Saturday, September 29, 2007

Good, Bad or Lovely

I’m honestly not sure if this vibrant splash of color is one of the vines like Virginia Creeper or if it’s Poison Ivy. I realize that’s a problem, especially if I get too close! I always look for “leaves of three” and then I let it be as instructed in rhyme since childhood. Either way, in picture form, it is simply lovely to behold.

Friday, September 28, 2007


Today, a front rolled through clearing the air, stirring up the autumn breezes. In the dooryard, there is a last summery profusion of these tiny white flowers, noisy with bees doing what bees do. But if the morning is very cold and crisp and the light just right, it can look as if a snow squall blew up overnight!

Late this afternoon, Chuck and I found touches of fall along our walk through the school grounds. It all looks so still and serene, but the air was filled with notes from a marching band, coaches’ whistles and kids cheering in the distance - our own “Friday Night Lights”.

: : Red Sox UPDATE 11:00 p.m.:
The Boston Red Sox are the American League East Division Champions!!!
So good, so good so good!!!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

2027 And Counting

I never know what’s going to strike a chord and resonate with the readers of Pink Granite. Yesterday’s “2027” post generated responses which prompted me to think harder about my own answers.

Once upon a time, I would have answered with things that are no longer on my “life list” (singer, pianist, peacemaker). Mind you, the list is not written down anywhere. Those of you who have known me forever are probably gasping because I used to be known as the “Queen of The Lists”! But a few years ago I started to feel weighed down by all my to do lists. At the end of the day, I would focus on what was still undone, rather than on what I had accomplished. So I went cold turkey. Visualize the DTs and a padded cell. Then I tried short lists on little 3 x 3 Post-It Notes. That was a major improvement over multi-columned 8.5 x 11 master lists! Many years ago when Chuck and I worked together, I was often in charge of large meetings and conferences. The night before an event, I would write up a final checklist and leave it on top of my desk. I used to call it my: “In case I get hit by a truck list”. Everyone knew it meant that even if I was hospitalized or dead on the side of the road, everything could still go off without a hitch. Control issues? Maybe. But I ran excellent events!

But about my life list. Some things got crossed off because I accomplished them. Some things were dropped because they no longer mattered. Some things were taken out of my hands. So what’s left? The most important one for me isn’t glamorous or exciting. I want to stop worrying. It’s even difficult for me to type those five words and put a period at the end of the sentence, because I want to qualify it with “so much” or “about unimportant things”. But the truth is I’m weary of the worry. It’s eating up too much of my life.

I went through some things many years ago, which left me feeling afraid. It took me many more years and more work than I’d care to admit, to stop feeling so afraid. I can’t truthfully say I never feel a wave of fear, but I no longer have the chronic rushing of adrenaline and cortisol through my bloodstream as I once did. What’s left, is worry. But the worrying is old and brilliantly entrenched, rather like a keystone in an archway keeps everything from turning into a pile of rubble. See. My worrying just typed that last bit!

But if Broadway called and they needed me to take over for Bernadette Peters in a Sondheim production, well, I’d tick down my list and squeeze them in. As long as I could find a way to stop worrying about opening night...

: : Red Sox Notes:

Happy 88th Birthday Johnny Pesky!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007


“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do.”
- Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens 1835 - 1910)

Tick, tock.
Anything crying out to you from your life’s to do list?

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

A Generous Journal

I was wandering around BlogLand the other day and followed a link which led me to a cool website called Photojojo. They claim they “find the most kick-ass photo tips, DIY projects, and gear and bring them to you” via a twice weekly newsletter. One of those cool things was a video of a gal making journals using photographs and scrap paper.

This is cool for many reasons. Here are five:
1. It’s simple.
2. It’s full of potential.
3. It’s clever.
4. It’s well done.
5. It’s generous.

I think the generosity is what really moved me to post. Judy Lee of the bookmaking company “Five and a Half” makes and sells these journals. Yet there she is, sending this clear video tutorial out into the world for all of us to learn how to create something so lovely. Now if you’re not the crafty type and this doesn’t start you jonesing for your paper cutter and glue, head over to Five and a Half to purchase an even more deluxe one directly from Judy. That would also be cool.

