Thursday, May 31, 2007

Once In a Blue Moon...

Tonight the moon will be full. Because it is the second full moon in the month of May, it is commonly referred to as a “Blue Moon”. The meaning of a blue moon has changed quite a bit over the years. Click on this link or this one to learn a little more about the tradition of naming full moons.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Late Bloomer

We didn’t miss them all! This beautiful cluster of rhododendron blossoms was hiding down low and toward the back. I still don’t know what else I missed this spring, but I am so delighted these blooms were patiently waiting for us to discover them!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Easy Delicious Gazpacho

I used to make Gazpacho completely from scratch. Then a couple of summers ago I improvised a “quick and dirty” recipe on a sweltering summer night. Having received a big thumbs up from Chuck, I never looked back. Be warned, if you are a Gazpacho purist, stop reading now. Or, if you require precise measurements in a recipe, you too should skip this one. But if you like to wing it in the kitchen and a recipe is just a jumping off point --- enjoy!

2 cans of Del Monte Stewed Tomatoes, already chilled
Yes, cans - I warned you! ;o)
(14 1/2 oz. each Original Recipe with onions, celery & green peppers)
Lime juice
Garlic powder
Onion powder
Chili powder
Ground Cumin
Cucumber - small dice
Celery - small dice
Green Pepper - small dice
V8 Vegetable Juice (tomato based) - chilled
Splash of your favorite hot sauce

Dump the cans of stewed tomatoes into a bowl and using an immersion (stick) blender, pulse the tomatoes to break them into very small pieces. Do not puree. Add the lime juice and the four dried spices. Stir and set the bowl in the refrigerator to keep chilling. Dice the cucumbers, celery and green peppers (amounts are up to you) and add to the tomato mixture. Stir. Add V8 until you achieve the desired “soupy” consistency and balance of liquid to diced bits. Taste. Adjust spices and add a splash of your favorite hot sauce if desired. Serve chilled.

You can make and serve this immediately, if you had a couple of cans of the stewed tomatoes in the refrigerator. Or make it ahead and allow all the flavors to marry. We enjoy it served with thin, white corn tortilla chips.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Service, Sacrifice & Gratitude

My grandmother Catherine gave birth to five sons. Her first died in infancy. The rest grew up strong, healthy and each married and raised up children of their own. Before that could happen Catherine and her husband Alexander had to send all four of their surviving sons off to fight in World War II. Somehow, they all came home. They were changed, but they were still hale, hearty and whole.

Chuck’s grandmother Minnie gave birth to seven children, four of them sons. Minnie and her husband Louis had to send their three eldest sons off to fight in World War II. Only two sons came home - changed, but still hale, hearty and whole. Carl, their firstborn, was declared Missing In Action in Italy. It would take six more years and the efforts of his sister Shirley, before Carl’s remains would be identified. He was finally laid to rest back home in Massachusetts. Minnie became a Gold Star Mother, part of a club no woman wants to join.

Today, on Memorial Day, we remember them all. Today we express our gratitude to them all. But most especially to Uncle Carl who never got to put his degree from Harvard to civilian use, who never had the opportunity to marry and perhaps raise a family. Carl, who missed out on ordinary moments, sorrowful and celebratory occasions and all the little joys of everyday life.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Memorial Day






Hoping for

Working for


Saturday, May 26, 2007

Adding Details To Your Family Tree

If you are into family genealogy or just curious about your roots, has announced free access to its Military records until June 6, 2007. It’s fitting that they are opening up the records from Memorial Day until the anniversary of D-Day. Full monthly membership in ranges from around thirteen to thirty dollars (US).

Last night I looked up my father in their military records section. Dad served in North Africa and Italy during World War II. I found some information on Dad, but the biggest surprise was finding JPG images of the original WW II Draft Registration cards for Chuck’s grandfathers and my paternal grandfather. I hadn’t realized there had been an “Old Man’s Draft Registration” for the War, for men born on or after April 28, 1877 and on or before February 16, 1897. The cards hold a wealth of information including current address, employer, occupation and the name of the person “who will always know your address”. My maternal grandfather was born later, so his is a standard registration card, but with just as much information. There, at the bottom of each card, is the signature of our relatives.

