Friday, June 29, 2007

Summer Accessory

My favorite summer accessory is a folding fan. It’s actually more than just a favorite, it’s a necessity. I tuck one of these inexpensive little fans into my purse and I’m ready for hazy, hot and humid. Not a lot of folks carry these around here, but I don’t mind. They are simple, silent, compact and elegant. While other people are folding their programs into tight accordion pleats to get relief from the stifling heat, I’m fanning slowly, quietly and cooly! We purchased several of these about five years ago in a Japanese market in Cambridge. They were no more than a dollar or two each and have held up beautifully under steady summer use.

This afternoon the heat broke and the cool, dry air rolled in. But my fans are at the ready when our summer heats up again, as it surely will!

Thursday, June 28, 2007


Yesterday’s fierce storm apparently brought down the Phoebes' nest from outside our bedroom window. But thankfully the baby birds were fledged. Chuck was the first to spot all three little ones sitting side by side on a tree branch. They were so sweet and still, as if their folks had told them to stay put and not make a peep. Their parents were in active evidence, so we retreated and are hoping for the best for the whole family.

Today brought another hot and humid morning followed by thunder, lightning, torrential rains and high winds. As the clouds filled in this afternoon, I snapped this picture of our milkweed plant. Hopefully tomorrow the heat wave will break as predicted, the storms will cease and the Phoebes will all be well.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Radio Me

The Apple iPod has a nice feature called a Playlist. It allows you to drag your songs in and out of various lists of your choosing. I have one I call Lee’s Shower List, which really is the musical accompaniment to my getting ready in the morning. I like to think of it as “WLEE, Radio Me!” Here are 10 songs from that playlist, in no particular order, that keep me putting one foot in front of the other:

- “Standing Still And Dancing” by: David Buskin, from: Wealthy Man
- “The Hut Sut Song” by: Mel Tormé, from: Mel Tormé's Finest Hour
- “Non, je ne regrette rien” by: Édith Piaf, from: The Voice of the Sparrow
- “History Repeating” by: Propellerheads & Miss Shirley Bassey, from: Decksandrumsandrockandroll
- “The Reason” by: Hoobastank, from: The Reason
- “You Make Me Feel So Young” by: Frank Sinatra & Charles Aznavour, from: Duets
- “Your Body Is A Wonderland” by: John Mayer, from: Room for Squares
- “God Give Me Strength” by: Elvis Costello With Burt Bacharach, from: Painted From Memory
- “Rhode Island Is Famous For You” by: Michael Feinstein, from: Michael Feinstein Live At The Algonquin
- “Baby Girl” by: Sugarland, from: Twice The Speed of Life

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Bits & Pieces

- I was under the weather yesterday but am feeling much better today.
- The Pita tasted great on day two!
- I saw a cool slideshow with music over on a TypePad blog and have been scratching my head over how to load one of my own here on Pink Granite in Blogger. I can make it in iPhoto no problem and it turns into a QuickTime Movie, but because it ends in “.mov” I can’t upload it. I'd like it to be a clickable link rather than embedded. Advice?
- Foyle’s War is an excellent TV series. The latest installment is currently running on PBS here in the U.S.
- We are in the midst of a heat wave. Today it was 92 (@ 33 C). Tomorrow it is supposed to reach 95 (@ 35 C). Yes, I am very grateful for our little Energy Star window air conditioner in our bedroom!
- Del’s Frozen Lemonade (Caution: Their Site Is Noisy!) is an awesome Rhode Island Institution. I would give something precious for a Del’s right about now!
- I love the Boston Red Sox. Go Sox!

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Homemade Pita

My theory is that some people are very good at baking with yeast and some people are very good at baking pie crusts and very few people are very good at both. It’s just a theory. I’m not sure if I came up with it all on my own or if my grandmother Gagee stated it as a fact in order to make me feel better. As a young child, I liked baking bread and rolls. I happened to be good at it, which was a natural and powerful reinforcer to baking. But pie crusts - not so much. Even years later, when Pillsbury came out with a pre-rolled, refrigerated pie crust which I only had to drop in the the dish and crimp, I still managed to make a lousy pie crust!