Monday, September 24, 2007


It’s officially autumn! But Mother Nature didn’t get the memo or perhaps she’s just wicked ticked off about global warming. Who can blame her? So the next two days will be around 90 (@32 C) and humid! Sounds like a pretty pointed portent of “Christmas Future”!

I can’t say I’m sad to see summer wind down, as autumn is my favorite season. Winter is probably my second favorite, except for the costs associated with staying warm. With another nod to Mother Nature, I’m referring to both the financial and the environmental costs.

We’re already starting to see some trees and vines color up. Over the next few weeks the color will cascade north to south across New England. The tourists will do the same. But those tourism dollars spent at farm stands and apple orchards help keep folks living on the land they love, which in turn keeps the hills and valleys looking like what the tourists want to come see in the first place.

Now if only all our cars were hybrids as we drive over hill and down dale as we leaf peep....

Sunday, September 23, 2007

A Tiny Little Division of Me

Many years ago, I began making my own greeting cards. It was fun and I enjoyed seeing my ideas crystallize on the paper. I painted, stamped, collaged, stenciled, screen printed, block printed and used any number of combinations of techniques to make the cards. Perhaps the most satisfying, was when I made my own paper, both sheets and molded pieces and incorporated them into the cards. It was also great the first few times I sold them. Perhaps the highest compliment I was paid, came after I had stopped making the cards and sent my brother-in-law Joe a commercial birthday card. He opened it, flipped it over to look at the back, then turned to my sister and with a note of disappointment said: “She didn’t make my card!”

Well, everything old is new again. The other day I created an 11 x 8.5 digi-scrap layout commemorating a special event for special people. I wanted to mail it to them in the form of a card. I figured I would resize it, print it out, cut it out, adhere it to lightly textured blank greeting card stock and send it off in the mail. Previously, I had e-mailed a couple of layouts to family members, but this one I wanted them to receive through traditional snail mail.

When Chuck saw what I was about he made a radical suggestion: print the layout directly onto the card stock. Nah. That won’t work said I, as I explained all the steps I had planned and my doubts about the clarity of the image on the textured stock. Give it a try said Chuck. I did. It worked beautifully on the very first printing! It feels as if a whole new set of possibilities has opened up to me. And all those skills I learned over all those years haven’t gone to waste. It’s just that, at the moment, our dining table hasn’t been completely taken over. There’s a lot less clutter and glue. And as you walk through the room, you don’t have to duck under strings strung like a cat’s cradle around the ceiling with cards draped over them to dry!

This digi-scrapping thing continues to rock. Here’s hoping they like the card...

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Quick Recommendation

I recently tried Muir Glen Organic Fire Roasted Tomatoes. They are delicious! Despite being a canned tomato, they have a fresh taste. The fire roasting adds a bit of smokiness, but mostly a depth and complexity of flavor. The first dish I prepared was a chicken and white bean soup, with a touch of pesto. Yummy. I wish I had found them prior to making up my last batch of tortilla soup, because they would be perfect in that. Next time...

Here in the U.S. Whole Foods Markets is one of the store chains that carries the Muir Glen line. You can find other supermarkets by searching the Muir Glen website. They are more expensive than store brand, conventional canned tomatoes, but I think they are well worth it. They are so good, I’ve promoted them to the status of “pantry staple”! I hope they are easy for you to find.

Friday, September 21, 2007

When Ducks Dance...

I have been in the darndest mood the last couple of days. Or I should say moods, plural. Pick a feeling, any feeling (well, almost any). Throw a dart at an emotional pie chart and I was probably there. Just ask Chuck! The weather has been warm and muggy, more like July than late September. Maybe that contributed to my feeling like a farmer with no land lately, all at sixes and sevens. Searching for an antidote, I asked Chuck to take me somewhere pretty, somewhere with a view. Poof! He did. He really is the bee’s knees.

We were already out and about running errands so we drove over to the The Old Mill. It was originally built in 1761 and has been a restaurant for many decades. The mill pond hosts a variety of waterfowl. How can you not smile when you see ducks dance? O.K., maybe they aren’t dancing but it lifted my spirits and had me swinging back firmly into gratitude territory. So firmly that I ended up crying happy tears. But that’s better than crying for no darn good reason at all. I know. It’s true. Chuck’s a saint. And I’m so very lucky!