We’ll be going back to to gather as much information as we can on all of our relatives. We’ve been downloading the JPG images of the registration cards and we’ll continue to add whatever we learn to the excellent Apple based genealogy program Reunion. I hope this proves beneficial to you in the search to fill out your family tree.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Pink Gives Way To Black

I know I’ve been busy. I know we’ve been away from the house a lot recently, attending to some family matters. But I feel a bit like Rip Van Winkle! Yesterday, as we were beginning the hour and three quarter drive from home to Boston, we passed by my friend Marion’s house. We both noticed her rhododendron was in full and glorious bloom. That’s funny, her rhody must have bloomed early this year, I said to Chuck. You see her rhody is on the eastern side of her house, in the shadow of a tall evergreen tree. Our rhody is on the southwest corner of our house and gets nearly unobstructed sun all day. But ours had yet to blossom.

Eleven and a half hours later, we returned after a day of helping a member of the family get settled back in at home after a hospitalization and then we ran some errands on the way home. It was nearly dark, but I peeked out the window to see if there were any riotous rhododendron flowers emerging from their enormous buds. Nope. So this morning I checked again in full sun. No buds, no blooms, just a profusion of tired browning stems and stamens scattered among the thick waxy leaves. The show was over and we had missed it!

After getting over the surprise, I kicked myself. How could I, who has been enjoying observing nature this year, not have seen a one and a half story tall rhododendron go into pinky-mauve-lavender bloom? Especially since this spring I have been making a point to go out each day and capture something with the digital camera. That’s when I stopped kicking myself and started blaming the black flies.

About two weeks ago the black flies emerged around here and set about buzzing and biting. Both Chuck and I got swarmed and munched every time we were outside. The black flies coincided with our family member being hospitalized and that overlapped with the wicked storm which wind and rain stripped most of the other petals I had been noticing. So rather than suit up like a beekeeper or a haz-mat worker I conceded the battle (and apparently a couple of weeks of spring) to the black flies. That’s how I completely missed the blooming of our rhododendron in the spring of 2007.

The nagging question remains: what else have I missed?!?!

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Oh Goody!

I know not all my regular readers share my burgeoning interest in Digital Scrapbooking, but I have to share an excellent discovery. There’s a gal in Germany who is just as smitten with IKEA as I am. Not only that, she is also a prodigious Digi-Scrapper. Better still, she constantly updates her blog with scads of links to Free Digi-downloads - papers, kits, templates - you name it! Here’s the link to her blog: IKEA Goddess. Can’t beat that name!

If everything in that last paragraph was written in an incomprehensible foreign tongue and appears to be typed in a non-Latin alphabet, I apologize. All it means is that I have found a blog portal to lots of good things and I am very happy about it!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Stop! Thief!

A young gal, just eighteen, who we love, recently got caught up in an insidious scam. It was a variation on the African internet money scam that has been around for several years. This version involved someone who claimed to be a woman artist living in England who needed an American “agent” to help her process payments for her artwork being purchased in the United States.

At my age and level of experience both in the world and on the internet, my first thought was: “Hasn’t this so-called artist ever heard of PayPal?” But as we read the string of e-mails that flowed back and forth between the scammer and our naive friend, we felt increasingly sick at heart watching the con artist tighten the noose on their mark.

I’m a cautious, careful person. That’s partly by nature, but mostly by experience. Beginning this blog took lots of research and a fair amount of soul searching and weighing of risks and benefits. Ultimately it took a leap of faith, paired with a belief in the inherent goodness of people. That’s part of what makes me so angry about a con artist and identity thief like this one. “She” counts on that trust, plays the odds by targeting someone young and doesn’t care one iota about the mess “she” creates or the pain “she” has caused. This lying thief just takes the thousands in ill-gotten money and moves on to the next victim.

In the process of investigating this situation, we learned that this thief has stolen the identity of a legitimate artist in New York named Jennifer Claire. To learn more about this and other scams, visit this site.

So beware yourself and please, mention internet scams and frauds to the people in your life. We can all use a cautionary tale once in a while.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Three Years and Counting...

