nice thing about baseball is that there’s room for everybody, at all levels of interest, under the tent. Well, unless you think it’s O.K. to leave the park in the 8th inning to try to beat the traffic. I can’t remember if it’s venial or mortal, but it’s definitely a sin! Wait a minute. I know. If the Red Sox are behind in the 8th and you still leave to beat traffic, that’s definitely a mortal sin! So sit down, park it and lock it, and let’s play ball!!!