Over the years my two favorite yeast bread recipes have been an “English Muffin Toasting Bread” and “Two Day Rolls”. So naturally, when Buréka Boy over at Is That My Buréka? posted his Pita 101 Recipe back in February, I was intrigued. He writes clear recipes interspersed with lots of step by step photos. He has a warm chatty style and often includes a bit of history. But back in February my stove was on its last legs and I had difficulty getting the oven to heat reliably. But a week or so ago he posted his alternate cooking method under the heading Summer Pita. In this variation, instead of baking the pitas in a very hot oven, you griddle them on top of the stove. Hmmmm.... We just replaced our stove a couple of weeks ago, so I have a great oven, but this new range has three continuous grates. The middle grate can be swapped out for a griddle. OK! Where’s my yeast?!

This morning I made 8 small loaves of homemade pita bread. They were not perfect, in that they did not all poof up that magical little steam bubble which creates the pocket. But they are delicious. The ingredients are simple and it made a lovely, silky textured dough which was elastic and not at all sticky. Next time (and Chuck let me know how much he wants there to be a next time!) I would roll them out a teensy bit thinner. But that’s the only thing I would change. And next time I’ll have a better feel for the temperature of the new griddle. All in all, not a bad first effort.

I served them today with sliced cucumber rounds, wedges of tomato, feta cheese and olives. I also made a coarsely textured white bean spread with lots of gently sauteed garlic and a touch of lemon and tahini. It’s a nice variation on a chick pea hummus.

Many thanks to Buréka Boy!

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Ten Questions Times Two

At the end of each interview James Lipton conducts on the television show Inside The Actors Studio, he asks his guest a series of questions. These ten questions originated with French journalist Bernard Pivot. I think it’s probably the original meme!

So in honor of my 200th post, I first posed them to Chuck:

What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)?
What turns you off?
Arrogance & Incompetence
What sound or noise do you love?
Lee’s laughter
What sound or noise do you hate?
The sound of a bone being crunched
What is your favorite curse word?
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What profession would you not like to do?
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
You done good!

Then I answered them:

What is your favorite word?
What is your least favorite word?
What turns you on (creatively, spiritually or emotionally)?
The Ocean
What turns you off?
What sound or noise do you love?
What sound or noise do you hate?
Buzzing alarm clocks
What is your favorite curse word?
Single word: F*ck - String of words: Too many to type here!
What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
What profession would you not like to do?
If Heaven exists, what would you like to hear God say when you arrive at the Pearly Gates?
Welcome! You were right. Your family and friends are right over there.

: : How would you answer them?

Friday, June 22, 2007

Summer, Day One

It’s deliciously, delightfully cool and almost chilly today! I’m sure there are plenty of folks around here grumbling a bit that the first full day of summer was so nippy. I am not among them. We started out breezy, dry and sunny, followed by a few rumbles of thunder and gentle rain. Now the temperature has dropped into the low 50s (@11 C). Considering my sister Karen has been in triple digits in Arizona for several days with a high today of 114 (@45 C), I’m happy to pull on a sweatshirt! (Yes, I know Karen. It’s a dry heat!) The meteorologists who like to make long range predictions are saying that we will have a pretty hot summer. So if I could bottle this I would.

Slight jump shift...

When I was a kid living in Rhode Island, we used to love to drive down to Sand Hill Cove on the south coast and spend the day at the beach. It was a beautiful sandy beach with a long, high pavilion complete with snack bars and changing rooms with showers. It wasn’t all that long a trip, although there is a tendency for Rhode Islanders to feel they should pack a lunch for any trip longer than 20 minutes! But because there could be very big differences in the weather between where we lived in Warwick and the shoreline in Narragansett, my Mom would always listen to the weather and beach reports on the TV and radio. One day, she was on the fence about whether it would be worth the trip down so she decided to call the beach headquarters. A young man with a deep, gruff voice answered. Mom asked him what the weather was like. He told her it was pretty cool and foggy. Mom then asked if he thought it would burn off later that morning. Pause. “I ain’t no weather prophet lady!!!” he barked back.
That’s how stories get born in a family!