Last Thursday, May 17th, was the third anniversary of the legalization of Same Sex Marriage in Massachusetts. Happily, despite repeated attacks, equal marriage has remained the law of the Commonwealth. But it faces another hurdle in just a few weeks at the Constitutional Convention. Mass Equality.Org has been running wonderful, personal, matter-of-fact ads on local television stations. Their eloquent slogan: It’s Wrong to Vote on Anyone’s Rights. I’ve written about this issue before. Today, let me simply say Happy Anniversary --- and many more!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Happy New Year

We’ve spent an unusual amount of time on the road this week. Some of it has been for pleasure, some required, some stressful (see Warning 5/16/07 below). So today Chuck and I focused on catching up to ourselves. The Boston Red Sox beat the Atlanta Braves in the first half of the double header this afternoon. Then, in varying amounts of pouring rain, the tables were turned in the second match up this evening. We enjoyed putting our feet up and taking it all in. OK. We enjoyed this afternoon’s game much more, especially when Mike Lowell hit a grand slam over the Green Monster! But whenever the Sox are playing and we can have the game on the TV or the radio, we find it all somehow soothing. Winning is better than losing, but the rhythm of the game, the voices of the commentators, the familiar surroundings, all make for a comforting package. I won’t attempt to make the comparisons of baseball to other sports, especially American football - comedian George Carlin already did that brilliantly. (You can listen here.) But I will say that the history of the game, the gracefulness coupled with sterling athleticism and the glacial pace punctuated by bursts of fevered excitement, make it a compelling and satisfying spectator sport. Not a bad way to spend the first full day of my “new year”!

Friday, May 18, 2007

Happy Birthday To Me!

”Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday to me,
Happy Birthday dear Lee
Happy Birthday to me -
and many more!

Is it rude to “sing” Happy Birthday to oneself?
Hope not, ‘cuz I just did!

Also, Happy Birthday to Roo over at Lala Ween World!!! I’m either two days late or right on time. Belated or spang on, we hope you had/have a wonderful birthday, Roo!

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Before The Storm

Wednesday, May 16, 2007


When you are halfway across the state from your home and they announce a tornado warning for your county, there isn’t anything you can do. What will be will be. But it doesn’t stop the adrenaline from racing through your system. So you try to talk yourself and each other down from the rush by reminding yourself that Massachusetts isn’t part of “Tornado Alley”. But as soon as you work through that thought, you remember the stories and the images from the Worcester County Tornado of 1953, which was absolutely devastating and deadly. Then the heavens open up and the rain comes in torrents and you have all you can do to drive without hydroplaning on the water that is falling so fast none of the manmade systems can absorb it quickly enough. So against the background noise of the pouring rain and the windshield wipers and the plumes of water spraying up like fountains from the wheels of the other cars and crashing against the windows, you struggle to listen to the car’s weather radio. The computer generated voices of NOAA weather radio tell you so much, but you want to see the multicolor Doppler radar images so you can pinpoint where the most damaging cells are in relation to your house and where you are right this instant. Eventually you just let go and let nature do what it will do, because that was your only option all along. You drive as responsibly, as safely as you can, pulling over when it is required to wait out another cloudburst. You still want to redirect the rain after the first inch has fallen, to go where the droughts and wildfires are. You’re human. You want to control, direct, have dominion. Instead you wait, and breathe and after a few hours of white knuckle driving, arrive home, just after the tornado warning has been lifted. Your house is there. You are not in Oz. The white and pink petals are trampled into the ground, like confetti after Carnivale. But you are home and whole and grateful.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Continuing To Think Ahead

Yesterday’s post sparked some discussion and caused me to remember a few things as well. Thanks to Tonya over at Ugly Is The New Pretty I have some more information to share. If you live in the U.S. and your elderly loved one falls within the low income bracket, they may be eligible for a ”Medicaid Waiver”. A waiver can provide for an in home care alternative to nursing home care. Programs and eligibility vary by state. Here’s a link to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. But you can get your state’s information by Googling “medicaid waiver” along with the name of your state.

Also, a few months ago I saw a news report about an underused benefit called a “Special Pension with Aid and Attendance Benefit”. If your elderly loved one is a U.S. wartime veteran or the surviving spouse of a wartime veteran, they may be eligible for this Aid and Attendance program. As with the Medicaid Waiver, there are income eligibility requirements. But if the claimant is “incapable of self support and in need of regular personal assistance” and they meet all the eligibility requirements they could receive money toward in home care, assisted living facilities or nursing home care. The Veteran Aid website has lots of useful information about this and other veterans’ benefits. The Veterans Administration has issued a press release about this Aid and Attendance benefit as well.