Here are a few more photos.
Hope you all have very good weekends! ;o)

Wednesday, September 19, 2007


Yup. It left me speechless too.
I ate a corn dog - once. It was many years ago.
I grew up eating hot dogs and hamburgers. My grandmother Gagee would boil up Saugys and serve them in New England style rolls, along with a cup of clam chowder. Gagee also made a homemade mustard for Gramps, which I spurned in favor of Gulden’s Spicy Brown. (I’d give a fairly important body part to have another chance to try her mustard and see if my taste buds have matured in the intervening decades.)

So the concept of a corn dog was quite interesting to me. You take a hot dog, skewer it with a stick, dip it in corn meal batter and deep fry it. Perfectly reasonable state fair fare. Unfortunately, the one I tried, many years ago at the Big E, was enrobed in a sweet batter. It was like eating a crispy corn muffin someone had dropped a beef frankfurter into! So on Monday, this sight was strictly a jaw dropping photo-op!

Red Sox Red Flag!

O.K. That’s it. Call WBZ’s Bob Lobel. I am officially ready to push the freakin’ panic button!!!

I’ve tried to stay calm, but the wheels have come off the Boston Red Sox! Look! There goes one now, bouncing and rolling out into left field. Duck! There goes another one, right into our own dugout!

Arrrgghh!!! After having maintained a sweet and steady, multi-game lead all season, our once roomy lead has shrunk to a very scary 1.5 over the Evil Empire!

I love the Red Sox. I know they’re banged up, worn out and weary. But they’re starting to remind me of the elite runners in the Boston Marathon, holding the first positions as they set the pace all the way to Heartbreak Hill and then being overtaken in the final stretch.

Breathe Lee, breathe. It’s not over - not yet. I remember 2004. Heck, I remember just a few weeks ago. Much more importantly, so does every single member of the Red Sox!

Breathing now...

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Bob, Brooms & The Big E

It’s the most basic sort of tool. We grab one to tidy up a bit or to sweep out every nook and cranny as part of a big seasonal cleaning. Robert Aborn is a really nice guy, with an unusual job. He makes traditional brooms and brushes. He makes them by hand and he does it beautifully. We first met Bob many years ago at the Big E. He sets up in Storrowton Village, a little 19th century oasis amid the technicolor frenzy of the large exposition grounds and works on his brooms. He answers any and all questions about his craft from technique to materials to history and he does it all with a smile. One traditional broom style makes me think of a very popular young literary character named Harry, but you’ll have to see for yourself. Check out Bob’s website and be sure to click on and visit his Broom and Brush Shop.

Layout, photos and paper by LMR/Pink Granite. Software: Apple iPhoto 5 & Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 for Mac. Font: Modern No. 20.

Happy Birthday!

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

Chuck’s Dad celebrated his 93rd birthday today! Go Pop!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Isn’t She Lovely?

We went to the Big E today. The Big E is a combined state fair for the six New England states, all rolled into one big event. It’s held every September in West Springfield, Massachusetts and runs more than two weeks over three weekends.

I’m too tired to even think straight - never mind type straight, so I’ll leave you with a photo of this sweet and soulful creature. I’ll post more photos and info tomorrow. Isn’t she lovely?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Not Good Enough

New England Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick is getting off too easy. The half a million dollar personal fine, coupled with the franchise being fined a quarter million dollars and the loss of some combination of draft picks, is apparently a near maximum penalty, under the National Football League rules. Belichick has issued two tightly written statements. In the last one he wrote: “I accept full responsibility for the actions that led to tonight's ruling.” but then goes on to describe the sideline videotaping as his “mistake”. Publicly he said: “We’re moving on.”

I find it incredible that he thinks it’s sufficient to leave it at that and “move on”. What’s even more incredible is that it seems to be working.

He should have gotten out in front of it all. He should have stood up in front of the cameras and microphones and said: “We videotaped the opposing team’s signals. It was wrong . It was stupid. It was shameful. I got caught up in a win at any cost mentality and I crossed a line - big time. I apologize to the team, the owners and the fans who rejoiced in our victories. Those victories are now unnecessarily called into question and I apologize.” That would have been the right thing to do.

But Belichick has already moved on...

Friday, September 14, 2007

Marcia, Marcia --- Martha!