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Summer Solstice

In honor of the first day of summer (here in the Northern Hemisphere) and in anticipation of a common summertime activity, I present the following for your amusement:


I do not want to go camping now
It is too hot
and too humid

I have lived long enough
and camped often enough
to know
that I will be more comfortable
sleeping in my own bed
on top of an inner-spring mattress
in an air conditioned bedroom
14 steps from a flush toilet
while downstairs
a refrigerator
washer and dryer
stand ready to serve
Than I would be
sleeping on top of
a ground cloth
tent floor
air mattress
sleeping bag
blanket sack
sheet sack
under tent roof
tent fly
and sky
with one lone mosquito
buzzing near my ear
while hordes
of her hungry comrades
cheer her on
from the other side
of the no-see-um screen
that I pray I have repaired
well enough
for me to hold my position
for the night

I have lived long enough
and camped often enough
to know
that there are only
two weeks a year
when the temperature
and weather
are just perfect for camping
and that we have never
taken our vacation
during those two weeks.

- LMR/Pink Granite

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Handkerchiefs At The Ready, Please!

It’s true that Puccini’s “Nessun Dorma” is one of my most beloved arias. My favorite version is Luciano Pavorotti’s on the 1994 album “The Three Tenors In Concert”. But this young guy from Wales brought me to tears. Paul Potts recently won the Britain’s Got Talent competition. He has been studying and performing for many years, but this is his breakthrough, star making performance. There are a slew of other videos of his appearances on BGT, so you can swing by YouTube if you’d like to see more.

Bravo Paul Potts!

Tuesday, June 19, 2007


I used to work with a gal who loved to scare the daylights out of newly expecting moms by recounting her own (and others) excruciating labor and delivery stories. It became such a habit that we used to warn newly glowing moms-to-be to steer clear of - well, let’s call her "Cruella"! We’d also try to sidetrack Cruella and move her on to more pleasant aspects of pregnancy and parenthood. It’s quite possible that Cruella contributed to a drop in the birth rate wherever she went in this world.

Bearing that in mind, I’ll simply state that I went and had a routine mammogram today. The only other thing I’ll point out is that there is no comparable male equivalent of this particular activity. Just something to think about. I know I thought about it - at least twice.

Monday, June 18, 2007

My First Hero and Heroine

Dad and Mom laughing at the back of our huge yellow Chevy station wagon, nearly three decades ago. The same wagon that they would load up every September to take me up to college. The same wagon they would load back up again in May to take me and all my stuff back home. Right there in the parking lot outside the dorms, my Dad, along with all the other dads, would be carefully packing the cars and kneeling down to peer under, to make sure that they still had some road clearance left! Eight times they did it - and that doesn’t count all the trips they made my freshman year to visit their ever so homesick daughter!

Visits, phone calls, letters, cards - all tangible little lifelines to a baby bird who so wanted to leave the nest, but had the feeling Thomas Wolfe was right and therefore home was where she should stay. Would I go back? Yes. For one more hug from Dad; one more chance to say I love you and thank you and all the things I know I said, but would love to say again. If I had the power I would go back and halt the Alzheimer’s before it robbed my Dad and all of us, of him. But would I go back and change the course? Sorely tempted though I would be, I don’t think so. I don’t know of any other way to get to where I am now. And this place, here and now, I would never, ever change. This feels like they look in the photo; joyous, victorious, full of laughter and delight.

(June 19, 2007 - I tried to post this yesterday, but nothing would upload! Not sure if it was a problem with Blogger or something with our DSL connection or...?)

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Happy Father's Day!

Happy Father's Day to all the dads, grandpas and great-grandfathers out there! Special love to all the godfathers, big brothers and uncles who have played the roles of advisor, friend and guide over the years!