Both of these programs can help specific groups of elderly receive services in their own homes. If you are currently seeking services, I hope this information and the links help you out. If you don’t need the information right now, you might wish to do what I’ve done. I set up a Bookmark Folder named “Elder Care & Senior Services”. Whenever I learn about something along these lines, I find the relevant websites and add their addresses to the folder.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Thinking Ahead

I’ve felt pulled in many directions lately. A healthcare need of a member of our extended family has cropped up and appropriately taken precedence over our typical day to day activities. That includes posting here on Pink Granite. I’ve also been thinking a lot (probably too much) about aging, independence, loss, assisted living facilities and nursing homes. A few months ago, I posted here about a wonderful concept called Beacon Hill Village. It’s a terrific, easily replicable support system which allows older folks to remain as independent as possible in their own homes. I want it to multiply and spread as fast as a rumor on the internet. I want it cloned and made available, as the saying goes, in every Middlesex village and town.

I know I’m not alone in my concern about what happens when we, or folks we love, need more care, more services as we age. A friend of mine is coping with this in an immediate and painful way right now as she tries to help her elderly Mom. We all have parents, grandparents and friends who have faced challenging, complex decisions related to growing older. With any luck at all, we will grow old enough to face such choices ourselves! So take a look at what I wrote previously about Beacon Hill Village, follow the links I embedded in that post and spread the word. Thanks.

Sunday, May 13, 2007

With Love & Gratitude

We send our love and gratitude on Mother's Day to Dorothy and Betty. We send the same to Catherine, Marion, Minnie and Rose. We reach farther back to thank Leah, Fannie, Esther, Bessie, Mary, Mary, Elizabeth and Augusta. We send our gratitude back before photographs, back to when their names are only remembered on yellowing pages in record books, back to before there were any written records at all. We thank all our mothers and their mothers, all the way back to stardust.

Images and layout copyright LMR/Pink Granite 2007. Esprit Transparency Graphic Squares by During Eberhart, copyright 2006 (available at Scrap Girls)

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Happy Mother's Day!

In honor of Mother's Day tomorrow, here's a little animation from Moms Rising. They are the offshoot group from which has developed the "Motherhood Manifesto". Their documentary film will be shown on PBS stations around the U.S. Here's hoping their work, coupled with our support, leads to improved conditions for parents and children everywhere!

You can send this as an e-mail or embed it in your own blog by clicking on the links at the end of the video.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Nature As Nurture

Only a few weeks after September 11, 2001, my eldest sister became gravely ill. It was a shocking, tumultuous time for the nation and the world. For our family, it was a time of fear and anxiety on far too many levels. Thankfully, Karen survived after a lengthy stay in the hospital and a long recovery at home. Like many other folks during that difficult time, Chuck and I had problems sleeping. If we could fall asleep right away, we would often wake up suddenly with a feeling of dread. We would turn on the television or the radio to listen to a few minutes of news. We were trying to ascertain that nothing else horrible had happened in the world. Briefly reassured, we would attempt to fall back asleep.

It was during this time that we discovered The Sounds of Acadia CD by Nature’s Symphony. I still remember the afternoon we played it for the first time. We hadn’t slept well the night before and I had a pounding headache. Chuck slipped it in the CD player and we let the sounds of surf, gulls and streams, recorded in Acadia National Park in Maine, coupled with gentle music wash over us. It wasn’t a magic wand, but it did make us feel sufficiently more relaxed that we played it again at bed time. We’ve played it nearly every night since. It still provides comfort.

Orange Tree Productions, the company that produces The Sounds of Acadia CD, has an extensive catalogue of music combined with the sounds of nature. Perhaps you’ll find one that soothes your soul.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

45 Days

45 days.
A month and a half.
That’s all the time that elapsed between these photos.
Same tree, same land, same planet.
Look how much can happen in such a short period of time.

:: What will you do in the next 45 days?