Anybody old enough to remember the television show “The Brady Bunch”? Well, stick with me anyway. Marcia was the more glammy and more popular older sister, Cindy the annoying, supposedly “cute” little sister and Jan the perfectly average middle sister. Jan’s line: “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia!”, which expressed her frustration with her elder sibling, has become a classic. I sometimes use a variation of it when speaking about Martha Stewart: “Martha, Martha Martha!”. I used to like what Martha created and cooked. As long as I’m 12-stepping, I watched her shows, I subscribed to her magazine. But then she made homemade marshmallows and wanted me to make homemade marshmallows and I lost it. I put down my whisk and my glue gun and walked away.

I came back around to Martha’s side when she was up on Federal charges and all the anti-Martha folks let their schadenfreude pour out with excessive glee and abandon. Then she did her time and wore the ankle monitor and finally said it was O.K. to serve some store bought ice cream with something and I declared a detente. Well, I fear I’m headed down a slippery slope because I bought a Martha item. Yup, I ponied up for the “never goes on sale” landscape format, 11 x 8.5 scrapbook album in (heaven help me) “Walnut”. I had to. The darn thing was perfect; post-bound, a lovely neutral, slightly nubby, fabric cover, with dual pocket pages. Sigh. Next thing you know, I’ll be drilling and gilding walnuts for Christmas ornaments again. Somebody help me!

P.S. Was it just me or did the Jack & Jill bathroom shared by all six Brady kids seem like a really bad design plan?

Thursday, September 13, 2007

As Summer Begins To Fade...

I’m a bit bleary eyed tonight. I’ve spent too long at the computer staring at photos enlarged to show detail, so that I could repair and heal them. Even when we went for a walk this afternoon, I swear I was seeing everything in pixels! Here’s one of the photos I worked on (using Apple iPhoto 5 & Adobe Photoshop Elements 4.0 for Mac). It’s Chuck with his folks, his sister and his aunt (behind the wheel) of his family’s 1956 Plymouth. The original summertime picture had them all looking a bit like steamed lobsters and was badly cracked and folded. The final version has them looking much more human, even though the colors still have an aged quality to them. Chuck remembers the car as being yellow and black, but all attempts to make those colors more accurate wreaked havoc on the people! One of the challenges of photo editing is knowing when to say when.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

L'Shanah Tovah!

Today was gorgeous. A throw open the windows and blow all the mugginess and stuffiness out and away kind of day. I love having four seasons. But I could be swayed if this were the norm year round. It was a nice dovetail with Rosh Hashanah beginning at sundown this evening. The beginning of the Jewish New Year, the first of the High Holidays, beginning the Days of Awe and leading to Yom Kippur. There is a tradition of self examination, making amends, emptying yourself of the negative, starting afresh with the positive. The essence of the positive is following what is commonly known as The Golden Rule: Treat others as you wish to be treated; Love others as you love yourself. As Hillel is credited with saying: everything else is commentary...

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

September 11th

It’s not that I don’t have the words. It’s that I have too many words and too many strong emotions. I’ll let Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick speak for me instead:

“We have lived the last six years in the shadow of that tragedy. We carry the vivid reminders of the pain and of the anger we felt. But we must also carry the vivid reminders of the compassion and generosity that was shown that day and in the days and weeks that followed. The coming together that happened not only in communities that lost a loved one and not only in New York or Virginia or Pennsylvania or in Washington D.C. and not only in the United States, but all across the world. That is the spirit in which we reconvene today. That is what must last.

Because among many other things 9/11 was a failure of human understanding. It was a mean and nasty and bitter attack on the United States. But it was also about the failure of human beings to understand each other. And to learn to love each other. And it seems to me that lesson and that warning is something that we must carry with us every day.

Fortunately for human beings, the human heart is not designed to carry grief forever. Somehow we manage to move on. And that may be, in some ways, our greatest strength. We live in a rare place where our ideas, our shared goals and our common humanity will and must be more powerful and must ultimately win out over intransigence and anger and violence and division.

Tempered by these losses we will emerge a strong and better place. That is how we best serve the memories of those we love. We do that not in anger at the horror of their loss, but in honor of the beauty of their lives. We miss them not because they are gone, but because they were here.”

- from Governor Deval Patrick’s address
at today’s 9/11 Remembrance Ceremony

Monday, September 10, 2007

Paul Left Us Much Too Soon...