Layout & photos by LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto 5 & Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 for Mac. Paper: from the Natural Collection by Diane L. Miller. Template: Scrap Simple Embellishment Templates: 3-D Negative Frames by Syndee Nuckles. (Both available at Scrap Girls.)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

History Writ Small

I’ve been caught up in my family history the last few days. It never fails to leave me emotional. Seeing census records noted in tight cursive script, with names and ages of my ancestors, followed by how much they paid for rent, yea or nay to could they read and write English and where their parents were born, leaves me hungry for more than just those terse, yet illuminating, facts and figures. I’ve written about my gratitude, the debt I owe to all those who came and went before me. It’s something I have always felt.

Living in this old farmhouse, though not of my family, does nothing to diminish the strength of those feelings. All I have to do is reach for a garden tool hanging in the old three-holer outhouse at the back of the barn and I am humbled. The claw foot tub in our only bathroom, was taken up right after we bought this house so Peter,a wonderful craftsman, could strip, sand and refinish all of the floors. Before it was laid back down, we had the opportunity to see the underside of the tub. On it was a manufacturing date from the 1920’s. The bathroom was and still is, big enough to throw a party in. It used to be a bedroom. How elegant-swellegant and exciting it must have been the day the fixtures were brought in and a sink, a tub and an indoor flush toilet were installed. No more trips out of the house to the outhouse - in sickness or in health - at any hour, in any weather. We still use those same fixtures. Eight decades later they still do everything we need them to do.

I can’t help but wonder what my relatives must have felt every time they achieved another tiny luxury or some great leap forward in invention or prosperity. I can’t imagine they ever took them for granted.

This photo was taken standing in the doorway to our outhouse, the day the roof and floors were removed. That was about nine years ago when John and Roger, two brilliant carpenters, were rehabilitating our barn. A new floor and a new roof have left it stable and able to stand ready, just in case...

Thursday, June 14, 2007

YES! To Marriage Equality!

“In Massachusetts today, the freedom to marry is secure.”
--- Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick

Today, the Massachusetts Legislature, in an overwhelming majority, voted on the side of the angels by blocking any further undermining of same-sex marriage here in the Commonwealth! The legislators agreed that it was inappropriate for citizens to vote on the rights of others and defeated a proposed constitutional amendment which would have banned gay marriage.

Read more about today’s events in this Bay Windows Newspaper article. Learn more at Mass

Even amidst the cheering and the sighs of relief, we must bear in mind that the price of liberty is eternal vigilance.

: : But right now it's really time to do a happy dance!

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

Stone Walls & Generations

Most of our land is bounded by stone walls. Acres were cleared by hand or perhaps with the help of a work animal. But at some point each stone was touched by human hands and piled - neatly, roughly, hurriedly, wearily - to mark the piece of the world that they would call their own. Then they raised up crops alongside a family, never knowing who or what would thrive or survive season unto season and beyond. Those stones, laid out in bounding lines two centuries back, are now patchworked with lichen. Black, gray, green patches now creep where calloused fingers once gripped. Echoes of memories of folks I never knew. Silent, solid irrefutable evidence of lives lived here long before we settled in.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

From The Ashes - So To Speak

Ahhh... It’s a new day. My focus and perspective have been restored.

Isn’t this Iris gorgeous? As it unfurls, it progresses from deep black purple (like the buds below it) to this cranberry maroon. A gift from a friend, we planted it years ago. Each year, it slips back up, according to its inner rhythms, dazzles us in a crescendo of form and color, then slips away. I’m certain the word is used too casually, too often, but this natural, unattended beauty is awesome.

Thanks for listening yesterday.

Monday, June 11, 2007


I don’t like feeling trapped.
I don’t like it when other people change the rules.
I don’t like being treated like a number.
I don’t like mean, thoughtless, insensitive people.

I am tired, crispy and burnt.

I try to go out into the world with an open, positive, generous spirit.
Today I felt myself being nibbled to death by ducks - mean ducks at that.