Monday, May 7, 2007

Creeping Along

These creeping phlox (or ground phlox) above, have been nestled in against this stone wall, down near the roadside, ever since we moved here. Each spring though, they seemed to suffer from the salt and sand the town spreads on the road in winter. A few years ago I transplanted several clumps up next to the barn. There they have flourished in full sun, in well drained soil. I love the new carpet of color below, that we can see out our kitchen window. But I still appreciate the feisty group where they came from.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Youth Meets Truth

When I was four, my Mom went back to work for the telephone company. My Dad was a regional salesman for a paint company. Dad would drive my Mom to work in the morning and then drop me off at my grandparents’ house for the day. Late in the afternoon Dad would come over after work to visit with Gagee and Gramps and then he and I would go and pick up Mom together. That was our routine for the next two years until I entered first grade. Yes, I was a very lucky kid.

Somedays, if Dad got done extra early, he and I would go over to Roger Williams Park. The Park was just around the corner from where Gagee and Gramps lived. It had a carousel, paddle boats, pony rides and it was lush and green and lovely. On the outskirts of the park there was a hot dog place. It was a small hole in the wall with a big sign that shouted: “Mile Long Hot Dogs”. Hmmm. Mile long hot dogs. I was little, but I knew a mile was very, very long. I must have pestered Dad about it, because one day we went in and each got a hot dog. You can imagine the visions of enormous hot dogs that danced in my head. Up came our order: two average sized rolls, each with a hot dog that extended off each end of the rolls. I was little, but I knew those were no mile long hot dogs!

We ate the hot dogs and I can’t remember the details of our conversation. I’m sure it involved some confusion and some discussion, perhaps even talk of false advertising (I was somewhat precocious!). By the time we finished our hot dogs we had settled on the best explanation. The owner of the hot dog stand most likely meant that if you were driving in a car, while eating one of his hot dogs, it would take you a whole mile to finish it. My faith in humanity restored, my tummy full of a mile long hot dog, Dad and I headed into the park. Yes, I was a very lucky kid.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Happy Birthday Sis!

”Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday to you,
Happy Birthday dear Karen
Happy Birthday to you -
and many more!

Today is Cinco de Mayo and the run for the roses will take place at the Kentucky Derby. But the Queen of England shouldn’t be at Churchill Downs. Her Majesty should be in Arizona celebrating a much bigger event - my sister Karen’s birthday! I hope Karen has a terrific birthday and that the next 365 days hold only happiness for her! Love you Karen!

Thursday, May 3, 2007


I’ve written about the lingering muted landscape of winter around this part of Massachusetts. This tumble of forsythia sprawls at one corner of our land, just in front of field cleared stone walls. Forsythia immediately sends me back to my childhood home where we had lots of bushes in every configuration. We even had a double hedge of it which lined each side of our back walk! I love the way these sudden sprays of color testify spring is well and truly here.

Carrie Says...

Hi Everyone,
I just wanted to thank you all for your thoughts and prayers! I am feeling well after my procedure and with lots of rest am back to "tip top" shape. Thanks again for all the support. Also, I am glad you feel my pain with living with a Yankees fan....I'll keep him though...he is a Carrie's fan too :)
Thanks to Auntie Lee, Uncle Chuck, Mom, Kate, Nana, Dad, and all my supporters out in blog land!
- Carrie

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Backing Up

Ever since we got our laptop computer two years ago, we have been using Apple's own (plainly named) "Backup" program to back up everything on our computer to DVDs. We did the enormous, take-forever back up once and then incremental backups every single week since then. But we kept hearing about the need for additional back ups, generally triple back ups, including one kept outside of your home. Worse still, we heard the horror stories of folks whose computers crashed, hard drives died, or laptops were stolen and they didn't have all their stuff backed up! Yikes! As increasing amounts of our "lives" are connected to our computer, we realized it was time to take the "belt and suspenders approach". So we purchased an external hard drive. That's what we've been working on today. So far so good. Once we finish the process, I'll let you know how it's working. Meanwhile, take this opportunity to go back up your stuff!

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

The First of May

At a quick glance, everything still seems the drab brown, gray, beige of winter. But there are bright streaks of spring green and small splashes of color from all along the spectrum. Here are a few more daffodils and the first definitive buds of lilac.