If you lived anywhere that the Boston, Massachusetts based WBZ radio waves could reach, you probably know who Paul Sullivan was. If you never had the pleasure of listening to him, you missed something and someone special. Paul was only 50 years old when he passed away yesterday after a long and truly lively battle with cancer. We learned from his nightly radio conversations. But we learned even more from his grace and humor.

He Didn’t Laugh!

Well, not much! Pete the plumber arrived and he did acknowledge that our jury-rigged gizmo had worked really well. (Insert little happy dance here.) Pete, who really, truly loves his work, did some digging, hammering, chiseling, sawz-alling and diamond blade grinding. He “measured twice and cut once” the proper length of PVC pipe. He then attached these job specific gasket/bootie things on each end of the PVC. Then Pete climbed in the hole and snugged each of the gasket/bootie things onto the remaining ends of the original clay pipe. Some tweaking and tightening followed and Ta-Da! Much flushing and running of water ensued, all of which was smoothly transported from house to septic system, with nary a drip. (Insert extended happy dance here.)

Here’s a photo of Pete’s handiwork:

(Carry on with exuberant happy dance!)

Sunday, September 9, 2007

More Fun Than Disneyland!

Well, in truth, I’ve never been to Disneyland, but I still think we had more fun yesterday than folks wearing mouse ears while riding roller coasters. It definitely was more fun than riding a bike while carrying a cat in a cat carrier, but that’s another story.

It all started a couple of days ago when a delivery man fell in an invisible hole alongside our back walk. It was invisible, because the top layer of sod and grass was intact. He just happened to take a shortcut across the grass and went in up to his knee. Thankfully he was fine. Initially we couldn’t figure out what had caused the hole to develop. Unfortunately it soon became clear. Apparently our old clay waste pipe had developed a slow leak. The leak gradually eroded the ground beneath it. Now the seven decade old pipe was without any ground support, with just a canopy of grass some 18 inches above. So when the delivery guy went in the hole, he must have hit the unsupported pipe. This was not obvious because it was dry as a bone in the hole and the sod and dirt that fell in was obscuring the pipe.

Fast forward to Saturday morning. Yes, of course it was the weekend. We called our plumber who has worked miracles on our ancient plumbing before. We explained what we knew and our theories. He suggested that we didn’t want to pay his guys time and a half to excavate. Time and a half? No - not really. So he said dig the hole out, expose the entire length of the damage and call him back.

It was over 90 degrees yesterday, sunny and very humid. Weather records were broken. I began digging. Chuck soon joined in. It was fairly delicate work because we didn’t want to add to the damage. Soon this is what we saw:

I called the plumber back to report. He then went to check to see if he had the proper parts in stock. He didn’t. Suddenly, even the option of paying time and a half for any weekend work or repair was out of the question. But we really wanted to run water and flush the toilet and take showers...

Our plumber is a practical guy. He deals with this sort of thing all the time. He said we could just enlarge the hole and let the chips fall where they may, so to speak, until his guys could arrive. Then they would deal with the accumulated atrocious mess. I described the girly-girl, non-plumber, jury-rigged plan I had in mind. There was a long pause on the end of the line. Finally, he said: “Well, you could try something like that, but it’s probably not going to work that well.”

So Chuck (ever the good sport and obliging husband/co-conspirator) and I drove down to Home Depot. We spent a fair amount of time in the plumbing department, my little sketch in hand. We assembled an odd assortment of PVC pipe and aluminum duct funnely things - and one giant roll of industrial strength duct tape! As we drove home, our 35 dollars worth of stuff in tow, we encountered a ferocious thunder, lightning and hail storm! Was this an omen?

The storm lulled and we assembled the bits and pieces. We cleared out more of the hole and cleaned up the two ends of the pipe, while a light, warm, steamy mist fell. Chuck volunteered to get in the hole and do the final assembly. Have I mentioned what a good sport he is? Lots of improvising with duct tape, four pairs of chopsticks and one bungee cord later, we had managed to bridge the two pieces of broken pipe. Then came the test. First we ran water in the kitchen sink. The contraption held. Then came the truly scary test. Chuck ran upstairs and flushed the toilet while I monitored our work of art. It held! And it has continued to work through showers, dishwashing, more flushing and even a load of laundry!