I know I need to let go of all the disagreeable parts of today.
I am trying to focus on all that is good, kind, fair, loving and respectful in my life.

But I am tired, crispy and burnt...

Saturday, June 9, 2007

High Tea Meets Tech

I promised to tell the tale of a novice Digital Scrapbooker (me) and my adventures in this foreign, virtual landscape. I also promised to do it without jargon, and make it as much like High Tea in front of the computer as I possibly could. Apparently I was feeling pretty self-confident at the time (plus, Ronnie and Roo can be awfully persuasive)! Well, if you’re all settled in with your own cup of tea, I’ll take a deep breath and begin. Remember to extend that pinky finger! Here goes:

It’s all about the layers. Think layer cake, building up from the bottom to the top with all sorts of different fillings sandwiched in between. Think of a torte - oodles of super-thin layers with a different fruit or frosting between each circle of scrumptiously moist cake and the next. Only with this virtual torte, you can pile as many layers as your imagination will allow, without the torte ever toppling over. Now think of transparencies - the kind you use with an overhead projector (pre-PowerPoint) when you get roped into doing the presentation at work. Only instead of boring graphs and pie charts, you’re showing family photos, with captions and stories and maybe a pressed flower or two.

On each transparency, you place just one item, a photo of your grandmother on one perhaps, on another an old yellowing letter she wrote you. Onto a third transparency, you’ve typed up a few memories of when she taught you to sew on her ancient treadle sewing machine. On a fourth, you place a clip art image of an old fashioned Singer machine. On the fifth, a Title: “Stitching The Memories Together”. If you have a photo from when you were little and you spent time with your grandmother, add that as the sixth layer.

Now, place the transparencies, one by one, onto the lighted glass of the overhead projector. While looking at the big screen, slide the six different layers around until what you see projected takes your breath away; until it sends you reeling back to when you were five or six and your grandmother’s hand guided yours as you sat on her lap, while her foot pumped the treadle and you sewed your first apron. When it’s that perfect, you clip the layers together. Then, so you can still see it without the light behind it, you slip the seventh layer, a lovely piece of handmade paper underneath it all. Then you lock your layers together with a bit of magic digital glue.

That’s Digital Scrapbooking, where almost anything is possible!
Did you save me any scones? ;o)

The memories I just shared are true, but I lack all the tangible bits and pieces to make it come to life. Instead, I’ll share this digital layout with you. It features my grandmother first as a young child, then as a young mother with her own daughter - my mother Dorothy. It is set on a 12in x 12in “canvas” made up of 14 digital layers (4 papers, 2 photos, 4 separate lines of text, 3 embellishments, 1 brush). I hope this whets your appetite for digital scrapbooking!

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.

Layout, photos and text by LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto 5 & Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 for Mac. Papers: from the Natural Collection by Diane L. Miller, the Winter White Collection by Amanda Sok & the Fountain Pen Collection by Cheryl Barber. Alphas: “M” from the Persian Breeze Collection by Brandy Hackman & “Ancestor” from the Bookworm Collection by Erica Hite. Brushes: Sage Brush Set by Diane L. Miller. Embellishments: Pussy Willow from Blossoms & Blooms - Fall by Brandy Hackman. (All available at Scrap Girls.) Font: Papyrus.

Friday, June 8, 2007

If Not Now, When?

”Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you’ve imagined.”

- Henry David Thoreau 1817-1862

Thursday, June 7, 2007

Breathe Deeply

The perfume, from the flowers on this Mock Orange bush, is spicy, exotic and intoxicating. This one is planted outside our living room, but stretches up to just outside our second floor bedroom window. When a gentle breeze follows a period of stillness, the accumulated scent floats in and causes us to breathe deeply and appreciate the gift.

Tuesday, June 5, 2007


Today we came through a ferocious thunder and lightning storm. The skies grew dark, the wind howled and then the rain fell in sheets. We briefly lost and regained the power three times. Then the hail began falling, bouncing and ricocheting all around. It sounded as if someone was throwing hands full of pebbles against the windows. When the hail and rain stopped I quickly snapped a few pictures of the aftermath.

Poor hostas! ;o(

Monday, June 4, 2007

The Sweetest Anniversary

Today is the anniversary of my Mom and Dad’s first kiss. They met as teenagers when Dad was invited to sing with my mother in her church choir. My sisters and I grew up knowing this was a special day. It’s old fashioned, romantic, sweet and innocent all rolled up together. Dad’s been gone 19 years, but he and Mom shared five decades as a couple with all the joy and pain life can bring. They shared quite a few kisses along the way as well!

Sunday, June 3, 2007

Source 51

When I was a teenager, I sat down with my maternal grandparents, Gagee and Gramps, along with my own parents. We sat in the living room of the house I grew up in down in Warwick, Rhode Island. My Mom was in and out because she was trying to get dinner on the table for us all. I asked them to give me the family tree. I sat with a pad of coarse, beige sketch paper and wrote down everything they said, as best I could. I knew very few genealogical note taking conventions, so there are narrative bits mixed in with rough trees made up of names, dates and connecting lines and arrows!

In the intervening years, my sister Karen and I have done research and continued to do what we can to keep adding twigs and branches. Coincidentally, Chuck has been doing lots of research on his family as well. Today, Karen called to say she had a hot lead to fax to me. What arrived was information on our maternal great great grandfather’s family. Karen thought this family of six belonged to us, but some of the information was throwing us off. I pulled out my yellowing sheets of sketch paper and sure enough, buried among the lines and arrows were the little gems of information that allowed us to be absolutely sure these were our peeps!

While Chuck was listening to my side of this very excited and animated conversation with Karen, he pulled out the laptop and began entering information into Reunion. He has been a prince of a guy in re-entering all of my family’s information which got left behind in a PC death a few years ago! Gradually I read off details as he digitally hopped from one relative to another. That’s how today, those notes from a family conversation some three decades ago, became “source 51” in our family tree!

:: I can’t encourage you strongly enough. Ask the questions of the oldest generation. Write down the answers. Enter the information into a database. Tell the stories to the younger generations. Everyone deserves to be remembered. No one wants to be forgotten...

Saturday, June 2, 2007

“I Thought That You Might Like To Know...”

”It was twenty years ago today...”

Oh my!

It was actually forty years ago today that The Beatles’ album “Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band” was released in the U.S.! That was just one day after the U.K. release. I know I’m dating myself, but I remember the years before that when The Beatles appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show. I remember our family racing home from Sunday dinner out at the “The Great House” restaurant in Warwick, Rhode Island to get home in time to watch them on TV. We took off in such a rush, we left the doggie bag of sticky buns (wasn’t it sticky buns, Gail?) on the table!

The Beatles were great. Their music is still great. The Sgt. Pepper’s album really holds up over these two score years. And I don’t think that’s just nostalgia talking.

“It’s wonderful to be here
It’s certainly a thrill... “


Friday, June 1, 2007

The Healing and The Odyssey

The image you see above is a scanned copy of a photograph as it came down to me through the family. It was most likely taken in the summer of 1924. The child is my mother Dorothy and the young woman is her mother Marion - my Gagee. As you can see, it is in pretty rough shape. The image you see below is the same photograph after I made some adjustments to it in Apple’s iPhoto 5, then “healed” it using Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0. It’s not perfect. I don’t think it is supposed to be perfect. I think you should still be able to tell it is more than 80 years old! But the damage is no longer distracting. Your eye is drawn to the people. This is what brought me into digital scrapbooking; a desire to copy and restore these family heirlooms. I want to combine them with the genealogical research we have collected, write about it and then share it all with my family. That way we all have access to the same information. And hopefully more of our ancestors will be “known” to their descendants. Later this week, I’ll share a digital scrapbook page with you which incorporates this photo.

:: I hope you have a wonderful weekend!