I tell you, when that improbable assemblage worked, it was a bigger rush than any roller coaster ride. It meant we had adapted and spent only 35 bucks for parts instead of spending a couple of nights in a hotel room. Chuck claims I’m easy to please and a cheap date. I think we just know how to have a good time!

Here’s the working gizmo, which should have the plumber laughing hysterically when he arrives tomorrow:

Friday, September 7, 2007

How Cool Is This?

Pretty darn cool, if I do say so myself!  
One of the posts from this blog was excerpted in Worcester Magazine!  
They chose to run the beginning of the September 2, 2007 "Cheers!" post I wrote about going out to dinner with Chuck to Biagio’s, in celebration of our sixteenth wedding anniversary.   It's featured in a regular column of theirs called Blog Log.

Worcester Magazine is actually a weekly newspaper here in Central Massachusetts, that has been around for nearly thirty years. It is a bit of a thrill to see my words from this virtual page, right there on page 10 in all of WoMag’s black and white inky newsprint glory!

Thursday, September 6, 2007

Definitive Valentine

Regular readers of this blog know that my musical tastes are, well, eclectic. Raised by parents who were both professional calibre singers, I heard everything from great advertising jingles to show tunes to opera, sung and hummed around my childhood home. As a teenager, I was just as likely to be listening to Frank Sinatra as Janis Ian, Joni Mitchell as Hair - original Broadway cast recording and the cover by The Cowsills. Hey, give me a break! I was born, raised and chauvinistic verging perilously close to jingoistic about all things Rhode Island!

Recently, I fell in love with Hem, but I haven’t fallen out of musical love with anyone else. For many years, hearing any rendition of the 1939 Rodgers and Hart song “My Funny Valentine” has always stopped me dead in my tracks. At last I have found what I consider to be my favorite interpretation: Elvis Costello with Marian McPartland on “Marian McPartland's Piano Jazz Radio Broadcast With Elvis Costello”. I don’t yet own the 2003 album, but I downloaded the MFV single from iTunes. If it were a physical, spinning, three dimensional single like I knew in my younger days, I’d be playing the grooves off it! Give it a listen.

Wednesday, September 5, 2007

Of Apple & Appleseed

Johnny “Appleseed” Chapman grew up in Central Massachusetts. He is credited with spreading apple trees more widely from New England to the midwest. Quite a legend has grown up around him, but apparently he did nurture and sell apple trees, which did take hold around the country. He had a simple, useful and satisfying product which he marketed creatively to great success.

I got to thinking about Johnny Appleseed as the apples are ripening on the trees around here. I also thought about him because Apple has recently opened a store to our west in Holyoke, Masachusetts and they are about to open another one to our east in Natick, Massachusetts. Yay and hooray! I know some of you feel that the seemingly ubiquitous little “i”-this and little “i”-that are somehow a bad thing, akin to “Mc”-this and “Mc”-that, but really they’re not. Apple has created simple, useful and satisfying products which they have marketed creatively to great success.

Really. It’s O.K. Try an Apple. You know you want to take a bite.
Oops! Scratch that! Totally different story!
Now if we could just get IKEA to open a store in western Massachusetts...

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Ocean IV

Having crossed into September, we are just beginning to slide into cooler nights and appreciably shorter days. Because we often travel north to Maine in the autumn, my thoughts naturally turn to the ocean, Bar Harbor and Acadia. In keeping with the “Ocean” series, begun a few weeks ago, I chose to post this image. The photo was taken out at the tip of Schoodic Point, part of Acadia National Park in Maine.
I tweaked it in PhotoShop in order to get a more impressionistic, painterly effect. When I click on the image to view it in the larger format, I'm happy with the effect on the rocks and the surf, but less so with the sky. When viewed at this fairly small size, I fear it looks as if I couldn't hold the camera steady when I shot the picture originally!

Monday, September 3, 2007

Alphabet Soup

Well, not soup, alphabet scrap actually. But I liked the ring of alphabet soup!

Cathy Zielske of Bits & Pieces (a very enjoyable slice of life kind of blog) once ran a scrapbook workshop inspired by the book “Encyclopedia of an Ordinary Life” by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. The idea is to focus on the everyday, the mundane, all the small routine moments that make up a life. It’s not all birthdays, holidays, weddings and trips to Disney World 365 days a year. But to look at our scrapbooks and photo albums one might think life was one long party! So starting with “A” and wrapping up with “Z” think about what little snippets of your life begin with a given letter. You could easily journal this encyclopedia of you instead of scrapping it. Or create the “Encyclopedia of Someone You Love”.

For me, “A” could be Acadia or the first time I made an Asparagus Spring Pie or when a former literacy student of mine learned to spell “A**hole” correctly (no W) as she yelled at her boyfriend and spelled her opinion out for him!

Yup. I think I’m going to enjoy this project!

Sunday, September 2, 2007


We knew we wanted to go out to eat for our anniversary, but we couldn’t decide where. (Have a familiar ring to it?) One thing we knew was it had to be a local place, not a restaurant that was part of a huge nationwide chain. Not that we never darken the door of a chain restaurant, but local felt a little more special and unique for this celebration. If we drive about a half an hour from home we can choose from a variety of cuisines. If we go all the way to Boston we can start adding not just countries, but continents. Asmara, our favorite Ethiopian/Eritrean restaurant in Cambridge, did beckon, but it felt like too much of a schlep. That brought us closer to home to the second largest city in New England: Worcester, Massachusetts.
Chinese? No.
Thai? No.
Armenian? No.
Italian? No.
Lebanese? No.
Indian? No.
Mexican? No.
Too many choices left us with an embarrassment of riches! Then Chuck said what he really wanted was a steak. So of course we reviewed all the local places that specialize in steak. Then back over all the ethnic places that serve beef! At that point we started to think we should begin planning for our seventeenth wedding anniversary dinner!!! Luckily we remembered that a great little Italian place called Biagio’s has a diverse menu and they also grill a very good steak.

It was the right choice. We arrived late enough to be seated promptly. Chuck ordered the Filet Mignon. I ordered the “Haddock Provincal”. Both were perfect. And both entrees were matched by the devilishly good dipping oil/sauce they serve with Italian bread. It consists of olive oil, garlic, basil, cheese - and did I mention garlic? Oh my! It is irresistible, but there is still a slight cloud of garlic following both of us today! (As a bonus, they had the Red Sox game on in the bar, where rookie major league pitcher Clay Buchholz was in the middle of making history with a No Hitter!)

Not unlike planning our wedding, it took us awhile to figure it out, but we made the right choice!

Saturday, September 1, 2007

Sixteen Years

It was a day almost exactly like today. The day dawned cool and dry, breezy and sunny, without a cloud in the sky - perfect weather for a wedding. To think we almost eloped.

It wasn’t that we hadn’t wanted a ceremony and a celebration. We just hadn’t known how best to do it. When we called our family to tell them of our intentions, they were all very supportive and all very disappointed. We called everyone back the same day. We would have a wedding, pot luck, at our home, at high noon, on September the first. That was sixteen years ago today.

We wrote the ceremony and the vows. I hand wrote the small number of invitations. We cleaned the house, ordered a cake, bought a camera, made reservations for a honeymoon. My Mom, my sister Gail and her family, picked up the flowers on the way to our house, arriving in time to set up the buffet and make the whole thing come together. Dear Uncle Gilbert arrived and promptly got himself locked in our only bathroom. Chuck had to disassemble the doorknob and lock and a paper plate, with a smiley face drawn on it, was taped over the opening. When we were all assembled just before the ceremony, we sang “Going To The Chapel” a la Bette Midler. We didn’t have a chuppah, the roof of our little home served as our wedding canopy. Carrie and Kate cued the music; Vivaldi (the Andante from the Concerto a 2 Choeurs ”con violino discordato” in B flat Major) and before we knew it, Chuck was breaking the glass under his foot with such determination that the house actually shook. We were married - officially, legally, happily-ever-after, married.

It felt like a not so little miracle. Everyone applauded. Kate and Carrie cued our recessional; Frank Sinatra singing “Let’s Get Away From It All”. Champagne was poured, toasts were made. We ate gorgeous Nova Lox on bagels with cream cheese. There was shrimp cocktail and corned beef and a marble cake with chocolate frosting and toasted coconut on the side. Music played all afternoon. One song after another, playing from a tape Chuck had made of all our favorite songs, with all the lyrics that spoke to our hearts.

It wasn’t that we hadn’t wanted a ceremony and a celebration. We just hadn’t known how best to do it. Clearly, we figured it out...